Stupin Keeps the Focus on Trust and Teamwork

(Real Estate Weekly)

June 8, 2005 - In the world of real estate investment and investment banking, relationships are built on trust, performance, and teamwork.

For Susan Stupin, one of the three senior partners and a co-founder of The Prescott Group, LLC, a New York-based merchant banking firm, these are the watchwords that inform her success and continue to support the dynamic growth of her company.

"Our mission is to be the preferred real estate provider to the high net worth marketplace, which is only possible by having a clear strategy and a well-tuned organization," Stupin said. "It's thrilling to be instrumental in transforming the real estate capital marketplace."

Prescott is now embarking on a major growth initiative, having partnered at the corporate level last year with a significant investor, the Gordon P. Getty Family Trusts.

With this expansion capital, Prescott is growing its commercial real estate investment and asset management activities, with a focus on providing institutional quality real estate investments to private clients. This is a group of investors that Stupin sees as a significant and underserved pool of capital.

As investors, Prescott's principals draw upon their extensive experience in evaluating U.S. real estate markets and local market participants, as well as a proven ability to identify, structure and asset manage attractive real estate investments.

"We find that our combination of initiative and creativity in uncovering investment opportunities serves us well in a marketplace where capital is plentiful and there is much competition for deals," says Stupin.

"As an investor, we choose to partner with proven operating partners who have a strong track record of performance, in good times and bad, and who will further invest their own capital alongside ours."

Stupin relishes the challenges that Prescott's growth is bringing, emphasizing that partnering and commonality of interests are critical to all aspects of her business.

She builds long term relationships with property owners, who are sources of investment product, as well as with the wealth managers who bring capital to transactions on behalf of their private clients. In Prescott's investment banking work, clients are also partners and Prescott's interests are closely aligned with theirs.

"We do well only if our partners and clients do well first," Stupin said. "We believe the integrity and transparency with which we approach all of our business lines are competitive advantages. In a world of long memories, your integrity and reputation are your most precious commodities."

As a senior manager of a rapidly growing team, Stupin acknowledges that building the organizational platform is all about partnering as well, starting with hiring the right people and then properly motivating and supporting them.

"Our team is a handpicked group that enjoys working hard, is committed to excellence, and manages to keep a sense of humor - at least most of the time," she said.

Stupin first became interested in real estate as a potential career while at Harvard Business School. "My real estate professor, Bill Poorvu, was a successful entrepreneur who infected generations of HBS students with the real estate bug," she said.

A real estate investor and investment banker since the early 1980s, Stupin began her career in the Institutional Finance Group of Eastdil Realty, followed by several years at Goldman Sachs & Co as a senior member of the firm's real estate investment banking team.

She credits these two firms with developing her love of real estate and giving her a superb grounding in real estate finance, capital markets, and real estate investment.

"I learned an amazing amount at Goldman, starting with the concept of 'working smart,' a favorite term of Shelley Seevak, the Goldman partner who founded the firm's real estate department. Of course, what he really meant was for us to work long hours efficiently," said Stupin.

Prescott's investment banking expertise and track record is well respected, and the firm is known for its creativity and tireless efforts on behalf of its clients.

The firm is selective about the assignments it takes on and will only pursue projects where the partners can add value to their clients. As a result, Prescott's investment banking work has recently focused on complex assignments straddling the worlds of private equity and real estate, often raising capital for real estate operating entities in the U.S. and internationally.

While Prescott's recent projects have included assignments in Mexico, Australia, and the U.K., as well as in the U.S., the firm tends to pursue opportunities that have the potential for long term client relationships and offer synergies with the rest of its business. She adds, "We also find that our current and past clients bring us some of our best investment opportunities."

Stupin says she is fond of the expression 'The harder I work, the luckier I get,' but notes there is no substitute for a focused business strategy that makes sense. She sees few obstacles to achieving her goals for Prescott, saying, "Our high energy and our creativity drive all that we do."