Recently, we were asked to comment for a Calgary Herald article written by Amanda Stephenson. She wrote about the growing trend of tech companies taking up residence in Calgary’s seemingly abandoned downtown core. Since the fall of oil prices, six years ago, real estate in Calgary’s downtown has become vacant at an alarming rate. According to the article, Calgary Economic Development has reported that downtown vacancy rates have risen to 27%. This gives Calgary the highest vacancy rate for any major city across Canada, by a large margin.
This incredible amount of empty space has created new opportunities for emerging tech companies, like Camber, to find great homes. According to the article, Calgary is currently home to 435 technology companies. This stat does not appear to mean much until you realize that 75% of those tech companies are start-ups. Under normal circumstances, no start-up could afford to rent a downtown Calgary office. However, today’s market conditions have taken an idea that would have seemed like a distant dream and turned it into a very real possibility. It appears that the hole left by the oil and gas exodus has created a new opportunity for the future, and both Albertans and tech companies are benefiting.
How Does This Effect Camber?
At Camber, we are always trying to find new ways to improve our clients’ experience and having a downtown office is important. Our CEO, Rob Townsend, was quoted in the article saying, “A lot of our clients are downtown, so being here is a huge advantage, but 10 years ago the rents where we are would have been bigger than our entire budget.” There is no way that companies like Camber could have afforded to pay rent in a premier downtown location a decade ago and still had enough cash to innovate rapidly. Mr. Townsend continued by saying, “It is amazing when I talk to other firms that do what I do across Canada and across the world. When I talk to them about our leasing costs, it always, always shocks them.”
How Our Clients Benefit?
There is often a strategic decision that needs to be made for any company when selecting an office location: do we pay high rent to be accessible or do we save the money and innovate? In almost every scenario you can have one or the other, but not both. However, that is exactly what this opportunity has meant for our clients. The low rent environment means that we can focus our resources on improving all aspects of a client’s experience; from building and refining our dashboards to working with the University of Calgary data science department on a way to improve the accuracy of our planning, we are always looking for new ways to improve wealth management. Having additional resources has made it so that we do not have to sacrifice any aspect of the client experience. As long as these conditions remain in effect, we will continue to devote the additional resources right back to our clients.