Colin Dyer: Ethics and Long-Term Investing are on the Davos Agenda

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Colin-Dyer-JLL-96Today, Wednesday, is the first official day of the WEF Annual Meeting here in Davos, but I’ve already had three good days with clients this week.

It started with two days in London working with Brett Miller, President of our Canadian business. Brett and I attended the New Year Members’ meeting of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which was held in London in advance of Davos. Council membership is reserved for the CEOs of 150 top Canadian companies. I spoke to the group about the future of the world’s ‘great’ cities: what makes a city great, whether that definition is changing, and how we might see new great cities emerge in the next five years.

My first full day in Davos has been rich with client meetings. As you’ll be aware, all six JLL delegates here are busily working on contacts with current clients and, indeed, building relationships with prospective new clients.

I also addressed two sessions today. The first investigated the subject of ethics and anti-corruption globally. The topic attracted senior executives from across many sectors and included representatives from JLL clients Deloitte, Starwood Hotels, Baker & McKenzie, Thomson Reuters and KPMG. I found it very healthy to see that this is a shared agenda with many corporations. They realize that operating in a transparent world with transparent markets benefits all countries and companies around the globe. It is also clear that this agenda is steadily becoming more important across the corporate and investor world.

The second session I addressed was on the topic of long-term investing. It was attended by a mix of sovereign wealth funds, institutional investors and fund managers. I was initially asked to discuss the relative attractiveness of real estate as a long-term investment, and the extent to which equity markets are funneling capital into real estate at this point in the cycle. As we saw in 2014, levels of investments in real estate have exceeded pre-Global Financial Crisis highs of 2007. And pricing is getting back to those levels as well.

Given the audience, I also took the opportunity to portray the attractiveness of JLL as a long-term investment. One who put $100 into our stock 10 years ago would now see their investment worth over $800. So we rank up there among the best.

So far, I’ve picked up on themes in two areas that are important to business globally and the people here in Davos. The first relates to the importance of thinking about, and then investing, long-term in businesses as they grow and develop. Indeed, Sheila Penrose, Chairman of our Board, heard the same theme stressed in a meeting with global Chairmen this morning.

The second theme concerns the growing importance of ethics, compliance, and anti-corruption in the business world for the reasons I’ve described above.

It’s also already very clear that confidence in the business world is high, as people actively discuss ways to develop and expand their operations. The clients we’re seeing are indeed very open to business. In return we’re very open to putting business with them where we need their services.

People here are also and obviously conscious of difficult issues confronting the world: re-emerging problems in the euro-area economy, for example, political instability and war zones around the world, and continued anemic growth in some economies.  But these topics are not dominating the discussion. People are more focused on the really good prospects to grow businesses in the coming 12 to 24 months.

With that I’ll wish you a good afternoon from Davos. I’m off to my next meeting with Anuj Puri, Chairman of JLL India, where we’ll meet with one of his good Indian clients.

More to come tomorrow.