Navigating Syndications: Evan Polaski on Investor Relations and Recession-Resilient Assets


Join host Jim Pfeifer, as he sits down with Evan Polaski, Director of Investor Relations at Axia Partners, to discuss the intricacies of real estate syndication investing. In this insightful episode, Evan shares his expertise on the critical role of investor relations, the tough questions every investor should ask, and Axia’s focus on recession-resilient asset classes. Dive in to learn the tools for effective due diligence and how to match deals with your investment goals.

The Pivotal Role of Investor Relations

As a seasoned professional with 17 years of experience in investor communications, Evan Polaski sheds light on the crucial role of investor relations in real estate syndication. He compares his position to being a liaison between investors and the company, stating, “I have to know everything, but I don’t have to do anything.”

Evan’s primary responsibility is to translate information between investors and the various departments within the company, such as acquisitions, finance, and property management. By maintaining open lines of communication, he ensures that investors’ needs and concerns are addressed while keeping them informed about the company’s operations and investment opportunities.

Tough Questions Every Investor Should Ask

When it comes to evaluating potential investments, Evan emphasizes the importance of asking the right questions. One of the most critical inquiries, he suggests, is understanding how much of the general partners’ (GPs) return comes from carried interest versus collective fees. This information can provide valuable insights into the alignment of interests between the GPs and the investors.

Another key question Evan recommends is inquiring about the number of employees investing in the deal. While specific names and amounts cannot be disclosed due to compliance regulations, knowing that a significant portion of the company’s staff is personally invested can be a positive indicator of their confidence in the investment opportunity.

Evan also stresses the importance of obtaining full financial statements, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. These documents can reveal crucial information that may not be apparent in a simple profit and loss statement. Additionally, he advises investors to request sensitivity analyses to understand how changes in assumptions, such as rent growth, occupancy rates, and interest rates, can impact the investment’s performance.

Axia’s Focus on Recession-Resilient Asset Classes

Axia Partners specializes in investing in recession-resilient asset classes, primarily focusing on multifamily, industrial, self-storage, and RV parks. With approximately $150 million in assets under management, the company targets markets in the Mountain West and Sunbelt regions, leveraging their local expertise and market knowledge.

One of Axia’s most exciting projects is an industrial development deal south of Salt Lake City, strategically located along the I-15 and I-80 corridor. This high-growth area is well-positioned to benefit from the increasing demand for industrial space driven by the e-commerce boom.

Axia employs a diverse range of investment strategies, including value-add, ground-up development, and preferred equity positions with select operators. By diversifying their portfolio across asset classes and strategies, the company aims to create strong returns for investors while mitigating risk.

Matching Deals with Investment Goals

Evan emphasizes the importance of understanding your investment goals and matching them with the appropriate deals. He cautions against getting caught up in the excitement of a particular investment opportunity without considering how it aligns with your overall objectives.

For example, if your primary goal is to generate passive income, a value-add deal with significant renovations and potential for appreciation may not be the best fit. In such cases, a core asset with stable cash flow and lower risk might be more suitable. Evan advises investors to carefully evaluate the risks and returns associated with each investment strategy and ensure that they align with their personal goals and risk tolerance.

The Importance of Due Diligence

Throughout the episode, Evan stresses the importance of thorough due diligence when considering a real estate syndication investment. He recommends speaking with both the investor relations personnel and the principal operators to gain a comprehensive understanding of the investment opportunity.

While the investor relations team can provide valuable insights into the company’s operations and investment strategies, the principal operators can offer a more detailed perspective on the specific deal and its potential risks and rewards. Evan also highlights the significance of property managers and leasing agents in impacting investment outcomes, as they are the ones directly responsible for maintaining the property and ensuring tenant satisfaction.

In addition to speaking with key personnel, Evan advises investors to review the private placement memorandum (PPM) carefully. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the investment, including any potential risks and conflicts of interest. He cautions that any verbal representations made by the investor relations team or other company representatives may be superseded by the language in the PPM, so it is crucial to read and understand this document thoroughly.

Key Takeaways for Passive Investors

Evan Polaski’s insights provide valuable guidance for passive investors looking to navigate the world of real estate syndication. Some key takeaways from the episode include:

  1. Understand the role of investor relations and leverage their expertise to gain insights into the company’s operations and investment opportunities.
  2. Ask tough questions, particularly about the alignment of interests between GPs and investors, employee investment in the deal, and the sensitivity of the investment to changes in assumptions.
  3. Seek out recession-resilient asset classes and diversify your portfolio across different markets, asset types, and investment strategies.
  4. Match your investment goals with the appropriate deals, considering factors such as cash flow, appreciation potential, and risk tolerance.
  5. Conduct thorough due diligence by speaking with key personnel, reviewing financial statements, and carefully reading the PPM.

By following these guidelines and staying informed about the latest trends and opportunities in real estate syndication, passive investors can make more informed decisions and build a strong, diversified portfolio that aligns with their long-term financial goals.

Evan Polaski’s appearance on the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast offers a wealth of knowledge and practical advice for passive investors looking to navigate the complex world of real estate syndication. By understanding the role of investor relations, asking the right questions, and focusing on recession-resilient asset classes, investors can position themselves for success in this dynamic and rewarding field.

As Axia Partners continues to grow and expand its portfolio, Evan’s commitment to investor relations and transparent communication will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the company’s ongoing success. By staying attuned to the needs and concerns of their investors, Axia is well-positioned to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead in the ever-evolving real estate market.

If you enjoyed Evan Polaski’s wisdom and stories, the Left Field Investors (LFI) community offers more great resources to advance your real estate investing education.

Become an LFI “infielder” to access:

  • Exclusive educational content and investor training programs
  • Off-market investment opportunities from vetted sponsors
  • A network of thousands of like-minded passive investors
  • Virtual and in-person events to engage with experts
  • The support to confidently build your investment portfolio

Whether you are new to passive real estate investing or a seasoned veteran, LFI provides the people, knowledge, and opportunities.

Join now to take your investing to the next level!

Chris Franckhauser

Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner

Chris Franckhauser, Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner for Left Field Investors, has been involved in real estate since 2008. He started with one single-family fix and flip, and he was hooked. He then scaled, completing five more over a brief period. While he enjoyed the journey and the financial tailwinds that came with each completed project, being an active investor with a W2 at the time, became too much to manage with a young and growing family. Seeing this was not easily scalable or sustainable long term, he searched for alternative ideas on where to invest. He explored other passive income streams but kept coming back to his two passions; real estate and time with his family. He discovered syndications after reconnecting with a former colleague and LFI Founder. He joined Left Field Investors in 2023 and has quickly immersed himself into the community and as a key member of our team.  

Chris earned a B.S. from The Ohio State University. After years in healthcare technology and medical devices, from startups to Fortune 15 companies, Chris shifted his efforts to consulting and owning a small apparel business when he is not working with LFI (Left Field Investors) or on his personal passive investments. A few years ago, Chris and his family left the cold life in Ohio for lake life in the Carolinas. Chris lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina with his wife and two kids. In his free time, he enjoys exploring all the things the Carolinas offer, from the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between, volunteering at the school, coaching his kids’ sports teams and cheering on the Buckeyes from afar.  

Chris knows investing is a team sport. Being a strategic thinker and analytical by nature, the ability to collaborate with like-minded individuals in the Left Field Community and other communities is invaluable.  

Jim Pfeifer

President, Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors and the host of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast. Left Field Investors is a group dedicated to educating and assisting like-minded investors negotiate the nuances of the passive investing landscape and world of syndications. Jim is a former financial advisor who became frustrated with the one-path-fits-all approach of the standard financial services industry. Jim now concentrates on investing in real assets that produce cash flow and is committed to sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in learning a different way to grow wealth.

Jim not only advises and helps people get started in passive real estate syndications, he also invests alongside them in small groups to allow for diversification among multiple investments and syndication sponsors. Jim believes the most important factor in a successful syndication is finding a sponsor that he knows, likes and trusts.

He has invested in over 100 passive syndications including apartments, mobile homes, self-storage, private lending and notes, ATM’s, commercial and industrial triple net leases, assisted living facilities and international coffee farms and cacao producers. Jim is constantly looking for new investment ideas that match his philosophy of real assets producing cash flow as well as looking for new sponsors with whom he can build quality, long-term relationships. Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Chad Ackerman

Chief Operating Officer, Founder

Chad is the Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Left Field Investors and the host of the LFI Spotlight podcast. Chad was in banking most of his career with a focus on data analytics, but in March of 2023 he left his W2 to become LFI’s second full time employee.

Chad always had a passion for real estate, so his analytics skills translated well into the deal analyzer side of the business. Through his training, education and networking Chad was able to align his passive investing to compliment his involvement with LFI while allowing him to grow his wealth and take steps towards financial freedom. He has appreciated the help he’s received from others along his journey which is why he is excited to host the LFI Spotlight podcast and share the experience of other investors and industry experts to assist those that are looking for education for their own journey.

Chad has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Minor in Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati. He is working to educate his two teenagers in the passive investing world. In his spare time he likes to golf, kayak, and check out the local brewery scene.

Ryan Steig

Chief Financial Officer, Founder

Ryan Stieg started down the path of passive investing like many of us did, after he picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The problem was that he did that in college and didn’t take action to start investing passively until many years later when that itch to invest passively crept back up.

Ryan became an accidental landlord after moving from Phoenix back to Montana in 2007, a rental he kept until 2016 when he started investing more intentionally. Since 2016, Ryan has focused (or should we say lack thereof) on all different kinds of investing, always returning to real estate and business as his mainstay. Ryan has a small portfolio of one-to-three-unit rentals across four different markets in the US. He has also invested in over fifty real estate syndication investments individually or with an investment group or tribe. Working to diversify in multiple asset classes, Ryan invests in multi-family, note funds, NNN industrial, retail, office, self-storage, online businesses, start-ups, and several other asset classes that further cement his self-diagnosis of “shiny object syndrome”.

However, with all of those reaches over the years, Ryan still believes in the long-term success and tenets of passive, cash-flow-focused investing with proven syndicators and shared knowledge in investing.

When he’s not working with LFI or on his personal passive investments, he recently opened a new Club Pilates franchise studio after an insurance career. Outside of that, he can be found with his wife watching whatever sport one of their two boys is involved in during that particular season.

Steve Suh

Chief Content Officer, Founder

Steve Suh, one of the founders of Left Field Investors and its Chief Content Officer, has been involved with real estate and alternative assets since 2005. Like many, he saw his net worth plummet during the two major stock market crashes in the early 2000s. Since then, he vowed to find other ways to invest his money. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave Steve the impetus to learn about real estate investing. He first became a landlord after purchasing his office condo. He then invested passively as a limited partner in oil and gas drilling syndications but quickly learned the importance of scrutinizing sponsors when he stopped getting returns after only a few months. Steve came back to real estate by buying a few small residential rentals. Seeing that this was not easily scalable, he searched for alternative ideas. After listening to hundreds of podcasts and attending numerous real estate investing meetings, he determined that passively investing in real estate syndications was the best avenue to get great, risk-adjusted returns. He has invested in dozens of syndications involving apartment buildings, self-storage facilities, resort properties, ATMs, Bitcoin mining funds, car washes, a coffee farm, and even a Broadway show.

When Steve is not vetting commercial real estate syndications in the evenings, he is stomping out eye diseases and improving vision during the day as an ophthalmologist. He enjoys playing in his tennis and pickleball leagues and rooting for his Buckeyes and Steelers football teams. In the past several years, he took up running and has completed three full marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He is always on a quest to find great pizza, BBQ brisket, and bourbon. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their three adult kids. They usually go on a medical mission trip once a year to southern Mexico to provide eye surgeries and glasses to the residents. Steve has enjoyed being a part of Left Field Investors to help others learn about the merits of passive, real asset investments.

Sean Donnelly

Chief Culture Officer, Founder

Sean holds a W2 job in the finance sector and began his real estate investing journey shortly after earning his MBA. Unfortunately, it could not have begun at a worse time … anyone remember 2007 … but even the recession provided worthy lessons. Sean stayed in the game continuing to find his place, progressing from flipping to owning single and multi-family rentals to now funding opportunities through syndications. While Sean is still heavily invested in the equities market and holds a small portfolio of rentals, he strongly believes passive investing is the best way to offset the cyclical nature of traditional investment vehicles as well as avoid the headaches of direct property ownership. Through consistent cash flow, long term yield and available tax benefits, the diversification offered with passive investing brings a welcomed balance to an otherwise turbulent investing scheme. What Sean likes most about the syndication space is that the investment opportunities are not “one size fits all” and the community of investors genuinely want to help.

He earned a B.S. in Finance from Iowa State University in 1995 and a MBA from Otterbein University in 2007. Sean has lived in eight states but has called Ohio home for the last 20+.  When not attending his children’s various school/sporting events, Sean can be found running, golfing, shooting or fly-fishing.

Patrick Wills

Chief Information Officer, Advisory Partner

An active real estate investor since 2017, Patrick Wills’ investing journey began like many others – after reading the “purple book” by Robert Kiyosaki. Patrick started with single family rentals, and while they performed well, he quickly realized their inability to scale efficiently while remaining passive. He discovered syndications via podcasts and local meetups and never looked back. He joined Left Field Investors in 2022 as a member and has quickly become an integral part of the team as Vice President of Technology.

An I.T. Systems Engineer by trade, he experienced the limitations of traditional Wall Street investing firsthand in his career and knew there had to be a better way to truly have financial freedom.

Unfortunately, that better way is inaccessible to those who need it most. His mission is to make alternative investments accessible to everyone who seeks to take control of their financial future and to pursue their passions in life.

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