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National Real Estate Forum

Released weekly on Mondays, the National Real Estate Forum Podcast is hosted by Dr. Adam Gower, a 30 year real estate industry veteran. Cutting through the clutter, the series features discussions with some of the world's foremost real estate experts in both academia and industry to help enhance your real estate knowledge, hone your skills, and enable you and your business to thrive.
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Mar 19, 2017

DELOITTE: ONE OF WORLD'S BIG 4 ACCOUNTING FIRMS

My guest today is Bob O’Brien of Deloitte.  Deloitte, one of the ‘big four’ accounting firms in the world is a vast international network that provides ‘audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax, and related services to select clients.’  The firm was founded in 1845, in London, so they must be good, and today they employ nearly a quarter of a million people worldwide.  They are the 6th largest privately owned organization operating in the United States, and in 2016 the company earned nearly 37 billion US dollar in revenues.  Mr. O’Brien is Vice Chairman and partner of Deloitte, and heads up their Global and US real estate practice.

He is my first guest from industry instead of academia although, if you wait until the very end of today’s podcast, right after my usual sign off, I have included some outtakes of my conversation with him in which you will discover that although he is from industry, his amazing company also has its own university, Deloitte University, and Bloomberg have compared the training center as 'Deloitte's Disneyland.'

Mr. O'Brien very kindly shared his insights derived from the collective intelligence of his firm of 250,000 people plus their clients, into five areas in which the real estate industry will see profound change in our lifetimes:  mobility, and the impact of autonomous vehicles, health and welfare, and the provision of new standards of care for employees, the internet of things, and the integration with where we live and work and what we do on a daily basis, 3D printing and how retail may evolve to better compete with the online shopping experience, and intelligent buildings where analysis of use patterns will lead to greater efficiencies and predictability. 

What is particularly fascinating is that, with the pace of technological change, as real estate developers and investors, we really need to be thinking now about the projects we are building and for which we expect will have up to 100 year lifespans or even longer.   We are living in an era where the real estate industry needs to collaborate with the technology industry, or risk planning and financing developments that could become obsolete before they have even been built.  The importance of a cross disciplinary approach is paramount, and those institutions that have the vision to recognize and prepare for this, will be the ones that lead us into the next generation.

Today's podcast is the first in which I experiment with outtakes after my sign off.  Listen in to hear Mr. O’Brien talk about the Deloitte University and share some of his other thoughts.  Also, it is worth looking spending a few minutes watching as well as a link to a Bloomberg feature on The Edge building – it is really incredible and well worth the time spent taking a look.

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