Asset management: So many things to so many people

Asset management: So many things to so many people

Interviewing prospective candidates for asset management positions is one of the most interesting and frustrating things I do. Why? Because it means so many things to so many people. I have heard the words “asset management” bandied around so much that finding a universal definition is probably a pipe dream. Talk to financial professionals, and you might hear them talk about asset (cash) protection. Talk to REIT executives, and you will hear them talk about real estate value protection. Talk to hotel owners, and all they talk about is profit protection. Talk to private equity pros, and you are most likely going to hear a combination of all three.

I know HAMA is diligently trying to come to grips with this issue, but in the meantime, there is really no educational source for learning the craft of asset management. As such, asset management is predominately an “on the job” learning experience. When speaking to potential clients, I often hear comments such as, “I want a Host trained person” or a “strategic-type” individual. Another common directive is, “Find me a person with private equity experience or a Wall Street-type executive.”

From my experience, it appears that asset managers come from two basic camps: finance or operations. A combination of the two is almost impossible to find. The financial types typically are great at dissecting a P&L and highest and best-use analysis, while operator types are great at dissecting a management team and day-to-day operational issues.

I encourage the hospitality learning institutions to undertake the challenge of creating classes for undergrads, grads and executive education programs that will fill this void. In addition to making my job a little easier, it will definitely do the industry a great service.