paul healy
Paul Healy speaking at a recent conference. Image supplied.
  • Paul Healy was trained in property valuation standards in London
  • He later emigrated to Australian in 1982, working with JLL
  • After a 22 year stint at BlackRock he began working for the Property Funds Association

As part of our ongoing series interviewing key personnel across the Australian property spectrum, we spoke to Paul Healy.

Mr Healy is the CEO of the Property Funds Association, which represents the unlisted property funds industry, and has been so since 2013.

Prior to that he worked at BlackRock for over 22 years, including as Managing Director.

We spoke to Mr Healy about his career to date, and reasons why an investor should invest in an unlisted property fund over a listed one.

Early years

Mr Healy was trained in property valuations standards in London, which he said was both enjoyable and pivotal for his career. His next big move came when he immigrated to Australia in 1982, working with JLL.

“Agency work was very different to valuation, which is much more technical, but I enjoyed the networking aspect of agency work and the social side,” said Mr Healy.

After almost 10 years in agency work with both JLL and Knight Frank, Mr Healy moved into funds management with Potter Warburg – which later became BlackRock.

“The early nineties was obviously a tough time for property and for many industries, as the recession was biting hard,” added Mr Healy.

“But in hindsight it was an exciting time to commence a career in property funds management as the recovery and subsequent growth across the industry since then has been phenomenal.”

Mr Healy enjoyed his time at BlackRock immensely, having a brilliant team and enjoying wonderful success.

“Highlights include Australian REITs expanding overseas such as the Westfield America Trust, which listed in 1996, followed by several others,” he said.

“Another highlight was launching a new trust in 2003, which offered diversity across both listed and unlisted property, and raised significant capital.”

“The scale of the property funds industry from then to now is incomparable.”

However, Mr Healy noted that there can be dips in the property market – such as the 1990s recession and the GFC. He said property can be affected by external factors together with rising interest rate.

“When (then treasurer, later Prime Minister Paul) Keating introduced compulsory superannuation in the early 1990s we started to see more allocations to property, and the number of property funds stated to grow, and continued to row right through that period as property became a sought after asset class.”

paul healy
Paul Healy. Image supplied.

Joining the Property Funds Association

While at Blackrock, Jason Huljich from Centuria Capital, who was president of the Property Funds Association at the time, invited Mr Healy to take up the post as CEO.

“I saw it as an exciting new challenge – we represent the unlisted retail funds management industry which is growing and provides attractive risk-adjusted returns to investors,” he said.

When discussing the differences between listed and unlisted property funds, Mr Healy noted they can behave very differently.

“Listed property can be affected by Wall Street or ASX investor behaviour, whereas unlisted property funds are not impacted by the vagaries of the share market in the short term.

“Unlisted property is bricks and mortar, you can look at it, touch it, manage it. Investors like that about unlisted property.

“It’s a dynamic time in our industry – we’re seeing some outstanding investments in the traditional property asset classes, along with growth in several alternative sectors.

“More capital is being allocated and investors are benefiting from greater choice of investment opportunity.”

And for those wishing to build an unlisted property fund portfolio, Mr Healy advises investors to surround themselves with good consultants and good advisors.

“Make sure you understand and know your target market, and have a good understanding of gearing and interest rates,” concluded Mr Healy.

The Property Funds Association will be hosting its 2022 Conference in Cairns from 15-17 May.

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