2021 Knowledge Brokers

Taylor Mammen

Nominated by a leading CIO for being “the best real estate consultant [he’s] ever worked with,” Taylor Mammen is CEO of RCLCO Fund Advisors (RFA), which advises institutional investors on real estate investment portfolios, from strategy development to underwriting and asset management.

After the global financial crisis, several prominent pension funds started consulting with RFA with the goal of constructing better-performing and more resilient real estate portfolios, and Mammen helped pioneer the business. Since then, he has worked with some of the largest and most dynamic institutional investors in the world, underwriting and overseeing investments with RFA. Mammen is largely responsible for leading institutional investor client relationships as well as the firm’s growth and development. He also serves on the boards of clients’ portfolio companies and is a member of the executive committee of RCLCO, which manages shared resources and oversees overall company strategy.

Before joining RCLCO and building RFA, Mammen served as director of research for Washington Strategies, a boutique government relations consulting firm in Washington, D.C., and he worked with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (now known as the Boston Planning & Development Agency [BPDA]) on a public-private initiative to revitalize downtown Boston.

He received his master’s in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University. He is an active member of the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA) and the Urban Land Institute and is currently on the board of Envision Utah.

CIO: What new qualities do you look for in a manager/service provider given the pandemic’s financial and economic impacts?

Mammen: The pandemic and its economic impacts have not materially changed what we value in managers and service providers, or how we underwrite them, but I believe it has convinced our entire team of the importance of operational due diligence. I’m afraid that some of this—evaluating potential partners’ investment decisionmaking processes, data recovery capabilities, cybersecurity, etc.—may have sometimes seemed like “box checking” exercises prior to COVID-19, but now our team fully understands how important this is, both to ensure that our partners can operate during a crisis and as important indicators of operational excellence.

CIO: What changes are you making to your asset allocation advice?

Mammen: It’s become almost cliché at this point to say that the pandemic didn’t materially change long-term trends, but may have merely accelerated many of them. This does appear to be borne out by what we’re seeing in the recovery, however, and we’re grateful that most of our clients were already responding to many of these accelerated but long-term trends prior to the pandemic. We were already recommending and working on significant under-allocations to office and retail, for example, and overallocations to industrial, many forms of residential, and many niche products (self-storage, data centers, health care real estate). We were also already veering client portfolios toward greater emphases on high-quality suburban employment cores relative to central business districts. These seem to be advantages that everyone now recognizes, which is leading to spirited debate about contrarian bets in office and retail and urban locations and whether the favored property types are fully priced. Jury is still out on the answers.

CIO: What do you think will be the biggest innovation in your industry in the next 10 years?

Mammen: Effectively collecting, processing, and analyzing data is likely the big race in real estate over the next 10 years, particularly during the first several years. Accessing high-quality data has always been a challenge in real estate—thereby leading to opportunities for those with relatively greater information and knowledge. With a proliferating number of novel data sources and service providers becoming available, and growing feasibility of tracking internal data through business intelligence systems, we’re likely to see an arms race among managers and operators to control the “best” data, and a subsequent race to draw empirical conclusions from processing it, whether to improve acquisitions, asset management, or operations of individual assets.

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