Jeff Barclay: Investor, professor and optimist

The former CIO at Clarion Partners and top Goldman Sachs real estate executive leaves behind a legacy of positivity, intellect, teamwork and mentorship.

In 2006, Clarion Partners lost out to Tishman Speyer and BlackRock in a bid to buy the New York City apartment complex Stuyvesant Town – Peter Cooper Village. Given the complexity and time-consuming nature of the failed transaction, the loss was a heavy disappointment.

Nonetheless, Jeff Barclay, then Clarion’s chief investment officer, suggested the firm host a closing dinner anyway. “This could be the best deal we never did,” he said to his colleagues at the time. “You never know.”

Steve Furnary, Clarion’s executive chairman, remembers being initially aghast at Barclay’s suggestion but ultimately agreed to the idea. The dinner turned out to be a fun occasion, and exemplified Barclay’s unflagging optimism. “Jeff always brightened the room when he came in,” he said. “He was a really positive guy.”

That positive energy remained with him even after Barclay battled cancer for six months, until his untimely passing in late March at 63 years old. David Hodes, managing partner of New York-based advisory firm Hodes Weill & Associates and a longtime friend of Barclay, recalled that despite his illness, Barclay continued to remain engaged with friends and colleagues. “He wanted to know what was going on,” said Hodes. “He didn’t give up on life, even though his days were numbered.”

Jeffrey Barclay

Among the traits that Hodes appreciated most about Barclay was his straight-talking manner and interpersonal skills. “When he wanted to tell you something that wasn’t what you wanted to hear, you still felt good about the discussion,” he said. “He intuitively knew how to communicate with people across a wide range of backgrounds, ages and perspectives.”

Although Barclay was arguably best known for his 17 years at Clarion, he spent the past eight years as head of the real estate business at the alternative investments and manager selection group within the investment management division of Goldman Sachs, investing in funds and assets managed by third-party managers on behalf of institutional and private wealth clients.

“I think Jeff promulgated teamwork investing more than anyone. He was not one who let his ego stand in the way of teamwork. He wasn’t a guy who was condescending, even though he was usually the smartest guy in room.”

-Steve Furnary

“I think Jeff promulgated teamwork investing more than anyone,” said Furnary. “He was not one who let his ego stand in the way of teamwork. He wasn’t a guy who was condescending, even though he was usually the smartest guy in room.”

Barclay, an adjunct professor in the Masters of Business program at Columbia Business School, was well-known for his intellect. “He was always smarter, more analytical, more substantive, more logical, more to the point than most other people that we dealt with,” said Furnary.

In both academia and real estate, Barclay also touched the lives of many young people. “There are probably more Jeff Barclay mentees in the US than mentees of any other real estate person,” said Furnary.

“There was a constant parade of young people into his office weekly, looking for advice and guidance. He helped a ton of people get jobs in the industry.”

Indeed, one of the most striking aspects of Barclay’s funeral was the large number of youthful faces in the crowd. The total number of attendees? 500.