Martin Mbeteni - Vice President - Capital Markets, Jones Lang LaSalle

Martin Mbeteni has been successfully applying his talents in the commercial real estate capital market for years. He has worked for several notable banking corporations securing capital solutions for his clients for over ten years. He is currently the Vice President of Seniors Housing Capital Markets for Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), one of the largest publicly traded commercial real estate brokerage firm worldwide. JLL provides Martin Mbeteni with the opportunity to serve his clients with robust capital solutions on a global platform.

Martin Mbeteni takes great pride in the business that he performs with JLL. He mostly works with corporate/institutional clients who are focused on serving the senior population. He has determined that the future for this particular demographic cluster is a growing market. He is consistently educating himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends in the industry. He believes that knowledge is indispensable to providing his clients with the best products and services. He also believes in working with newcomers to the industry to share his knowledge and develop the talent for the industry’s next generation of leaders.

Martin Mbeteni is married and has three wonderful children. His free time is spent with his family. He is an avid reader and enjoys watching soccer, basketball, and football. He is a world traveler and loves to eat exquisite foods.

How did you get started in Real Estate Finance? What inspired you to start this business?

I started by chance. I knew someone who was in the real estate industry. I spoke with him after I completed college. He thought that I should look into the commercial real estate side of the industry. At the time, I was on the retail banking side. There was a position that became available shortly after our discussion and I seized on the opportunity. I fell in love with the business right from the start. There is a lot of complexities to work through at times, but here I am over ten years later and striving to take my passion to the next level.

How do you make money?

I make money by charging a fee for my services. Each time I arrange financing for a client, they pay me for that.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

I really had no doubts when I started out because I always bet on me and my work ethic. For me, it was more about getting used to it. More than often than not you have to work long hours. The process of getting a deal from start to finish can be grueling and complex.  A “typical” deal takes anywhere between one to twelve months. In some cases, you may spend that much time on an opportunity and in the end, it may not materialize. Occasionally, for a multitude of reasons things simply do not work out. Understanding that sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t is an integral part of learning this business.

How did you get your first customer?

When you first start, you do not automatically work with your own clients. In the beginning, you are expected to work with other peoples’ clients. You pay your dues so to speak. But once proven you can handle it, you are given a chance to develop and grow your own client base. It took time and hard work to build relationships and clients within the industry.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

I believe in cold calling. It is old school, but it works for me. I make calls to people or institutions (e.g. REITs, Private Equity Groups, Real Estate owners/operators etc.) I may or may not know within the industry. Sometimes I get a callback. Other times I will make 20 calls with no response. Nevertheless, in many cases I only need one or two to call me back. Another way I get leads is through the company I work for. JLL is one of the largest real estate organization in the world. We are so large that there are many opportunities to develop business relationships globally.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

I always believe in a better way or another way. I don’t spend too much time thinking about a deal that didn’t work out. I move on very quickly. On a personal level, it is more of a work-life balance; my father-in-law recently passed away. That hasn’t been easy on the family.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I am persistent, resilient, decisive, competitive but also a team player. I will bet on me every time and deliver. I am a hard worker and always find another way. I show up with a positive attitude everyday no matter how challenging a situation may be.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

My most satisfying moment is closing each deal. Likewise, teaching others what I know. Specifically teaching those who are up and coming in the business. That motivates me because there were people who took me under their wings as I was coming up through the business. This is my way of giving back.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I am very excited about the future of healthcare/seniors’ market. It is a growing and a very dynamic market. The number of people turning 65 will continue to grow over the next several years. It is projected that by year 2035; those who are 65 years and older will account for about 20% of the total US population. Statistics are not that much different in other parts of the world. As people in this group of population continue to age, thoughtful planning will be required to accommodate their housing needs among other needs. These demographic changes are very favorable to the future of seniors housing as an asset class. The asset as an investment will continue to be accepted by institutional and non-institutional investors alike.

Second, I want to continue to grow in my career and take on challenging senior roles within the industry. I plan to get more involved in industry associations. I want to make sure that we are doing what needs to be done today to meet the needs of this vital demographic group, but at the same time to put in place a systematic approach in attracting and developing the talents of the next generation of leaders for the industry. When people think of my name, Martin Mbeteni, I want them to feel inspired and see me as tough but approachable and dependable.

What business books have inspired you?

When: The Art of Perfect Timing by Stuart Albert. The book presents a single and practical approach for dealing with timing in life and business. The Author explains why good timing is not just a matter of luck, having the right intuition, or applying conventional rules of thumb that no longer work. Good timing is a skill that can be acquired, whether the question is when to launch a new product, invest in new plant or equipment, conclude a negotiation, or give it all up.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

The company provides us with all that we need to do business.

Is there something important that you would like to say to our readers?

I secure a great deal of debt capital for my clients through government agencies (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). The two agencies have been in government conservatorship since 2008. There is uncertainty as to what will happen to the agencies long term. In the meantime, everything remains the same. For now, I focus on delivering the best capital market solutions for my clients.

It is also important to note that capital markets are globally linked. My clients are mostly US based institutional and non-institutional investors but in some cases, I deal with international investors. What happens in the US   or somewhere else around the world can have a direct or indirect impact on the global flow of capital and investments. This is a crucial connection in which we should all be aware of as it can lead to serious trickle-down effect.

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