Tips to join family RE offices?

I am a third-year analyst looking to work for a small family shop (ideally in Denver), but have limited connections at such offices, as most my contacts are working at larger companies and REITs. I interned at a similar small PE shop that is not hiring at the moment and loved the dynamics of working in a small team where everyone has at least some involvement with each part of the process. 

Does anyone have any advice on how to get in with smaller shops? I imagine it would be extremely difficult to get in because they are so small and thus can hire people they already know

Comments (33)

 
Oct 20, 2020 - 2:52pm

I'm based in said city and would tell you that, like all markets, networking excessively is always a good place to start. Of the couple family offices I know here, they all run extremely lean and rarely hire. So when they do need an analyst/associate/vp type role, they will go their network first and foremost and they rarely will even get posted on an online vendor like linkedin or select leaders. Denver is a secondary market where (generally) everyone knows everyone, so your first step would be getting in that circle via industry events or cold calling or best yet working on deals out here.

I'm curious as to what other WSO monkeys will tell you.

 
Oct 20, 2020 - 7:21pm

Thank you for the response and insight. Sounds close to what I was expecting in terms of lean staff with few or no openings. Interesting point that everyone knows everyone; I am coming from SoCal and looking to live in Denver long-term, so that is quite different from what I am used to. Planning to network my butt off to try to get in somewhere

 
Nov 4, 2020 - 5:23pm

VonWinner

I'm based in said city and would tell you that, like all markets, networking excessively is always a good place to start. Of the couple family offices I know here, they all run extremely lean and rarely hire.

I was going to say... somewhere like Denver let's be honest how many family offices are sufficiently large, active, and 'niche-y' to hire for appealing analytical and transactional real estate roles?  Probably count them one hand.

 
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Oct 20, 2020 - 4:20pm

I cannot speak to said city and family offices but wanted to emphasize redever's comment. The cost upfront is a decent chunk of change for a student, which I believe you are, however it is worth it especially if you join an Emerging Young Leaders type program within these organizations. Through this, after about one year in what would be labeled as a back office type role, two developers had reached out if I would be interested in speaking to them as they were looking to expand their respective teams. Networking within these specific groups has been extremely beneficial as you have face to face interactions with some decision makers at key firms within your market. 

 
Oct 20, 2020 - 7:27pm

Was that totally cold (no tenuous connection through a friend/family member)? Were you explicit about looking for a job or frame it as an informational interview? I have done this and gotten coffee a couple of times with higher ups at companies where I was interested in working, but found it difficult to navigate the waters between simply discussing their career path/story and actually leveraging the meeting into a job interview. Would love to hear your experience 

 
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Oct 20, 2020 - 7:32pm

Very curious as well regarding how to transition the conversation. Feel like it's very easy for me to get someone on the phone and to talk about ourselves, but when they say "how can I help you" I always reply with the typical looking for a mentor, build relationships, etc even though I'd love to say "I want to work at your firm"

 
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  • Associate 2 in RE - Comm
Oct 20, 2020 - 7:34pm

Yes, totally cold, something short an simple. I actually was able to find a really solid opportunity in a market i wanted to live in across the country, they even paid for my relo costs. Something short and simple:

 

"Billybob, hope you are doing well. I saw your team just acquired X property in Y submarket and also recently closed a new GP fund. Congratulations on both. I wanted to reach out briefly and introduce myself. Having 7 years of experience on the acquisitions and development side, I have been targeting VP-level opportunities with active, well-capitalized firms like yourself in Z market. It would be great to connect and hear about your strategy moving forward. I attached my resume for your reference. Thanks and hope to talk soon!"

 

2 weeks may go by and you don't hear anything. So a simple follow up goes a long way:

 

"Billybob, just wanted to follow up on my last email. It would be great to connect sometime soon if you are available. Thanks."

 

These family office guys are busy and typically don't have large platforms to find good, qualified people. Stay in touch with them, run the circles, and eventually the stars will align. I started doing this in June, and just got an offer two weeks ago. This was during COVID. Opportunities are out there!

 
Oct 21, 2020 - 3:46pm

Are you already in Denver or looking to move in?

Regardless, get out networking as much as possible. ULI/NAIOP are the go-to's here, but don't have too many folks from family offices hanging out at the standard events. Go to these to build up your rep amongst the community. 

Ultimately, it's about that personal connection, so in addition to this strategy, you should research all the family offices in town and cold-call the head of the office. Could also try showing up to office in person to drop off the resume and try and chat with someone. Just try to get in contact with the higher-ups and build a relationship. 

Reach out to your friends and colleagues at other firms to see if they have any leads for you.

Could also reach out to some of the real estate headhunters around here, but my experience is that they are primarily for executive level vs entry/middle. 

Denver is a very tight-knit industry still, so breaking in is really about getting the foot in the door, building the personal relationships, and getting respected folks to vouch for you. Once you're in, it's orders of magnitude easier. Luckily it's also quite open to newcomers

  • 1
 
Oct 21, 2020 - 8:41pm

I've said this in other family office threads. Family offices can be vastly different from one another, much more so than the difference between some of the MF's. I do agree that generally speaking family offices run lean, hire on a as needed basis, and often have very low turnover. Getting into a family office will be a long process in a secondary market like Denver. Networking is how you accomplish this goal, but you may work at it for months or longer before you feel like you make any progress. The email template provided above is a solid way to go about establishing a relationship. 

 
Nov 4, 2020 - 11:08am

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