Given the friendly interplay we often see between operators and capital providers, it might be easy to conclude the relationship is more fraternal than transactional.
The facts suggest otherwise. Need an Exhibit A? How about everyone’s favorite topic, interest rates?
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, rising rates make it more costly for senior living organizations to acquire capital. I’ve yet to hear any economist argue that paying more for the same thing is generally a good thing. So when you need funding for things like remodeling, renovation or new construction, it’s probably best to pay the lowest interest rate possible. I know, grand revelation, right?
But what if you are selling money? Well friends, that changes things a bit. Rising interest rates just might be your new BFF. But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of some of our nation’s largest banks. JP Morgan Chase and Company’s net interest income rose by double digits in the fourth quarter to $14.4 billion, the firm just announced. Then there’s Wells Fargo, which saw a 3% increase in net interest income during the quarter. I could go on, but I think the point is made.
To be clear, I am in no way suggesting bankers and other capital providers are not terrific human beings. I have more than a few friends and relatives in the business. They are all smart, friendly and, as far as I can tell, solid citizens.
Moreover, capital is the mother’s milk of senior living. This field would not survive for very long without steady infusions of new dollars. So please know I am not arguing that bankers et al are somehow the enemy. They are not.
What I am suggesting, however, is that capital providers and borrowers have differing incentives. Rising interest rates are but one example of how that difference reveals itself.
That hardly makes one side good or the other evil. Just different. So go ahead, operators, and make those deals. You’ll probably be better off for having done so. Just don’t forget that it’s a business transaction. See it as being more than that at your own risk.
Or as Mom used to say, the lion may lie down with the lamb, but the lamb had best keep an eye open.