Spotlight On: Brett Gray, Managing Principal, Cushman & Wakefield

Spotlight On: Brett Gray, Managing Principal, Cushman & Wakefield

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read November 2019 – In the last few years, the Charlotte Metro Area has enjoyed consistent growth, thanks largely to its strong banking sector. As the region continues to grow, Charlotte’s economy is diversifying and attracting large companies that need commercial real estate solutions. In a recent interview with Invest:Charlotte, Cushman & Wakefield Managing Partner Brett Gray talks about the state of Charlotte’s real estate market, use of technology to improve client needs and his outlook for the region heading into 2020. 

How is Cushman & Wakefield addressing the growth of the Charlotte metro area?


We are organized across a suite of services with specializations that directly tie to Charlotte’s explosion as a high growth city.  These services include Capital Markets, Tenant Representation, Landlord Representation, Project & Development Services, Asset Services, Facility Management, Valuation and Advisory Services and Consulting to name a few.  Under each of those service lines, we have additional services that clients can tap into for all of their needs. 


This is a thriving city. It has often been thought of as a secondary market, but it’s practically a regional hub that’s led by the banks. That has been the driver for development since the 1980s. It is essential for us to have key leaders in this space to help grow. For example, we have one of our National Emerging Tech Advisory Group members here in town, which is important as tech has been a big part of Charlotte’s recent growth. Our Multifamily National Practice Co-Leader sits here, our Southeast Valuation and Advisory leader is here.  These are just a few examples that show our commitment to this market and the depth and breadth of our resources and services.


How is Cushman & Wakefield implementing new technologies to address client needs and provide better service?


Cushman & Wakefield’s property technology (PropTech) strategy focuses on strategic partnerships across our global platform with a variety of organizations, including Fifth  Wall, MetaProp NYC, Plug and Play and 1871.  The firm recently entered into technology relationships with innovative companies like Saltmine and Reonomy.  It is essential for us to partner with organizations to identify technology that will disrupt our industry.  PropTech drives efficiencies ensuring Cushman & Wakefield evolves quickly in this ever changing environment to deliver excellence to our clients.  It is our responsibility to drive the latest solutions to them as their advisor. 


How is Cushman & Wakefield addressing growth while preparing for a potential recession?


We’ve seen some inverted yield curves, and while the curve is a good historic warning sign of a recession, it doesn’t mean it’s right on the edge. The difference is that consumer confidence, which makes up 70% of the economy, continues to rise. Government spending remains strong. You’ve got a record unemployment rate continuing at an all-time low. You’ve got wage growth. As long as we continue seeing wage growth and low unemployment numbers, with consumers making up so much of that, we feel really good about where we are. We don’t see anything happening in the next year and a half to two years, but we continue to advise clients to be aware. We take a look at the “what if?” models out there. If a recession happens, what will happen? We’re always looking at those things, but right now we feel really good. 


How does Cushman & Wakefield view the commercial real estate landscape?


If you look at the past 12 months like a report card, it’s arguably the most exciting time in the history of Charlotte. We look out everyday to cranes looking into our windows, and you see the growth of the light rail happening. The airport is expanding. The logical places of growth are emerging. It followed predictable patterns, where before some of the wealth was concentrated, but now you’re seeing emerging corridors appear. Opportunity Zones help drive some of that investment. Companies are selling their properties for record prices, and moving into emerging corridors. When you think of a big city, you put a dot in the middle of the city and there are no gaps expanding outward a mile or two. Charlotte still has some opportunity to develop around those gaps, and you’re starting to see that happen.


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Spotlight On: Jeffrey Mylton, Charlotte Market President, HomeTrust Bank

Spotlight On: Jeffrey Mylton, Charlotte Market President, HomeTrust Bank

By Felipe Rivas

2 min read October 2019 — The Charlotte Metro Area is home to a plethora of banks and financial institutions. While local and nationally-recognized banks provide similar services, many residents prefer to go to a local bank for their banking needs. HomeTrust Bank is a local bank keen on providing personalized service to its clients.  In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, HomeTrust Bank Charlotte Market President Jeffrey Mylton talks about the advantages of local banks, the challenges they face, its relationship with the local business community and the outlook for Charlotte’s banking sector.  

How would you describe the bank’s trajectory since entering the Charlotte market five years ago?

It has been a nice steady climb. We have added new relationship managers who are more in line with midmarket-type lending. We’ve also added several new divisions, one of which is equipment finance and the other is our SBA division, as well as a larger, more robust residential mortgage area. Two of the three divisions are headquartered here, as opposed to our headquarters in Asheville, so the bank realizes where a lot of the growth will come from over time.

What advantages does the Charlotte market provide over bigger national banks?

I would say a lot of customers are looking for personalized service. Just about every big bank has small business lending somewhere else. You come to them locally, but the approval process is out of the market. We provide the speed, flexibility, and personal service that a big bank can’t provide.


What will your partnership with fintech company AvidXchange accomplish?

A client that would take advantage of AvidXchange would have to be processing a lot of transactions. That’s more of a middle-market company, which is the type of company we are seeking in that middle-market segment where we would like to be more prominent. It’s a way to get our name out and have people realize our capabilities are just as good as the bigger banks.

What are the greatest challenges facing community banks in Charlotte?

A lot of community bank growth has been done by boosting the balance sheet with real estate. I think everybody understands you have to be diversified. You have to have a deposit base in order to lend. Real estate’s great, but you can’t do everything with real estate. There are so many more business opportunities for a bank when it is servicing business customers. 

As this market grows, people are looking for a bank that can satisfy their needs. Other than a few things that a big bank does, such as mergers and acquisitions, we can do what they can do. Most of the time we can provide it either more efficiently or less expensively.

We’ve seen just about all but about two community banks disappear here in Charlotte, but you’re also seeing big growth in credit unions. I think the reason that they’re becoming so active is because of the void of community banks. People would rather deal with a personal relationship where somebody locally cares. Big banks don’t provide that. So you’re seeing us thrive as one of the few left, as well as the credit unions.

How can regulators or economic engines like the Charlotte Regional Business Partnership help address some of those challenges?

They are directing attention to a need. They’re attracting customers and business to the city, which gives us an opportunity to do business. When those companies come here, they are looking to work with someone that actually works and makes decisions locally. Many large banks don’t make business decisions here.

How is HomeTrust responding to the emerging millennial market and the demands of this generation?

Whether it’s remote data capture, creating our app so you can do all your banking services on your phone, or Popmoney, where you can transfer money between different accounts, those are all things that can continue to evolve. And as they evolve we continue to make sure we have what we need to be competitive.

What’s your outlook for the finance sector in Charlotte and what emerging businesses are you involved with?

There are so many multifamily projects being done. Opportunities are there for all residents of these multifamily projects to be banking customers. We aim to serve all customer segments, millennials to retirees, as well as small to middle-market companies.

As for emerging businesses, we have relationships with quite a few of these types of companies. Those that are involved in cloud computing, data centers, and related businesses in fiber optics. Technology and digital businesses just keep changing, but we’re active on all fronts. We have quite a few cloud computing-related businesses.


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