Scaling new heights: Avenue Living's strategy for sustainable growth

How CFO Marina Post helped take Avenue Living from $1 billion to nearly $6 billion AUM

Scaling new heights: Avenue Living's strategy for sustainable growth

This article was produced in partnership with Avenue Living.

Avenue Living stands out as a vertically integrated real estate firm, with in-house functions spanning investments to operations. This model allows Avenue Living to proactively manage and control different areas that influence the success of the business — something that CFO Marina Post has cultivated and enhanced in her role.

Starting her career in Calgary at Ernst and Young LLP, Post obtained her Chartered Accountant designation and subsequently spent nearly a decade in a senior finance role at a Calgary-based investment bank where she gained extensive experience through various positions in the financial sector — uniquely preparing her for her current, multifaceted responsibilities.

When Post joined Avenue Living in 2018, the company was on the path to significant growth, a trajectory she helped accelerate, aiding the firm’s expansion from one billion dollars in assets under management (AUM) to its current state of nearly $6 billion AUM.

To facilitate the rapid expansion and optimize services for all stakeholders, she strategically grew the company’s finance team to include a wide array of finance, IT, and payroll and benefits professionals, filling various functions from taxation to investor relations and asset management.

Post highlights that a central part of the company's strategy is to foster a strong sense of purpose and belonging among employees. “Within the broader finance team, we ensure that employees understand the unique value they bring within the broader business context and how they fit into the overall picture,” Post shares. “Our employees recognize the benefits our vertically integrated platform and how they can bring their individual skills to help us collectively achieve our business goals.”

Ensuring efficiency by streamlining internal processes

Upon joining Avenue Living, Post’s immediate focus was to sophisticate the financial reporting and tax compliance, as well as insourcing the back-office functionality required to support the investor lifecycle. As the company began to secure significant equity investments, establishing a robust and responsive fund operations framework became a priority.

This heightened investor demand drove more financial reporting requirements and prompted a transition in frequency and scope of reporting, which enhanced the quality and timeliness of communications. In addition, Avenue Living was in the process of launching additional investment funds, which necessitated a more focused approach to its day-to-day asset management processes. Post reflects, “as we expanded our presence by adding assets and diversifying across different geographies, the complexity of our business increased. This shift required a thoughtful and wholistic enhancement of our internal financial processes to keep pace.”

Consequently, Post identified the need for an experienced financial planning and analysis team to collaborate with the property management group to bolster success through a robust budgeting and forecasting cycle, a responsive and agile pricing model, and asset-level performance reporting.

In addition, Post saw the need to drive greater efficiency and timeliness in tax planning and compliance, creating a dedicated tax team to be more responsive to investors' expectations, which further enhanced satisfaction and overall service quality.

A holistic approach to the customer experience

By bringing critical financial functions in-house to elevate all aspects of the business, Post highlights how the company’s focus on exceptional financial service extends to the customer. One of her early initiatives was implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, Yardi, which directly impacted employee, vendor and resident interactions and processes. The project aimed to provide its multi-family residents with a more integrated and smooth experience. This improved the end-to-end resident journey to facilitate more timely interactions, increased accessibility, and measured satisfaction and occupancy. The implementation also saw improved employee efficiency across all business lines and functions.

The vertically integrated vision

Being a vertically integrated real estate firm allows Avenue Living to keep the entire spectrum of real estate management and operations within its purview. This comprehensive approach enables them to not just respond to but anticipate the market’s needs, ensuring a seamless experience for residents and a robust, transparent platform for investors.

“With exceptionally talented individuals on our team, we can quickly adapt to changes and anticipate and develop strategies we need to adopt based on our research and collective experience,” says Post. “This level of preparedness and industry and subject matter expertise across our group has been instrumental in navigating the ambiguities of the current real estate landscape.”

Avenue Living’s approach uniquely streamlines operations while maximizing asset and property management efficiencies. Post says, “Our integrated focus has been a significant factor in our success, particularly because we've managed to extend it across all our investment vehicles, achieving considerable efficiency gains. As we grow, we continue to encompass more of the value chain. Within our sector, we have taken on the roles of property managers, asset managers, and back-office support, including all aspects of finance and IT, as well as managing all customer and employee interactions. This holistic strategy creates a sustainable business model for years to come.”

Long-term value creation

Avenue Living's remarkable growth, aided by the leadership of Post, shines a light on its commitment to operational excellence and stakeholder satisfaction. Post has overseen numerous strategic initiatives which have been pivotal as Avenue Living has evolved into a multi-national brand invested in three distinct asset classes – multi-family residential, self-storage, and farmland. As the company forges ahead, its vertically integrated approach and focus on purpose-driven growth position it for continued success in the dynamic real estate landscape.