28.10.2020

    The Quintessential – with CBA’s Cheryl Douglas

    Celebrating the work of our Ecosystem partners

    Interview with Cheryl Douglas – Relationship Executive, CBA Victoria (Property and Construction)

    At Quintessential Equity, we are guided by the belief that you should enjoy what you do, and who you do it with.

    To help drive consistent quality and deliver the best possible results for our investors and tenants, we are proud to work with a circle of trusted Ecosystem partners – made up of some of the country’s best agents, valuers, financiers, legal advisers, property consultants and construction companies.

    Our new series ‘The Quintessential’ celebrates the work of this Ecosystem and demonstrates the excellent outcomes that can be achieved through meaningful and lasting relationships.

    For the first feature in this series, we sat down with Cheryl Douglas from QE’s long-term partner Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), to discuss the importance of collaboration in her role as a relationship executive.

    Cheryl is an accomplished finance executive with over 20 years’ experience in the management of financial functions within the property sector. At CBA, Cheryl assists with a full range of banking solutions, including debt facilities of up to $400 million, transactional banking, investments, interest rate hedging, capital raising, and wealth management.

     

    As a relationship executive with CBA’s Property & Construction team, what does your job involve?

    At CBA, I’m responsible for the general financial needs of a portfolio of large property, investor and development clients. This involves looking after the clients’ corporate financial needs but also helping connect them to the right people within the bank for anything else.

    To a degree, being a relationship executive means becoming a part of the client’s team. We work as a kind of ‘go between’ – advocating for the client within the bank to ensure they can get things done, and at the same time advocating for the bank to inform the client where their project fits within the market.

    There are a lot of teams at CBA that specialise in different sectors, but our team focuses specifically in property, which means that when a client comes to us we are able to understand exactly what their needs are. We’re based in Melbourne and I am one of about 10 relationship executives in the property and construction team.

     

    How did you get into this role?

    I’ve been in the property industry for over 20 years, and with CBA for about four of these.

    A lot of the time people kind of fall into these things, but property is something I have always been passionate about. Over the years I’ve worked for a lot of different businesses, including with property developers and fund managers, but one thing that I’ve always found is this commonality in the industry that connects people.

    In my current role, I am really motivated by this people aspect. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to directly benefit individuals and their organisation – and assist them to realise their goals. In development especially, I love being able to work together with a client from the initial project concept through to the end product.

    Having been in the industry for so long, I also really enjoy that I can be a go-to person that people seek out if they’re experiencing a bit of a challenge or need some advice – even if they’re not my clients.

     

    How important is collaboration and relationships in what you do?

    A big part of my role is getting to know the client really well, and building these strong personal relationships so that I can tell their story and advocate for them within the bank. If I don’t know them well, it’s much more difficult to effectively communicate this and get things over the line.

    Particularly in larger transactions, it’s also important to have a level of collaboration between our clients and internal stakeholders, so there is a degree of transparency along the journey. I really value the way that our internal stakeholders at CBA, whether risk or senior management, are always keen to get involved and connect directly with the client.

    CBA’s relationship with QE stretches back a long way, almost to the company’s inception. While I have only been working with the team for the past two and a half years, it’s a relationship that I really value.

    Most recently, I have worked with the team on their Malop St development in Geelong and an industrial asset in Adelaide, the Port Adelaide Distribution Centre (PADC).

    Both projects involved a lending requirement, and as the deal team leader I helped ensure they were approved, settled and completed within the team’s timeframe expectations.

    While it was relatively straight forward to get Malop St financed, PADC had a few more challenges – so there needed to be a lot of collaboration and open communication with QE and CBA’s internal stakeholders to work through this together.

    One of the things I think you appreciate more as you get older is the value of working with good people – and the team at QE are really a pleasure to work with.

     

    How have you had to adapt the way you do business as a result of COVID-19?

    One of the biggest things for me personally has been the need to get a bit more tech-savvy while we work from home – I spend most of my time these days on the phone, because that’s the only way to properly catch up with clients!

    At CBA, I’m really proud of the way the organisation has been able to adapt to provide support to our customers, such as deferring loans or offering quick access to funding to help business during this time.

    The pandemic fast-tracked some of the digital improvements that we’ve made to our lending applications – and as a result we’ve been able to very quickly deliver lending support to customers, particularly small businesses, through the Government’s Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme.

    Obviously COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty in the property market, but I am confident that the industry will recover – we’ll just need to change the way we do things. I think that we’ll have a very different outlook on design and a lot of design elements will change, particularly for new offices and apartments. However, while we will need to look at things a little differently, I do think that the markets will normalise.

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