Leaving after 6-7 months

Hello - I'm in a not so uncommon situation but am curious how folks in the CRE world feel about this. Ive had about ~9 years of CRE experience (6 at my last job) and i recently started a new role at another financial institution. Most things are fine, comp is decent and I have a ton of my responsibility since the group is super lean (handful of folks) and i get to make a lot of fairly important decisions/calls even not being super-senior age/experience-wise.

The problem is that the institution is having internal issues - when I was hired I was told that they had gotten approvals form the head offices (european) for the CRE business and once i started, the 'official' approval was supposed to be come 'any day' - however it has been 7 months and the 'approval' is no where in sight and any official discussions we request with the head office get pushed back/delayed. The only real business we can do is on an 'exception' basis and is not very PnL conducive/isn't enough to keep the lights on forever for us. Unsure why this is happening - but ive heard rumors/murmurs of folks in the head office having no real estate experience/background and inexplicably being averse to that asset class.

My question to folks really is whether i should stick it out for a year, get my bonus (not expecting it to be flattering given our lack of activity) and then look for a new role, or should I just start looking right now? Part of me thinks that If i recruit right now (under a year) and pitch my story/ just tell a potential interviewer about what is happening w.r.t not getting approvals as my reason for leaving, it'll be taken for as a farse/not believable event hough that is (unfortunately) in fact what the ground reality is. Having said that, i dont want to be in a situation where i get laid off because the whole real estate business got shut down before it started - there are other things i can do within the broader group (that i currently also help out with) so I am not 100% sure that I would just get laid off instantly, but dont want to take that chance.

If anyone has been in a similar situation, I'd love to know how you handled your situation and how it turned out for you. Thanks.

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Comments (15)

Feb 6, 2020 - 9:08pm

You know who isn't in this position? The high school bully who finger-blasted your sister under the bleachers while you were riding the bench on the JV lacrosse team. In fact, the portfolio he manages at an elite New York hedge fund set the new record for annual PnL and his bonus is expected to be 2x his salary. He knows more about real estate finance than you as he runs MBS derivative strategies for shits and gigs once he's hit is target daily PnL. He is 6'3 with perfect hair. Boy is he glad he went to Harvard.

Feb 6, 2020 - 9:15pm

I have seen this before. Short tenure isn't a huge deal if it is the exception and not the rule. As long as you have a story to tell headhunters they'll give you solid looks. Two other pieces of advice are A) Don't come off too desperate to headhunters and/or prospective employers, it's a bad look and people may try to take advantage and B) Don't be too critical or resentful of your current firm when speaking with other employers.

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Most Helpful
Feb 7, 2020 - 10:22am

My friend had this very issue, it is unfortunately a bit of his fault too. Started working for a group that syndicated deals after being told they are raising a fund with dedicated capital. That didn't pan out, so he was trying to compete in a hot market from a weak position. Promises aren't worth shit.

Anyways he left after 9 months (started interviewing at 6 or so). He told me he was pretty honest in his interview in that his reason for leaving was that he was told they had raised dedicated capital and part of his comp was a percentage of capital placed. Now that he had to syndicate deals his deal flow was considerably less than expected and therefore his total comp was significant less than his employer had guided.

I think all but the most cold hearted will have some empathy in these types of situations. You were misled to in your interview a to such an extent that it will affect your overall compensation. You are certainly going to have to word it carefully but its at least a better excuse than you're bored with what you're doing.

Feb 7, 2020 - 8:55pm

Thanks for your replies. Sounds like if I do go down this route - ill just have to be honest but careful with my reason for leaving. Hopefully I can be here for at least a year and then have to make the decision about leaving or not.

Feb 8, 2020 - 3:43pm

I can't imagine why networking or speaking to recruiters would hurt you. No one is forcing you to leave or take a new job. It could take months to find something, 6 months easily at a more senior level. If you really feel there's a threat to the department, and promises made are no where in sight, it's a legitimate, sensible move. You're not leaving anyone in the lurch. You approximately know your P&L is not producing enough to provide the bonus you'd expect if approvals had already come through. It's great you want to be honorable, and you are being honorable. But truth is, more often than not, the shop wins. Not the employee. Like you said, you're not 100% sure you'd be laid off...yet you don't know that you won't. That's an unfair position to be left in.
I can't see why any hiring manager or recruiter would fault you in this case - you're not lacking in production, you don't have the basic platform to produce even in place months in...with no date in sight, no guarantees. You already know your bonus will be short simply because what you were promised won't be in place in time. To my mind, you have a perfect excuse to resume a search, and I'm sure you'll describe it rationally and reasonably, just as you did herein. It costs nothing and is painless to make basic inroads - there's no guarantee you'll find something before your 1 year anniversary - but it's definite that you won't if you don't try.
It's great your heart is in the right place, and I think that will come across.

Feb 8, 2020 - 8:11pm

I left a firm after a similar period of time and in a more unfashionable way. Essentially, I was told that my position was not working out as hoped for. Accepted a new position a month later and couldn't be happier with how things turned out.

Granted, my situation is different than yours but similar in nature. My advice: own your reasoning for departing and be completely honest with the employer/recruiter and most importantly honest with yourself. Anyone who's worth your time will understand and respect you for it. Secondly, and probably even more important: emphasize what you learned and experience you gained at your current role.

In short, recognize what went wrong at your current gig, what you want at your next gig and show how you are capable and qualified of achieving that.

Good luck

Feb 9, 2020 - 7:50pm

I've never been in this exact position, but I once realized 6 months into a job that I didn't want to stay too long (hit the two year mark right as I accepted a new position). Here are my thoughts:

  1. Activate your network, if you have 9 years exp, you must have a core and associated core of people you know/trust. Let them know what is going on and use them to help refer opportunities. Also good for building references to back up the "it's them, not me" case.

  2. Reach out to headhunters - Honestly, I think they will believe you on the home office won't approve thing, it's not that crazy nor uncommon. If your network can refer you along with the endorsement/explanation, all the better. Referrals really are the best way in to the head hunter firms (even better than when they reach out to you honestly).

  3. Strategically approach firms/apply for jobs - This one is riskier, as you may blow your cover and word get back to your employer (who probably thinks you will leave anyway at some point under these circumstances). I would go to relevant industry events/conferences and direct contact those you meet for whose firms you would like to potentially work for. If you have a target list, look for proactive connections and reach out if you really see the fit. Same deal with jobs, might as well apply if it's a good fit, I can't see the downside.

I think you should start now because it could easily take a few months or more (you can still be picky as you have a job), thus you can be ready for the start at or after your 1 year mark. The recruiting process can easily take over 3 months at some firms and then you can negotiate start date (especially if bonus is at play). If you wait, you may feel more desperate and that is a bad move.

Good luck! Just know that this is not as uncommon or bad as it sounds, although I'd hope your next role is one you can stay at for many years or more, will make any short tenure concerns from this job almost irrelevant.

Apr 8, 2021 - 10:45am

I think it's totally fine to tell the story as is. People won't question it and I think it is as simple as, the firm I accepted for was supossed to get approvals with a few weeks of my starting at the role. The approvals still haven't come 6 months later. I don't want to sit here without approvals, so I am looking to move. I don't think people will have issues with it. And if they do, do you really want to work there? Interviewing is learning about a company and them about you, as well as about trust and relationship building. If the company doesn't trust you in the interview, they won't trust you on the job and it isn't a place you want to work. 

Apr 8, 2021 - 11:44am
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