Brokerage, getting crushed.

All,

I just wanted to reach out on my current situation - I’ve currently been on a top tier brokerage team for the past 8-9 months and am just getting absolutely smoked.

The deals I’ve been able to work on so far are great, but I don’t know how sustainable the regular 3am-5am nights are. My health has rapidly declined and I kind of just want to get out before I do more serious damage to myself.

Bonuses are also likely to be terrible, so it’s hard to justify the hours I’ve currently been putting in.

Maybe just a bit burned out and looking to vent… understand I’m fortunate to have a job in this market but the above has taken a toll on me.

 

Since you’re anonymous do you mind sharing if this is Eastdil? I’m at JLL and hours aren’t bad but I also will make no money this year… what do you expect bonus to be? If your base is 80k, I lowkey doubt bonuses will be above 25k so all in at 105k is brutallll. Feel free to pm me because I’m trying to leave too but for diff reasons

 

The only leverage you have in brokerage is your book of business. There’s no scale and you’re just dancing to make a buck. When you stop dancing your income stops. To make more you better dance more. When real estate tanks, you better be sitting on a stockpile of cash. See where I’m going? It’s just a bro bro culture that works in the favor of some people. Unless you’re in LA, SF, NY, etc. you better be the top broker in your area and even the top brokers aren’t that crazy. There’s some weird celebrity thing that brokers place on each other but in reality you’re just getting a bunch of type A personalities coming from people who aren’t super smart. If you don’t want to invest in real estate, go into IB, go into consulting, etc. you’ll make more money at the end of the day. Brokers compare themselves all day long to everyone else making more money so that should say something. This is only my anecdotal experience because I work more than everyone I know and get paid half of them. And if someone says that’s because it’s a bad year then you should still be pissed working IB “light” hours for half the pay in a “good year.” However you look at it, most brokers are the same personalities you’d imagine at Marcus and mailichap but maybe slightly smarter.

 

Can't really help without you providing more info. Brokerage is tough anyways but 3-5am night? WTF? I had friends at Eastdil who worked 80 hour weeks but they were getting paid $250k out of school and a few who have stuck around are golfing 3x a week it seems. 

Sounds like a crap situation for you to be in. I have never heard anyone in brokerage doing those kinds of hours. 

 

Yep it really sucks… layoffs earlier in the year made it so the current analysts are stretched super thin. All of us want to GTFO.

My main fear is having left my first role after not that long in a tough market. It’s at a top team and I’ve had great deal exposure but I still fear being labelled as a “quitter”. These conditions just suck knowing there won’t be a payoff AT ALL.

To those saying they don’t believe the hours, trust me, these places exist.

 

It’s a little high and definitely not the norm but clearing $200k out of school is not unheard there. It’s a sweatshop. But top notch place to cut your teeth if you can take it.

 

That’s strange you are working 3am to 5am consistently. I’m at a top shop and never work past 12pm. Granted, my team is more relaxed than most. I completely understand why you’d want to leave brokerage as that’s not sustainable, especially if you aren’t getting paid that well.

What asset do you cover? What fee revenue did your team bring in this past year?

 

Analyst 1 in RE - Comm:

That’s strange you are working 3am to 5am consistently. I’m at a top shop and never work past 12pm. Granted, my team is more relaxed than most. I completely understand why you’d want to leave brokerage as that’s not sustainable, especially if you aren’t getting paid that well.



What asset do you cover? What fee revenue did your team bring in this past year?


Generalist, cover all asset classes + debt. Will it be career suicide if I just say f this and leave in this market? It’s killing me and honestly doesn’t feel worth it anymore, especially if I’m going to receive a laughable bonus this year.

 

I also work for two institutional brokers and have about 4 years under my belt, however, we only do multifamily. What I’ve learned since 2021 (after transactions plummeted) is that at a young age we should value the number of reps (and diversity of them). Your pay may not correspond to the hours, but what you’re learning is worth far more. I would say your experience has an additional value-add since you work on a variety of property types. My team was understaffed in 2021 when things were going crazy and I was brand new. I thought I couldn’t handle it, would be fired, and was working hours similar to yours. I came out on the other side very sharp and am so grateful for where my path took me. This time period is not permanent but what you learn will be.

 

How regular are these 3am nights, and are other analysts having the same experience?

Also, do you have family or friends who understand long-term, performance driven career goals who you can talk to in a very open way?  If you feel that your health is in jeopardy, I mean it.  You should talk to them openly about your situation and ask for their advice too. The last thing you should do is isolate how you are feeling to yourself, your co-workers, etc.. Make sure some people who are involved in who you are, outside of company X, are aware.  1)  They will push you harder to make a change if they see a real issue and 2) It should also help you manage and recharge to know that your people are in your corner.

I don't know if you feel like you have people in your life that you can turn to like that, but it is (unfortunately) amazing how much people will hold inside themselves when it comes to sharing a struggling situation with their close family/friends. And it's ironic to find out how dumb it was to hold that to yourself after opening up to a support system.  

 

I would not leave without another gig lined up, as I imagine you have fixed expenses you need to continue paying to live. Unless you are fortunate to have family or in a relationship don’t have to worry about that. 

As others have said, prioritize your physical and mental health, no career or job early on is worth sacrificing that.

 
Most Helpful

The brokerage sweatshop mentality is insane and reeks of “rise and grind!” performative productivity vs. actual meaningful impact.

We have a deal on the market with CBRE right now. In February, when we were getting the OM together, I sent some edits toward the end of the day on the 14th. The analyst on the team, a younger girl, emails me at 11pm that night saying she’s jumping on the edits and will get them back to me by morning. 

First of all, why? Just make the edits in the morning. I’m not going to read it first thing. 

Second, it’s Valentine’s Day. Go out on a date or with your other single female friends and enjoy yourself. 

I legitimately felt bad for this girl and wish I had read the email before the next day so I could tell her to not worry about it. 

If you are a broker and you are reading this, I promise you that 99% of the owners you’re working for only care that you don’t embarrass the project, that you hit your own deadlines, and that you deliver above your strike price that I hope you are lying to me about anyhow so I can be impressed later on when you exceed it. I don’t need you working at 3am, I need you blacked out with the head of acquisitions for a buyer or getting ready for your 7am tee time so that when you call him a month from now to buy my project, he actually digs in and doesn’t just brush it off like the thousand other deals that come across his desk. 

Performance over performance, if you get what I’m saying. 

Commercial Real Estate Developer
 

CRE:

The brokerage sweatshop mentality is insane and reeks of “rise and grind!” performative productivity vs. actual meaningful impact.



We have a deal on the market with CBRE right now. In February, when we were getting the OM together, I sent some edits toward the end of the day on the 14th. The analyst on the team, a younger girl, emails me at 11pm that night saying she’s jumping on the edits and will get them back to me by morning. 



First of all, why? Just make the edits in the morning. I’m not going to read it first thing. 



Second, it’s Valentine’s Day. Go out on a date or with your other single female friends and enjoy yourself. 



I legitimately felt bad for this girl and wish I had read the email before the next day so I could tell her to not worry about it. 



If you are a broker and you are reading this, I promise you that 99% of the owners you’re working for only care that you don’t embarrass the project, that you hit your own deadlines, and that you deliver above your strike price that I hope you are lying to me about anyhow so I can be impressed later on when you exceed it. I don’t need you working at 3am, I need you blacked out with the head of acquisitions for a buyer or getting ready for your 7am tee time so that when you call him a month from now to buy my project, he actually digs in and doesn’t just brush it off like the thousand other deals that come across his desk. 



Performance over performance, if you get what I’m saying. 

I’ve always had a good attitude towards work - I grew up in a blue collar environment, was a college athlete, did well in school, internships, etc, but this has just fully drained the life out of me. I’ve also never thought to pull the mental health card, but it’s put me in a pretty dark place mentally. Maybe it’s just that the industry is not right for me / I’m not passionate enough about it to keep putting these hours into it. You are fully right on the “rise and grind” bullshit pushed down from seniors, and if you push back at all you are ostracised for not being a “team player”.

 
electrictuketspiel

CRE:

The brokerage sweatshop mentality is insane and reeks of “rise and grind!” performative productivity vs. actual meaningful impact.

 

We have a deal on the market with CBRE right now. In February, when we were getting the OM together, I sent some edits toward the end of the day on the 14th. The analyst on the team, a younger girl, emails me at 11pm that night saying she’s jumping on the edits and will get them back to me by morning. 

 

First of all, why? Just make the edits in the morning. I’m not going to read it first thing. 

 

Second, it’s Valentine’s Day. Go out on a date or with your other single female friends and enjoy yourself. 

 

I legitimately felt bad for this girl and wish I had read the email before the next day so I could tell her to not worry about it. 

 

If you are a broker and you are reading this, I promise you that 99% of the owners you’re working for only care that you don’t embarrass the project, that you hit your own deadlines, and that you deliver above your strike price that I hope you are lying to me about anyhow so I can be impressed later on when you exceed it. I don’t need you working at 3am, I need you blacked out with the head of acquisitions for a buyer or getting ready for your 7am tee time so that when you call him a month from now to buy my project, he actually digs in and doesn’t just brush it off like the thousand other deals that come across his desk. 

 

Performance over performance, if you get what I’m saying. 

I’ve always had a good attitude towards work - I grew up in a blue collar environment, was a college athlete, did well in school, internships, etc, but this has just fully drained the life out of me. I’ve also never thought to pull the mental health card, but it’s put me in a pretty dark place mentally. Maybe it’s just that the industry is not right for me / I’m not passionate enough about it to keep putting these hours into it. You are fully right on the “rise and grind” bullshit pushed down from seniors, and if you push back at all you are ostracised for not being a “team player”.

There are plenty of roles in this industry that do not require working at 8pm, much less 3am. 

Commercial Real Estate Developer
 
electrictuketspiel

CRE:

The brokerage sweatshop mentality is insane and reeks of “rise and grind!” performative productivity vs. actual meaningful impact.

 

We have a deal on the market with CBRE right now. In February, when we were getting the OM together, I sent some edits toward the end of the day on the 14th. The analyst on the team, a younger girl, emails me at 11pm that night saying she’s jumping on the edits and will get them back to me by morning. 

 

First of all, why? Just make the edits in the morning. I’m not going to read it first thing. 

 

Second, it’s Valentine’s Day. Go out on a date or with your other single female friends and enjoy yourself. 

 

I legitimately felt bad for this girl and wish I had read the email before the next day so I could tell her to not worry about it. 

 

If you are a broker and you are reading this, I promise you that 99% of the owners you’re working for only care that you don’t embarrass the project, that you hit your own deadlines, and that you deliver above your strike price that I hope you are lying to me about anyhow so I can be impressed later on when you exceed it. I don’t need you working at 3am, I need you blacked out with the head of acquisitions for a buyer or getting ready for your 7am tee time so that when you call him a month from now to buy my project, he actually digs in and doesn’t just brush it off like the thousand other deals that come across his desk. 

 

Performance over performance, if you get what I’m saying. 

I’ve always had a good attitude towards work - I grew up in a blue collar environment, was a college athlete, did well in school, internships, etc, but this has just fully drained the life out of me. I’ve also never thought to pull the mental health card, but it’s put me in a pretty dark place mentally. Maybe it’s just that the industry is not right for me / I’m not passionate enough about it to keep putting these hours into it. You are fully right on the “rise and grind” bullshit pushed down from seniors, and if you push back at all you are ostracised for not being a “team player”.

Are you at a broker (like jll/cbre), broker like eastdil, or in IBD? How in earth are you regularly doing 3am finishes if the former. And what geography are you in? 

 

Analysts don’t grind like this for the client imo. They do because they probably have to support multiple producers who want everything yesterday so they can be the ones getting blackout drunk or hitting the links while you’re chained to your desk handling all their execution. I’ve been in the seat and it’s just a reality. Try telling another producer you had to put their stuff on the back burner bc some unexpected changes came in last night on a different assignment that doesn’t put money in their pocket. Isn’t a good outcome for the analyst. 

 

Meaty_Bones:

Analysts don’t grind like this for the client imo. They do because they probably have to support multiple producers who want everything yesterday so they can be the ones getting blackout drunk or hitting the links while you’re chained to your desk handling all their execution. I’ve been in the seat and it’s just a reality. Try telling another producer you had to put their stuff on the back burner bc some unexpected changes came in last night on a different assignment that doesn’t put money in their pocket. Isn’t a good outcome for the analyst. 


1000%. This job is mainly managing egos while telling people I can’t do their shit right now because I’m on 6 other live deals. Pushing back is never viewed well and the alternative is just absolutely killing yourself trying to please everyone.

 
Meaty_Bones

Analysts don’t grind like this for the client imo. They do because they probably have to support multiple producers who want everything yesterday so they can be the ones getting blackout drunk or hitting the links while you’re chained to your desk handling all their execution. I’ve been in the seat and it’s just a reality. Try telling another producer you had to put their stuff on the back burner bc some unexpected changes came in last night on a different assignment that doesn’t put money in their pocket. Isn’t a good outcome for the analyst. 

I’ve been that analyst. I know the game. 
 

My entire point is that the producers’ mentality toward their underlings is the problem. In a 50 page OM, 5 pages will actually get read by a buyer. The financial assumptions won’t be used by the buyer. There is no buyer question that can’t be answered in 48 hours instead of 24. The entire thing is absurd. 

Commercial Real Estate Developer
 

You gotta get out of this situation.  There are a ton of teams that aren't like this at all.  When I was in IS even the most hardo brokers wouldn't expect anybody to work late into the evenings, and on the rare occasions I had to they would at least be compassionate about it.  Staying later than 8pm was VERY rare and would usually be "made up" later once things slowed down, like getting told I could just go home and take the rest of the day off after the pitch or w/e i was working hard on.  I was fortunate to work for brokers that 1) could pretty quickly identify prospects that were a waste of time and either turn down work or tell me just to make a BOV that's like a 1 page summary vs full-blown deck and 2) were real people with families and hobbies who were content making several hundred grand per year with decent WLB and willing to take their foot off the gas a bit once we already had a solid pipeline instead of bending over backwards for every single prospect. 

 

I'm a financial analyst at brokerage. I've never worked those hours - working until 3am is pretty wild and honestly surprising. Here's some advice:

1. Do you ask the brokers when they need the analysis or do you tell them a time that you can get it to them? This may sound inconsequential but this is actually very important. When you ask the broker when they need something, most are going to say yesterday. For them, everything is priority level 10, when in reality, it can likely wait a day or two. Sometimes even a week. Instead, when they request an analysis, give them an expectation on when they will receive it. If you get asked for an analysis at 5pm, just tell them that you can get them the analysis tomorrow or the next day. You staying up until 3am to do analyses is reinforcing their expectation that your turnaround time is same day. You shouldn't set that expectation because that's an unrealistic expectation. Also, when you set realistic expectations that it will take a day or two to complete, it demonstrates to them that these analyses aren't as easy as they think they are. It takes time to put these together. If these brokers want same-day delivery, then they will need to hire another financial analyst. It sounds like you are good at your job and highly competent. They're not going to fire you because you can't do same-day turnaround on analyses. They'll have a tough time finding anyone that can juggle 20 different deals and same-day turnaround times without paying that person an IB level salary. 

2. Don't quit. I would do the above first. Work reasonable hours. Set realistic expectations. You're not being paid enough to work until 3am. If you calculated your salary by the hour, you're probably making the same amount as someone who works minimum wage at $15/hour with your current hours. Your physical and mental health comes first. 

3. Work smarter. Each deal is different, however, you should make sure that your templates are well-made/customizable for most deal scenarios. If a broker wants a ton of custom edits to a model, then you need to tell them that you have a model that can do xyz but if they want it to do abc, then you will need a few days to rip out the guts of the model and make a new one. So either, your models are streamlined and efficient to save you time or if there are custom edits, you express that to the broker and set realistic expectations. Also, make sure to automate as much as possible. For example, I prepare BOVs all the time. I can make one in 15-20 minutes flat. This is how: For the comparable income approach, my model uses data from 6 comps. I use a 5 mile radius from the subject property in CoStar, filter by sold in 2023 to present (1 min), I favorite 6 comps (5 minutes), I go to the favorites tab and click export and export the data into excel with my custom settings then paste it into my model and transpose the data into the table (2 min). Adjust values (2 min). Income approach, I drop in the rent roll and income/expenses (10 min). Done. If I had to manually input the data from CoStar, that part alone would take 45 min. But since I have a custom made export package to excel, it takes 1 min. So essentially, just try to automate/streamline everything.

Hope this helps. 

 

Guy in LA:

I'm a financial analyst at brokerage. I've never worked those hours - working until 3am is pretty wild and honestly surprising. Here's some advice:





1. Do you ask the brokers when they need the analysis or do you tell them a time that you can get it to them? This may sound inconsequential but this is actually very important. When you ask the broker when they need something, most are going to say yesterday. For them, everything is priority level 10, when in reality, it can likely wait a day or two. Sometimes even a week. Instead, when they request an analysis, give them an expectation on when they will receive it. If you get asked for an analysis at 5pm, just tell them that you can get them the analysis tomorrow or the next day. You staying up until 3am to do analyses is reinforcing their expectation that your turnaround time is same day. You shouldn't set that expectation because that's an unrealistic expectation. Also, when you set realistic expectations that it will take a day or two to complete, it demonstrates to them that these analyses aren't as easy as they think they are. It takes time to put these together. If these brokers want same-day delivery, then they will need to hire another financial analyst. It sounds like you are good at your job and highly competent. They're not going to fire you because you can't do same-day turnaround on analyses. They'll have a tough time finding anyone that can juggle 20 different deals and same-day turnaround times without paying that person an IB level salary. 



2. Don't quit. I would do the above first. Work reasonable hours. Set realistic expectations. You're not being paid enough to work until 3am. If you calculated your salary by the hour, you're probably making the same amount as someone who works minimum wage at $15/hour with your current hours. Your physical and mental health comes first. 



3. Work smarter. Each deal is different, however, you should make sure that your templates are well-made/customizable for most deal scenarios. If a broker wants a ton of custom edits to a model, then you need to tell them that you have a model that can do xyz but if they want it to do abc, then you will need a few days to rip out the guts of the model and make a new one. So either, your models are streamlined and efficient to save you time or if there are custom edits, you express that to the broker and set realistic expectations. Also, make sure to automate as much as possible. For example, I prepare BOVs all the time. I can make one in 15-20 minutes flat. This is how: For the comparable income approach, my model uses data from 6 comps. I use a 5 mile radius from the subject property in CoStar, filter by sold in 2023 to present (1 min), I favorite 6 comps (5 minutes), I go to the favorites tab and click export and export the data into excel with my custom settings then paste it into my model and transpose the data into the table (2 min). Adjust values (2 min). Income approach, I drop in the rent roll and income/expenses (10 min). Done. If I had to manually input the data from CoStar, that part alone would take 45 min. But since I have a custom made export package to excel, it takes 1 min. So essentially, just try to automate/streamline everything.





Hope this helps. 




Really appreciate the advice here.

I would love to set expectations with the brokers, but I would literally get de-staffed or fired if I tried this. They simply don’t care what the deadlines are or how late I have to work, it has to be done.

You would probably say I need to change companies, but when I’m working these hours I don’t have any time to look for a new job so I feel pretty stuck.

 

I'm very curious what brokerage you're at. If you're willing to share the name PM me - no worries if not. Not sure what city you're in but I know my company is looking into hiring a financial analyst for our west region (Nevada/Arizona/Utah). 

It seems like your current situation is unsustainable. So you really only have two options:

1. Try what I proposed and run the chance of getting de-staffed or fired. The benefit of this approach is that assuming the worst case scenario (you getting fired), it will take 6 months or more for them to fire you. This gives you ample time to apply for other jobs during this time period. Leave at 5pm everyday and apply for jobs for the next 6 months and either you accept another job before they fire you or they fire you and you're already well into the process of interviewing, etc.

2. Continue working these hours for another couple of months until you're fully burned out and quit without another job lined up (since you can't apply to jobs working your current hours, as you mentioned). Then spend all your time applying for jobs. 

It seems like your only option is to find another job so really the decision is really just how you plan to orchestrate the job-switch. 

 

God I wish I would have been in multifamily.  Building and reviewing an Argus model alone took more work than your entire process.  Different leases/structures etc. for every tenant, infinitely more work than this... so much brain damage

 

Absolutely. I also do Argus models - I would say roughly 30-40% of the deals I work on require an Argus model. Unfortunately, I haven't found any way to effectively streamline the whole Argus to excel to presentation-ready process. Curious to know if you found any useful methods to speed up the process.

My Argus process is typically: broker asks me to prepare an analysis for an office property. More than half the time I get an outdated rent roll and property financials that are all in scanned PDFs with unrecognizable text that Adobe's OCR can't even handle. I manually input the rent roll & everything else into Argus. Some tenants in the rent roll have lease expirations before the analysis date so I ask the broker if they know whether or not they renewed and also sometimes there's inconsistencies in the financials. It turns into a back-and-forth with the property manager until we get a definitive answer. I finish the analysis, export it in a custom export package, drop it into excel, then manually format it into the way the broker wants to see it. Then PDF it and the marketing team takes it from there. 

The worst part IMO is putting the raw Argus excel export into the custom format in excel. I've read on here that people have macros in excel that do it automatically but I've never found a good way to do this unfortunately. So each time is definitely brain damage like you said...

 

The best brokers win by having relationships. Debt brokers can lean on people to get non market terms. Sales brokers know who to take the deal to and how to market it to them. A fancy OM is almost never meaningful, every sophisticated recipient ignores everything except factual info anyway. This sweatshop shit is so stupid.

 

As others have said, these hours make zero sense. Brokerage is an in by 6-8am and out by 6-8pm type of game starting out. Working outside these hours will leave you drained and behind the 8 ball (or doing 8 balls) in short order. It might be different in a purely analyst role but this sounds like a clear case of working hard and not smart. Maybe don't pore over comps until 3am and overanalyze every last minutiae? Just get it done

Those saying that a career brokerage isn't the way are delusional. There's no accessible role in the industry that can afford as much freedom and prosperity as brokerage. Sure, you have to keep doing the dance to make money but for some people it comes relatively easy. And at least your dancing to your own tune, not at the whims of an employer. That said, brokerage is largely about the being in the right time, right place and with the right people... If all 3 of those things aren't there then move on. Good luck OP. 

 

Hey man, can you please pm me? I just want to ask you a few questions about your situation. I may join a similar type job soon so was seriously hoping for some insight before I make a big wring decision.. thanks man

 

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