CRE broker who just passed the CFA exams. Now that my CFA journey is over, I'm a little lost.

I apologize if you have already read my post before from another website but I casting a wider net to see if I can get some additional ideas.

Hi, I feel a little weird asking for life tips on Reddit but here goes... Quick background: I graduated with a BBA in Finance (it's a US top 30 business school so nothing spectacular) with hopes of doing something in corporate finance. I started studying for the CFA exams around that time with the hopes that it will help me achieve that goal.

All this time, I worked as a commercial real estate broker. I really enjoy my job and the challenges it presents. Unfortunately, The CFA designation isn't really recognized in my current field. Now that I have passed all the CFA exams, I am little lost about what career to pursue next? Should I go back to school? I already did a BBA and don't feel that a MBA would not be very enriching. I feel that I would only benefit from the networking, but that is a really expensive benefit to pay tuition for. If I do grad school, I would try something more specialized but not sure what...

I want to pursue a job that will utilize my work experience and the charter, but I really don't know what that is. I feel that the obvious route is a job with a REIT or a alternative asset management firm. However, I don't know if my job function will be appreciated. Although my current job requires financial analysis, I spend just as much time "deal-making" (sourcing and negotiating investment opportunities). It wouldn't be exciting to start in a junior position and do 100% financial analysis again, whether or not it is with a larger firm. Although my deals are small relative to REITs and PE transactions, I have been involved with underwriting and negotiating $25M+ projects.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you.

TL:DR Commercial real estate background but as a broker | Just passed CFA exams | Don't really want to start in a junior position again | What career path can use my work experience? | Go back to school?

Comments (12)

Sep 7, 2018

Hi, I am a little early in my career, but I recently made the change to CRE and I am also taking the CFA exams, so take this with grain of salt. Many people working in CRE that actually utilize the CFA are what you stated above, either working at a REIT (most still do not have a CFA) or alternative asset management firm. There are also a good chunk of CFA's working at large money managers like Fidelity, Nuveen, etc in their real estate fund groups. It is also somewhat beneficial for structured finance positions as well as CMBS positions. That is where I see the most value if you would like to divert that way to your career.

Unfortunately if you do not want to start out in a more junior level position then I believe you are going to have to network your ass off or go the MBA route. There is extremely little turnover in investment management positions and usually they fill vacant positions from within. I used to work in PWM and our discretionary portfolios essentially acted as a fund of funds. Well performing funds will have almost no turnover at the senior positions and when they do it is pretty much when a manager dies or is unable to continue.

With that said, if you would like to work at one of these firms and utilize your CRE broker experience, Investment Sales would be the route to go. It is essentially what you are doing as a CRE broker but with much more finance involved. You are going to be selling the PM's strategy and performance as opposed to actually tangible assets, which I believe is so much more difficult.

Sep 7, 2018

When you mean investment sales as the route, how does that work for funds? I'm a little bit confused.

Sep 7, 2018

So investment sales for funds is essentially selling the PM's performance and strategy. You will be speaking to pensions, endowments, foundations, RIA's, and a ton more institutional investors and high net worth clients. You are not transacting on property.

That being said you have to know a ton about the economy, markets, etc. as they are institutional clients, which, being a CRE broker you most likely have had experience with.

Sep 9, 2018

dude you passed level 3 and aren't sure where to go with it and you're already about to give up and go back for an MBA? fuck that, i have more respect for the CFA than the MBA. You're a broker and you don't know how to network? who bought or controls the $25mn deal you mentioned? go work for that guy or one of his competitors!

no idea what you do but it sounds like smaller deals, but that doesn't mean you can't hustle your way into a role that's more finance-oriented that has relevance to what you've been transacting so far in your career.

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Sep 7, 2018

Just came back to this thread again and saw this. Thank you. I'm the type of person that appreciates the occasional kick in the butt.

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Sep 14, 2018

Try to get an analyst position at a top debt/equity brokerage shop. Become the guy that can tackle the complicated development financing analysis and waterfall models.

Sep 14, 2018

Not wanting to hijack your thread but I plan to take L1 in Dec. Any way you can help me get the Schweser Notes?

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Sep 14, 2018

Pay for it yourself?

Cash and cash equivalents: $138,311
Financial instruments and other inventory positions owned: $448,166

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Sep 14, 2018

Was the question for you? NO. Then why are you even responding?

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Jan 22, 2019

You can join a real-estate valuation team at the Big 4 or at an independent valuation firm (D&P, A&M, FTI, MPI, etc.). From there, you can jump into REIT AM, REPE, etc. The CFA will be a tremendous advantage in bval recruiting and I agree that you don't need any additional education.

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Apr 4, 2019
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