By: Stephanie Chang
April 26, 2022
When someone says, “I work in commercial real estate,” what comes to mind? The initial presumption could be the individual is a broker, representing property owners, occupiers, or in some instances, both. Perhaps they are involved in development as a project manager or in asset services as a property manager. These roles require timely, informed interactions to instill trust with current and prospective clients. However, a working knowledge of administrative best practices is also imperative to the success of commercial real estate assets – and one of the major contributors on this front is client accounting.
A Day in the Life
The goal of real estate accounting is to maintain a realistic, accurate picture of how the asset is performing at any given time, so that clients and team members are better equipped to make financially sound decisions for growth and profitability. We are here to simplify the complexities of managing financial information and provide dependable figures, and that is accomplished in many ways.
In commercial real estate, client accountants:
- Provide a high-level perspective of an asset’s financial standing, such as property cash balances and rent payments
- Ensure reports and records are accurate throughout the buying, retention and selling processes
- Organize important activities related to collections and compliance
- Offer financial insight into an asset’s annual growth
- Serve as a watchdog for potential red flags, such as duplicate payments to vendors or steep cash flow fluctuations
- Prioritize good accounting habits to maintain consistency and transparency – a few of our favorite words
Why Relationship Building is Important
While accountants are skilled at working with numbers, meaningful interpersonal connections are no less important to our role in building rapport with clients. Why? Because we manage financial information and provide dependable analyses that they rely on to make business decisions. Nurturing relationships with team members, including brokers, project managers, administrators and property managers, is equally valuable. As a team, we are more capable of delivering consistent extraordinary results and award-winning customer service, and this is what leads to client satisfaction and supports tenant retention.
Never a Dull Moment
Is accounting fun or boring? If you ask me, I will proudly say “it is absolutely fun!” For a role to be boring, you have run out of things to learn, and most duties become unremarkably repetitive. I’m constantly learning new tasks and being exposed to challenges that I can investigate like a detective. Navigating numbers effectively provides a sense of satisfaction (nothing is more beautiful than a zero balance!), and there is enjoyment in playing a supporting role in supplying strategic advice to clients.
Personally, one of the most rewarding parts of being a client accountant is getting to work with people across the organization. Learning the functions and responsibilities of other roles has given me a better perspective of their challenges, as well as how teams mobilize shared expertise to create innovative, dependable solutions.
Client accounting may be more of a behind-the-scenes function in commercial real estate, but it is critical to the success of an asset. It is also fulfilling to be part of a collaborative team that works together toward a common purpose – to provide exceptional service to our clients and build trust every step of the way.
Stephanie Chang is Senior Client Accountant, Asset Services. Based in Houston, she oversees accounting services for the Memorial Hermann Health System portfolio.
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