What's the difference between RE Portfolio Manager vs. RE Asset Manager?

RE_AM123's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 100

I noticed that some firms (i.e. Tishman Speyer) have both a portfolio manager and an asset manager on staff. What is the difference in the responsibilities here? Aren't asset managers pretty much portfolio managers, as they are responsible for the financial performance of a pool of assets?

Comments (4)

Oct 18, 2014

It depends entirely on the firm. Some firms do not have portfolio managers, some don't have asset managers, and all have different responsibilities. Portfolio managers have a pretty similar role everywhere of monitoring and affecting the financial performance of the assets. That role involves a lot of financial analysis, financial reporting to upper management and partners, etc. and mostly hands-off management of the assets. Most (not all) asset managers do some of the financial monitoring but do a ton of hands-on management of the property. Overseeing the property managers and property accountants, working with the leasing team and getting final approval of leases, working directly with vendors, banks, and lenders, and overseeing capital projects.

Many firms have one or the other. My firm does not have portfolio managers at all. As a firm, we do less of the portfolio-wide financial monitoring perhaps, and it is shared between us in Asset Management and the CFO and senior accounting team. I have seen many other firms where there is no asset manager but the portfolio managers do a bit more overseeing leasing, etc., and the property managers have more financial responsibilities than at other firms.

In a case like Tishman Speyer, I would assume the portfolio managers are entirely hands-off and probably each oversee more assets than their asset managers, who are really elbows deep in a smaller amount of properties.

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Oct 18, 2014

I echo baamboo--he/she is basically right on.

I was a portfolio manager at a gigantic bank (although my official title was "Asset Manager"). It's the most boring job in the history of planet Earth. I currently wear lots of different hats, but part of my job is Asset Management. It's much, much more interesting. In fact, I kind of look forward to work.

Oct 18, 2014

I am a he! I also enjoy my area of work, just not my firm, lol. If you can really master Asset Management (and I am not there yet), it is definitely the most applicable to owning and operating your own real estate investments. You will not have the network to source deals the way that an acquisitions person does, but you will have the ability to judge if something is a good investment, how you can increase profit, and how to run every aspect of the day to day management.