Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

BUYSIDE BABY! Two recent entrants into private equity real estate recount their first few months in London

Up and Coming

London street with phone box and bright lights

Patrick: Oh that sweet moment I finally received an offer to start as an Analyst at a PE real estate shop. Not having to go through three gruelling years of investment banking with its all-nighters, sleeping bag under the desk, toothbrush in the drawer. No 2am caffeine-fuelled sessions correcting the font of PowerPoint slides that no one reads! This is not to take away from the overall importance of the sellside, but there was just a huge sigh of relief that I hopefully managed to avoid the investment banking horror stories. Instead, I was picturing 8-hour working days five days a week, negotiating deals in the morning, some modelling in the afternoon and a fancy business lunch in between.

Jordan: The inexperienced graduate in me was definitely thinking that life was going to be so sweet! I couldn’t wait for all the off-market deals I would be sourcing over Surf n’ Turf at Le Gavroche… Unfortunately, this largely remained and remains a dream. I approached the first day at work with the attitude that I would be revolutionising the industry. Reality hit home hard and fast. I believe I spent my first week updating a spreadsheet with around two thousand leasing comparables in Germany and France. Not the most intellectual stimulating exercise.

P: I know what you mean, I remember one night having to download an entire dataroom, document by document until 6am, because the automatic download function wasn’t working. Followed by replicating the entire folder system manually. I was never so close to quitting on the spot and moving to Guatemala the next day to become a part-time yoga instructor, part-time environmental activist and part-time Instagram model advocating vegan diets.

J: Hahaha! Unfortunately, being on the buyside does not save you from doing mundane tasks. Someone has got to do it and inevitably that person will be you: the most recent addition to the team. Thankfully, the work did become a lot more interesting very quickly. Underwriting new transactions, sitting in negotiations with counter-parties and my personal highlight: going on site visits.

P: I’ll never forget my first business trip in October three weeks into the job. Suited and booted, wearing my best tie and best watch (a Casio Retro, as I couldn’t afford anything else at the time). I got a car to pick me up in the morning to drive me to the airport and I felt like I was about to conquer the world. As always, reality is a bitch: The 6am flight was certainly not the most relaxing or spacious. I also painfully realised that opportunistic real estate is usually located in the less glamourous locations and that my attire was sub-optimal to say the least. Unfortunately, our destination was a German industrial development site that we were inspecting and just like the English autumn, the German autumn tends to be rather wet. You can imagine that the initial sense of euphoria quickly vanished and transformed into embarrassment when I got stuck in a mud hole and I had to get pulled out by my boss.

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