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Jinding: Creating wealth through property and investments

Jinding CEO Luke Guthrie in The Australian Business Executive

Composed of five integrated and synergistic divisions, property services company Jinding is a single-entry-point for wealth creation through high-quality property and astute investments.

CEO Luke Guthrie joined Jinding in 2017, and has over 25 years’ experience in the Property Development, Funds Management, Investment, Real Estate, and Construction sectors. Mr Guthrie drives the company’s vision, advises, reports to the board, and leads the executive team in the implementation of Jinding’s ambitious expansion strategy. As the company celebrates its 5th anniversary, Mr Guthrie speaks to us about the unique synergistic framework the company works within, some of the impressive development projects it has in the pipeline, and the fusion of East meets West that has helped it grow the business.

Five years of business

“It’s a very unique business,” Mr Guthrie begins. “Jinding is a single-entry-point for wealth creation through high-quality property and astute investments. We’ve been in business for about five years.”

An Australian-owned and operated company, Jinding’s structure is comprised of five key divisions focused on wealth creation: Developments, Real Estate, Investments, Funds Management, and Services.

“Our Developments division is our biggest, where we focus on delivering masterplan communities and high-density residential homes. We’ve built a portfolio of over $2.1bn with over 4,700 homes in the pipeline.”

The Real Estate division is focused on the sale of residences from other developers. The company mainly sells for the top thirty private and public developers across Australia, with about $2.3bn worth of properties sold to date. Jinding also has some interest in established real estate through its investment in Vicprop.

“Investments is our most recent division, and at the moment we’re actively researching ways to partner with Australian companies to bring emerging opportunities to life and then offer that to our network of investors.”

This network comes primarily from the Funds Management division, where the company has its own AFS license to provide financial services, and has raised around $150m so far, predominantly in bonds and funds which are then lent to the Developments arm of the business.

“Rounding all this out is our Services division, where if we have a purchaser from overseas, we might help them manage their property or if they decide to come to Australia, we’ll help them settle in, open bank accounts, and learn how to navigate life in Australia.”

The Jinding model is underpinned by the internal mantra of Promises Delivered, with all the company’s undertakings requiring the very best in class, whether that be offering something special in terms of Jinding’s own developments, or connecting buyers with the top developers across Australia.

Building a sustainable business

Along with Mr Guthrie, Executive Director Jay Song, who was one of the founding leaders of Jinding has been instrumental in the growth of Jinding.

“When we first started, we were in an apartment in Docklands in Melbourne. We had a few desks, a high-level plan on a few pieces of paper, and we’ve come a long way since. We started the business wanting to take advantage of the opportunity that property development had in Australia, and especially looking for a long-term investment profile.”

At the same time, they were focused on getting short-term cashflow to help drive the sustainability of the business. This started with the introduction of the Real Estate division, where the opportunity for an owned and controlled sales network into China for other developers was identified.

Jinding CEO Luke Guthrie in The Australian Business Executive
An Australian-owned and operated company, Jinding’s structure is comprised of five key divisions focused on wealth creation: Developments, Real Estate, Investments, Funds Management, and Services

“Since then we’ve added the Investment, Funds Management, and Services divisions. When we started we probably had about five staff – now we’ve grown to over 500, with 100 throughout our five Australian offices down the Eastern Seaboard, and about 400 across our 15 offices in China. 55% of our staff are female.”

Mr Guthrie admits that it has been an interesting period of growth, with many mistakes made and lessons learned over those years, as is usually the case when building a sustainable business from the ground up.

“One of the things we’ve prided ourselves on is that constant evolving,” he adds, “getting better, making sure our offers to our customers, and our clients, and our stakeholders were better.”

In the early days, as a new company with a unique offering, trust was hard to come by for Jinding. But in the short space of five years, this trust has truly been earned, and the company has closed over $400 million of finance facilities.

“It was the same when we were employing staff. Trying to find the right staff to take that punt to join us in a growing business was difficult. We were a bit of an unknown quantity, but now we have a great team, a great team of executives, and we’re achieving really well.”

The same thing happened in terms of growing the Developments business, as the company would chat to agents and vendors who were sceptical about Jinding’s ability to deliver and settle large acquisitions. Now the company has 4,700 lots in its pipeline, having sold over 1,100 and settling over 300.

“In time, over that 5 years, the trust has been built. That’s probably the most important thing – we’ve been able to demonstrate that what we’ve set out to achieve, we have. We haven’t been perfect, but we’ve always done our best and committed to evolving and just being better.”

Jinding’s key difference is the uniqueness of its model, with nobody else in the space doing what it does in the same integrated way. The company is often thought of in terms of a Developer or Real Estate network, but in truth it is far more than just those things.

“It’s not just our five divisions that add that synergistic value to each other,” Mr Guthrie explains. “Another one of our real strong advantages is our cultural fusion, and the strong values that flow through the group.”

The company is known for delivering premium, unique, quality developments that are close to existing amenities, and for designing homes that truly meet the individual needs of the purchaser.

“Our Developments team does this better because it also harnesses and leverages the experience of our Real Estate division, which is busy selling the developments of other developers – so we see a wide range of developments to learn from.”

Jinding CEO Luke Guthrie in The Australian Business Executive
CEO Luke Guthrie joined Jinding in 2017, and has over 25 years’ experience in the Property Development, Funds Management, Investment, Real Estate, and Construction sectors

The Real Estate team is also unique, with a direct connection to the end purchaser through its offices in China, giving peace of mind for the other developers it sells for. When it comes to settlement, financing, and property management, Jinding has an extra level of service that other companies simply cannot offer.

“Our Real Estate team is the biggest seller of property in China, and the that’s the world’s largest market. No other Australian business has a sales network like ours. Our Real Estate agents have two jobs, which is very unique too – one is to sell property and the second one is to raise funds for our Funds Management business.”

There are no other companies structured this way, with many of the funds from the Funds Management division being raised by the Real Estate division, and then lent to the Developments division in a truly unique, synergistic integration model.

“Given our links to China, we marry the best of East meets West,” Mr Guthrie says. “We take that entrepreneurial spirit from China, and try to combine, fuse, and meld it with good governance, management structures and execution that the Aussies are known for. When we put all that together in-house, we move very quickly.”

Impressive developments

With 4,700 homes in the pipeline, the company’s Developments projects have produced some impressive results, including Harriott at Armstrong Creek, Victoria, an idyllic community perfectly poised between city and surf.

“It’s a real premium land development, the best one in the area, near the growth corridor of Geelong. It’ll be home to 650 families on completion, and every home will be within 200m of green space.”

Another project is the Patch, a unique site with a masterplan of 1,000 homes in the Wollert growth corridor. This development will deliver a town centre, fields, schools, sports fields, and a mixed-use precinct.

“We’ve just recently sold out Octave at Junction Village, which is great. 321 homes, and it’s right on the doorstep of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne. Now we’re just left with 12 months of construction to finish this project.”

Another project saw the company take on its first development in Queensland last year, where it acquired a site on the Gold Coast to build a 123-apartment tower, containing 1-2 bedroom apartments inspired by Japanese architecture with a timeless design.

“We’ve had really strong interest in that project. 90% of the stock is pre-sold, and pleasingly a lot of that stock was actually sold by our Real Estate team. We have plenty of other projects that are all contributing to our large pipeline.”

The amount of growth Jinding has seen in just five short years is extremely impressive.
However, Mr Guthrie admits there is the feeling within the company that there is something of a ‘blank canvas’ still to work with.

Jinding CEO Luke Guthrie in The Australian Business Executive
With 4,700 homes in the pipeline, the company’s Developments projects have produced some impressive results

“It feels like we’ve just begun,” he says. “But that’s really exciting and energising to think that way. Some of our key goals and aspirations are to continue acquiring development sites each year, including growing our Queensland presence, and diversifying across other property sectors.”

The goal is to reduce the level of equity being put in by the company itself, bringing it down from 100% to around 20-30%. This will enable Jinding to develop more projects, increase its fee generation, and create a better mix of long-term profits and annual operating flows.

“We’re also looking to diversify the business outside of developments, residential and Real Estate. That’s why we’re growing our Investments division, where we’re focusing on a mix of long-term, high-growth opportunities, and annual cashflow-generating opportunities, and at the same time focusing on our capital partners.”

In terms of Real Estate, the company has seen a lot of success in its unique framework of selling developments into China, and will now be looking to replicate that process across other southeast Asian countries.

“We also want to sell the stock of other developments around the world. In 2021 and early 2022, we started selling developments in Japan and UK through our network into China. That’s worked really well and we want to expand that.”

From a Funds Management perspective, the company will look to drive the growth of that business by expanding the sources of equity, capital and debt, and establish a non-residential property fund.

“There’s a lot going in the world at the moment,” Mr Guthrie says. “I think it’s really hard for everyone to get their head around the impacts on supply chain, covid, employee shortages, worldwide geopolitical tensions, impact on energy, even the floods recently in Queensland and NSW – it’s been a lot for everyone to be dealing with across many different sectors.”

All this means that construction costs and the time to get jobs done have had big impacts on the industry. In Victoria, costs for built form have been rising to around 20-30%, which puts real pressure on feasibility for developers trying to deliver affordable housing.

“Housing affordability is a big topic, and it’s got to be looked at. Unfortunately, here in Victoria, where we’re based, the state government recently had some really good improvements to the planning frameworks, but made it dependent upon residential developers agreeing to an increase in tax. They should have never linked those two.”

This has meant that there is not a comprehensive plan in Victoria for affordable housing, and the improvements to the framework have not gone through. In the long term, this will continue to impact companies like Jinding.

“That’s disappointing for me, because I also sit on the board of a community housing group, and we’ve got a real focus on socio-economic disadvantage and trying to place them in housing, and the current environment is not conducive to that.”

With a great team led by highly capable executives, Jinding is looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead in its future. Find out more about Jinding by visiting www.jinding.com.au.

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