A Day in the Life: Associate Asset Manager, Private Equity Real Estate Investment Firm

7 a.m.: I get in the car and head to work. I live in Santa Monica and work in Century City, which is right next to Beverly Hills. Compared to other people, my commute is pretty sweet. I drive against traffic so it probably takes me only 10 to 15 minutes. Our office starts work at 7:30—we start early because we have a lot of business on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

7:30 a.m.: We have coffee in the office, and it's usually a custom that someone brings in donuts or bagels. (There's a deli right around the corner called The Nosh that we also frequent where you can usually hear agents negotiating their movie industry deals over the phone. The thing with real estate is that our service providers—whether they're title companies or environmental companies—try to keep their clients, so they're always sending us stuff or they're feeding us, so there’s usually some kind of snack available in the office.)

7:45 a.m.: I check all of my e-mails. We have a lot of business on the East Coast, so when I get in, there are a lot of e-mails. I have a lot of property managers on site on our East Coast properties, so I field their calls and e-mails. (My job is a hybrid position. I joined as a portfolio analyst to work on the whole acquisition process, looking at deals and acquiring projects and working on due diligence. I did that, and then transitioned over to asset management, but I still wear a lot of hats since it's a small shop. In some of the projects I acquire, I oversee the strategic management of it.)

8:00 a.m.: I review some contracts, looking at the financial information, creating a budget for each project and perusing through the tenant leases. We recently acquired a building that's older but in a prime area, so we decided to renovate it. This means I have to talk to architects, engineers and lenders to figure out what’s the best way to do that.

9:00 a.m.: I speak to clients, by e-mail or phone. In one of our office projects, a tenant has a certain space need—he's outgrown the building space. So we've decided to expand the building, which involves coordinating a gut renovation.

11:00 a.m.: I take a little bit of a break and switch gears. We have a lot of invoices to process, and I spend about a half-hour looking through those. I work on that on my own.

11:30 a.m.: I meet with the COO of our company about some financial modeling he wants me to do for him. (In the past, we used to have a lot of meetings regarding acquisitions of projects, but in the current market environment, we're not buying anything; now we do more reforecasting. We've had to renegotiate a lot of our loans, and lenders will come to us and propose different terms depending on the situation. We have to run those through our models to see how it impacts our initial return targets.)

12:30 p.m.: It's another beautiful day in L.A. so I walk across the street to Century City Mall, which has a wonderful food court. I bring lunch back to the office and eat at my desk. (I'm fortunate in that there’s a lot of good cafes and restaurants nearby. There's also a big talent agency right across the street, and it's interesting to watch wannabe models and entertainment types hoping they see an agent in the food court somewhere and pull out all their stops.)

1:30 p.m.: I'm called into another meeting, so the financial models I was hoping to start on will have to wait. (One of the quirks in our office is that we share an office suite with Kopelson Entertainment, which has produced some Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger films. This poses an interesting set of challenges because both companies share a conference room, and so there is a fair amount of strategic maneuvering for meeting spaces. The office walls are also thin. The combination of them talking with their script writers and directors, and us speaking with our bankers and brokers makes for an interesting office environment.)

2:00 p.m.: I have another meeting, this one with a senior asset manager. We look at projects to see how construction is coming along and if there are any issues or roadblocks. Then we'll get on a leasing call as well. (It becomes very important to make sure you retain your tenants. So we get on calls with brokers to see how our different markets are performing, what different threat levels we’re seeing in the market, or whether we have a particular building in the market that has a vacancy. If so, we would be on the phone with that particular broker to see how he’s coming along and if there are any viable prospects.)

2:30 p.m.: I continue to correspond a lot with our tenants. They have various requests, and one needs a particular lease document drafted, so I work on that. (Sometimes this involves drafting up a whole new lease, amendments to leases or commencement letters. Occasionally, tenants want to make modifications to buildings or install energy-efficient lighting, and we spend some time reviewing architectural plans and making sure everything meets all building codes. We research that and we draft a letter granting approval.)

3:30 p.m.: I start working on my financial models. I calculate loan and debt scenarios, what the initial purchase price was on our project and adjust the cap rate. I also see what our risk tolerance is.

4:30 p.m.: I respond to e-mails that I haven’t had the chance to respond. A few are from lenders so I compile financial statements for them.

5 p.m.: I leave for the day. (We technically get off at 4:30, but most of us stick around until 5 or 5:30. It’s definitely a balancing act to try to get all of your work done during the day in between budgets, trying to do quarterly reports sometime in the afternoon and working on financial models, but I'll usually leave around 5. The good thing is that real estate private equity in comparison to some of the other finance sectors is a lot more relaxed, work culture-wise. You don't have people sticking around until all hours on the night. Even colleagues of mine work in other firms in the same industry mention the same thing—that it’s a lot more relaxed.)

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