CFA in REPE? It doesn't seem very common, worth the work? Input appreciated.

I work doing acquisitions, and I have recently considered applying for some Development Associate positions. Some postings at larger shops list CFA on their requirement lists, and I believe this could be the HR/recruiter/talent acquisition person just throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall, but it got me thinking: is there a strong value add case for a CFA in most REPE/Development roles?

For PM, it makes sense (and I work with someone in our PM department that has a CFA), but outside that it doesn't appear to be common.

Also, I have been considering going for designation, and I was told my current employer would reimburse the costs. I am also looking at it from the "more qualifications never hurt" standpoint for my resume...

Mid-level and senior guys, feel free to weigh in. Thanks.

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Comments (21)

Jul 25, 2019 - 12:53pm

Interested in hearing this too. When I was in RE lending on the PM side, some of them had it and others didn't, and it didn't really seem to make a difference. They did reimburse people for it, but with the amount of studying I'm similarly really unsure whether it's worth it or not.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Jul 25, 2019 - 3:45pm
is there a strong value add case for a CFA in most REPE/Development roles?

That's a weird way of putting it, but CFA is about the highest quality fast food you can get and it definitely saves you time versus a 1 hour+ lunch at a restaurant. The only issue here are the drive through lines - even with three lanes those things can get backed up. That'll cut into the amount of valuable time during your day that gets added, although you can always answer emails on your phone while waiting.

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Jul 25, 2019 - 4:10pm

I am a firm believer that the CFA is a complete and utter waste of time for front office real estate acquisition personnel.

Portfolio Management functions, perhaps.
FP&A at a RE firm (which is hardly considered real estate), okay.

I may make an exception for those acquiring REITs / entire companies (ie; you work at BX or Prologis). Can't be sure though... as I have limited knowledge of how such acquisition process goes but imagine its a value the real estate exercise since the acquiring firms ops will handle post-close (total guess would love for someone to share info). In which case, CFA also a waste of time.

RE is pretty simple. In my experience, those that overcomplicate the business languish. I hate using the cliche phrase "this isn't rocket science" but... it isn't.

Go enjoy your weekends. Make friends with people in the RE community. Not just networking, but long-term relationships. This is how you will get ahead. Not adding useless designations to your signature line.

Then again what do I know? I'm sure there are plenty of RE professionals that think the opposite.

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Jul 25, 2019 - 11:24pm

I work on the buy side for a large institutional firm and have completed all three levels of the CFA. Let me tell you, my boss doesn't care. I got a "congrats" but that was about it. Did not get a higher raise either. It's just not that useful for RE. I'm not trying to discourage you as it's definitely a good feeling to get that third and final "Pass" but don't expect it to change your career in a meaningful manner.

Jul 26, 2019 - 9:49am

Did you get it while you were working there, or just before you started? I guess the real draw is the signalling it provides when you're actively looking for new positions, but a lot of people have reiterated that the coursework isn't really that relevant at all.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Jul 28, 2019 - 11:46pm

I had written all 3 levels prior to getting hired at my current position. While pretty much nothing I do in my day-to-day relates to the program, I do think the CFA can be good when you're actively looking for jobs and need something to differentiate yourself. However, it's never going that have as much weight in RE as it does in AM.

Jul 27, 2019 - 2:29am

If you're interested in development and going out on your own, a CPA , even CFA is not good use of time. You need to know about 5% of the knowledge covered in both to be a successful developer. Getting reps of experience in negotiating deals, building a network, and exposure to development project management (e.g. arguing change orders, motivating GCs) is what will help you become a good developer, and hopefully a profitable one. The CFA might help to get you more interviews at institutional development firms and that will help you get experience on very large deals, but if you want to be on the operator side, it's just not the best use of time.

I took a job out of UG at a Big4 and didn't event plan to study for CPA because I knew it was useless for RE. I got a role at an BB institutional AM firm because my resume had Big4 and I did an RE internship with a little Argus experience. I passed CFA Level 1 because firm paid for it, but then went to small development firm and realized it's not going to be that helpful, but would be more of a personal goal to get through L2-3. Now I'm realizing the CFA would have value as just a piece of marketing material on a team bio because we're talking to a lot of institutions, so they would see people on the team have CFAs during DD and give them 1% more degree of confidence to invest.

Bottom line, my opinion: CFA has some value in the RE world especially if you're interested in development at a large institution that is more on LP side vs. GP/operator side. CPA just a waste of time. If you're young enough and willing to give up a lot of weekends/after hours studying and your firm is paying for it, why the hell not get CFA. Cornell MBA program will let you do the 1 year program with a CFA or CPA, so that is worth $80K in tuition alone if you're just trying to go for resume boost.

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Jul 30, 2019 - 1:18am

Not worth it.

Robert Clayton Dean: What is happening?
Brill: I blew up the building.
Robert Clayton Dean: Why?
Brill: Because you made a phone call.

Aug 1, 2019 - 7:09pm

I have the charter and work in CRE (investment sales). I did it to keep my career options open, but within CRE I can only see the charter helpful in the portfolio management level (ie pension funds, portfolio managers etc). Outside of that, it not much more than a signaling effect when looking for jobs.

If you have zero interest in finance, equity asset management or portfolio management. There are better ways to spend your time.

Aug 2, 2019 - 12:21pm

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