New Visibility: Platform Raises Behringer Harvard’s Investment Profile

With investors in search of healthy possibilities amid the market’s many risks, the premium on access to fast, accurate information has only increased. REIT sponsor Behringer Harvard’s affiliation with financial information processing and software firm DST Systems Inc. is helping it provide just that for potential investors.In February 2008, Behringer Harvard became the first direct participation sponsor to have its funds listed on TA2000, an online data transfer and record-keeping system, as well as DST Vision, the firm’s account management platform. Behringer Harvard’s goal at the time was to offer the financial advisors and clients invested in Behringer Harvard-sponsored REITs the same level of record keeping and reporting that had been common in mutual fund and other financial service sectors. And it has paid off.DST was no stranger to that industry, having expanded its presence in the mutual fund space to the point of controlling 60 percent of the outsourcing software market share for the industry, according to its operations officer, Chris Shaw, who noted that many users had been suggesting similar coverage for non-traded REITs as that investment area grew in popularity among investment managers.For Behringer Harvard, partnering with DST was a natural choice to allow its clients access to information on its sponsored REITs. “We began to pour the foundations of this relationship in mid-2006,” noted the REIT sponsor’s chief administrative officer, Jason Mattox (pictured). “DST had superior offerings in the marketplace, and they were quite willing to explore how to modify (their system) to fit REITs in the space.” The firms spent about six months on the transition, and Behringer Harvard made its debut on DST Vision last February.With the system up and running, financial advisors whose clients are invested in Behringer Harvard-sponsored REITs can easily access and work with the program, which is an Internet-based browser accessible directly from the REIT sponsor’s Web site. “Once you’re in there, there’s a page that lists all of your customers in a global client list and whether they are invested in Behringer,” said Shaw. “There are various tools for clients to use, all of which are self taught and intuitive.”According to Mattox, the new system has been very popular with clients and represents a new level of prominence for the non-traded REIT market. “I think there’s excitement that non-traded REITs have the kind of visibility that mutual funds have had,” he said. “This robust platform that we’ve been able to provide has been very well received.”Client Brett Ellen, president of American Financial Network, a financial planner advising investors in Behringer-sponsored REITs, praised the system. “The DST information is able to be downloaded directly into our database,” he said. “And that’s really helpful for getting the latest data and keeping up on things as they happen.” Ellen said that his clients have become more concerned about their investments and have taken a more hand-on approach. “We’ve gone from having semiannual meetings (with clients) to monthly meetings,” he noted, adding that the access to DST Vision’s data is more important now than ever.