Strategy 2020: Our future orientation

During 2015, we continued to implement our Strategy 2020, which we first launched to identify specific business and operational strategies we believe will best drive the continued success of the G5 priorities over the longer term. They include:

  • Employing an investment philosophy and filters that are focused on growth that will best meet client needs and concentrate on the most lucrative potential services, markets and cities;
  • Establishing charters for internal business boards with responsibility for promoting more inter-connected global approaches, where appropriate, to client services and delivery;
  • Using technology, including emerging digital, Internet and social media capabilities, to provide information to clients to help them maximize the value of their real estate portfolios and to mine and apply our knowledge to improve the ability of our people to provide superior client services;
  • Deploying additional tools and metrics that will make our people as productive and efficient as possible;
  • Determining how best to marshal, train, recruit, motivate and retain the human resources that will have the skill sets, diversity and other abilities necessary to accomplish our strategic objectives;
  • Continuing to develop our brand and reputation for high quality client service, integrity and intimate local and global market knowledge;
  • Building our brand in digital and social media channels; and
  • Continuing to promote best-in-class governance, compliance, enterprise risk management and professional standards to operate a sustainable organization capable of meeting the significant challenges and risks inherent in global markets and to minimize disruptions to, and distractions from, the accomplishment of our corporate mission.

Viewed as complementary strategies, the G5 and Strategy 2020 work in combination to provide both short- and long-term paths to sustained success for our Firm.

As a professional services organization, the principal capitals we deploy are (1) human resources enabled by (2) intellectual property in the form of market knowledge, technology, innovation, and a reputation for quality, expertise, and integrity that is reflected by the strength of our brand, and (3) financial resources. Our Strategy 2020 review confirmed that the historical approach we have taken to our business should sustain us in the future. We believe there is ample room for growth within our core markets and competencies without having to resort to particularly different business lines to continue to grow and prosper as a business organization. We will, however, maintain an open mind about moving into adjacent businesses where local teams identify specific opportunities, as our clients and industry evolve, and as new technologies develop that could support our business.

We also believe that our historical approach to growth through a combination of organic development of talent and opportunistic acquisitions continues to be the best overall approach for us. Our business model has natural risk mitigation benefits derived from the diversity of our geographic presence, asset classes served, and complementary service lines. This diversity also provides revenue streams that have both short-term transactional and longer-term annuity characteristics.

During 2015, we continued to devote significant efforts and resources to implement our 2020 strategies and priorities through the deployment of cross-functional workstreams that have engaged our leadership globally. We expect these workstreams to continue for the foreseeable future and we have put a mechanism in place for both our Board of Directors and our Global Executive Board to monitor and influence their progress on a regular basis.

Our Strategy 2020 identified particular challenges we will need to confront to successfully achieve its goals:

  • In terms of our financial capital, we recognize the challenge of maintaining healthy short-term profit margins while continuing to invest in the further growth of the business. As there is constant fee pressure from our clients that is inherent in a competitive professional services environment, we need to continue to find new ways to increase the productivity of our people so that we can drive higher revenue per person. Additional productivity can be derived by improved application of technology, by continuous process improvements, and through increased staff well-being and training and development, among other techniques.

Example: We now report revenues per professional in our quarterly operating reviews to senior management.

  • In terms of our human capital, we recognize that our investments in talent will continue to be a primary method of creating long-term value and that continuing business growth will necessitate the growth and increased flexibility and diversity of our workforce. This can be a challenge, particularly in emerging markets, where the available pool of talent does not necessarily have the skill sets we need. Consequently, we may need to establish our own training programs beyond what is typically required for companies in developed markets. Increased reliance on third-party suppliers may create challenges in terms of due diligence, performance management, and ensuring that third-party personnel have the same level of commitment and integrity as we demand from our own people. In developed markets, the challenge of growing a workforce with the requisite skill sets can be frustrated by the targeted efforts of competitors to hire away our people, including sometimes by offering above-market compensation.

Example: We now report diversity statistics in our quarterly operating reviews to senior management.

  • In terms of our intellectual capital, we recognize the challenge of continuing to identify innovations through which we can provide increasingly valuable services to our clients, including as the result of developing, identifying, and successfully applying new technologies to our business processes. We also must confront the challenges inherent in managing and mining the significant data in our systems so that it can be made useful to our people and maximized in terms of our ability to analyze it in a sophisticated way for the benefit of our clients. As we develop our intellectual capital, we need to make sure our brand, and the awareness it generates in the marketplace, keeps pace with our capabilities and the messages we want associated with them in the minds of current and prospective clients, employees, and other third parties in the business community and society at large.

Example: Our U.S. business runs an annual innovation competition to identify cutting-edge approaches that will benefit clients, which we then evaluate in terms of potential patent applications.

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