Client Success: Vastned
Yardi sat down with Reinier Walta, CEO and Maurice van Dongen, Finance Director of Vastned, to get to know more about the business, its operational processes, company culture and thoughts on future strategies as the real estate industry shifts into new ways of working.
Tell us more about Vastned’s business culture and philosophy?
Vastned is focused on quality and connecting. Quality of our portfolio, of our people, of the way we do business and how we are financed. We strive to do the right thing and improving the business is in our DNA. In this way, the company endeavors to create long-term value for its shareholders, tenants, employees and society by attracting the right mix of tenants for the future. We’re proud to be the owners of historical inner-city buildings where we can contribute to the livability of the cities where our business is active.
“We invest in the best properties within popular shopping areas of selected European cities that have a historic city centre where shopping, living, working and leisure meet. We want to add value to these city centres by connecting property, people and experience”
Tell us about Vastned’s backstory, when was the company formed and how has the business grown into what it is today?
Vastned has been around since 1986 and was listed on Euronext Amsterdam in 1987 at the Amsterdam exchange. It is the only European listed real estate fund focusing on high street retail properties and mixed-use. Over the years, the company has constantly focused on improving the quality of its portfolio, the organisation and financing, with the aim of establishing a portfolio that results in long term, stable and predictable results.
The company is known for its high street retail properties in the best shopping areas of selected cities within Europe including the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. Vastned now owns inner-city mixed-use, which includes apartments and offices that are often developed above stores.
How do you view the real estate sector you operate in today and are there any operational challenges you face?
In the real estate sector that we operate in today we are facing some operational challenges. Retail on the high street has been under pressure for a while due to online competition. To stay ahead, physical stores need to offer a better customer experience and journey that really enforces the brand.
During the past year, our performance has improved and although vacancies increased over this period, the occupancy rate is around 97.6%. Rent collection is well above 94% now, which again, is a great result.
In the short-term, we are focusing on staying in close contact with tenants. Our IT systems play an important role in administrating the tailor-made solutions and temporary adjustment to contract terms. Our approach to long-term challenges in real estate is making sure our properties continue to remain an integral part of the tenant’s proposition and desired customer experience. Sometimes this means a shift in tenants is needed or the property rented to them.
How has Yardi benefitted your people, your business and your clients?
Yardi has helped increase our employee’s satisfaction, which benefits our people, our business and out clients. They have been able to make shifts in their daily tasks from processing manual specifications and reconciliations to tasks that add value to our business. Our clients also benefit from this as we can provide them with a tailormade approach and tenant-specific arrangements.
What challenges did you have that led Vastned to select Yardi, and how has Yardi’s technology helped you overcome those challenges?
Before implementing Yardi, we were working with multiple systems that required additional steps and software to consolidate data, which included many manual processes. Yardi’s specific property management system has the scalability for us to add modules, whereas our previous systems were more generic, which led to increased work and efforts to get the insights we needed, if it was even possible.
Yardi’s technology provides us with one source of truth as everything can be processed from one dashboard with no need for multiple software packages. Vastned chose Yardi to help automate and improve the quality of its business processes. We felt that Yardi could facilitate our goals to increase efficiency and use tailored software solutions to create operational and strategic advantages.
We’ve also been able to increase our service levels by having all relevant documents, such as contracts, communications and amendments available within seconds. We’re able to have real time information on payments and any arrangements made, as well as provide tenants with service cost settlements thanks to the automation and quicker response times.
From an accounting perspective, we are able to work with different account trees and ‘books’ which helped us to efficiently deal with differences in accounting per country based on local GAAP’s. This is an incredible efficiency gain compared to the pre-Yardi situation where Excel was needed to prepare consolidated figures. Our finance departments are now able to focus more on controlling, rather than processing, which helps us save time.
With Yardi, we’ve been able to cut time on business processes and create one source of truth for all our data needs. Furthermore, Yardi’s reporting tools and data management software provide us the opportunity to create competitive advantages, such as efficiency gains, general cost cutting and quicker closing processes. We can now allocate more time to analysis and control as we don’t need to spend as long processing data.
Are you able to give us an example of the size of your total portfolio to date?
Giving you an example of the size of our total portfolio to date. We own 1.4 billion euros in assets in 4 countries and have around 450 commercial tenants. Currently, the number of properties is approximately 275 and the average value per property is around 5 million euros.
How does the implementation of Yardi help you from the perspective of your role within the business and any impact of your life outside of work?
By implementing Yardi, we’ve been able to achieve higher efficiency and increase flexibility in reporting possibilities. The impact on our lives outside of work is limited, however, Yardi facilitates the hybrid ways of working we’ve become accustomed to nowadays thanks to the cloud-based technology that allows us to work from anywhere.
How do you see your partnership with Yardi evolving going forward and how do you see our company and solutions helping you with Vastned’s objectives and strategies to grow
We see our partnership evolving going forward because Yardi has a lot of possibilities and objectives to grow. We are currently assessing this potential and are in frequent and close contact with our account managers as we value their experience, dedication and service levels.
Vastned is about connecting inner-city properties with people and experiences. Yardi has helped us achieve this by providing great support and guidance in the years that we’ve worked with them.
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