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"Credit Suisse's flexibility was crucial to my career."

With the CS REF LivingPlus and CS REF Hospitality funds, Jessica Lindauer manages real estate assets worth around CHF 4 billion. In addition to the exciting real estate deals that she concludes, the people she works with are the highlight of her job. Even after the birth of her son, she did not have to make any compromises with regard to her family or her career.

May 9, 2023

Key takeaways

  • The population is getting older and baby boomers are reaching retirement age. As a result, the demand for flexible forms of housing is increasing in old age. 
  • CS REF LivingPlus invests in line with these demographic trends and holds promising residential properties for senior citizens in its portfolio.
  • In old age, the social aspect is particularly important. The new forms of housing are an investment in the well-being of the older generation and against isolation.
  • The fund, worth over CHF 3 billion, includes 101 properties with different types of housing, such as retirement and nursing homes, as well as intergenerational housing developments.
  • The average residual rental term (WAULT) is 12,5 years and the rental default rate is very low at 2,61%. In addition, the fund constantly distributes dividends of CHF 3,6.
  • The fund relies on many competent partners for implementation, including large and experienced operators such as Tertianum and Senevita.

Data as of 31.12.2022

It all began in 2008 with the Credit Suisse Career Starter Program for university graduates. Born in Zurich, Jessica Lindauer joined the banking world in Geneva, Zurich, and London right after finishing high school and during her master's degree in business administration.

From Private Banking to Asset Management

Jessica Lindauer discovered her affinity for real estate in Private Banking when advising private individuals on mortgage loans. From then on, she knew where she wanted to go. Within the bank, she specifically looked for a department with a focus on real estate and began working in Credit Suisse's Asset Management in 2010. As part of the acquisition team for Swiss real estate, she was thrown in at the deep end as a trainee after just a few weeks and had to present a potential investment to the Investment Committee. "The interesting real estate projects and the dynamics of the negotiations have been my cup of tea right from the start," says the fund manager. "My day-to-day work is very diverse and varied. We invest in the future and look at ways of living, working models, demographics, and urban planning. In doing so, we are committed to always having our finger on the pulse of the latest trends and sustainability aspects." 

For more than 13 years now, Jessica Lindauer has been working in the Real Estate unit of Credit Suisse Asset Management. During this time, she has succeeded in forming a network of long-standing partners. "Everyone needs people they can trust in their work world," says Jessica Lindauer.

Starting a family and having a career in the real estate sector

When her son was born in 2014, she switched to Real Estate Sales within the Transactions unit. The lower level of employment was very compatible with her situation, thanks to structured and predictable sales processes. "The 60% level of employment at the time was ideal for me and crucial for my career. I didn't have to compromise on the content of the job and received exciting sales projects with a focus on hotels."

This remains an important milestone for the fund manager because the flexibility offered by her employer gave her the opportunity to pursue her career without having to forgo spending time with her son. "After four days of family time, I was really looking forward to my day-to-day work and my colleagues." But it was also a challenge to reconcile both. "The time in the morning until my son was at daycare and I was in the office could be very hectic sometimes. It often felt like half a day had already passed before I even arrived at my workplace," says Jessica Lindauer.  

After six years, there was an opportunity to advance and take the next big step. In 2020, Jessica Lindauer became the fund manager of Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund Hospitality and Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund LivingPlus. Today, she manages a portfolio of over 130 properties, which together have a market value of around CHF 4 billion. 

The fund manager pulls the strings

In order to manage the real estate portfolio, the fund manager is in regular contact with the specialist units for the funds, consisting of Asset Management, Construction, Finance, and Transactions, all of which make a significant contribution to our success. In this role, she has to pull the strings, communicate the strategic objectives internally and externally, and define and initiate the appropriate measures to achieve them.   

The real estate industry is a people business

In addition to the input and recommendations from the specialist units, Jessica Lindauer believes that in order for her to be able to make decisions, it is important that she is in contact with colleagues from Fund Management. As a sounding board, they challenge Jessica Lindauer in her decisions and they support each other. 

Being a trustworthy partner with integrity in the market is very important to the fund manager. In the small Swiss real estate sector, paths are always crossing: A buyer can be a seller tomorrow, a seller a tenant, and you’re suddenly sitting on the other side of the negotiating table. Here, Jessica Lindauer's strong people skills are her recipe for success. 

"It is important that women are not perceived any differently than their male colleagues, especially when making investment decisions. Our decisions are based on investment criteria and not on personality or gender. We must act in the best interests of investors. There are no differences in the decision-making process here." Jessica Lindauer, Fund manager

Coronavirus and lockdown hit parts of the real estate industry hard

It is therefore not surprising that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals with financial problems and the closure of entire businesses were a major burden for everyone. "Business continuity must also be ensured in these types of situations, but such crises hit close to home. This was one of the biggest challenges of my career," says Jessica Lindauer.

Decisions are based on investment criteria and not on personality or gender

There are still very few women in the investment field of the real estate sector, but Jessica Lindauer doesn't particularly see herself as a role model. "It is important that women are not perceived any differently than their male colleagues, especially when making investment decisions. Our decisions are based on investment criteria and not on personality or gender. We must act in the best interests of investors. There are no differences in the decision-making process here," explains Jessica Lindauer.  

Being able to listen, reason and make decisions for the benefit of investors – in Jessica Lindauer’s eyes, these qualities are not held by any one gender.

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