New School of Thought
By Alyson Grala
Current Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute president Richard Juge wants it to be known that this is not your daddy’s CCIM anymore—a sentiment that is reflected by the association’s recent moves to redesign its curriculum and roll out new web-based programs. This emphasis on education and technology, in addition to networking, packs
a powerful punch and is largely the reason the organization has built a cache of
more than 15,000 members across 59 chapters and 37 countries since its roots as a
California Association of Realtors-established group, Certified Property Exchanger,
back in 1954.
What separates CCIM from other organizations is its rigorous education program, which can take, on average, two to three years to get through. To earn the
CCIM moniker, candidates must complete a series of designation courses, earn
elective credits and pass a comprehensive exam. This is in addition to what the
association terms “qualifying experience”—essentially, a way to verify outside deal
performance. This year, those numbers were scaled back in response to the market
climate and lower transaction volumes.
While CCIM has seen a decrease in course registrations—no doubt due to the
economic downturn—it projects 852 commercial real estate and allied professionals will earn the designation in 2010, a 31% increase over 2009. “And from a budget
standpoint, the organization still has more new candidates than it expected,” says
Juge, who is also president of RE/MAX Commercial Brokers in Metairie, LA.
This is no small testament to its curriculum, which underwent a three-year,
$2.6-million overhaul that culminated this year. The impetus, says incoming president Frank Simpson, who also serves as president of the Simpson Co. in Gainesville,
GA, is four-fold: changing student demographics, growth in international markets,
a trend toward outsourcing more corporate real estate services, and new technologies and delivery models.
The core curriculum of financial, market, user decision and investment analysis,
however, will remain intact. “We tend to take a seven- to 10-year look at our materi-
als and say, ‘Okay, it’s time to see what we’re missing in the market,’ ” says Juge. “It’s
a long process because you spend a year or two researching what’s lacking, then
another year in design mode and yet another for the actual curriculum rollout and
But this update is critical to staying on top of key issues. “Take accounting in a
post-Sarbanes-Oxley world,” says Juge, referring to the 2002 Act that set new or
enhanced standards for all US public company boards, management and public
accounting firms. “It really changed how companies look at their real estate, which
is one of the biggest costs on most corporate balance sheets,” he relates. “So talking
about accounting rules and how a lease or building ownership are treated is a very
hot topic right now.” In response, CCIM’s new curriculum focuses heavily on the
impact of real estate on balance sheets or income statements.