HELP - Career Path in REPE Asset Management?

Hi WSO,

Just started as a first-year AM analyst in a large REPE fund, and hoping to seek some advice on career development. The responsibilities are diverse including refinancing, budget/leasing analysis, Capex plans, and dispositions (doesn't happen that often though), but we don't go down to actual lease negotiations/property management. The pay is good and people here are friendly, so I can see myself staying with the firm for quite a while.

It's definitely an option to stay in Asset Management my whole career, but I am wondering what are the other options 5 to 10 years down the road? In other words, how valuable/transferrable would the skills I learn in AM be if I want to move to other areas in RE or even outside RE? What other skills would I need to develop? Would it be possible to move to:

  1. Acquisitions - honestly find the deal process quite interesting but normally AM guys don't get involved in acquisitions at my firm. If I want to make this switch, would it be easier to do it in the first few years or later on? Would AM skillset be valued in Acquisitions?
  2. Development - would it be possible to switch to development later, and when is the best time to do it?
  3. Join/start small REPE shops - this definitely happens much later on in my career, but would I be able to add sufficient value if I only have AM background? Or do you need to be kinda well-rounded having done a bit of Acquisitions, AM and execution stuffs?
  4. Other areas in Finance - the firm is well-known beyond RE too. Would it be possible to move into banking or even corporate PE from where I am? Has it been done before?
  5. Outside Finance - what about going into corporate development in non-finance related companies? Heard some of the IB guys jump to do this after a few years, can this be done in RE too?

Apologies for the long list of questions, but at this beginning stage in my career, I am just a bit confused about what the future holds. Guess I have been really sheltered in college lol. I would also appreciate any insights on other potential options, or advice on what skills I should focus on developing in my current job.

Thanks! 

Comments (11)

Aug 22, 2020 - 2:28pm
Fred Fredburger, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Real estate is considered a pretty specialized field in the finance vertical, so I think your options of moving outside of real estate to an equally good role is limited. As for moving to other roles within real estate:

Acquisitions: definitely possible. Since you're at an MF. I'm not sure how likely it'll be for you to lateral to acquisitions there. It'll probably come down to networking, but in terms of moving to acquisitions at an MM REPE, I think you have a very good shot after 1-3 years of working in your AM role. Just make sure you are proficient in modeling from scratch as that will be the major test


Development: also have a very good shot of getting into development even at top developers after 1-3 years. Developers usually only care that you can get the job done and that they like you. Most developers don't really care about top schools or prestigious shops.

Join/start small REPE shop: unless you're coming in as head of asset management, then you need to be much more well rounded esp if you start your own shop. If you're starting your own shop with no partners, then you'll have to know how to do everything, acquisitions, AM, financing, capital raising, etc...if you're joining a small REPE shop, then it depends on what they are hiring you for. If they are expecting you to source deals, then it would be odd if you didn't have acquisitions experience.

At the end of the day, you're in a very good spot. You're working at a top fund, gaining very relevant experience. Is AM less "sexy" than acquisitions and development? By this site's standards, then yes. But the standards of this site don't reflect reality. You've already gotten past the biggest hurdle, breaking into real estate finance and what's more, you're at a mega fund. The sky's the limit from here on out. As long as you continue grinding, learning new skills, and with a bit of luck, you can go pretty much anywhere in the real estate industry 

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Aug 23, 2020 - 10:29am

Thank you, super detailed and helpful! I guess the hustle never ends haha gotta keep grinding and searching for where I want to be. And the first thing to do is probably to do well in my current position before I start thinking about all these things that are so far away.

Aug 22, 2020 - 4:04pm
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In 5 years, and especially 10, your career will be defined by your success, track record, network/connections. Raw skills, background, and stuff like that will melt down in value. If you are really intent and work purposefully, I think any of the options laid out above should be on the table. That said, your 'other finance' and 'outside finance' categories are more true "jumps" so would be more difficult as it could be further way from your skills/track record and network. If you stay in real estate for ten years, you will probably stay for a career as you won't want to take the step down that may be required unless like you just wanting a major career change and are going to become a teacher or nun or something like that (you won't want to go to 'finance' I'd practically guarantee that....).

You could of course go do an MBA somewhere in that timeline and use that as an accelerator, jump-point. That is part of the value prop of grad school, to hit reset, shift gears, but due so at a higher level. Just pay the fees and/or take on the debt! 

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Aug 23, 2020 - 10:39am

In 5 years, and especially 10, your career will be defined by your success, track record, network/connections.

This is insightful! I think what I plan to do now is to just focus on my current role, do it well and also continue to expand my network. I will just see what opportunities I get along the way, and hit the MBA button if I feel a strong need to. Thanks a lot! 

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Sep 4, 2020 - 10:17am
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Generally, if you become an expert with a certain type of property, you probably want to stay with it as switching can mean "going back to the bottom". That said, adding the obvious adjacent and specialties can happen, but usually implies a learning curve. If your expertise is more functional/skill/business based (like capital markets), then you can probably move all around but stay in same type role. 

Personally, I don't see people moving from their main role/focus area once established, like at the 5 year approx mark. If you are more junior, especially at the analyst level, you can jump freely as you are not really that specialized yet. 

  • Prospect in IB - Cov
Sep 4, 2020 - 2:23am

Does anyone know what compensation looks like for asset management Associate VPs, VPs, and Directors/Managing Directors? I never see comp ranges for those positions on glassdoor and would love to get an idea of what others think - especially at top firms. 

  • Associate 2 in RE - Comm
Sep 4, 2020 - 3:17pm

Can't speak for Director/MD, but a couple of the larger shops that are here on the west coast who I've interviewed with are somewhere in the ballpark of

Sr Analyst/Assoc: $90-125k

VP: $150-200k

These are salary ranges. I've been told Bonus of 10-20% for Analyst/Assoc but not certain

EDIT: To add I made it to final round with one firm and had informational calls with two others, but do not work in AM full time (was going to pivot to it from banking), but chose a different path. So take the above with a grain of salt

Most Helpful
Sep 4, 2020 - 7:15pm
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is very hard to estimate because the closer you get to a top/senior level, like MD/EVP, the more your comp tends to be bonus + long term (like carry/participation/stock) which will be a factor of size/profits/structure/etc. and thus becomes anyone's guess and highly variable...

With that caveat, I'll repeat something I heard from a mentor of mine that seems to be more or less accurate for a round ballpark...

MD/EVP of large+institutional+major market real estate investment/development firm is likely to have a base of at least $300K + Annual bonus between 50% to 150% of base + long-term comp approx. equal to bonus (but could take up to 10 years to vest in most extreme case and subject to clawbacks). In theory, the "total value" of the package is about $1 million but highly variant and contingent on firm/deal success. 

Not sure if this as true for asset management, as the above example was more for a fund/portfolio manager type (which tends to be someone promoted from acq or am). I'd venture to guess the total value would be more for a high-yield/leveraged fund and less for a life co/pension plan core fund type. The trade off in risk and stability should be reflected in comp. For years like 2020 or 2009, the difference is those on the low risk side probably see little risk of layoff and may still get a decent bonus. The leveraged, high-yield types could so zero bonus, value of long-term fall (or go to zero in extremes), and risk layoff or pay cut.

Sep 10, 2020 - 12:08am
kruzon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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