Private equity faces tailwinds in Canada - and that's good for investors

Equiton CFO Helen Hurlbut highlights growth at Equiton and why investors should consider private equity in real estate

Private equity faces tailwinds in Canada - and that's good for investors
Helen Hurlbut, chief financial officer at Equiton

When asked what the benefit of investing in private equity is, Helen Hurlbut says it’s full of opportunity. The chief financial officer at Equiton, a property management firm, says private equity is also a platform “that’s open to most Canadians”. All it takes is a minimum $10,000 investment.

“That might be more difficult as you may need more money in other type of investments,” she says. “But it does open the door to a lot more people. It's also not a public market; it's not susceptible to the public market ups and downs. And it's based on real results, so that's very important for the individual investor.”

Despite investors feeling concerned about interest rates, inflation, and ongoing price corrections, Hurlbut noted that private equity isn’t going anywhere any time soon and allows the everyday investor to benefit and to be part owner of the fund, which is a “great opportunity.” Equiton regularly receives feedback from investors who want to feel supported in their investments and those investments include private equity.

Hurlbut says private equity isn’t the only area Equiton investors are interested in but rather they’re interested in a plethora of aspects. “The rental market is very under saturated … but our developments are also doing really well, because housing is still an issue, whether it's a rental market or a buy market.” 

Kathy Gjamovska, vice-president of marketing and communications at Equiton, added that the firm deals with institutional grade-like apartments and development projects, noting the tailwinds for Canada and those kinds of markets “are huge.”

“When you look at immigration, when you look at how many people are renting today, there’s very strong tailwinds in those areas. As we educate investors, they can see that there's a lot of opportunity there and there will be in the future.”

In 2015, the recently nominated Benefits and Pensions Monitor Elite Woman took a huge entrepreneurial leap when Equiton CEO and founder Jason Roque handpicked her as the co-founder of Equiton. They worked together to ensure private equity investments were made available to all Canadians.

Hurlbut considers the private equity venture her most significant achievement and has worked toward building the company into Canada’s private equity real estate investment space that it is today: a firm with $1 billion in AUM.

“We are growing, and to me, it tells me that [investors] are there. They like this sort of investment opportunity,” she said. “It's all in the numbers. If you're growing, then there's acceptance.” That growth and acceptance can also mean additional people investing in real estate. Not just real estate investors but everyday investors as well, Hurlbut highlighted.

“I find the day-to-day person understands real estate. They have a really good understanding of what it is. They know what an apartment is, they know what a condo is. They're investing in something they already have knowledge in, rather than widgets or robotics that they have no knowledge of,” she said.

For investors who want to get a good look at their metrics to help with investments, Hurlbut points to Equiton’s historical returns and their annual reports that include financial statements with return. “There's a lot of information for investors to be able to look at, to educate themselves on what we've done,” she highlighted. “We have surpassed our goals year over year. They can see that we have delivered what we've targeted, and then some.”

As co-founder of Equiton, Hurlbut has also scaled the business to a team of almost 200 employees. Reflecting on her team and Equiton’s success, she says it’s comes down to hiring the right people.

“People that understand what we're about,” she said. “They have the same philosophy we have, and that is: roll up your sleeves, work hard, be open in communication, leave your ego. It really is a very down to earth type of environment that's very organized and has very strong governance.”