Consulting to RE Finance

Hello All,

I am exploring next steps for my career and would love to get this community's advice on what would make sense for me if I wanted to work more directly in real estate. I currently am a 2nd year analyst at a top non-MBB consulting firm, and have gained a good amount of project experience optimizing company footprints and real estate portfolios, either sparked by mergers or a general desire to cut costs. I will also have the opportunity to work on site selection and workplace strategy projects as well. I have a background in residential real estate too.

The way I see it, I could aim for a number of things:
- Development associate at a big developer
- Acquisitions associate at a REIT or REPE fund
- Consulting function at a big brokerage (CBRE, CW, JLL)
- FP&A or equivalent role at a development firm (Irvine company has a solid group) or brokerage
- Real Estate related tech company (Trulia, Airbnb, Realty Mogul)
- Entrepreneurial pursuit in the real estate work (RE services, property management)

As you can see, I am open to a number of paths and would love to hear what you monkeys think is a good move given my background. Feel free to throw out other things I haven't thought of yet as well.

As far as my priorities go:
- Upward career trajectory (towards larger future compensation and b school prospects)
- Balance between high comp and reasonable hours (compared to consulting grind)
- Interesting work, and learning things that I can apply outside of my day job

Thanks for the comments! Bananas will be going out to thoughtful responses.

Comments (29)

Best Response
Jan 8, 2016 - 10:08am
IronChef204, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This has been done before. I know multiple people who have left consulting for RE. I know an analyst who left consulting to work in the CMBS world as a lender and another who worked as an analyst on the debt brokerage side.

That being said, I personally think your priorities are too generic. Most of the people in finance are looking for those things. You kind of just said, "I want a good job in real estate. Tell me how to get there." You need to ask yourself what type of work you would like to do in RE. Is it on the debt or equity side? Is it acquisition/development or management? Do you want to own (or at least be on the side that owns the assets) or do you want to advise these owners?

The upward trajectory is really what you make of it. The guys who generally own the real estate make the most money, and business school isn't that useful in RE. I generally think that your hours at any company will be better than what you faced as a consultant. It will generally be more stable than living out of a suitcase day to day, but you will still have to travel. As for interesting work that is applicable outside of the office, very few and far between skills in RE are applicable outside of RE.

I think you should look for the position that will give you the most amount of exposure to the different asset classes. As a lender, you will see many different asset classes and types of transactions. You can be a special servicer doing work outs on deals that are going bad. You can work in equity sales or debt placement at a big brokerage. I would recommend taking a position that allows you to see as many deals as you can but not get pigeonholed as "the [insert asset class] guy" just yet; I suspect you're still in your 20's.

Jan 11, 2016 - 4:00pm
VodkaRedBull, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the thoughtful reply IronChef204.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I could see myself doing a lot of different things, and aren't super partial to one over the other. I'm trying to identify what path within real estate would be best for me given my prior experience and priorities.

Any monkeys have some strong opinions out there? I was expecting to hear responses like "do whatever it takes to get two years in dev / acquisitions at Hines or Tishman and then you can leave to REPE for serious $$$".

I appreciate the advice of picking a role that would allow me to see many types of deals. I'm a little hesitant to leave consulting because so many doors are open and as soon as I leave I'm picking a role / industry. I know I am passionate about real estate and don't see that changing, and know I could make as much or more in an acquisitions / dev role at a major REIT, REPE, developer with a much better work / life balance so it's hard to grind it out in consulting for too much longer.

Jan 13, 2016 - 2:42am
mrcheese321, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think you should do whatever it takes to get 2 year in dev / acquisitions at Hines or Tishman and then you can leave to REPE for serious $$$...because that is how it works for everyone on this forum!!!

Seriously though, you are going to have to give us some more detail on what you currently do/narrow down what your targets are if you want anyone to actually help you.

Jan 12, 2016 - 1:00pm
CRE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Incredibly hard to answer, OP, given the breadth of the skills you learn in consulting and the amount of different roles in real estate you are interested in. I think you need to narrow down what your skills are, what you want to do day to day, and what you're most interested in

Commercial Real Estate Developer

Jan 13, 2016 - 6:06pm
Gene Parmesan, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you have a higher appetite for risk I would recommend a job that includes development. From my experience, a REPE fund (buy, fix, sell) has to do well on pretty much every deal for everyone to be happy. So lots of singles and doubles. Development deals yield the opportunities for more home runs

Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of run. - Kipling
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Feb 15, 2016 - 5:10pm
VodkaRedBull, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Following up on this thread - I do think I'd like to aim for an acquisitions / development role. My one hesitation is that while the market is strong right now, what happens if the market turns? Similarly, do you guys in the industry think a slowdown is likely in the next 1-3 years? I've heard that entire acquisitions teams can get terminated in bad times.

My thoughts are that if shit ever hits the fan, I could reenter consulting or then go get my MBA, but wanted to hear what you all have to say about it. I really value the advice this forum has to offer, and appreciate all of the responses!

Feb 15, 2016 - 10:55pm
mrcheese321, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Acquisition people do tend to be the first cut during a downturn (if you slow down/stop investing, then you don't need as big of an acquisitions team). Generally LIFO applies, but if you are a rainmaker, then you have a higher chance of being kept around/shuffled somewhere else until the market turns around (usually shuffled to AM/workouts).

Feb 15, 2016 - 10:56pm
welcome2nyc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

consulting....to real estate??? (Originally Posted: 03/07/2010)

Does anybody have experiences or knowledge regarding people who work in consulting and transition into real estate development/acquisitions. I know consulting isn't the way to launch a career in real estate. ....But I was just curious to know peoples experience regarding anyone they might know who got into real estate development/acquisitions from consulting.

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:02pm
Consulted60606, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Career Advice - Management Consultant to RE (Originally Posted: 10/10/2013)

I am at a tipping point and would appreciate the advice of people on this board. My career path is slightly unique and it would be helpful to get your opinions.

I am currently an associate at a boutique management consulting firm in Chicago and have been working in the industry for four years. On the side, I have been investing in real estate by rehabbing distressed multi-family properties. It has started to take off and I have attracted a small group of accredited investors that are partnering on my deals. Just in terms of size, every project I have participated in has been under $1 million.

While I like consulting, I realize that real estate is where I see my life moving. My goal is to branch out and work in PERE or for a REIT to gain exposure to larger deals and other asset classes.

My questions: 1. What are the potential career transitions for someone with my background? Am I off base in looking at PERE or a REIT? 2. Given my experience in consulting and real estate, is it reasonable to expect a lateral transition or will I start at the analyst level? 3. Are there any Chicago area recruiters that specialize in real estate?

Any advice at this point is helpful, thanks in advance.

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:04pm
elgodfather, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Consulting to RE (Originally Posted: 01/22/2018)

Currently, I work in construction consulting; advising on project controls, dispute resolution, and claims analysis etc. My question is, for someone with my background is it possible to make the jump into development without an MRED or an MBA?

From my perspective, it should not be too difficult as my experience is pretty relevant. I am just not familiar with how competitive development roles are, or how much experience they look for in their typical applicants. Is it possible to just network my way in?

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:05pm
WSO Monkey Bot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi elgodfather, no, I never sleep and so I can respond to any lonely threads (like this one) at all hours of the night. Impressive, I know ;-)

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  • Consulting to RE Finance b school prospects)- Balance between high comp and reasonable hours (compared to consulting grind)- ... Hello All, I am exploring next steps for my career and would love to get this community's ... advice on what would make sense for me if I wanted to work more directly in real estate. I currently am ...
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  • RE / REPE- What is your typical day to day like? I thought it would be cool if guys here can give their "day in the life" from 9am to ... inexperienced guys like myself to see what is like formguys here from development to brokerage to REPE do on ... a daily basis. to Friday, January 5, 2018- 4:55pm ...
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  • More suggestions...

Maybe one of our professional members will share their wisdom: Jamal BlueDevilCRE yvetteromero

Hope that helps.

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:07pm
CRE, what's your opinion? Comment below:
elgodfather:
Currently, I work in construction consulting; advising on project controls, dispute resolution, and claims analysis etc. My question is, for someone with my background is it possible to make the jump into development without an MRED or an MBA?

From my perspective, it should not be too difficult as my experience is pretty relevant. I am just not familiar with how competitive development roles are, or how much experience they look for in their typical applicants. Is it possible to just network my way in?

Development companies would most likely look at you as a construction guy, which they 100% hire and rely on, but you would be more of a construction owners rep than a development manager.

If you want to be a development manager down the road, a MRED would be a great option. That plus your construction background would make you a very desirable candidate.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

  • 4
Feb 15, 2016 - 11:10pm
Rana Clamitans, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lateral from Mgmt. Consulting to RE? (Originally Posted: 06/03/2013)

Hi All,

I'm at my 2-year mark as an analyst in management consulting (non-MBB) and I'm looking to see what my options are in terms of the real estate finance world.

I've done some basic research and I'm seeing that there are a lot of 'financial analyst' type roles for college grads and that seems to be the starting point. The basic job description seems to consist of ARGUS, excel, modeling, etc.

I've never worked with Argus, but the consensus seems to be that it's an 'easy' tool to learn, but difficult to master, so to speak. I have a knack for learning things really quickly so I'm not too worried about learning how to use Argus. Same goes for the financial modeling (I've only done basic modeling during my tenure in consulting -- stuff like basic revenue models, market sizing, etc.)

So, that being said, would I be looking at those types of entry-level roles, even though I've been working in mgmt. consulting for two years?

What kinds of salaries can I expect? I'm hoping to make at least high-70s / low-80s, including bonus, similar to what I've been making so far. I guess I wouldn't mind coming in as an entry-level analyst, but only if I could get my salary matched (my research shows that entry level RE analysts make around $60-70K all-in, which is too low for me at this point) and with an understanding that I may be on the fast track to senior analyst.

And finally, does anyone have any firm suggestions? I'm on the East Coast and I definitely want to move to somewhere in California, preferably LA.

Can anyone lend me some guidance? I'm feeling a bit lost in the whole RE industry and I'm not finding much content regarding people switching from consulting to RE.

Thanks!

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:11pm
prospie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

somebody else asked about this once on here, I think. I don't see it done much either, but I see no reason why you couldn't pull something off.

"...Partner with Spieker Partners (1988-93), and a Project Director with Trammell Crow Company (1985-87). Prior to that he worked for IBM and McKinsey and Company." http://www.blakehunt.com/executive_officers.php

"Mike Fascitelli, CEO of Vornado [VNO] ... started at McKinsey, and then went to Goldman as a real estate investment banker. After several years at Goldman, Steve Roth lured Fascitelli away from banking to work at VNO." http://www.lifeonthebuyside.com/kicking-the-bricks-real-estate/

Obviously those guys are a little higher up in the food chain, so those are silly examples, but the point is, people move around and real estate can be learned. As far as whether you'd have to take a paycut and have to start at the bottom in a 1st yr analyst position, I'm not totally sure. If you want your best shot at 70s or 80s incl bonus pre-MBA, try for the respected i-banks/funds/etc and avoid the Marcus & Millichap-type shops, in case that isn't obvious.

This might sound like a stretch, but if you can find someone on LinkedIn who used to do strategy consulting and switched to RE, treat him as an "alum" of your industry and beg him for advice on his unusual transition. I have made similar connections that way with people who had nothing else in common with me and were nice enough to help out.

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:13pm
Rana Clamitans, what's your opinion? Comment below:
prospie:

somebody else asked about this once on here, I think. I don't see it done much either, but I see no reason why you couldn't pull something off.

"...Partner with Spieker Partners (1988-93), and a Project Director with Trammell Crow Company (1985-87). Prior to that he worked for IBM and McKinsey and Company." http://www.blakehunt.com/executive_officers.php

"Mike Fascitelli, CEO of Vornado [VNO] ... started at McKinsey, and then went to Goldman as a real estate investment banker. After several years at Goldman, Steve Roth lured Fascitelli away from banking to work at VNO."
http://www.lifeonthebuyside.com/kicking-the-bricks...

Obviously those guys are a little higher up in the food chain, so those are silly examples, but the point is, people move around and real estate can be learned. As far as whether you'd have to take a paycut and have to start at the bottom in a 1st yr analyst position, I'm not totally sure. If you want your best shot at 70s or 80s incl bonus pre-MBA, try for the respected i-banks/funds/etc and avoid the Marcus & Millichap-type shops, in case that isn't obvious.

This might sound like a stretch, but if you can find someone on LinkedIn who used to do strategy consulting and switched to RE, treat him as an "alum" of your industry and beg him for advice on his unusual transition. I have made similar connections that way with people who had nothing else in common with me and were nice enough to help out.

You're right -- I saw that thread earlier by someone who was in a very similar position as me. However, the thread did not gain any traction and nothing was to be learned from it, sadly, lol.

I've already learned some industry terminology, while REIB might sound like a good entry point, I want to be closer to the bricks (did I use that right?). My research and understanding of how REIB works indicate that you're sort of the middleman between the RE firms and the financing companies. I want to work for the RE firms.

Just spent a couple minutes surfing LinkedIn and I've found some potential people I could speak to, but the connection is hinged on their being alumni, and not necessarily people who would share a similar, uncommon background (i.e., consulting to real estate).

Thanks for the tips.

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:14pm
Rana Clamitans, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could frame my résumé / work experience to lend itself more towards RE?

The nature of my projects have zero relation to RE, but in an interview, I'm confident I could articulate how the skill sets are relatively similar, but simply need to be applied to a different domain of knowledge.

But back to the resume -- there's nothing on there in terms of subject matter that would lend itself to RE.

I can highlight my modeling, research, and project management experience, but that's about it.

Thoughts?

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:15pm
Slothrop, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would focus on having a good explanation as to why you want to work in real estate, and then get in front of as many people in the industry as possible. If you're smart, personable, and have a good answer as to why you want to work in the business someone will probably give you a shot. It's just a matter of throwing enough shit against the wall until something sticks, and someone decides to try you out.

Have you explored the different types of jobs within real estate? Not all analyst positions are the same. It might be easier to offer you constructive advice if we knew you were targeting lending, or REPE, etc.

Feb 15, 2016 - 11:16pm
Rana Clamitans, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Feb 15, 2016 - 11:17pm
Slothrop, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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