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We believe that the key value drivers we list below create several competitive differentiators. These form the basis of our market positioning as the firm of choice for sophisticated clients seeking an integrated financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate on a global basis.
Client relationship management. We support our ability to deliver superior service to our clients through our ongoing investments in client relationship management and account management. Our goal is to provide each client with a single point of contact at our firm, an individual who is answerable to, and accountable for, all the activities we undertake for the client. We believe that we enhance superior client service through best practices in client relationship management, the practice of seeking and acting on regular client feedback, and recognizing each client’s own specific definition of excellence.
Our client-driven focus enables us to develop long-term relationships with real estate investors, occupiers and developers. By developing these relationships, we are able to generate repeat business and create recurring revenue sources. In many cases, we establish strategic alliances with clients whose ongoing service needs mesh with our ability to deliver fully integrated real estate services across multiple business units and locations. We support our relationship focus with an employee compensation and evaluation system designed to reward client relationship building, teamwork and quality performance, in addition to revenue development.
Integrated global business model. By combining a wide range of high-quality, complementary services and delivering them at consistently high service levels globally through wholly-owned offices with directly employed personnel, we develop and implement real estate strategies that meet the increasingly complex and far-reaching needs of our clients. We also believe that we have secured an established business presence in the world’s principal real estate markets, with the result that we can grow revenue without a proportionate increase in infrastructure costs. With operations on six continents and over 230 corporate offices, we have in-depth knowledge of local and regional markets and can provide a full range of real estate services around the globe. This geographic coverage, combined with the ability and willingness of our people to communicate and connect with each other across a common global platform, positions us to serve the needs of our multinational clients and manage investment capital on a global basis. We anticipate that our cross-selling potential across geographies and product lines will continue to develop new revenue sources for multiple business units within JLL.
We also anticipate that over time we will continue to expand our service offerings that are complementary or adjacent to our current offerings. An example would be providing services to multi-family residential real estate that complements our current services to commercial clients seeking to develop multi-use properties that encompass office, retail and residential space. Another example is that we have used our cross-border capabilities to expand the brokerage business, acquired from King Sturge in 2011, of high-end residential properties based in London.
Industry-leading research capabilities. We invest in and rely on comprehensive top-down and bottom-up research to support and guide the development of real estate and investment strategy for our clients. With approximately 350 research professionals who gather data and cover market and economic conditions around the world, we are an authority on the economics of commercial real estate. Research also plays a key role in keeping colleagues throughout the organization attuned to important trends and changing conditions in world markets. We facilitate the dissemination of this information to colleagues through our company-wide intranet. We are also devising new approaches through technology, including the use of the Internet and social media techniques, to make our research, services and property offerings more readily available to our people and our clients.
We believe that our investments in research, technology, people and thought leadership position our Firm as a leading innovator in our industry. Our various research initiatives investigate emerging trends to help us anticipate future conditions and shape new services to benefit our clients. Professionals in our Consulting Services practice identify and respond to shifting market and business trends to address changing client needs and opportunities. LaSalle relies on our comprehensive understanding of global real estate and capital markets to develop new investment products and services tailored to the specific investment goals and risk/ return objectives of our clients. We believe that our commitment to innovation and thought leadership in sustainability helps us secure and maintain profitable long-term relationships with the clients we target: the world’s leading real estate owners, occupiers, investors and developers.
Delivery of innovative solutions and consistent worldwide service (including through applications of technology). We believe that our globally coordinated investments in research, technology, people, quality control and innovation, combined with the fact that our offices are wholly-owned (rather than franchised) and our professionals are directly employed, enable us to develop, share and continually evaluate best practices across our global organization. As a result, we are able to deliver the same consistently high levels of client service and operational excellence substantially wherever our clients’ real estate investment and services needs exist.
Based on our general industry knowledge and specific client feedback, we believe we are recognized as an industry leader in technology. We possess the capability to provide sophisticated information technology systems on a global basis to serve our clients and support our employees. For example, FutureView (sm), our global portfolio optimization tool, allows corporate real estate teams with geographically diverse portfolios to identify potential rent savings by comparing their lease obligations to our firm’s sophisticated local market forecasts. OneView by JLL (sm), our client extranet technology, provides clients with detailed and comprehensive insight into their portfolios, the markets in which they operate and the services we provide to them.
Connect (sm), our intranet technology, offers our employees easy access to the Firm’s policies, news and collective thinking regarding our experience, skills and best practices. We also have implemented globally integrated systems for finance, human resources, and client relationship management, as well as securities management and trading systems for our investment management business.
We expect that we will continue to seek and implement additional ways in which we can develop and deploy technology platforms, use the Internet and employ social media techniques as business tools that will pro actively make our own services and the real estate properties we list on the Internet increasingly efficient and useful to our constituencies and that will support our marketing and client development activities.
Maximizing values of real estate portfolios. To maximize the values of our real estate investments, LaSalle capitalizes on its strategic research insights and local market knowledge to develop an integrated approach that leads to innovative solutions and value enhancement. Our global strategic perspective allows us to assess pricing trends for real estate and know which investors worldwide are investing actively. This gives us an advantageous perspective on implementing buying and selling strategies. During hold periods, our local market research allows us to assess the potential for cash flow enhancement in our clients’ assets based on an informed opinion of rental-rate trends. When combined, these two perspectives provide us with an optimal view that leads to timely execution and translates into superior investment performance.
Strong brand and reputation. In 2008, we introduced a new global brand positioning and visual identity to further differentiate us from our competitors. Based on evidence provided by marketing surveys we have commissioned, the extensive coverage we receive in top-tier business publications, the major awards we receive in many categories of real estate, sustainability and ethics, as well as our significant, long-standing client relationships, we believe that large corporations and institutional investors and occupiers of real estate recognize JLL’s ability to reliably create value in changing market conditions. Our reputation is based on our deep industry knowledge, excellence in service delivery, integrity and our global provision of high-quality, professional real estate and investment management services. We believe that the combined strength of the JLL and LaSalle brands represent a significant advantage when we pursue new business opportunities and is also a major motivator for talented people to join us around the world.
During 2014, we introduced the more formal use of the name ‘‘JLL,’’ together with refreshed logos for both JLL and LaSalle, across our businesses. The JLL name, which is also our New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol, has been used informally for a number of years, and we will use it in co-existence with ‘‘Jones Lang LaSalle,’’ which remains our legal name. Using the shorter JLL name represents its adaptation to different communication styles in different countries, languages and channels, and especially the use of digital and online channels for marketing and communications.
We believe we hold the necessary trademarks worldwide with respect to the ‘‘Jones Lang LaSalle,’’ ‘‘JLL’’ and ‘‘LaSalle Investment Management’’ names and the related logos, which we expect to continue to renew as necessary. We have obtained the right to use the top level domain names of each of ‘‘.jll’’ and ‘‘.lasalle’’ from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (‘‘ICANN’’) and are in the process of negotiating formal usage agreements, after which we will move toward implementation.
Financial strength. We focus on maintaining financial performance metrics, particularly our leverage and interest coverage ratios, that allow us to maintain investment grade financial ratings. We believe that confidence in the financial strength of long-term service providers has become increasingly important to our clients. We believe that clients are increasingly making financial strength an important criterion when they select real estate service providers. Accordingly, our ability to present a superior financial condition distinguishes us as we compete for business.
We also believe that our geographic dispersion and the range of our global service offerings diversify the sources of our revenue, reducing the overall inherent volatility of operating a real estate services business. This creates an additional measure of financial stability relative to other firms with more limited service offerings or that are only local or regional and therefore must rely on the strength of fewer different markets and services.
For a number of years, we have maintained investment grade ratings from S&P and Moody’s Investor Services, Inc. In December 2014, S&P announced that it had raised JLL’s investment grade credit rating to BBB from BBB. JLL’s issuer and senior unsecured ratings from both S&P (BBB) and Moody’s Investors Service (Baa2) are now aligned. Our primary source of credit is our unsecured credit facility (the ‘‘Facility’’) provided by an international syndicate of banks, which as of December 31, 2014 had a borrowing capacity of $1.2 billion and a maturity date of October 2018. Subsequent to December 31, 2014, we amended and expanded the Facility; refer to Note 15, Subsequent Events, within the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional discussion. During 2012, both to diversify our sources of credit and take advantage of historically low interest rates, we issued $275.0 million of long-term senior notes with a ten-year maturity and a fixed interest rate of 4.4% per annum.
Employee engagement. As a business whose primary asset is the expertise and capabilities of its people, it is important to periodically measure and evaluate the level of our employee engagement, their performance enablement, as defined below, and the effectiveness of our managers. We conducted our most recent comprehensive survey in full during the summer of 2012 and an abbreviated update survey during 2013. For both of those surveys, we used an outside provider to conduct the study and then assist us in evaluating the results.
Using our outside provider’s definitions:
Our results indicated that our people reported an overall higher level of engagement, performance enablement and manager effectiveness than the global norms. In all cases, our top quartile of most engaged employees demonstrated significantly higher results than the top quartile of the global norms. Our Employee Engagement Index, which measures the percentage of survey respondents reporting high levels of engagement with the Firm and their work here reached 73% as measured in 2012, our most recent engagement survey.
While we were pleased with the results, we are developing and intend to implement various actions to address specific areas where the data indicated room for improvement or possible concerns. For example, while engagement for new hires increased, scores for our most tenured employees declined. Additionally, we recognize that our communication and response to survey feedback could improve. In any event, we believe that the quality of our people, and their commitment to our organization and to providing a high level of service to our clients, provides us with an important differentiator within the markets in which we operate.
In our 2013 update survey, 81% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that, ‘‘Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this company as a place to work.’’ This was up 6% from the previous year and 10% above the global norm measured by our outside provider.
Strong governance, enterprise risk management and integrity. Our overlapping and communicative senior management and Board of Directors structure promotes an environment of best practices in corporate governance and controls. We believe that these attributes allow us to infuse a culture of internal communication and connectivity throughout the organization that is unparalleled in our industry.
Successful management of any organization’s enterprise risks is critical to its long-term viability. We seek to promote, operate and continually improve a globally integrated enterprise risk management model that optimizes our overall risk/reward profile through the coordinated and sophisticated interaction of business and corporate staff functions.
Related to our governance and enterprise risk management efforts, we believe in uncompromising integrity and the highest ethical conduct. We are proud of the global reputation we have earned and are determined to protect and enhance it. The integrity our brand represents is one of our most valuable assets and a strong differentiator for our company.
Sustainability leadership. We have over 180 professionals dedicated to sustainability services for our clients. Beyond this, we are increasingly integrating sustainability into our own operations as well as the core real estate services we deliver across the Firm. An example is the sustainability experts in Project and Development Services who manage green building certifications and the creation of central sustainability roles to embed sustainability throughout the advice we give. Another example is the efforts that LaSalle is making to solidify its leadership role in responsible investing and sustainable best practices with the assets it acquires and manages for clients. Our overall leadership in sustainability is evidenced by our significant thought leadership, technology, awards and industry involvement.
With sustainability as a key focus, we invest heavily in our research and thought leadership to guide our clients’ real estate investment and occupation strategies. We continue to develop influential sustainability research that supports our clients and contributes to the wider industry. Our global publications serve as good examples of our progress, including the Global Sustainability Perspective, the Real Estate Sustainability Transparency Index and the Green Blog. We also maintain partnerships with nearly 50 sustainability organizations and initiatives to further our own and our clients’ sustainability commitments. These include global efforts such as the World Green Building Council as well as numerous local green building councils.
In our Energy and Sustainability Services business, we have developed industry leading technology platforms designed to help our clients reduce their environmental footprint and energy costs: (1) OneView Energy and Sustainability Analytics help us manage an ever-increasing volume of sustainability data on behalf of our clients around the globe; (2) Portfolio Energy and Environmental Reporting System, (‘‘PEERS’’) provides a web-based platform for ongoing energy and environmental measurement and reporting including carbon footprint assessment; (3) Environmental Sustainability Platform is a real-time metering and monitoring program that enables on-line, real-time monitoring of building energy consumption; and (4) IntelliCommand is a powerful platform that combines smart technology with building operations expertise and execution to provide 24/7 real-time remote monitoring and control of facilities. These demonstrate our global expertise in the provision of technology solutions and advance our role in addressing such global challenges and opportunities as climate change and smart buildings. Using our proprietary sustainability platforms, we helped our clients measure and improve their environmental impact in approximately 126,000 buildings as of 2013.
Our sustainability consulting services benefit a wide range of clients including, for example, Leasing clients who commission green leases, green interior design and green assessments of prospective buildings; Capital Markets and Investment Management clients who want green building valuation assessments; and Project and Development Services clients who request retrofits to existing buildings.