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Hsieh Joins ElmTree's Investor Relations as Firm Courts Deeper Institutional Business

Institutional Investor Appetite for "Non-Traditional Real Estate Allocations" Expected to Grow Over Next Two Years, Hsieh Says
September 13, 2018
Institutional investors are taking a page out of private equity’s book, allocating funds to strategies once considered private equity real estate’s bread and butter. So says Annie Hsieh, the newly appointed executive vice president of investor relations at ElmTree Funds.

The St. Louis-based fund manager and private equity real estate firm is in growth mode, says Hsieh, who is based in New York and tasked with leading the company’s capital raising and investor relations initiatives. In the seven years since ElmTree has been operating, it has closed more than $6 billion in financing, acquisitions and development of office, industrial and healthcare companies.

"We see significant opportunity to grow the ElmTree platform as institutional investors continue to allocate more capital to real estate," she said in a release.

Hsieh has spent the bulk of her 12-year career nurturing relationships with institutional investors. In the past two years, she has seen them pivot into "non-traditional real estate allocations," and expects that strategy to grow over the next few years.

In an interview, Hsieh said:
The general big trend I’ve seen over the last two years was in the private credit space specifically with a lot of interest around direct lending side. Pension funds are creating bespoke pockets of capital to allocate to private credit.

Within the private credit allocation, investors may have originally intended to focus on direct lending but are starting to realize that the opportunity may not be that deep. There has been more of a shift to look at other strategies that have similar risk / return profiles such as real estate debt strategy and net lease. We expect to see appetite for these non-traditional real estate allocations continue to grow in the next couple of years.

Hsieh came to ElmTree after more than a year at ZAIS Group, where she worked with institutional investors as a director for client relationships. Before that she worked at Five Mile Capital, managing investor relations and business development for U.S. and Asian institutional investors’ real estate and fixed-income assets.

"When you are in fundraising or in investor relations, there is more time spent on relationships and it is not as transaction-oriented. I had the opportunity to invest more time into better understanding the challenges of the client and provide a more holistic solution," Hsieh said.

But her career path to the executive suite in investor relations was a winding path, Hsieh said. She graduated from New York University with a bachelor's degree in finance and took a job as a credit trader at Citi.

"Although I was trading my own book of high-grade credit, the work didn’t feel very dimensional. I just felt like the market was always up or down," she said. "I fell into private equity fundraising in the private funds group at Credit Suisse. That was a great introduction for me, because I was able to work with all types of management teams and investment structures."

Graduating from Columbia Business School in 2010, Hsieh would enter "a soft hiring environment" that would lead her to take a position in sales. "I worked in sales and learned not all sales positions were created equally. The value proposition of sales on trading desks was increasingly challenged post-crisis."

It was at that point she began to pursue opportunities in investor relations.

"Working in this sector there is the opportunity to develop deeper relationships," Hsieh noted, adding that she has known some of the investors in her book for 10 years.

Hsieh’s career space in private equity real estate has been historically male-dominated. Costar News asked Hsieh for her thoughts about the about the pace of inclusion within the sector. She noted, "Since I joined the industry, I’ve seen it evolve, and it continues to progress from its predominantly male environment. I’m gratified to see there are a lot of initiatives and opportunities for the industry to become more inclusive – change for the better is happening."

Diana Bell, New York City Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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