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Posted Dec 11, 2023

How to impress an institutional investor

Blog conversation with Bert van den Hoek

Recently, Juniper Square’s Brandon Sedloff had the opportunity to interview Bert van den Hoek, Senior Portfolio Manager of North America for Bouwinvest Real Estate Investors, whose New York office he opened in 2020. As an LP, van den Hoek has practical advice for GPs about positioning their deals to attract institutional investors, how to focus your communication efforts, and what managers should not do and why.

Here is some of van den Hoek’s advice for GPs.

It all starts with doing your homework; thankfully, most LPs are upfront about their focus. Van den Hoek, for instance, participates in multiple industry forums so “we can be very transparent in what we're looking for, and the GPs have a good idea of where we are.”

Understanding how the LP’s focus has evolved is also essential. Several years ago, Bouwinvest started adding “alternative” property types to their portfolio, often at the expense of office and retail. “Our office exposure is now lower than 10%, as is our retail, whereas the alternative exposure is over 25%.” When he opened Bouwinvest’s New York office in 2020, the pandemic quickly showed him the value of life sciences real estate and data centers, two other property types outside the firm’s usual purview. For 2024, van den Hoek is hunting for manufactured housing and a GP to deliver at scale.

It’s equally important to demonstrate you understand the LP’s culture and identity. If they get him on a call, van den Hoek is willing to give GPs about 30 minutes to make or break his opinion. In that initial meeting, he wants the GP to walk him through the strategy and articulate how they differentiate themselves in the market. He’s happy to review one or two case studies to better understand the firm's DNA, what makes them different, and how they add value. “And that should be it,” he concludes. “After that first intro, I usually have a fairly quick idea as to whether I want a follow-up meeting or whether there is absolutely no match.”

For Bouwinvest, “sustainability is a key part of what we stand for, and general partners will need to embrace this just as much as we do to have a good and flourishing relationship,” says van den Hoek. Should a GP’s initial pitch earn them a face-to-face, if it becomes evident during the meeting that they aren’t familiar with the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), that's an “immediate strike out” for van den Hoek.

Lastly, ensure you know what an LP doesn’t want or can’t do. While he’s “fairly diligent in responding,” when van den Hoek sees a pitch for a single asset in his inbox, he simply ignores it. “Don't come to me with individual asset proposals because I cannot invest in a single asset,” he warns. Another immediate strike out is when a project won’t pass the regulations and rules Bouwinvest is subject to.

Want more of our conversation with Bert van den Hoek? Watch the full interview or listen to this episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.