The 50 most powerful firms and people in commercial real estate finance.
We thought putting this annual list together was tricky pre-COVID. Little did we know that a global pandemic was around the corner, which would turn the industry, plus any preconceived notions of “power,” upside down.
The Power Finance list is no easy task. We’re comparing apples to oranges at the best of times, (although, the very best apples and oranges in the land, of course), but this year felt more like apples to oranges to bananas to pineapples. Because COVID-19 brought a new dimension to power and to the ability our honorees had to transact freely, fearlessly and effectively.
As a result, everyone on this list was powerful at different times and in very different ways.
The list is normally based heavily on total originations and notable deals. While we love to see robust volume and the buzzed-about deals that made it over the finish line, this year we didn’t penalize firms that reported lower transaction activity too heavily. We understand the difficulties this past year brought, and that quiet periods were dedicated to prudence and often intensive asset management.
What we did look at, is who kept the wheels turning; who stepped back in as soon as they could to provide liquidity; who bravely tested the waters within their individual lending segments when others were fearful even to approach them; who pivoted outside of their comfort zones to support borrowers during a fast-moving crisis bridled with uncertainty; and which firms took direct steps forward to increase diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations.
While you’ll see the usual suspects in terms of senior lenders, we also gave props to mezzanine debt providers and savvy equity players.
In a year where borrowers found their available financing sources dry up almost overnight, we’ve also placed more importance on the role of the adviser. We tip our hats to the intermediaries who worked night and day to secure loans on behalf of their clients and bridge the gaps in capital stacks, and those who quickly pivoted to assist with loan sales and workouts.
We’re looking at this list as our COVID-19 year in review: the period of March 31, 2020, to March 31, 2021. And we know we aren’t alone in being glad this tumultuous and devastating period of our lives is now almost behind us. It was one for the books, but we’re hoping this chapter is one we can now close.
As always, we salute every single person and every firm on this list. You were instrumental in supporting the commercial real estate industry during a crisis that none of us will ever forget.—Cathy Cunningham