Career path to NYC Brokerage Analyst as a Canadian

lilsniffy's picture
Rank: Chimp | 9

Hey y'all,

I'm a second year University Student at a Canadian target school in Ontario - studying Econ. I'm graduating next year year, hope to move to NYC post-grad. I'd like to transition into Real Estate finance one day, with an eye on Development later on.

My grades likely eliminate me from going down the IB route. I work for a small student housing company in my school's city during the year and will be transitioning into a project manager type role during this summer. I'd like to try to break into a major Brokerage as an Analyst as a starting point.

I have some connections to people at Cushman/Colliers in Montreal/Toronto, I'm undecided about getting a job at one of these branches or trying to go straight to NYC to break in.

Thank you for your help

Comments (5)

Most Helpful
Mar 21, 2019

I moved from Canada to US a few years ago. Depends on where you want to end up long term. RE is a very relationship business on both sides.

Brokerage and REPE and development are quite different in skillset the more your career progresses, but for entry and mid-level roles you can pick up solid skills either way as long as you get good deal flow and constantly put in extra time learning the trade. You get to meet a lot of clients and service providers, pick up sales skills, and know the specific markets very well in brokerage. In REPE you probably pick up financial skills faster and can transfer this skill better across different regions and countries. You may notice there aren't very many experienced brokers who have worked in both countries, let alone different regions, whereas maybe on the buy-side there is slightly more overlap.

Grades matter less the longer you are in the field, however if you want to break into a competitive firm now then it will definitely matter more.

Another consideration is work authorization. Most US firms won't bother to hire you even if they like you if you do not already have US work authorization. All things equal, it is easier for them to hire a local candidate with less headache.

NYC is also a world of its own, overall there are more opportunities but also more competitive. There lots of firms you've probably never heard of before that do very well so there is always opportunity if you grind and make the right connections.

Keep in mind you are at a starting disadvantage looking for work in the States because you are perceived as an unknown quantity and an outsider with no U.S. network, no U.S. work experience nor U.S. education. You don't stand out whereas even a local kid who graduated from a non-target American school will be ahead of you simply because of citizenship.

Outside of maybe UofT, UBC, McGill and maybe Queens (for NYC), most Americans will have never heard of whatever Canadian school you went to unless they have friends/family from Canada. So you will have to prepare well on disarming these negative stereotypes. In reality my experience has been that business works essentially the same on both sides -- cap rates, cash flow, capital stacks, structuring, building methods / materials, sourcing deals, closing deals, it's the same industry language and practice. I find market sizes (small towns v. big cities) matter more in terms of working culture.

Development as a subset of CRE is an even smaller field. There are only a handful of top shops who regularly hire for entry-level roles both in Canada and the States. In Canada the market is much smaller so relationships matter even more. Otherwise most shops run lean in both countries.

There is much more career opportunity in the US than Canada simply because the market size is so much bigger (300+ million population versus 34+ million), so it makes sense to try to slog it out down south since you will just be a fresh grad. If it doesn't work out you can always try to find a Canadian firm that also has a US presence and then try to internally transfer over.

Good luck!

I have approximate knowledge of many things.

    • 2
Mar 21, 2019

Thanks for advice,

Fortunately, I'm enrolled in one of the schools mentioned.

The point on brokers not operating in different regions often is a great one. I'm fluent in French so that may be an intriguing opportunity.

I was worried about work permit issues - I'll try nonetheless but I understand that they'd prefer to hire citizens.

Can I ask what you do?
Do you know what compensation for an analyst role in a major brokerage is like in a high COL city like Toronto/NYC?


Mar 22, 2019

I'll direct message you. Thanks.

I have approximate knowledge of many things.

    • 1
Mar 21, 2019

Also try checking the alumni database of your school and reaching out to anyone based NYC.

I have approximate knowledge of many things.

Mar 25, 2019