EUROPE - At a panel discussion at this year's INREV CFO/COO conference in Copenhagen, speakers discussed how to balance the need for managers to communicate with investors at a time when they were also being asked to charge less for their services.
Jamie Lyon, director of finance and operations for Europe at LaSalle Investment Management, said: "I can understand why investors need more information. But when the investor makes a request for information and the manager agrees, this all falls on the back office to deliver.
"At a time when there is pressure on fees, we don't want to build up our back office function - we are running a business. The CFO's job is full of conflicts - we need to constantly balance the needs of the front and back office, as well as the needs of the investor.
"The CFO needs to educate the parties concerned to achieve that balance - the role today is much more central."
Jérôme Lacombe, CFO for European industrial at ING Real Estate Investment Management, agreed.
"We have spent more time communicating with the investor," he said. "Sometimes we have spent a bit too much time. We should be open with investors and provide the information they need quickly, but the CFO doesn't still need to spend 75% of his time in meetings with investors.
"An investor might want detail on a certain point - sometimes we need to reflect whether this information is really needed. Internally, we should consider each question and respond accordingly.
"The manager also needs to guard against replication of the same questions where the investor is in more than one of its funds."
Allan Mikkelsen, partner for investments at ATP Real Estate, said he understood that in the current market investors needed to "be patient".
He added: "We must give managers and CFOs time to work through the issues - that is important."
However, he also stressed that managers could have been more proactive had they "provided information on a generic, standard and recurring basis", rather than an ad hoc basis in the early days when the crisis started.
"It's always good to have early warnings," he said. "I don't see investors driving this process by asking questions. I'd much rather see managers providing the early warnings."