The hiring of financial analysts at real estate investment firms is rebounding following a brief pause during the pandemic, according to an annual survey of junior staffers by executive search firm RETS Associates.
More than half of respondents — 56% — said they had pursued an opportunity inside or outside their company within the last 12 months. That’s up from 49% last year and 51% in 2019. At the same time, average compensation increased double digits year over year, signaling a competitive market for hiring at the junior level. RET’s survey will be released this week.
“The barometer of the health of the commercial real estate industry is in direct correlation to the number of analyst and associate searches,” said Kent Elliott, a principal at the Newport Beach, Calif., firm. RETS is managing a steady pipeline averaging around 20 search assignments for analysts and associates. The category generally includes staffers with up to six years of experience, from entry-level to senior associates.
Robust hiring in that segment indicates firms are promoting staffers and growing their business to accommodate expanded investment activity, he noted. “As business confidence is there, and as opportunities are there, [firms] want to have that depth of that analytical pool to help them with existing and future projects.”
Last year, as activity stalled, so did analyst hiring and compensation growth. The cohort saw annual compensation — the combination of salary and discretionary bonuses — plateau, following a 29% increase from 2013 to 2019. New opportunities slowed as the pool of candidates increased and new graduates entered the market.
That stasis appears to be over, as investment activity has picked up and firms have started hiring again. Analysts with a bachelor’s degree saw annual compensation rise 11.1% year over year to an average of $147,456, according to the survey. Those with a master’s degree registered a 12.2% increase to $173,042.
Survey respondents ranked compensation as the most important factor when considering a job offer, followed by growth opportunities and geography. Only a few respondents ranked flex time and the ability to work from home as the top factor.
Generally, staffers in junior-level positions look to advance in two years. But the number of opportunities has shortened that timeline for top candidates to as little as 18 months, Elliott said.
The upshot: Firms looking to retain talent must consider advancing employees sooner, or risk losing them to another firm. “When you get to the 18-month mark, you need to decide,” Elliott said. “Take care of your star performers that you want to retain.”
The firm’s 10th annual 2021 Financial Analyst Survey compiled results from more than 200 respondents regarding compensation, job satisfaction, education, tenure and employment searches, among other topics.