Power Finance 2022: How was 2021 for Debt and Equity Brokers?

After a turbulent 2020, top debt and equity brokers returned to the good life with colossal deals in 2021


Never underestimate the value of a power broker. Teams comprised of these help clients navigate up and down markets, securing financing for even the hairiest of asset classes during a global pandemic. 

So, after a rough (to say the least) 2020, how was 2021 for debt and equity brokers? 

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They’re not shy in telling you. 

If you ask Cushman & Wakefield (CWK), the team was busy negotiating deals across asset classes and property types, but the two big winners in 2021 were industrial and multifamily. 

For CBRE (CBRE), industrial comprised 48 percent of its originations, followed by office at 30 percent. The firm also grew its life sciences activity and closed its first data center deal. 

JLL (JLL) executed deals across all property types with a focus on industrial and multifamily. “A big part of our business has become the joint-venture equity and structured finance practice,” said Christopher Peck, senior managing director and co-head of the New York office at JLL Capital Markets.

Eastdil closed more than $6.15 billion of life sciences financings alone. “We did a tremendous amount of industrial and multifamily deals,” said Grant Frankel, managing director at Eastdil Secured, “and we have built out a sizable practice in the studio business.”

Meridian’s 2021 deals were spread out over sectors that included office and self-
storage. The firm also closed what CoStar data indicates was the largest single-asset multifamily sale in the U.S. since 2018: $367 million of acquisition financing from Square Mile for Atlas Capital Group to purchase a multifamily property in Brooklyn, which sold for $563 million. It also brokered $4.9 billion of financing for health care developments.

“Several years ago, we made it a point to diversify geographically, not just from an asset-class perspective,” said Keith Kurland, senior managing director and co-head of New York Capital Markets at Walker & Dunlop. “That target and thesis have played out well for our business as we have been incredibly active throughout the Sun Belt, South Florida, the Intermountain West and the West Coast.” 

As for Ackman-Ziff, the firm focused on the sizzling single-family rental (SFR) and build-to-rent markets. “I don’t think we’ve seen an asset class grow as much as this has for us,” said Simon Ziff, president of Ackman-Ziff.

Brokers also helped clients deploy capital in a hyper-competitive landscape. As Newmark (NMRK)’s Jordan Roeschlaub said, “I think we’re pretty good at seeing where there’s a crease in the marketplace, or an opportunity set for capital to find an entry point, and we run with it — whether it’s an asset class or a specific strategy.” 

To summarize brokers’ 2021, Cushman & Wakefield’s John O’Neill perfectly described the market wars brokers have fought, and won: “If you go back to the [global financial crisis of 2007-2009], then the global pandemic, we have all been tested in ways that we never thought we would be tested,” O’Neill said. “All these events create a certain resiliency, and some people tend to retreat, while some advance.”

And every single person on our list, regardless of ranking, advanced.