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REFS Management & Consultants


John Baczewski, President and Founder

John Baczewski, CPA, CRE is president of Real Estate Fiduciary Services, LLC (REFS), which provides independent fiduciary services and consulting to institutional investors. Mr. Baczewski has over 30 years of experience in institutional real estate investment, finance, management and monitoring, along with 10 years of Big Four public accounting experience.

[show_more more=” More” less=”Less”] Mr. Baczewski’s breadth and depth of institutional real estate experience includes independent fiduciary services, investment strategy development, portfolio and asset management, due diligence and transaction management, operational reviews, accounting, performance measurement, client service and capital formation.

Mr. Baczewski has led clients through real estate strategy development, portfolio analysis and review, independent fiduciary assignments, transaction due diligence, manager and vehicle selection and performance measurement analysis. He has also performed operational audits of real estate investment and management organizations.

Since 1999, Mr. Baczewski has been an independent consultant serving the institutional real estate industry. He has served as: chief financial officer of Pyramid Hotel Group; and managing director of business development for AMRESCO Advisors, where he was a member of the firm’s Management and Investment Committees. Mr. Baczewski also held real estate consulting and portfolio management positions with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Frank Russell Company, Russell Fiduciary Services Company and AEW Capital Management.

Mr. Baczewski is a Counselor of Real Estate; a fellow of the Homer Hoyt Institute, which comprises a group of industry leaders who lend their expertise to the Weimer School of Advanced Studies in Real Estate and Land Economics; a former Editorial Board Member of The Institutional Real Estate Letter-North America and serves as a director of Benchmark Research Technologies, an independent research and strategic consulting firm serving the real estate industry. Mr. Baczewski is a former Chairman of the REIS Board, a joint initiative between NCREIF and PREA, which promulgates information standards for the institutional real estate investment industry.

He actively participates in several professional associations, including the Counselors of Real Estate, National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (former board member), and Pension Real Estate Association, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), CFA Institute, the Boston Security Analysts Society, and the Massachusetts Society of CPAs.

A graduate of Merrimack College, Mr. Baczewski received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and has published several articles and speaks frequently on pension real estate issues. He is a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. [/show_more]

Francis J. Decker, Jr., Principal

Fran Decker, CRE, Principal of Real Estate Fiduciary Services, LLC, has been with REFS since 2007 and a part of the institutional real estate world for over 30 years.

In his previous position at High Street Equity Advisors (HSEA), which he joined in 2004, Mr. Decker was the partner responsible for portfolio and asset management and co-investor reporting. In this role, he established and implemented policies and procedures, as well as directed operations. He served on the investment committee and was responsible for the firm’s financings and refinancing of properties. HSEA is a sponsor of value-added real estate investment funds, founded in 2003.

[show_more more=”More” less=”Less”] Prior to joining HSEA, Mr. Decker was an Executive Director at UBS Real Estate. During his tenure at UBS, Mr. Decker was responsible for a portfolio consisting of office, retail, industrial and multi-family properties located throughout the United States, with a Gross Asset Value over $6 Billion. In addition, he oversaw the financings of over $1.3 billion, and 100 disposition transactions totaling $2 billion. He also oversaw numerous consulting assignments.

While at UBS, Mr. Decker was a founding director of Mitsubishi-UBS Realty Inc., a Tokyo-based Japanese REIT management company, which formed the first Retail JREIT.

Additional positions have included director of financial services at R.M. Bradley Company, a manager of a $250 million portfolio for a closed-end pension fund client, as well as assistant property manager and director of accounting for the firm’s 1.7 million square foot mixed-use project in Boston’s Back Bay; and a CPA/senior auditor for Deloitte & Touche (formerly Touche Ross & Company).

Mr. Decker holds a BS degree from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire. Mr. Decker is a Counselor of Real Estate.


Todd Johnson, Principal

Todd Johnson joined Real Estate Fiduciary Services in 2015, bringing more than 30 years of diversified commercial and institutional real estate investment management experience. Mr. Johnson’s job responsibilities have included sourcing, acquiring and disposing of institutional assets, developing and implementing real estate programs for large pension funds, serving on investment and investment strategy committees, and investor relations and capital formation roles. In addition to working at real estate investment management firms and a large multi-employer trust, his experience includes private and institutional real estate consulting, mortgage banking, and commercial brokerage.

[show_more more=”More” less=”Less”] Previously, Mr. Johnson was Managing Director, Investor Relations at National Real Estate Advisors, the real estate investment subsidiary of the National Electrical Benefit Fund. While there he was responsible both for raising new investment capital, and for assisting in creating and then implementing the overall strategy for developing and maintaining relationships with investors and consultants. Mr. Johnson had earlier served as Director of Equity Real Estate Investment for the Fund itself, as he implemented the equity real estate investment program.

Mr. Johnson served as retained Real Estate Consultant at State Street Global Advisors, the investment management subsidiary of State Street Bank and Trust Company. A former Principal of Aldrich Eastman & Waltch, Inc. (AEW), his responsibilities there included heading an investment team, serving as client advocate for four significant pension and health care trust clients, and as a member of the AEW Investment and Investment Strategy Committees. Mr. Johnson started his real estate career with Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokerage Company in Chicago.

Mr. Johnson attended the University of Massachusetts and has been an active participant in the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA), International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Urban Land Institute (ULI), and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). [/show_more]


Robert D. Gray, Consultant

Robert Gray, serves as Consultant to Real Estate Fiduciary Services, LLC. Mr. Gray has been an active participant in and a consultant to the commercial real estate industry for more than 30 years. Mr. Gray specializes in investment analysis and decision-support, where he combines his decades-long hands-on experience with an in-depth knowledge of today’s most sophisticated business intelligence tools.

[show_more more=”More” less=”Less”] Mr. Gray is principal and president of RDG Partners Inc., a consulting and software firm serving institutional real estate investors, lenders and managers since 2008. The practice, which provides financial analysis and custom software applications for institutional investors and lenders, combines his extensive commercial real estate experience with his knowledge of sophisticated technologies to meet the challenges of modern investment decision-making. Mr. Gray has been at the leading edge of investment analysis for decades, from his work with the first real estate projection program to today’s business intelligence tools. His experience as an investment advisor provides a practical foundation for managing the development of information systems appropriate to the industry.

Previously, Mr. Gray served on the senior management team at Argus Software, contributing to product development strategy, and overseeing development of Argus Zone, one of the first real estate applications of Microsoft’s SharePoint platform. Additional roles have included serving as senior adviser to Mutual of New York’s real estate division, where Mr. Gray advised the Chief Investment Officer on the full range of real estate investment decisions, including foreclosures, loan restructuring and property redevelopment; and vice-president at AEW Capital Management, where Mr. Gray evaluated investment opportunities in major metropolitan markets, and structured equity and participating debt investments.

Mr. Gray holds an MA in Urban Economics and a BA in Economics from UCLA. [/show_more]

Structured Products

Webster Hughes, PhD

Webster Hughes, PhD joined Real Estate Fiduciary Services in 2017 as a Principal in the company’s structured debt investment program. Dr. Hughes is a specialist in CMBS, RMBS, and structured product investments. His business career spans 25+ years including senior positions at major investment banks, entrepreneurship, and independent consulting. In addition to expertise, Dr. Hughes brings proprietary models, databases, and analytics specifically customized for Freddie Mac Multifamily K-deal securitizations and used for multiple advisory engagements starting in 2010 and including a new issue purchase transaction.

[show_more more=”More” less=”Less”] Webster Hughes, PhD started his finance career in 1986 as a Vice President in the Salomon Brothers Bond Portfolio Analysis Group in New York. In 1990, Dr. Hughes joined Bear Stearns where he became Senior Managing Director specializing in mortgage backed securities (MBS). After Bear Stearns, Dr. Hughes became Managing Director of MBS Proprietary Trading and Structured Product Research Group for First Union Capital Markets in Charlotte, NC. He later served as Proprietary Consultant to Bank of America in their Real Estate Principal Finance Division.

Since 2012, Dr. Hughes has been Managing Partner of Metrix Credit LLC, a quantitative consulting and software firm in Charlotte, NC specializing in CMBS, RMBS, and related structured product assets.

In addition to structured products, Dr. Hughes brings meaningful experience with institutional real estate investors through his participation in NCREIF. This experience includes participation on various NCREIF committees as well as significant contributions to specialized NCREIF initiatives requiring fixed income and derivative expertise. At present, Dr. Hughes is a contributing member of the NCREIF Debt Index Task Force.

In addition to business, Dr. Hughes from time-to-time gives a lecture series on MBS Investments at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Dr. Hughes holds a PhD in Mathematics from Princeton University and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. [/show_more]

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