21 Mar 2024

We are delighted to announce that the AREF Board have appointed a new chair: Anne Breen, Global Head of Real Estate, abrdn, from 21 March 2024.

Anne is a senior real estate investment industry executive, with significant expertise and experience. She has spent her 25-year career at abrdn holding a number of senior roles, starting with her leadership of global investment research and strategy (real estate) at the firm, and being appointed Global Head of Real Estate in 2023.

Anne has been a member of AREF’s Board since 2020 – which is responsible for the strategic direction of the Association. It consists of eight non-executives, including the chair, plus the managing director of AREF, who has executive responsibility.

Anne replaces Adrian Benedict as Chair of AREF – who is Fidelity’s Head of Real Estate Solutions – chair since 2020.

Anne Breen says: “The real estate funds industry is facing considerable opportunities and challenges. It is in the front line of the energy transition and the opportunity to retrofit thousands of buildings – and invest in new solutions to a changing climate – is vast.

“At the same time, there are barriers to overcome as we work with legislators and regulators to enable a broader range of institutional and wholesale investors to invest in real estate. This includes the large and growing defined contribution pensions sector, which has small real estate allocations at present.”

Paul Richards, CEO at AREF, says: “On behalf of AREF’s leadership and members I’d like to thank Adrian Benedict for his 3 years as chair of the Association. It’s been far more eventful than anyone could have predicted.  I am looking forward to working with Anne to continue our work in representing the industry and the good that it does to government, regulators and wider society.”


Paul Richards

Paul Richards


Paul is the CEO of AREF.  Before joining AREF in 2020, Paul was Head of the European Real Estate Boutique within Mercer’s investment consulting business for almost 10 years, previously he was Head of Indirect Real Estate Investment and Global Managed Accounts at LaSalle Investment Management, where he was responsible for managing global portfolios of unlisted real estate funds for clients from Europe and Asia Pacific.

He has over 25 years of real estate experience in investment, corporate finance and research, and has advised investors, occupiers and venture capital companies on property portfolio strategy and on financial structuring, including PFI, senior and mezzanine debt and joint venture arrangements. His employers have included LaSalle Investment Management, Cushman & Wakefield and Henderson Investors.

Before coming into the world of real estate, Paul worked in marketing and market research. He originally studied Physiological Sciences at Lincoln College, Oxford and has a Master of Science in Real Estate from City University Business School, London, now Cass Business School.