Commercial Real Estate (CRE) is one of the largest and most valuable markets in the world. The US provides plenty of opportunity for career growth and professional development without being limited to financial centers such as New York and Chicago.
The growth of CRE assets as an investment tool has advanced this sector significantly, even when factoring in setbacks such as the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Navigating the CRE and CMBS market can be considered ‘volatile’. Prior market changes have included asset class usage habits, such as fewer firms returning to ‘Zombie’ office buildings, or a rise in multifamily and data center investments, which have driven a rise in market volatility. Those specialising in asset classes on a significant downward trend may think about diversifying the assets that they are working with – this can mitigate any remuneration losses or the chance of being laid-off.
In light of market volatility, the pointers below may help to provide you with a more rounded analytical skillset and ensure career progression within the CRE space:
- Professional Designations: The major professional qualification that is highly sought after in this space is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). This provides you with good coverage of the financial spectrum, including investment fundamentals, asset valuation, portfolio management and wealth planning. Fixed income products are also covered in this designation, so can be a steppingstone into the Mortgage-Backed Securities world and shows potential employers a genuine desire to learn in this space as it is a time-consuming qualification. Similarly, FRM and CAIA are very useful to be working towards.
- Core Skills: Obtaining experience using the likes of Financial and Cash Flow Modelling, DCF, CECL, and Argus in a professional setting can certainly help to provide a foundation for your career. These are all skills that we are consistently being specifically requested by recruiters and hiring managers alike, from a range of firms such as Investment Banks, REITs, Brokers, Financial Data providers, and Rating Agencies.
- Keeping up with Market Trends: Given that the CRE/CMBS space is a transaction driven space, keeping on top of trends in growth and demise of different asset classes and overall market news can help provide gravitas to your understanding and knowledge within this space, especially in interviews. Following events such as the CREFC conference and SFVegas, as well reading weekly blogs produced by the likes of MCIA, can all help to keep your ear to the ground.
- Firms to Target: So many factors come into play when deciding your next career move, including Industry, Sub-Sector, Firm, Role, Salary, Location, and now Hybrid/Remote working. These can be tricky to navigate on top of overarching market stability. It is advisable to thoroughly research the firm you are working with, such as viewing their current team on LinkedIn by clicking on ‘Employees’ to see peoples backgrounds, tenure lengths and the current management team. Actively asking questions in interviews is key to drilling down on whether this is the right fit for you, such as: How much turnover has your team had? Do you have a growth plan for this team? What would my own progression look like? Do I have access to qualification funding assistance? All of these can be a good indicator as to a company’s performance and how stable your next role may be.
Looking forward, it is certainly an exciting time for the CRE industry as there is massive potential for growth outside the typical asset classes we currently see, such as new Renewable Energy Development Projects, Data Center construction, or even Conduit Loans – all of which giving rise to employment and investment opportunities alike.