March to a Billion in Funding
Here we explore how Managing Director Chase Allen and the Canada ICI Winnipeg team have not only remained resilient but have continued to grow in a retracting market environment. From March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, and amid a global pandemic, the Winnipeg office has been able to transact over $900 million in funding over 100 transactions. And they’re still going strong.
Building Relationships and Gaining Momentum
In the commercial mortgage business, the more transactions an advisory group does, the more relevant they become and the more they can accomplish for their clients. Consider athletes; the more games they play, the more reps they get in, the more scenarios they see. The team in Winnipeg is a high-volume office with a high-touch approach. They are working on at least 30 files every day and it is best practice to connect with the people required to close a deal at least every other day. That is a lot of calls and a lot of discussions. Not only do transactions close more efficiently, but relationships develop. By working closely with each other and with borrowers and investors, the Winnipeg team has built strong connections in the last seven years. Those relationships lead to more opportunity.
Our clients have taken this chance to either lower their expenses or to build up capital for timely acquisitions.Chase A. Allen
Opportunities in an Uncertain Climate
After the first eight weeks of COVID-19, the general sentiment amongst borrower clients was divided into two camps — one of pessimism and the other of optimism. Employing strategies that were underpinned by their clients’ outlook, Chase Allen’s team counteracted the uncertainty caused by the pandemic through funding projects at record-low interest rates, reducing risk, and increasing liquidity.
An advisor’s role is to drive value for lender and borrower clients; it’s important to create alignment. Chase Allen confirms, “It has to be a win for everyone involved in a transaction otherwise the success is short-lived.” Creating this alignment has proved successful. During these last few months, the Winnipeg team has stacked a significant number of win-win outcomes for their clients. Some deals were completed with long-term clients, but the team also transacted with many new clients. Because of the social distancing measures in place, they have yet to meet their newest clients face-to-face. Still, in the time of COVID-19, the Winnipeg office sees how the market is moving and changing. The pandemic serves to provide another interesting playing field. In this uncertain climate, the team recognizes opportunities for lenders and borrowers, regardless of their outlook on the Canadian economy.
Talking about what we do know and what we can control allows for better decision making.Luke Cain
Working in Winnipeg Works
Winnipeg is not often thought of as centre stage for commercial real estate, but Canada ICI has made a very successful home there in the last seven years. Chase Allen describes his office’s approach this way, “We have a humble approach toward the client. We sit down and say, ‘If I owned your building, if I had your portfolio, this is how I would do it.’ We try to give excellent advice, but we always give honest advice.” Borrowers and lenders in the Winnipeg market don’t respond to puffy sales presentations. As hard-working, down-to-earth businesspeople, they want value and results. In a small market, everyone knows when you’ve burned a bridge and the market rewards only those that look for scenarios where everyone involved achieves their goals.
Chase Allen sees the opportunity for his office and for its clients in the city of Winnipeg. “People who are interested in real estate and finance don’t need to live in New York to do some cool things. We’re doing it in Winnipeg, and we’re happy with that.” It seems that the Winnipeg team is as humble as their city and equally genuine.
We have about 30 different lenders and even more borrowers that we talk to daily. We are a high-touch office.Lindy Masson
Lindy Masson, Director of Mortgage Underwriting, has worked with Chase Allen since the office opened. She describes the benefits of living and working in Winnipeg like this, “People are open and friendly here, and it’s family-oriented. The commercial real estate market is smaller in Winnipeg and that benefitted establishing a new office here. At times, other markets can produce larger transaction sizes, but we thrive on transaction volume. At any given time, our team is working on 75 – 80 plus live transactions, so it is vitally important that we’re a strong team.”
They’re in it together.
Chase Allen echoes Lindy’s sentiment regarding the strength of the Winnipeg team. He credits their bond and their efficiency to working together for a long time. “The core of our team has been together since we opened the office in July of 2013. This accumulated time with one another makes us stronger, faster, and more productive. Everyone has their roles on our team and our skills fit together incredibly well with minimal overlap. Meetings are fast, and files get a lot of touch time.” History with the team contributes to the success of ICI’s Winnipeg office as they continue to soar during the time of a pandemic.
An Effective Management Style
According to Lindy Masson, there’s more to the Winnipeg office’s success than time spent growing and working together. She credits Chase Allen’s effective management style for the success of his team. She believes that Chase’s way of managing has nurtured her professional life, saying, “Chase’s management style works for a lot of people. He puts the onus on you. He gives a lot of responsibility early on and doesn’t micromanage. This helped us all grow as professionals and improve at our roles. Placing trust in your team empowers them because they feel they’re contributing to the overall success of the company.”
Supported Success Canadawide
Like everyone else, the Winnipeg team doesn’t know what the next year will hold, but they’ve managed to implement strategies that are working today. Chase Allen and his team are aware of what the market is doing, how COVID-19 has changed the parameters, and of the opportunities these changes provide. It’s no small feat to fund $900 million of commercial mortgages in six months, especially during such challenging times. Yet it was made possible, and will continue to be possible, with the support and infrastructure of their team and the greater Canada ICI team across the country.