Richard Gerritsen

By on Jun 5, 2019 in People

Our latest Yardi leadership series profile comes from Amsterdam, which is home for Richard Gerritsen, Yardi’s regional director for Europe. He gave us an update on Yardi’s presence and progress in the region.

Richard Gerritsen

Q: Richard, what is Yardi’s presence in Europe?

A: We started with offices in London and Amsterdam in 2002 and now serve clients on the European continent who hold properties in 26 countries—from Norway to Spain, and as far east as Poland and Romania. We subsequently added offices in Mainz, Germany, and Cluj, Romania.

Q: What are some key characteristics of the European real estate market?

A: Property management has a distinct international component here: A portfolio might be owned in one country, operate in another country and report to investors in yet another one, or more. Each party most likely has its own currency and tax requirements. Even many locally focused property managers are increasingly serving clients from the U.S. and Asia. They all need a sophisticated software platform to provide a high level of efficiency, transparency and compliance for their clients, which is why Yardi Investment Management accounts for a sizeable portion of our sales on the continent. Being able to report on multinational holdings from one platform is a huge advantage.

Q: So investment management is the primary focus?

A: Yardi is heavily focused on asset and fund management in Europe because so many holdings are multinational. Our property management client base is smaller than Yardi’s share in the U.S., but we are well established among European commercial property managers and we anticipate some of our strongest growth to come from the residential market.

Q: What has been key to Yardi’s growth and prominence in the market?

A: We provide technology and support to meet the international requirements I mentioned while also having the functionality and deep knowledge to serve local operators. In fact, almost half of our clients serve exclusively local markets. We are well-positioned as a global player but also devote a lot of focus to being a local player that services local real estate firms.

Q: How do you support clients after the implementation phase of the relationship?

A: We consider it very important to maintain long-term contact with our solutions’ end-users, so we established local user groups in 14 European countries. These are relatively small-scale events with a lot of direct interaction between our support teams and local Yardi users. We also host an annual Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference that alternates between London and Amsterdam.

Q: Shared space and sustainability are two major property management trends in the U.S. Are they prominent in Europe too?

A: Coworking and shared space are very prominent in the U.K. Last year’s acquisition of Phoenix Broadband Ltd. in Scotland, along with the new Yardi Kube platform that was introduced this year, put Yardi in excellent position to pursue a variety of opportunities. It’s a relatively new market in the rest of Europe but we anticipate growth there as well.

Sustainability is also growing as a priority. GRESB is widely accepted as the standard for real estate sustainability efforts in Europe, and our partnership with GRESB is a major talking point and advantage for us.

Q: What were you doing before Yardi?

A: I have a financial accounting background and moved into software sales. Including my Yardi experience, I’ve been doing software sales for 20 years.

Q: When did you join Yardi?

A: I became employee number eight in Europe in 2005. At that time we had two people in the U.K. and five in the Netherlands, which was our first office. That’s because our first Yardi Voyager client in Europe did their conversion in Amsterdam.

Q: So you’ve seen a lot of change over the years?

A: Yes, both our staff and our client base have grown dramatically. For example, when we had our early Yardi advanced solution conferences (YASC), we thought it was great if 10 clients showed up. Our most recent one, in Amsterdam in November, drew 400 people. As another measure of our growth, in March we welcomed 65 employees to Prague for our first internal European sales conference, a counterpart to the session held at Yardi’s corporate headquarters every February.

Q: It sounds like you’re on the go quite a lot.

A: I travel every month: London, Helsinki, Berlin, Paris and other places. Fortunately, distances in Europe are relatively short—Paris, for example, is an hour’s flight. I like to kid my friend Peter Altobelli [vice president and general manager of Yardi Canada] that he has to fly longer to Vancouver or Calgary from Toronto than I do going to most countries outside the Netherlands.

Q: Do you still feel a sense of discovery after nearly 14 years?

A: It’s been great to help grow the business in Europe into what it is today, but I still feel like we’re just getting started. It’s incredible to think what the capabilities that we introduced in the U.S. market will do here. Every day there’s something exciting.