FIRST PERSON: Bill Miller on CIM Group’s Institutional Approach to the Retail Business
October 30, 2018 | CIM Group
Bill Miller serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of CCO Capital, LLC, the dealer-manager subsidiary of CIM Group®. In this role, Mr. Miller provides strategic direction and oversees the management of CIM’s retail distribution channel, including external and internal sales, broker-dealer relationship management and capital markets.
Mr. Miller has served in the financial services business for more than 20 years with extensive leadership experience in capital markets, real estate and distribution. Prior to joining CIM, he served in a similar capacity as President and Chief Executive Officer at Cole Capital. Additionally, he served as Senior Vice President and Director of National Accounts for American Funds, where he was responsible for leading business development, strategy and relationship management efforts for the retail wire/regional broker-dealers, as well as the global banking channel in the United States. Mr. Miller has also held REIT product management positions, as well as sales and wholesale distribution leadership positions, with Realty Capital Securities, AXA Equitable Distributors and Lincoln Financial Distributors.
Mr. Miller is a graduate of Hobart College. He holds FINRA Series 7 and 24 licenses.
Who is CIM?
CIM is a community-focused real estate and infrastructure owner, operator and lender. We work to create value in each asset we own and manage, which benefits hundreds of communities across the Americas. Since the company was founded in 1994, CIM has led over $56 billion of projects in communities like Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard, Downtown Oakland, the Greater Loop in Chicago and the Flatiron District in New York.
CIM has $29.1 billion in assets with offerings to institutional and retail partners across the risk-return spectrum, from opportunistic to stabilized equity, as well as preferred equity, debt and net-lease assets. Our global partners include large public and corporate pensions, endowments and foundations, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and wirehouses. With the company’s entrance into the retail distribution space, CIM now also serves individual shareholders.
What is your role and history with the company?
I am the President and Chief Executive Officer of CCO Capital, LLC, the dealer-manager subsidiary of CIM. I oversee the retail distribution channel, including sales, broker-dealer relationship management and capital markets. I was serving in a similar role as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Cole Capital when Cole was acquired by CIM in February of this year. Throughout that process, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with CIM’s founders and principals, and I was consistently impressed with the company’s wide breadth of capabilities as well as its disciplined approach and emphasis on enhancing communities.
Why do you think the non-traded REIT sector has evolved to include more institutional players?
Institutional owners and operators have recognized the new avenues of opportunity presented by the retail distribution market and the defined contribution retirement space. Additionally, institutional players tend to be well-equipped to operate amid FINRA 15-02 and other regulations affecting the non-traded REIT sector, while some smaller sponsors who traditionally operated in the space have struggled. The new environment has presented unique challenges and, we believe, great opportunities to build value.
What factors contributed to CIM’s decision to enter the retail distribution space?
CIM had been watching this segment of the market for the last six or seven years, exploring different platforms and considering the creation of its own retail distribution platform prior to determining a strategy. CIM viewed retail distribution as an ideal channel through which to grow and expand, and one that would provide an opportunity to serve individual investors through CIM’s proven institutional approach. When CIM’s executive team decided to partner with an existing industry leader and found the proper fit in Cole Capital, the time was right for the company to enter the space.
What attracted CIM to the net-lease REIT industry?
Throughout its history, CIM has developed a platform of strategies across the risk-return spectrum that emphasize appropriate risk-adjusted returns. CIM viewed a net-lease strategy as complementary to its diversified platform because of the product type’s historical performance and underlying stability.
Why did CIM decide to acquire Cole Capital?
CIM wanted to develop additional net-lease expertise and leverage its capabilities to bring institutional-quality real asset products to the defined contribution space. The leadership team determined that the most effective way to enter the retail distribution space was to partner with an existing industry leader with a proven track record and a successful platform. It was important to CIM that the organization acquired had products and assets that they could stand behind. They were also looking for a culture that was similar to their own – a team guided by the values they adhere to and equally committed to doing the right thing and delivering on promises to stakeholders. Cole ticked the boxes in all those categories.
Our business practices were also complementary to CIM’s, with the same disciplined approach to acquiring and operating high-quality real estate. The more CIM’s executive team learned, the more apparent it became that our two companies would blend together well.
What was the response at Cole Capital when it was determined that CIM would purchase the business from VEREIT?
As you might imagine, there were a number of questions initially. However, the CIM team showed a great willingness to address those questions and soon assured our business partners and shareholders that the acquisition would be a positive development for all involved. For our employees, the prospect of joining CIM, a company that was expanding and doing great things in the industry, brought a new energy and excitement to our work.
CIM acquired Cole Capital on February 1, 2018. Several months after the acquisition, what is your assessment of the transition?
It’s been terrific. I’ve been told by CIM’s founders that we’ve achieved what they expected and then some. The integration of our two companies has resulted in positive synergies that we couldn’t have achieved without CIM’s institutional leadership. Additionally, because our individual cultures and priorities were so similar, the internal integration has been very smooth.
We’ve had the advantage of combining the best processes, procedures and practices from two proven leaders in complementary spaces. Some of the advantages CIM has brought to the net-lease side of the business are strong banking relationships, a wide breadth of real estate knowledge and relationships in key markets across the country, all of which have led to efficiencies that ultimately benefit shareholders.
With the addition of a proven retail distribution platform, CIM now has a distribution source for CMCT Preferred shares, and we are discussing potential new product offerings. We’ve also created stronger industry relationships by bringing the two companies together.
What changes has the company undergone, and what are CIM’s goals for the future?
CIM has refined and expanded the overall capabilities within our combined company. And while much has remained the same regarding the way we do business, we’ve become even more intentional and efficient in our processes. We also continue to work toward improving our cost of debt on the net-lease side.
Looking to the future, we hope to continue to expand our product offerings to both individual and institutional investors. CIM’s entrance into the retail distribution space and integration of the Cole team and platform was an important milestone for the company. We are thrilled with the results we’ve seen thus far and excited about the opportunities to come.
ABOUT CIM GROUP
CIM is a community-focused real estate and infrastructure owner, operator and lender. Since 1994, CIM has led more than $56 billion of projects in communities across the Americas on behalf of its own account and its partners, co-investors and shareholders. CIM’s broad in-house expertise includes decades of research, acquisition, credit analysis, development, finance, leasing and asset management experience in urban real assets, net-lease assets and other associated credit strategies. Using its disciplined approach and extensive in-house expertise, CIM seeks to create value in projects, which ultimately enhances communities. For more information, visit www.cimgroup.com.
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