Gary Roberts, 27, joined CB Richard Ellis Financial Services last year. He has a degree in Financial Mathematics from Aberystwyth University, and after three years working in IT sales decided to return to university to do a Masters at Keele in Finance and IT
What do you do in your job?
CBRE Financial provides consulting and advice to individuals and organisations who wish to buy property. We also raise debt for clients. My main responsibility is to build financial models that allow us to run scenarios on the purchase, development and management of the property in order that we can identify ways to maximise their returns. Day-to-day, the projects are incredibly varied dependent on the client’s objectives – one day we may be looking at redeveloping an entire site; another it may be management of the occupiers, or simply about the way the investment is financed.
What was your motivation in applying?
For me it was quite specific. It was to do with derivatives, as property derivatives have only been trading since last summer. Incorporated within CBRE Financial is a joint venture with GFI focusing on property derivatives. The idea of getting into a new, exciting, "happening" market at the beginning led me to join.
It’s also different from working in an investment bank. Few roles in an investment bank combine work such as structured finance, debt and equity raising, fund structuring and asset management. Property is more relaxed than investment banking. You sometimes work long hours, but the company really takes care of its staff.
What did the application process involve?
I was at a finance recruitment fair, and on the CBRE stall ran into the person who is now my boss. We talked about derivatives and had a good rapport, so I applied for a role. Although most jobs are through traditional recruitment structures, there are other ways in. Graduate recruitment fairs can be a really good place to meet people and connect with them.
What do you enjoy about your job?
It suits me as a person. I’m quite mathematical and I enjoy technology. What I do combines the two: software development and IT modelling, but also the financial side. The work is taxing – you have to spend time thinking about it, but that’s what I enjoy. I’m happy to take on responsibility, and get a lot of autonomy. The team is lively and sociable, and even though I’m relatively junior I’m given the chance to progress and learn quickly.
Most challenging part of the job?
The volume of learning. Because my background is finance, my property experience was limited. I have to learn how the legal side works, tax implications, and a lot of terminology. It’s a steep learning curve.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
There are such a variety of jobs on offer, whether you are working as an investment analyst with one of the divisions such as capital markets or working in CBRE Financial. Do your research. Head online and read the Financial Times or Estates Gazette to keep up-to-date with what’s going on.
There are a wide range of financial jobs available that are related to the property sector. You could work as a member of an independent property research consultancy, or as part of a team within one of the big property developers. Graduates can join organisations in a range of roles on offer, such as investment analysts, valuation adviser or as part of the capital markets team.