The DI Wire Q&A with Cole Capital CEO Bill Miller
Bill Miller, Cole Capital’s chief executive officer, discusses the new regulatory landscape and its effect on the non-traded REIT industry, tips for new financial service professionals, and his recent induction into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
What inspired you to join Cole Capital?
I have worked in the financial services industry for more than 20 years. Not only did I compete against Cole Capital during that time, but I also became well aware of the company’s reputation in the industry. Cole was also always perceived as a best-in-class firm in terms of professionalism, training and education, and overall industry leadership. Since I grew to admire the company’s people, process and industry experience, Cole was an organization that I believed in and wanted to be a part of.
You have had a long tenure in financial services—what advice would you give to someone in the early stages of their career?
I encourage those in the early stages of their careers to embrace habits such as getting to work early, staying late and putting forth a level of effort that exceeds typical standards. It’s difficult to overestimate the role that adequate preparation and consistent hard work play in the achievement of success—both at work and in life. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” and I’ve certainly found that to be true in my own experience.
How is your firm approaching the new regulatory landscape?
The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule has initiated widespread changes in the industry, and the process of understanding and implementing these changes has only just begun. We are monitoring potential amendments to the fiduciary rule and are committed to working closely with broker-dealers and financial advisors as they interpret and appropriately implement the new requirements. Our focus remains solidly on what’s best for the investor and we are committed to fulfilling the intent of the regulation.
Many industry experts have had compelling arguments both for and again recent regulations such as the DOL Fiduciary Rule and 15-02. What changes do you foresee in the industry as a result of these regulations?
Regulatory changes have certainly impacted the non-listed REIT industry’s ability to maintain historical capital raise levels. Industry analysts are forecasting modest increases in overall fundraising during the next few years as broker-dealer firms implement FINRA and DOL regulations, while conducting due diligence on the new products and fee structures being introduced.
We’ve also seen the non-listed REIT industry moving toward greater transparency, and I believe that this evolution will continue. The growing popularity of NAV products is one example of the industry’s increasing focus on transparency. I also expect that more non-listed REITs will adopt the corporate governance model used by listed REITs, including majority independent boards of directors, independent non-executive chairmen, formal disclosure committees and the adoption of internal audit charters. These steps will help build credibility, which will be good for the industry.
The current environment is causing sponsors and broker-dealers alike to reconsider how they do business in many ways. I fully support the initiatives and I’m confident that improved industry transparency, changes to fee structures, improved corporate governance and the introduction of new share classes will benefit investors and the industry as a whole.
What is something our readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a former professional lacrosse player and was privileged to play alongside a world-class group of athletes on two Team USA World Championship squads in the 1990s. I also had the honor of being inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2013.
What do you consider to be your biggest professional accomplishment?
I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to make significant contributions to the firms I’ve worked with over the years. However, I prefer to maintain a forward-looking perspective and I believe that each new accomplishment is the most important to date. Today, I’m proud of my leadership at Cole Capital. Building, developing and motivating a cohesive team that is passionate about delivering results and committed to excellence has been—and continues to be —extremely rewarding.
What has been your greatest personal accomplishment?
I’ve had the privilege of raising two daughters and a son with my wife of 24 years. My family is—and always has been—both my highest priority and my proudest achievement.