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CRE Finance World, Summer 2014

Past CREFC Leaders Reflect on Evolution and Growth of the Association “And here’s the beautiful thing about this association. Everyone rolled up their sleeves, recognizing that to grow and be successful we had to work together.” A publication of Summer issue 2014 sponsored by CRE Finance World Summer 2014 9 “Washington is a pay-to-play environment, but it’s not what you spend, it’s just that you spend. The Washington world is separated into those for whom staffs will take meetings and those for whom they won’t. Our PAC was never super large — we try to raise $200,000 per Congressional cycle — but we had good GR people and we were able to lever that to defend ourselves, if nothing else, in Washington. As someone once said, you’re either at the table or on the menu. “We certainly had conversations with regulators before the PAC was formed see Annemarie DiCola’s remarks, but we had more resources to do it more effectively afterwards. “After my reign, I was the point person for CREFC with FASB as they tried to rework how to account for special-purpose vehicles, which is the heart and soul of structured finance. There was a major multi-year battle over that. As a result they ended up with a completely new regulatory structure for single-purpose entities, and it was one we could live with. “What can be said of CREFC’s growth in the past few years can also be said of the industry as a whole. The organization and the industry have been through a crucible such as we’ve never seen, and both have come out stronger and with clarity and purpose. The organization and the industry are bigger, more robust and certainly more institutionally mature. The downturn had a lot to do with it.” MARGIE CUSTIS President June 2005–June 2006 Managing Director, Capital Markets, Principal Real Estate Investors “The market was doing great when I was president. There was growth. It all waited for Lee Cotton to become president to start going south. The biggest crisis of my presidency was to move the January conference from South Beach to Boca. “But there were still plenty of things going on. The structured finance market at the time was expanding beyond just CMBS to other products, such as CRE CDOs and the synthetic market was picking up. That was where much of my presidency was focused. In addition, since it was still CMSA, we were putting together the strategic plan for what would eventually become CREFC. “In terms of the CDOs, there was a significant amount of effort trying to develop best practices for this new product, and we also thought it important to broaden our board of governors to reflect that part of the market. It was a new area that was frankly in need of the kind of support that CMSA was able to provide. “For the strategic plan, we had meetings in the fall and spring of my presidency and we spent a lot of time focusing on where we saw the organization going. We engaged a consultant and at the second meeting fired him because we felt that with our board members we were better able to focus in on what we needed to do. “In general the association had been doing a lot of things, but it was a bit haphazard. We were dealing with the new structured- finance market, we were expanding into Europe, Canada and Japan and we were generally in a great expansion mode. But we had to go about our responsibilities with a greater focus and organization. We had to grow up and move into the next stage in our life. So an important part of the strategic plan was to get our act together and make sure we were using our staff and member time wisely. And of course, a major part of that was to ensure we reflected the needs of the members, so we did a lot of member surveys to stay on track. “And here’s the beautiful thing about this association. Everyone rolled up their sleeves, recognizing that to grow and be successful we had to work together. “During my year we finalized the CMSA strategic plan and created new formal structures to absorb much of the work that was on the table, such as a CDO committee to develop best practices in that sector. We established closer relationships with other trade groups, such as MBA and the Real Estate Roundtable and created committees that spanned these groups to deal with common issues such as TRIA and accounting issues. And we worked to make our foreign chapters more successful and more an intrinsic part of the association. “Looking at it today, it’s great to watch the association grow up and grow even more relevant.”


CRE Finance World, Summer 2014
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