By the SMU Social Media Team
For those motivated by a dynamic and competitive market, adrenaline rushes and lucrative compensation, a job in the finance and investment industry is perhaps the most obvious career choice. However, rather than delving into generic banking positions, why not find yourself a niche in real estate?
Real estate investment and real estate finance are two of the hottest sectors in the financial sphere at the moment, and are set to require human capital that boasts deep industry expertise.
If you’ve been keeping up with the latest business news, you’d notice that Singapore’s property market is on an uptick, with our island nation named the most promising ASEAN market with home prices set to rise this year and the next. Real estate investment outside of Singapore is also on the rise, with Singapore investors ploughing in a record $37.2 billion into real estate overseas in 2017—a 40% surge from 2016.
With such growth potential in Singapore and other global gateways in the region, there is bound to be a high demand for real estate experts including legal advisors, loan underwriters, mortgage brokers, investment bankers, portfolio managers and investment analysts.
Now, SMU students can be equipped with the necessary skills and know-how to navigate the burgeoning real estate sector, with the new Real Estate Track. This specialised track is supported partly by a $3 million gift from Mapletree Investments, and is open to all SMU undergrads majoring Finance or Economics, starting academic year 2018/2019. It is designed to prepare students for a range of careers in real estate investment, to help one tap into the region’s real estate sector.
“We are delighted to co-create a real estate finance specialisation with industry partners that caters to the industry’s talent needs,” says Professor Gerard George, Dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business.
While specialised, this new track, in fact, opens doors to enticing new opportunities across a myriad of industries and disciplines, and it all boils down to numbers: By 2020, investable real estate will have grown by more than 55% compared to 2012, according to PwC forecasts, and then will expand by a similar proportion in the following decade.
With such a drastic jump in the sheer volume of property investments, the demand for real estate specialists in a wide range of financial positions will consequently rise in bulge bracket investment banks, private equity and hedge funds, family offices, and real estate developers.
Samuel Joel Chiang
The tremendous potential of this industry is certainly not lost on SMU Economics undergraduate, Samuel Joel Chiang. His interest in real estate finance was sparked in his first internship at Keppel Capital, where he saw first-hand the value that real estate investments can bring. He explains, “With rising urbanisation across the Asia Pacific and especially China, there are tangible growth opportunities that graduates with a strong understanding of the fundamentals of real estate investments can tap on.”
Samuel says the new real estate track is a natural choice for him and he sees real estate finance as a highly complementary field to his economics degree. “A large focus of economics is about efficiently allocating resources—similarly, real estate finance seeks to efficiently allocate land use to maximise the returns from a plot of land. This ability to shape districts and cities excites me and having a specialisation in real estate finance will definitely give me an edge in securing a professional career in the booming property investment sector in Asia.”
Ready to land a job in real estate? Here’s a cheat sheet to some of the top career trajectories in this field:
1. Investment banker
Real estate financing groups are constantly on the lookout for fresh talent. Real estate investment bankers may assist to raise capital to support development projects, or come up with strategies like leveraged financing or mortgage-backed securities to benefit investors.
2. Loan underwriter
While it might not sound like the sexiest designation, a loan underwriter plays the important role of evaluating deals to determine a realistic loan amount and the potential income of a particular project. Your job will be to analyse the loan and the value of the land or development, and figure out if it’s worth the borrower’s risk to provide the loan.
3. Real Estate Analyst
Analysts might not be the front-end dealmakers, but they’re an essential component to any transaction. In real estate, an analyst provides advice based on his evaluation of market trends, economic conditions and the financial situation of a client. S/he will be responsible for mitigating risks while maximising the potential of a client’s investment portfolio.
4. Lawyers and Legal Counsels
It’s not just the finance and investment sector that is in need of individuals with cross-disciplinary skills. The legal sector is another area seeing a substantial demand for lawyers and legal counsels with real estate—in particular, real estate investment—experience. From transactions and leasing to investment advisory, it’s an area that demands innovative solutions to increasingly sophisticated and complex problems.
Click here to find out more about the SMU Real Estate Track now.
Keen to take the next step with SMU? Join our undergraduate programme today.