Career Path Starting as Credit Analyst

Hi everyone!

I graduated from undergrad in May as a finance/accounting major. I secured a job right after graduation as credit analyst on a CRE team at a small bank ($5AUM). Within the next few months, I will also be getting to help underwrite some deals. My dream would be to end up in acquisitions eventually.

I am determined to be very successful in CRE, and want to be doing more to propel my career path as my work schedule is not very demanding (9-5). What should I be doing now to set myself up for success later?

My bank does not use Argus. Would it be worth it to get my certification for future job prospects?
Any RE modeling courses I should work on?
Thoughts on getting CFA? I could study for 6 mo and take the first exam in June.
Long term, is there a benefit to getting a masters/MBA specialized in RE? Alternatively to the CFA, I could study for and take my GMAT and have the test scores be good for a few years.
And of course I know to network! Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Comments (6)

Nov 14, 2019 - 9:49am

If you want to get on equity acquisitions you either need to move to a larger bank ASAP, build a network and move on after a few years (hopefully) or get a job closer to the stick and bricks of RE now. Credit Analyst at a regional bank isnt going to help you much. Best bet to make the jump would be a high end MBA after a couple years of work experience.

That being said this is a reoccurring theme on this board, people on the debt side who want to move to the equity side for no reason. Since you have a job as a credit analyst why don't you explore your debt options rather than arbitrarily deciding on equity.

Nov 14, 2019 - 3:59pm

Study for the GMAT instead. Ditto above, try moving to a bigger bank. But make sure it's for the right role. Always ask about deal flow.

I'm a credit analyst, started at a large regional and switched to large community for experience since analysts exclusively did spreads in Moody's and nothing else at my bank. Also know tons of Credit Analysts working exclusively on renewals and compliance monitoring at BB.

It's better to stay at a regional bank where you're involved in production than go BB to some half cooked/paper pushing credit admin role. I think this point is sometimes lost on high finance types, commercial lending is a massive space.

It sounds like you need to do more research, which is totally normal! Have you considered LevFin, Dcm, Corp banking? Otherwise, network like hell and keep your options open

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Nov 14, 2019 - 4:40pm

I'd disagree that there's urgency to move to a bigger bank asap. You've only been out of school a few months. Figure out the lay of the land before you make a move. I'd imagine at a bank that size loans are $5MM to $20MM, which is good size (unless you're in Manhattan). Try to get involved in client facing opportunities as often as possible. Usually the lender will be happy to take you on meetings/lunches.

In my opinion a CFA won't give you much of an advantage in CRE. An MBA though would be of value, especially if you're thoughtful about which program. Both prestige and location matter. If you know where you want to live long term, a school in that area is a good option if you're not going to one of the top MBA schools. For example, in Texas, the Texas A&M Real Estate school is well regarded and their alumni network is very strong.

Nov 15, 2019 - 2:36pm

I agree with everything HotelCREwiz has said here and would like to add a few points since I started as a Credit Analyst at a bit larger bank but definitely not a BB:

  • I'm sure someone will disagree but I just don't see the value of the CFA in CR. It takes a massive time commitment that I don't believe is worth the reward, since it covers so many other subjects that don't apply to our field. Instead, I would recommend you spend that time developing modeling experience and networking. Studying for the GMAT is another avenue, which brings me to my next point:

  • I personally believe the MBA should be a last resort, especially considering how early you are in your career. If you want to study and take it so you can potentially use it later, that isn't a bad idea since you're fresh out of UG and have some of those topics fresh in mind, but taking 2 years off and spending $150k+ should be a last resort in my opinion. The opportunity cost is just too significant considering it isn't necessarily a requirement to advance in CRE.

  • The (2) points above don't carry as much weight if you're really drawn to the idea of working for a prestigious PERE50 or developer.

  • I would recommend using your first 1-2 years at your bank to completely immerse yourself in your work. I started at a smaller bank in a niche CRE Underwriting group, but my Directors saw I was hungry and took me to industry events, introduced me to our partners, and heads of other departments. It was hugely impactful for me as I was able to attend sit downs with VC & PE Firms, heads of major brokerages, etc. In my opinion, this type of experience and attention is much less common at larger banks.

  • The experiences outlined above helped me find my direction for my next opportunity and were incredibly helpful in networking, since I was able to meet all sorts of people at each of the companies we met with.

TLD - Bust your tail at work, and use your free time to keep learning about different product types and parts of the industry you're interested in. Meet as many people in those parts of the business as you can, preferably ones that compliment what you currently do or want to become (Sounds like for you it would likely be debt producers, acquisitions and AM professionals, etc.).

If you're still having trouble getting where you want to be by year 3/4, consider planning for a MBA. I've always really wanted a MBA, but have a hard time justifying the cost and time out of the office, assuming you plan on attending full time. Feel free to PM if you want more info
EDIT: Grammatical typos... posted while eating lunch

Nov 15, 2019 - 4:43pm
  • Definitely take the time to actually get good at your current job before looking to jump to equity. Although, in my experience Corporate Banking has done me pretty well and the opportunities are definitely there. Instead of rushing into acquisitions for clout there are tons of well known Private Credit lenders who are pretty legit.

  • Similar to what @Axozo said, depending on the size of your Bank you can get a lot more experience that will be transferable when you are looking to make your jump to a larger place. I'm one rn ~$17B AUM and get a lot more exposure than I would at a larger national spot.

Honestly though bro, I feel you, I used to get caught up in the rat race for prestige. But be where your feet are man. You haven't even been there a year so master your craft first. And if your work schedule isn't too demanding yet, why don't you try just enjoying shit outside of work? We're young dude. Don't rush to be 30.

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