In conversation with... Joanna Tano

As Cromwell’s Senior Strategy and Research Manager based in London, Joanna Tano tracks and analyses real estate markets, researches themes such as urbanisation, technology and e-commerce and how they impact markets. We sat down with Joanna to find out about her career, role and the focus for the year ahead.

Tell us about your role.

I’m responsible for the Research function at Cromwell – a varied role that includes providing real estate market and economic commentary, as well as opinion in support of funds and mandates that Cromwell manages. I support investment decisions, investigating the risks and returns of new markets and sectors. Research also includes an element of strategy through product development initiatives.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Each day is different, but that’s the beauty of working in a global business! Some days it is 100% numbers and Excel analysis, while others can be researching a new market or understanding a particular issue, for example Brexit.

I also answer specific questions such as ‘What do you think of Finland?’, to ‘What are Italian government bonds going to do and what does that mean for real estate?’ Some questions are easier to answer than others.

How do you stay on top of what’s happening across Europe?

I speak to as many people as I can, as often as I can, ranging from internal colleagues, industry experts, as well as those who are outside real estate. All opinions and perspectives are useful in trying to understand not only current trends in the world and their impact on real estate, but what comes next. It is like a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces are important and they all keep moving! I am also a member of a few real estate industry groups and attend seminars and conferences regularly.

What trends do you think will have the greatest impact on real estate in the next ten years?

Technology, and with increasing speed, will change the way we work, live and play. It influences our experiences and behaviours from the moment we get up to the moment we go to sleep. It is already happening and there will be no sector of real estate that will remain untouched.

What markets do you currently like and why?

This is an interesting question - it really is about your perception of risk and return and where you place yourself on the risk curve. Cities are increasingly the focus though, above and beyond countries and regions in a way that they never were before - this will only continue to intensify over the next few years.

We find ourselves in a period of uncertainty and investors are often looking to minimise risk and seek an element of stability. Europe’s more established cities such as Paris, Munich, Amsterdam and Madrid are likely to continue to fare well. I would add London too, which is showing some resilience so far in the lead up to Brexit.

The value-hunters will need to look to the peripheral submarkets of the traditional gateway cities, as well as secondary cities, but with a focus on the more liquid, transparent and mature markets, such as Germany.

Technological changes and advances, tightening labour markets and the intensifying desire for a work-life balance means new opportunities are also opening up in ways we wouldn’t have thought possible a few years ago.

What are your research priorities over the next 12 months?

There are probably five key areas of focus:

  1. Developing our research capability and infrastructure;
  2. Increasing communication of our research and investment beliefs to investors;
  3. Helping develop our product strategies;
  4. Supporting our investor roadshows; and
  5. Contributing to investor and regulatory reporting.

What’s your career background? How did you get into research? Why?

I have a joint Honours degree in Psychology & Sociology from City University of London. The love of finding stories in data has always fascinated me, and how factors in our external environment continuously change, impacting and influencing decisions that we make and advice that we give.

I enjoy the challenge of analysing and interrogating information, be that the realm of numbers, or more global themes, and developing theories from that. Every day is a learning day.

I started my career working for a chocolate manufacturer in Marylebone. From there, I moved to a social landlord covering the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where I was responsible for service standards improvements throughout the borough. My next move kept me in real estate, but commercial this time. I joined Cushman and Wakefield in 2000 and was responsible for the Research team across Europe before joining Cromwell in March 2018.

What would you say to someone starting out in this field?

Each day is different, and you need to embrace a constantly changing environment. A thirst for knowledge, a broad mind and an ability to think laterally helps. Also never stop asking questions!

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Growing up, I lived in seven different countries spanning three continents, which embedded a love of travel at a young age. I also enjoy wine (and that’s not just the drinking, but helping at harvest time too). I am currently studying for the ‘Level 3 Award in Wines’ qualification at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. If I can combine travel and wine, then that’s the perfect balance for me.