Colliers builds its centre of excellence in Singapore

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
Colliers’ Sam Harvey-Jones, COO for Asia Pacific (left), with Bastiaan van Beijsterveldt, managing director for Singapore (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Colliers has made a number of appointments to its leadership bench based out of Singapore in the last six months. On Jan 10, the real estate services and investment management company announced the appointment of Bastiaan van Beijsterveldt as its managing director for Singapore.
Van Beijsterveldt was promoted from his previous role as executive director and head of occupier services for the city-state. He succeeds Tang Wei Leng, who was appointed to the Singapore managing director role in 2015. Tang is now Colliers’ managing director and head of capital markets and investment services for Singapore.
In February, Mike Davis, a former managing director for CBRE in the US, joined the firm as managing director of occupier services for Asia Pacific. Last November, Colliers announced the appointment of Chris Pilgrim as managing director of global capital markets for Asia Pacific, moving from his previous London-based position as Colliers’ global capital markets director. Davis and Pilgrim are now both based in Colliers’ Singapore office in Marina Bay.
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The appointments signify Colliers’ commitment to the city-state, says Sam Harvey-Jones, COO for Asia Pacific. “This is a hugely important and influential part of the world — Singapore has become a centre for capital and other decision-makers across the Asia Pacific (Apac) region.” Van Beijsterveldt concurs, adding that Colliers sees its Singapore office as a “centre of excellence” focused on driving growth not just in Singapore, but also across the region as part of Colliers’ wider global strategy.

Doubling profitability

In late 2021, the Nasdaq- and Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company announced its Enterprise ’25 growth strategy outlining its five-year targets. By end-2025, Colliers intends to more than double its profitability to an adjusted ebitda of US$830 million ($1.1 billion), with at least 65% of earnings coming from recurring revenues.
The strategy is being driven through several key pillars, which include building scale and making strategic acquisitions. Last year, the company deployed a record US$1 billion in acquisitions to strengthen its businesses. The bulk of it went towards building out its investment management portfolio, with Colliers acquiring majority stakes in infrastructure fund Basalt, investment firm Rockwood Capital, and alternative investment manager Versus Capital. As of end-2022, Colliers has about US$98 billion of assets under management.
It also scaled up its recurring and long-duration revenue streams, bolstering its engineering and design and project management segments with acquisitions in the UK, Australia and the US. At the same time, it continued to fortify its capital markets and leasing business, establishing its presence in Norway by acquiring Nordic real estate advisory firm Pangea.
The strategy appears to be keeping Colliers on track to meet its Enterprise ’25 targets. In February, the firm reported an adjusted ebitda of $630.5 million for its FY2022 ended Dec 31, 2022. “I am pleased to say we are pacing well ahead of our targets, with earnings from recurring revenue streams now representing 58% of our pro forma adjusted ebitda,” states Colliers global chairman and CEO Jay Hennick in his annual letter to shareholders dated March 16.

Building scale in Singapore

For Van Beijsterveldt, it has been a busy start in the new role. The Colliers Singapore office has hosted a number of internal and external events in the past few months, including town- hall sessions attended by John Kenny, Colliers’ Sydney-based CEO for Asia Pacific, and other senior leaders from the Apac and Emea (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) regions. There were also client and media engagement sessions that overlapped with key industry events such as the CoreNet Global Summit for Apac and the Pere Asia Summit, both of which were held in Singapore.
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Van Beijsterveldt, originally from the Netherlands, has carved out a real estate career in the Apac region over the last 14 years. Working in largely occupier-related services such as tenant representation, portfolio reviews and divestment analysis, he has done stints in Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Seoul, before retuning to Singapore to join Colliers as director for occupier services in 2019. In 2021, he was promoted to head the team.
Currently, Van Beijsterveldt says he is still “very much involved” with that segment of the business, and Colliers has so far yet to name a new Singapore head of occupier services. But with his new mantle as managing director, he now also oversees the office’s other service lines, which include capital markets and investments, valuation and advisory, industrial, as well as hospitality and leisure.
In a press release announcing his appointment, Colliers states Van Beijsterveldt would play a key role in driving Colliers’ growth strategy to build size and scale in Singapore. This includes increasing headcount — something Van Beijsterveldt says has already been a focus of the firm. “Over the last three years, we have doubled the headcount of the occupier services team, and we are now looking to do so in the other lines,” he says.
The plan to increase headcount comes even amid a choppier economic environment, which raises uncertainties for Colliers’ key businesses in Singapore, namely occupier services and capital markets. “This year may be challenging,” Harvey-Jones concedes. However, the decision to grow is a long-term investment. “We’re growing in a commercially viable, sustainable way,” he adds.

One team, one business

Today, there are some 120 people working out of Colliers’ Singapore office. Staff comprise a mix of those serving the Singapore market, as well as those with a wider remit across the Apac region.
Whichever their mandate, Harvey-Jones highlights that the Singapore office is unified under one banner. “We want to make sure those serving the local or regional markets don’t feel like they’re in different parts of the business,” he says. To that end, all Colliers staff based in Singapore are collectively structured under a single senior leadership team, with everyone responsible for building and growing the business as a whole. “Ultimately, we act as one team,” Harvey-Jones says.
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Van Beijsterveldt adds that collaboration is a core focus at Colliers, with staff working together across geography and service lines to facilitate clients’ needs. In the office, staff across markets sit together, allowing more synergies to take place. “That also results in better service to our clients,” he continues.

Investing in people

In his letter to shareholders, global chairman and CEO Hennick emphasises the importance of Colliers’ talent pool. “Our success is made possible by our greatest assets: 18,000 professionals worldwide, who drive exceptional results for clients wherever they operate.” He adds: “We foster an inclusive environment and promote equal opportunity across Colliers to ensure all our professionals feel they belong and can build thriving careers.”
As such, as it grows its headcount in Singapore, Colliers aims to also provide opportunities for its people. “We’re not just looking to double headcount by recruiting from outside the organisation — we want to make sure everyone here gets the opportunity to grow,” says Harvey-Jones, pointing to Van Beijsterveldt’s promotion as one example of several in the firm. “That’s something that we’ve put at the forefront of the business.”
Colliers has also pushed for a more diverse workforce, including better representation of women. Globally, Colliers is targeting to have 40% female employees overall and in manager roles by 2025. Last December, it was recognised as one of the world’s “top female-friendly companies” by Forbes.
In Singapore, Van Beijsterveldt says about 50% of the office staff are women. “We’ve made a really conscious effort to have a balanced workforce. It’s important for the future of our business and also a fair reflection of the quality and standard of talent in this marketplace.” Fundamentally, the aim is to attract and retain quality talent, which Van Beijsterveldt notes will help Colliers serve clients better and strengthen its position as a market leader in Singapore and the wider region. Harvey-Jones agrees. “We’re very client-centric, and we’re very people-centric. Ultimately, we want to be the best at what we do.”

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