Conflicts of Interest

1st Year Analyst in Real Estate - Commercial

I'm gonna keep this fairly brief and vague but I'd like to get some monkey input on this as I'm not sure how to proceed. The context is that I currently work for a large brokerage firm (JLL/CBRE/Eastdil/Cushman) on a team that specializes in a niche product type (think manufactured housing/student housing/senior housing). As such I have access to a ton of data and transaction level info.

I have a family member that has asked me to consult for them so they can pursue this kind of investment opportunity. Basically I'll be doing all the leg work (underwriting, finding the deal, helping with the development process, etc). I've agreed to help as this would be great experience for me to leverage however I don't know if this is something I need to disclose to my firm. I am earning an hourly wage for this work and I'm afraid that if I tell my firm about this project they'll come in with a bunch of restrictions or tell me flatly that I'm not allowed to do it.

I've already told my family member that transaction level info is confidential and everything that I provide will not have details that can't be found outside of public sources. But I'm still using my firms tools and data sources to help with the project... Any insights would be appreciated!

Comments (12)

Most Helpful
Sep 4, 2019

Is there an opportunity to earn a brokerage fee? If so, just run that through the proper channels.

In regards to research/modeling/DD etc. Do it outside the office on your own computer using your own software and your own research logins and keep your mouth shut.

    • 3
Sep 4, 2019

I wouldn't tell anyone about this if I were you. I would just flash drive the data materials/comps you need and do the underwriting for this on your own time on a separate computer. The big brokerage shops are not tracking each individuals access of data off Axiometrics, CoStar, RCA, etc... plus it costs them nothing for your download it considering they are already paying for your license/unlimited usage.

    • 2
Sep 6, 2019

You're allowed to plug in a flash drive and download data? Is that normal at most RE firms?

Sep 6, 2019
FinancelsWacc:

You're allowed to plug in a flash drive and download data? Is that normal at most RE firms?

Most real estate firms are not Hines or Related.

Sep 6, 2019

I've done exactly this at two of the largest capital markets brokerage firms with zero repercussions.

    • 2
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Sep 4, 2019

Maybe take a look at the NDA's you signed when you joined the firm/team.

Sep 5, 2019

Who is gonna tell.....

Do it, but do most of the work at home

Sep 6, 2019

Lol welcome to commercial real estate, kid. This industry is full of good old boys that doesn't know what NDA stands for.

    • 1
Sep 6, 2019

The best thing you can do is to read your NDA carefully. One more time.
And don't tell anyone. Finish your work and forget about it.

Sep 6, 2019

EVERYONE in the brokerage business does this, you are definitely not alone. Technically speaking it's a legal no-no, but you're fine. I wouldn't tell your shop about the side hustle...no need to bring unwanted attention to what you are doing. While any company certainly has the ability to monitor your email at will, they aren't doing it at these big brokerages unless you are causing a specific issue. Get that bread...

    • 1
Sep 9, 2019

As others have said you'll be fine, but to avoid attention:

  1. Do not name the files you're creating / transferring anything that would look suspicious. If you're researching 120 Broadway, but that has nothing to do with your team, DON'T name it 120-broadway.xls (esp if it's in a folder someone else might see).
  2. Clear your log files. Assuming you're on Windows, Start menu > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer > Security will show each time a removable storage device connects and disconnects. If you don't have access to this, then your IT dept is savvy enough to know you're grabbing files (they just don't care). The system records the USB stick's serial number AND the file names transferred. Which brings you back to #1.

As @maineiac42 said,

Do it outside the office on your own computer using your own software and your own research logins and keep your mouth shut.

Definitely don't do any analysis company computers / software.

    • 1
Sep 10, 2019
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