Non-Typical Profile for REPE? WSO Guides for REPE

Dear Fellow Monkeys,

I wanted to reach out for advice/insights/guidance on career paths to REPE.

I've been 2+ years at a RE boutique family office underwriting CRE senior/subordinate loans and some hybrid debt/preferred equity transactions, with increasing exposure to origination/deal structure work. The work itself is fun especially with more players getting into bridge debt space but it offers very limited growth progression/potential due to the size of the firm and how it's been operated so I'm currently looking for exit opportunities.

Also, I wanted to point out that I'm international so H1b sponsorship is neccessary. Had some convos with RE/financial recruiters - feedback is always I'd have a better shot at big banks/institutional players that are more likely to sponsor international candidates.

Any advice/insights on potential paths to REPE given my non-typical PE profile/background would be appreciated.

Let me know if you would recommend using WSO PE Guide to prep Real Estate PE firms. I'm committed to putting hours and hard work so would really appreciate any guidance.

Comments (8)

May 21, 2020 - 11:29am

Self-bump. Haven't been seeing too many posts on lateral RE recruitment on 2+year analysts especially at this climate. There's no upward progression at my current firm and they recently let go 4-5 people on our team and likely heading towards the direction to close down the shop (lending arm of the family).

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe.

Most Helpful
May 21, 2020 - 3:04pm

So this may be a little indirect to what you asked, but why focus on REPE?

Is it really the industry/firm you are looking for? Or is it an actual role/career path (like, acquisitions, asset mgnt, etc.)?

I think it is far better to focus on the role/path over industry. I think people who are new to the field or well, here on WSO, focus on getting to specific firms or sectors without really thinking about what they are going to do day to day and if they like that. IB makes a business that smart college students want to work in IB so bad they will kill themselves to do it. Those jobs often suck royally but can pay well. But really.... they do it for the "exit ops".

The visa issue is non-trivial and honestly not sure what to say as to how to navigate that, especially now. If you can stay where you are until you can get the kind of visa that lets you jump without sponsorship, I'd probably recommend that.

Clearly your current role has limited long-term value, so you will need to jump at some point. I'd focus on the role and how you can best add value. What type of firm you do it for is really quite secondary.

May 21, 2020 - 4:17pm

Redever, appreciate the input! Overall I have a broad interest in RE investments/finance track and leaning towards acquisitions or mezz/subordinate debt investments. I agree with you on choosing role/path over strictly PE industry. That said, would appreciate any thoughts on what type of role within acquisitions/debt investment platforms/funds I might have the best shot based on my profile. Been trying to send out resumes, talking to recruiters and senior folks in my network, out of the few interviews I landed with boutique RE investment firms/brokerages, I almost never got into technical interview process (if there's any). Radio silence from MB/BB/AM firms (RE investment analyst and credit analyst roles) - must have done something wrong or my profile just doesn't fit into the targeted talent pool, which I'm trying to figure out. On a different note, I was approved for h1b, fortunately.

May 21, 2020 - 4:49pm

I mean, it sounds like you are working for a family office doing semi-exotic lending and investing. The direct parallel might me working with a debt fund, or CMBS conduit/origination, lending arm of a bank, etc. Boutique real estate I-banking would also fit.

Depending how wild the world gets, special servicing and workouts are going to need people. That is the flip side of origination in downturns.

Does you h1b transfer to another employer or do you have to reapply? Not sure how that actually factors, but your experience should be transferable. Still, if your only 1st year, I wouldn't try and jump unless they are really shutting down. It sounds like you have a good gig, but if it wont last, then you may have no choice. Still, somebody has to manage the portfolio of loans/investments made even if they aren't making new ones, that's not a bad role to stay for if they want you to do it.

May 21, 2020 - 5:43pm

Really great input.

H1b transfer is relatively a much easier/quicker process. I'm 2.5 years in and have been tasked to underwrite the majority of loans, all pref equity deals, and to structure/work out waterfall/distribution alongside MD to bring in participations (mostly HNW but worked with a couple RE investment firms here and there). My financial/RE modeling skills are sufficient for the job and my prior IB internships gave me good marketing/OM skills, which is recognized by the partners so I do get a pretty good exposure at the firm.

The biggest concern though is the stagnation - not really much else to learn, neither does the company get any good deal flow. We're not competitive to work with sophisticated sponsors which means you would see pref return accrued in a non-compounding basis with GP getting promote before the return of capital; we then do the same to HNWs. Not saying investors don't make money, but nothing skillful, just a matter of who's willing to pay how much for what. No one else on the team can work on Excel or Argus nor is there a consistent investment strategy. No urgency to place their own money especially at this climate. I wouldn't be surprised if they close down the shop tomorrow and split the profits.

May 21, 2020 - 7:49pm

If you are 2.5 yrs in, you should start networking, even applying, for the next move. I'd recommend being selective, only take something that is a real step up (in firm, pay, position or ideally all three). Your experience should be marketable, just need to get out there and make sure others know you exist (including the exec recruiting firms, they more like people 5+ years for their type of placements, but some would prob talk to you now).

May 21, 2020 - 4:50pm
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