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‘Not Just A Disparity In Wealth, A Disparity In Hope’: Turner Impact Capital CEO Bobby Turner At BMAC LA

Turner Impact Capital founder Bobby Turner

The biggest names in multifamily real estate will discuss the state of the industry on the West Coast at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference on July 17. Speakers will address job and residential growth, construction demand and a promising, though complex future. Register here for the event.

Bobby Turner’s story is one of evolution. Having entered the commercial real estate space straight out of college in 1984, he struggled with moral discomfort around the disparity between the haves and have-nots. Today he is fully invested in providing creative, lasting answers to some of society’s most vexing issues.

"I was in an environment where the sole metric of success was making money and where the sole means to win was for someone else to lose,” Turner said. “In my desire to buy my redemption, I started moonlighting as a philanthropist, but there was an emotional discomfort that came from throwing money at peoples’ misfortunes. Really, we were just putting Band-Aids on issues. We weren’t being held accountable."

He founded Turner Impact Capital to transcend the Band-Aids. Today, Turner is an advocate of responsible investment, putting teeth into the usual CRE version of philanthropy. Turner gave Bisnow an advance look at what he plans to discuss in his upcoming keynote at the Bisnow Multifamily Annual Conference West.

Name: Turner Impact Capital principal and CEO Bobby Turner
City: Los Angeles
Years in the industry: 25

Bisnow: Why is Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference West on July 17 important to you, and what are you planning to speak about?

Turner: Part of my job is to be a thought leader in the responsibility of business as a force for good. I will say this over and over: As much as people want to believe we’re suffering from a disparity in wealth, I think it’s symptomatic of our problem. Let’s be honest: It’s more extreme than it’s ever been. We are, rather, suffering from a disparity in hope.

I grew up in the 99%, but I always believed in the feasibility of the American dream — with hard work and a little bit of luck, I could become the 1%. I did — but I recognize the role luck played. At this point in our society, the American dream is really lost. There are tens of millions of families in this country whose outcomes — financial, social, healthwise — are predetermined on where they are born.

When you lose hope in the equation, when you can’t dream, the only word that fills that void is despair.

Bisnow: How would you describe your role at Turner Impact Capital?

Turner: Jack-of-all-trades. My role is chief curator of talent. My job is to go out and find the most talented people who have the most diverse vision, the wisdom and intelligence to help us tackle the most daunting challenges in society. I’m chief cheerleader.

Bisnow: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue affecting commercial real estate?

Turner: There’s a lack of community-serving infrastructure. We suffer from a shortage of preventative healthcare clinics, a shortage of affordable workforce housing, a shortage of great public schools serving the needs of underserved communities.

If we don’t address these issues, we are on a very fast track to some form of political revolution or physical revolution in this country. It’s just not sustainable. Between 70% and 80% of people are living paycheck to paycheck. That’s survival mode. We have to have a market-driven solution.

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

Turner: I’m a fanatical husband and a fanatical father. The most delicious part of my life is watching my kids grow up to become responsible human beings. My daughter is an incoming senior in college; my son is an incoming freshman in college.

My biggest vice is that I am a very fanatical Motocross rider. I jump on dirt bikes and travel the world. When you’re riding a dirt bike along the Mekong River, you’re not thinking about work or social justice. You’re thinking "don’t ride off this trail because you will die."

Bobby Turner will deliver the keynote address at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference West on July 17.