Jeff Smith, U.S. real estate leader at Deloitte LLP, participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITworks: 2021 Conference.
Smith discussed how the “war for talent” is changing the industry, noting that real estate has always been a relationship-driven business but that the pandemic is forcing that model to evolve.
“[People] are looking for more purpose in what they’re doing. When they see that better processes and better systems can do some of the mundane things that they’re doing, they’ll go find something else to do,” he said.
Smith said more forward-looking REITs are tackling these challenges head-on, including examining their core expertise and improving systems and operations in order to free up talent to do more purposeful work.
Turning to REIT and CRE industry trends, Smith said: “You can’t go to a board room without hearing about diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainability; governance; and risk—those are on the top of everyone’s agenda.”
Smith also discussed how Deloitte serves clients in the REIT and commercial real estate industry, including market analytics, data analysis, and ESG issues.
“If you’re thinking about reducing risk, audit, internal audit, tax compliance, [or] cyber—all of that, Deloitte has people who can help,” he said.