From MF to brokerage?

Hi guys, I am looking for recommendations today as I am afraid to make a mistake. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have been working a few years for a top developer, and then managed to land a job at what people would call a top fund here (think Angelo Gordon, Cerberus, BGO, etc). I spent only a year at this shop for personal reason and recently jumped to a MF (Blackstone, Starwood, KKR…).

Despite this great move, I currently feel like completely burnout by the industry. I have been grinding since 4 years now, but I feel like the hours are crushing, being an Excel/PPT monkey is killing me on a daily basis, and the dream of hitting the big promote to potentially be a millionaire is not attractive to me anymore (low probability to make it to MD, keep working 80/90h weeks after multiple years…). I am also founding a family and I feel like my priorities have changed.

I believe that making another move in investment would not be perceived really well, as I already got 3 big names on my resume in 4 years only (out of which 1 where I stayed only 1 year and 1 I joined a few months ago, the MF). I would like to stay in the industry and I am currently thinking about brokerage, as the role could be definitely more commercial, and hours should definitely be lower. However, I know that I would make much less than what I am currently being paid.

Will I regret it? Have you ever seen similar moves and does it make sense?Thank you.

Comments (10)

Most Helpful
Jul 15, 2022 - 7:37am
Ricky Sargulesh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've worked on both sides and am strongly considering going back to brokerage as well.  I don't work at a MF and have solid WLB, but it's wearing me down constantly underwriting deals we aren't awarded (and don't understand WTF assumptions people are using to win), actually having to manage the ones we do buy (oversee another granite counter + tile backsplash reno, woohoo!), and having so much comp deferred (carry baby! - in 10 years...).  Want to go back to brokerage to just work on actual transactions and get paid immediately.

Do you have a specific geography or asset class in mind?  If so, this should make the process simple for you... Just reach out to the top teams doing those deals (likely a short list of CW/CBRE/JLL/a couple others) for an informational interview and get a realistic idea of what joining would look like.  Brokerages have a vast variety of culture/compensation/WLB/team structures across different markets and teams that its impossible to give a good recommendation.

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Jul 15, 2022 - 9:44am
pudding, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just want to point out - if underwriting is wearing you down - so will doing your 30th pitch deck only for you to lose again, put in tons of hours prepping, and make no money. Or to have your 5th deal that year fall apart, which you've worked on for 6 months, only to see your commission evaporate. 
 

Also, the institutional brokerage teams generally work just as hard, if not harder, than investment teams. You're always pitching, selling, and doing BOVs and it's client services. So a client comes to you Friday says I need to sell please do a BOV. Can you get this done by Tuesday? And you answer - sure no problem - because you know your competitors are going to have it done. If you don't do it, you can't win the business. Well, guess who's weekend just got blown up - the analyst and associate. Get the argus, underwrite, clean it, puff up the rents higher, do the research, dig into the asset, find comps, write market memos, etc. 

Jul 15, 2022 - 12:18pm
Ricky Sargulesh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

True, I've been in brokerage and know the downsides well.  If you're moving to a top team in NYC or something it definitely won't be better WLB.

However, in my experience I'd say with the way owners spread business around, we realistically won about 25% of pitches simply because it was "our turn" and there were 4 large shops in our market.  And of the deals we won, probably 75% transacted smoothly and on time.  Overall much better hit rate than working in acquisitions underwriting 10 deals a week and maybe getting to 2nd round like once every couple months.  Another big thing I miss about brokerage is the furthest deals we would tour were maybe ~90 minutes away by car, whereas I'm currently having to hop on flights regularly which sucks.

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  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Jul 15, 2022 - 8:38am

Thanks for the input, this is very helpful! I'm currently based in London, so it might be different from the US. I have been covering multifamily, office, retail, logistic and corporate acquisitions. Out of all the asset classes, my favorite is multifamily. Do you believe that my profile could be of any interest to the brokers you mentioned? In Europe, I know that C&W, JLL, CBRE and Savills are particularly good (also Eastdil and Colliers from time to time).

Jul 15, 2022 - 8:47am
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have a lot going on! Starting a family and trying to navigate all this! 

Still, I'm confused.... do you want to stay in investment management world but only considering brokerage as you think jumping to another firm in current role will be tough? Or is brokerage what you sincerely want to do and see as a long-term career? I don't think brokerage is where I would go if you want casual/WLB, might be improvement from current gig for sure, but still, not really the common thread of successful brokers. 

The early stages of a career like do suck with shitty hours, being an excel/powerpoint drone, and just being "low" on the firm's importance ranking. BUT, there can be major gains from "sticking it out" to get a better job (perhaps promotion at current place, but I'd suspect that will take too long) via an "upwards jump". What sucks is it sounds like you have jumped several times, each one just hitting "reset" to your seniority clock and internal progression (note to WSO readers.... this is often a reality of "lateraling" especially if to "better/bigger" firms, why I don't always recommend it...). Thus, guess what moving again at this stage will do.... "reset" you back to the bottom once more. 

In fairness, not sure what best path is, too personal. But, I'd try and take my time and seriously consider what you really like, don't like, and what to do. If you hadn't said the "family" thing, I'd probably say you are an ideal candidate for going to grad school now to figure things out, take a break, and then use it as a level-up/reset! This is what many "burn-outs" from I-banking and PE world do, and it works for a reason.......

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Jul 16, 2022 - 11:09am
refinance007, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In my opinion…Institutional real estate and all the "prestige" groups are very overrated and generally suck if you're not one of the top guys at whatever shop you're at. You get stuck busting your ass either for the founder/owner's promote (if you're on the principal side) or if you're at a broker shop, you're so busy churning out oms and closings for senior brokers you don't even have time to build your own book of biz. I figured this out working for a large bank and PE fund in my 20s. I went to the debt broker side, but I'm middle market focused covering HNW and private buyers. Hours are way better, a lot more fun and I'm making 2-3x in comparison to someone on my level at an institutional shop (brokerage or principal). I think the most rewarding positions in RE are on the entrepreneurial side, not working your way up the ladder at eastdil secured or blackstone. Just my take tho, some people love that corporate game

Jul 19, 2022 - 1:02pm
Steam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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