Real Estate Career Advice By Anthony LoPinto

Where Are the Careers in Real Estate?

Stan Ross and James Carberry interview Anthony J. LoPinto, head of the North America real estate practice of Korn Ferry International, a global provider of talent and management solutions.

Are employers starting to hire again?

Companies have a more positive outlook today. Some are beginning to hire heads of business units. As these senior executives map out their organizational needs, they will begin building teams and recruiting managers who, in turn, will hire associates and analysts. This process won’t happen quickly, but it will happen.

Why are companies starting to recruit senior people?

Companies have developed strategic plans to grow their businesses, and now they are making strategic hires to match up with those plans. For example, I see private equity firms making significant moves to hire talent to help them build and diversify their portfolios. The same is true of REITs. After raising about $40 billion in capital in 2009, REITs are beginning to step up their investments and some are broadening their investment platforms. REITs are hiring executives to help them accomplish these goals.

Where else do you see hiring of senior executives starting to come back?

Some regional banks are hiring executives to help them restructure and sell distressed real estate assets. And some of these banks also see opportunities in providing financing to investors as property markets start to recover, and they are hiring executives to head up new commercial real estate lending departments. Some companies in hospitality and other real estate sectors are hiring executives to help deleverage and restructure their balance sheets, raise new capital, and reposition their organizations for future growth. New companies are being formed to invest in portfolios of properties and distressed assets, and they, too, have a need for talent. In some metropolitan markets such as New York, there has been a dearth of transaction activity. Some owners, having built up substantial cash reserves, are ready to invest in property acquisitions, and they will need to recruit executives to advise on investments and manage assets.

What does all this mean to prospective and recent graduates who are seeking entry-level positions as associates or analysts?

In the recession, many companies trimmed down their organizations, leaving only senior executives and a few support people. Now, as I mentioned, companies will have to rebuild their teams, and, toward the end of this year, they will start to hire people to provide analytical support in acquisitions, asset management, and other areas. In addition, the reporting needs of companies have increased exponentially, and this will create job opportunities for graduates with accounting backgrounds to join firms. More public real estate companies will be formed as the economy and real estate markets recover, and graduates who can find work with these companies will have the opportunity to learn about real estate.

How would you sum up the outlook for graduates going into real estate?

My son just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in real estate from the University of St. Thomas. I told him this is the best opportunity in a long time to get started in real estate.

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