Q&A with Arun Rama, Managing Director of Ritz-G5 Asia
What is your role at Ritz-G5?
As a Managing Director with Ritz-G5, I manage all aspects of the business in Asia. This encompasses sales and marketing, strategizing promotional activities, managing marketing agents, client management, operational activities in relations to clients’ contracts and title deeds and lastly but most importantly, ensure the timeliness of all scheduled payouts.
I am immensely supported by a very competent sole marketing agent in Singapore for sales activities and a fantastic team in my office for all operational and marketing aspects. I also have very professional colleagues in Brazil and London who are always ready to provide me with all the support and valuable insights to achieve the goals of Ritz-G5 Asia.
How long have you been involved with the company?
I have been involved with Ritz-G5 for nearly 2 years.
What does your typical day look like?
This is a very dynamic business as so there is rarely a typical day. Every day poses new excitement and challenges. The excitement comes in the light of securing new territories to market, meeting with new clients and/or marketing new projects. The challenges come in the form of changes in regulations, changes in economic factors such as exchange rate and political changes.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your role?
My most enjoyable aspect of my role is to see clients receiving their payouts on time, every time. I always believe that when clients invest in Ritz-G5 they are giving us an opportunity to earn their trust. Hence when Ritz-G5 delivers on its promise by making the scheduled payment promptly it seals the trust and takes the relationship to another level. As we grow as a business the number of scheduled payouts in a month is increasing and so is the amount that we are paying.
Are you originally from Singapore? If not, why did you chose to live/work in Singapore?
Singapore is my home. This is where I was born, studied and served the nation. My home, Singapore, has given me all the opportunities and successes in my life.
Ritz-G5 has recently achieved a major milestone in Asia, the 3rd anniversary of Ritz-G5 Singapore. How did you mark this occasion?
Ritz-G5’s 3rd anniversary in Singapore is indeed memorable for us as it coincides with Singapore celebrating its 50th year of independence. Ritz-G5 takes pride that in a span of 3 years we were crowned as a Top 3 Emerging company at the SME Asia Awards and we have completed marketing three projects to Asian clients. In fact, this anniversary also saw Ritz-G5 making the scheduled exit payouts of our flagship project – Palm Springs. We celebrated this event by launching our fourth project, Airtropolis Village, to Asia.
You talk of the first exit payouts for investors in the Palm Springs development, why was this so important?
When we first marketed Palm Springs in Asia, everything was new to investors – it was a new concept, new continent and a new company. Many clients took a leap of faith with Ritz-G5, then after 3 years, clients witnessed the project’s work progress, saw its completion and now more than 80% of the plots have been sold to local Brazilians. We have not missed any scheduled payouts and with this first scheduled exit paid out, we have earned their trust with Ritz-G5. We are now experiencing not only reinvestment from these valued clients but more importantly, they are referring their friends and relatives to our projects. We are very proud of our record of accomplishment.
Why do you think Brazil, and Natal in particular, has been and remains so appealing to Asian investors?
In Asia, Brazil is very remote and most Asian only know about Brazil for football or Samba, hence Natal is practically unheard of. However, through our seminars more investors have understood that Natal is a great place not only for its beautiful beaches and sunny weather throughout the year but also a great place to invest as its region boasts an economic growth rate that is faster than the national average. Moreover, the economically active individual in Natal earns at least 6 times more than the national minimum wage. This, along with the deficit in housing stock, makes Natal a perfect market for Asian clients to invest in real estate investment.
Which areas of Natal are most sought-after by Asian investors and why?
Natal is nearly 30 hours by flight from Asia hence it’s not an ideal place for Asians to purchase a holiday home. Moreover, most Asians do not speak Portuguese hence the chances of considering Natal as a retirement home is very remote. Nevertheless, Asian investors would like to invest in a project that is able to offer a clearly defined exit with good returns. They would like to capitalise their opportunity in real estate and make their money work harder for them. This is especially so in many Asian markets where the bank interest rates for savings are very low.
Hence, these clients who are unfamiliar with Rio Grande do Norte rely on the expertise of Ritz-G5 to select the best real estate investment opportunities for them. Ritz-G5 has a very professional and experienced team in Brazil who help select these excellent opportunities for our Asian clients.
And which types of investment are proving most popular? Residential apartments? Hotel rooms? Land plots?
The investment opportunities currently offered to real estate market in Asia by Ritz-G5 are for infrastructure development funding as well as 2-bedroom apartments (Costa Azul). Both types of investment opportunities are popular in that it offers a collateral in the form of title deed and clearly defined exit strategy.
Ritz-G5 Singapore honoured Brazilian Independence Day this September, is the relationship between Brazil and Singapore strong?
This is the first year Ritz-G5 honoured Brazilian Independence Day in Singapore. Asian investment in Brazil has benefitted both sides financially and helped Brazilians to overcome the deficit in housing.
Hence, this year Ritz-G5 brought it upon themselves to act as an important bridge to foster a closer relationship among the countries. Ritz-G5 was very pleased that the Ambassador of the Brazilian Embassy in Singapore, His Excellency Luis Fernando, made a huge effort to grace this event along with other representatives from his office.
How do you see the future of Brazilian real estate investment?
I am very optimistic of the future of Brazilian real estate investment. The growing middle class and the current deficit in housing will definitely fuel the demand for housing in Brazil. In my opinion, Natal will grow rapidly in real estate firstly due to domestic migration as reports have shown that more people from other parts of Brazil are moving to the Northeast for its superior quality and lower cost of living compared to other regions in Brazil. The current fall of the Brazilian real also proves to be a boom for Natal as more tourists from Europe are flocking to this “City of the Sun”. The falling Brazilian real has also made property in Natal more attractive to European markets for holiday homes or even a retirement property.
In the fact, according to the latest business survey by Prospecta Inteligencia Imobiliaria, Natal is rated as the fifth best city to invest in real estate in the whole of Brazil and the best in the Northeast of Brazil.
And is the fall of the real positive or negative for Asian investors?
To most Asian investors this has not been a huge concern, predominantly due to the fact they are investing in Singapore Dollars or in some cases, US Dollars and the returns are paid in the respective currency they have invested.
In your role as a Managing Director, what are the biggest challenges you face?
The biggest challenge faced in my opinion is the changes brought about by the regulations in different markets. I agree most of the regulations are necessary such as Anti-Money Laundering regulations but it means there is a need to change the processes and invent in new systems to meet the demands of the regulators.
What has been your biggest professional achievement so far?
The biggest professional achievement that Ritz-G5 achieved so far is that we have always fulfilled our obligations to clients and have never missed a pay-out, therefore earning the trust of our valued client. Clients today see Ritz-G5 as a trusted and proven partner for their investment in Brazil. I take pride knowing the fact that clients are now confidently investing in Brazil because of the faith they have with Ritz-G5. This is indeed the hallmark of any reputable developer and Ritz-G5 will endeavour to keep this faith growing in them.
And finally, what does 2016 hold for Ritz-G5 Asia?
2016 is going to be a great year for Ritz-G5 and our clients will be able to see the company growing in leaps and bounds. Our clients can be assured that not only there will be more attractive and innovative investment opportunities presented to them but they will also continue to receive their pay-outs promptly.
Ritz-G5 Asia clients will also witness more corporate and institutional investors being attracted and the company will move towards providing clients with an investment opportunity in a regulated environment. Ritz-G5 will also be providing Shariah compliant product to support the growing demand of this market.
Clients can also look forward to celebrating with Ritz-G5 when it receives further international awards for their projects. Lastly, Ritz-G5 will continue to build on the trust of its clients and open up new markets hence increasing its client base in Asia.