My career has been in real estate and finance, and I get high marks in technical analysis, financing structures and strategy development besides the usual — persistence, hard work and work ethics. I am trying hard to enter the world of investment, portfolio management and real estate with little success. I am not sure if I am knocking on the wrong doors, or my resume is not communicating my skills. I believe at the root level all negotiations have a similar structure: participants with coinciding objectives; operating under different constraints; trying to maximize their principal's economic gain. If you look at it in this respect, a valuable negotiator in real estate at the street level would easily catch up in negotiating on behalf of, say, a fund or an institution. With that in mind, whom should I approach, and how should I approach them, for an employment opportunity?
Finding a job in real estate portfolio management
I will assume you already have directly approached investment firms that focus primarily on real estate investments, whether as owners, developers or managers of properties. Since you actually come from that world, you clearly know who the substantial players are and where your skills might best be exploited, both for your own career development and, of course, to add value to these real estate firms who as fiduciaries are entrusted with investing their clients' assets.
I would suggest you explore three other avenues. First, given your experience in real estate finance and technical analysis, you might want to speak to investment consultants who provide advice and counsel to pension funds and other institutional investors, most of which have some exposure to real estate through the real assets portion of their portfolios. In fact, there are some consulting firms that specialize in real estate such as Courtland, Townsend and ORG.
Additionally, there are many “full-service” investment consultants that have real estate specialists and teams that service institutional investors be they defined benefit plans, endowments, or foundations. Firms like Cambridge, Cliffwater, Towers Watson, NEPC, Pension Consulting Alliance, Wilshire, Mercer, Callan and Russell Investments to name just a few, all have real estate specialists. I would think they could really use individuals with your expertise and experience on their teams.
Second, I would also consider applying directly for a position on the internal investment staff at a large defined benefit plan, an endowment or foundation. Many of these institutional investors have become quite sophisticated and have allocated significant resources to hire internal real estate experts to conduct due diligence on prospective real estate managers and then provide ex post all the performance and risk analytics once the manager has been hired.
Third, if I were you, I would introduce myself to one of the roughly 300 private equity real estate funds of funds. At these firms, you could provide the research and analysis of prospective real estate funds that are candidates to become part of the fund of funds. These vehicles are quite diverse, represent most real estate strategies and are quite global in their reach. These specialized investment management firms need someone with your experience. There is an online database of these funds of funds compiled by that which would be a great source of names you might want to contact.
Best of luck.