Here at CrowdStreet, we believe in democratized access to commercial real estate investments, because markets grow stronger when more people participate. Our goal is to enhance your relationship with your advisor by giving you the option to invite him or her to access information about your investments. As the fine print at the bottom of our website states: CrowdStreet is not a registered investment advisor (RIA), and we do not provide investment advice.
But that doesn’t mean we haven’t specifically developed our online CRE investment platform to work in service of registered investment advisors and other financial professionals. CrowdStreet not only complements advisory services and facilitates investment management, but makes it easy for advisors to create value and attract more clients.
How CrowdStreet Works for—Not Against—Financial Advisors
Investors throughout the U.S. are taking greater interest in CRE, and for good reason: real estate investment is an effective form of portfolio diversification. And given our strong economy, the current volatility in the stock market and the savings opportunities generated by the recent tax reform law, numerous market analysts believe now is an ideal time to invest in real estate.
To keep up with the demand, RIAs and other financial advisors are looking at new ways of connecting investors with real estate investment opportunities. Historically, advisors considering putting clients’ money to work in CRE have been limited to real estate investment trusts (REITs), which can carry significant upfront costs, deliver middling returns and be subject to the risks of any publicly-traded asset. Direct investing through online CRE crowdfunding platforms such as CrowdStreet presents a viable alternative.
For instance, CrowdStreet allows an investor who is interested in directly investing in CRE, but lacks the capital sufficient to purchase a building outright, to participate in offerings alongside other high-net-worth individuals. Meanwhile, for those investors who do have the means to buy an asset, our platform makes it possible to build even greater wealth by spreading money across multiple, comparable properties. In addition to specific property types, investors can also invest in CRE funds—another potentially valuable counterpoint to REITs.
In CrowdStreet, financial advisors can evaluate these opportunities with their clients, or even invest on clients’ behalf, easily and for free. Our platform is not a fund-to-fund model—we don’t charge for access the marketplace. From an advisor standpoint, there’s nothing to lose.
How Financial Advisors Can Manage Clients’ CRE Investments Within CrowdStreet
We have made it as simple possible for advisors to manage their clients’ investments on CrowdStreet, whether a client already has an account or not.
The process starts with the creation of an investment entity. In CrowdStreet, offers must be made by an investing entity, which can have one or multiple members. Individuals may also be party to multiple investing entities. For instance, an advisor may be party to one client’s individual account and another’s family trust.
Creating an investment entity takes just a few minutes. Once you’ve registered for CrowdStreet, the steps are as follows:
- Sign in and click on My Account.
- Select Investing Entities, and click Create Investing Entity.
- Fill in your legal investing entity name and select an account type.
- Enter the mailing information for the investing entity.
- Select a preferred distribution payment method and enter the corresponding banking information.
- Ensure that all the information you’ve entered is complete and accurate, and click Submit.
Investors can set up investment entities themselves, or have their advisors do so for them. (More information about investment entities is available here.)
Once an investing entity has been created, either party—the investor or advisor—can add the other as a member of the entity. Each member is assigned a role (in addition to Investor and Advisor, other roles include Accountant, Attorney, and Proxy) with different permissions. Members can also be specified as signatories for the investment entity.
From here, it’s easy for a financial advisor to manage clients’ portfolios, coordinate investing entity members, troubleshoot issues, discuss opportunities and submit offers on behalf of investors. If an offer has been submitted, say by your advisor, the entity is under no obligation to move forward. If an investor does want to proceed, all they need to do is sign the closing documents.
This is only the beginning of what CrowdStreet can do for investment advisors. We are currently at work on many other tools which will allow advisors to better service their clients on CrowdStreet. Stay tuned for more news and information about these features as they’re rolled out over the next few weeks.
Until then, you can learn all about our direct CRE investment platform and try a demo for yourself here.