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DJ Busch transitions from life as a real estate researcher to the corporate suite

December 2, 2019

When InvenTrust Properties announced in June that Daniel J. Busch would be CFO and treasurer, it was a turning point in the new executive’s career.

Busch began work formally and officially in September. He joins InvenTrust after a decade at Newport Beach, Calif.–based Green Street Advisors as a managing director of retail. This latest move, he asserts, is a natural career progression. “After spending nearly 10 years researching other retail real estate firms, my inclination was to see if perhaps I could succeed in their shoes — if I could put many of the things I wrote about into practice,” he said.

Busch replaces Adam Jaworski, who had been serving as the interim financial officer since August of last year. Jaworski, a senior vice president, continues now as chief accounting officer.

InvenTrust is a retail REIT that acquires grocery-anchored open-air centers in growth markets boasting good demographics. Three months ago the firm purchased two grocery-anchored retail centers — one in Frisco, Texas, and the other in Rockville, Md. — for roughly $120 million. InvenTrust became a self-managed REIT in 2014 and owns and manages about 70 retail properties totaling some 12 million square feet of retail space in the aggregate.

“I was relatively familiar with the company and had watched the portfolio transition to a premier, pure-play retail platform over the last few years,” said Busch. “More importantly, as I considered the opportunity, I found the culture at InvenTrust was inspiring true collaboration, innovation and a real sense of teamwork.”

“I can help articulate a compelling story that will resonate with the investment community”

Busch calls this move from services company to real estate firm a seamless transition. “My prior role provided insight into both corporate finance and capital allocation,” he said. “With the skill sets I developed as a public-market-facing research analyst, I can help articulate a compelling story that will resonate with the investment community.” Though InvenTrust is still a private REIT, it has in many ways already been operating as if it were a publicly traded company, including viewing its own metrics from an institutional perspective, Busch asserts.

This new post sees the Southern California native relocate from Orange County to the Chicago area — with a wife and three children in tow. He holds a bachelor of science in applied economics and management from Cornell University and an MBA with specializations in general finance, financial instruments and markets from New York University.

Before Green Street, Busch held senior-level roles at U.S. REITs, covering the mall sector, conducting analysis and research, building financial models and providing analysis of financial statements. He was an equity research analyst at Telsey Advisory Group and also worked in a corporate capacity at Petco.

At the outset, his InvenTrust priorities will include touring the firm’s properties, he says. “I have to admit that I like what I see in our assets and have been impressed with our field teams’ expertise,” he said. “I have been reaching out to [the parties in] our banking and lending relationships and meeting the myriad of people that touch the different parts of our business. Getting to know my team has been an important part of my first few months, as well as letting them get to know me, both personally and professionally.” Beyond that, Busch says he also wants to know more about InvenTrust’s roughly 150,000 investors. “Appreciating how they view their investment in InvenTrust, what their different desires may be and how we as a company may address those needs is an important aspect in my new role,” he said.

He has a range of internal financial and accounting tools at his disposal and an experienced team to direct. “I am very partnership-driven,” he said. “I can leverage the team’s tactical expertise in their respective departments and interject and advise when needed, while keeping a keen eye on capital allocation and balance-sheet management.”

Probably his biggest challenge will be understanding what InvenTrust needs most in a CFO, he says, because he has seen that the role can be vastly different from company to company. “I am challenging myself to create the role that best fits my expertise and InvenTrust’s needs,” said Busch. “I think of it as how best to leverage my skill sets with what already exists at this company. There is a natural learning curve going from a research firm like Green Street to a more traditional corporate culture.”

By Ben Johnson

Contributor, Shopping Centers Today

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