When mentoring young professionals in the finance industry, Joseph Yiu teaches them about “passion, perseverance, and grit.” As a managing partner and Chief Investment Officer of ElmTree Funds, LLC in New York, his advice is to always “stick with your convictions because they will translate into success over time.” As a highly respected entrepreneur with over 20 years in the industry, Yiu is speaking from experience.
After studying real estate finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he began his career at a small start-up company on Wall Street. Yiu was hired on as the company’s fifth employee. However, by his second year, he convinced management to allow him to originate and to build his own book of business. This decision eventually led to his co-founding the Norseman Group at the age of 25. Within three years of its launch, the company closed over $1 billion of financing and advisory business in the net lease sector and began Yiu’s journey as an entrepreneur.
According to Yiu, his background in structured finance and debt capital markets ultimately gave him the strong foundation necessary to acquire real estate for his present company, ElmTree. He explains, “As a lender, you have a bottom up approach to underwriting where principal preservation is your #1 objective. At ElmTree, we instill the same philosophies of principal preservation and generating strong risk-adjusted returns for our institutional investors.”
ElmTree Funds is a vertically integrated real estate company that invests in commercial real estate in the net lease sector. It currently owns and manages over 11 million of SF of industrial, office, and healthcare properties spanning 30 states. While Yiu has a strong background in structured finance, Jim Koman, the company’s founder, has a strong background in development, and David Leavitt, ElmTree’s other managing partner, has a deep background in law and tax, which makes the firm’s management composition unique. Yiu explains, “ElmTree’s core business includes providing capital solutions for merchant developers on their built-to-suit properties. Over 90 percent of our investments include construction and development. We win business due to our deep understanding of development, entrepreneurial approach, and our strong reputation to execute.”
In his role at ElmTree, Yiu has many responsibilities. He is a managing partner and the chief investment officer. He is also a member of the investment committee, which is responsible for analyzing, underwriting, and approving investments into the fund. Although he heads up the acquisitions team based in New York City they are only one of the satellite offices. The company is headquartered in St. Louis with additional satellite offices in Charlotte and Phoenix.
In addition to being a valued leader at ElmTree, Yiu is also a member of the Penn Club of NY, the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center, the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Mentor Program, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), NAIOP’s E-Commerce Forum, and the Advisory Council for Marcus & Millichap’s Institutional Property Advisor’s Division. In 2013, he was also featured in Real Estate Forum as one of the top 45 under 40 in the industry.
Managing Partner – Chief Investment Officer
Elm Tree Funds, LLC
230 Park Avenue, Suite 1154
New York, New York 10169