paul mcnamara

It is no surprise that Paul McNamara had remained with Prudential for just over 21 years when this was written. This is the kind of loyalty and devotion you would expect from somebody who since beginning his career on completing his PhD worked relentlessly on taking the property investment management industry up level after level.

McNamara began his career as more of an academic than a businessman. He worked as a researcher at Oxford Brookes University. But it was when he joined the Prudential’s property research team that he realised he had a lot more to offer. McNamara became a member of the board in charge of the overall direction of property research.

McNamara says he was very fortunate to work for a company that had research at the heart of its corporate philosophy. His teams constantly reviewed the markets to formulate investment strategies. With a flexible and supportive corporate structure, two key areas stand out to prove McNamara’s mettle in the property investment community: the development of property derivatives and socially responsible property investing. 

McNamara has been pushing the idea of developing property-based derivatives since the late 1990s, as their creation would allow liquidity and speed of access to an otherwise traditionally illiquid market. Property derivatives may well have been developed before, but it seems nobody had the level of devotion and skill as McNamara to wait until the property index market was mature enough to enable property funds to be tracked adequately. It also required time to go out and introduce the idea to the property investment management community.

McNamara played a key role in developing the first securities, which are based on IPD property indices. The market by then had grown to some €16bn in annual transactions. But for McNamara, the concept exceeded merely developing derivatives to represent a single underlying security. He lobbied successfully to help overcome obstacles thrown up by tax regimes and regulations in the UK. This allowed the concept to develop into the fully functional and flexible market we enjoy today. Recently it has provided a means of bridging the gap in a market of widely differing views.

McNamara simultaneously built a keen sense of how the property investment community can have an influence on social and environmental issues. With some 40% of all carbon emissions then coming from buildings, there was clearly more than a moral obligation for property investment managers to adopt extensive SRI and ESG principles. With Prupim a signatory of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), McNamara compiled and sent a report on the fundamental impact of sustainability of property investing to Professor Gary Pivo at the University of Arizona. Pivo, a prominent figure in sustainable property, invited McNamara and French financial services group, Caisses des Dépôts et Consignations to submit a joint paper to UNEP FI.

This led to the creation of a specialist property working group atUNEP FI, which McNamara co-headed. The group’s first task was to build its membership by getting firms to sign up in Europe. They then turned their attention to the US and Asia