Most people assume that starting a hedge fund is a path to getting rich, and getting scooped up by a big international bank like UBS sounds even better, but it took leaving finance altogether for Ravi Gulivinda to start rolling in dough as the No. 2 at a fast-growing real estate firm.
Gulivindala grew up in New York around the financial services business, because his father was a stockbroker and taught finance at the City University of New York.
“If your father is doing something you don’t want to do that, and in my community you were either a doctor or an engineer, so I studied engineering and computer science,” Gulivindala said. “I worked as an engineer for a few years, but the money wasn’t there, so I decided to go into finance and became a stockbroker.
“Then I decided to launch a long/short equity hedge fund, Sun Capital, with a partner from DLJ [Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, a boutique investment bank], and we were doing great until the tech bubble burst – in those days no one had ever seen anything like this, a black swan,” he said. “We were getting a tremendous amount of calls, we saw more regulation coming in, which meant more work for less money, so we took our business to UBS and had a good run there.”
Gulivindala worked at UBS as a senior relationship manager and portfolio manager for around three and a half years before he and his partner had a falling out. He returned to IT consulting as a stopgap while planning his next move, eventually joining Fisher Investments in Camas, Washington, as a VP of investments and senior relationship manager.
Gulivindala knew that the time had come for him to leave his financial services career behind for good. He became a licensed real estate broker in 2008, specializing in Manhattan.
“Based on my career in finance, I’d say almost 80% of most people’s wealth is created through real estate, unless you sell a business,” Gulivindala said. “The assets were pretty much cut in half in terms of what we managed after the financial crisis, so I came back home to New York, and as luck would have it, within a month, I started working at Nest Seekers.
“Real estate is an asset class like stock and bonds, and New York is the 800-pound gorilla of real estate,” he said. “When you’re in wealth management, raising half a million or $10m, it’s the same client in real estate – 75% of sales is psychology, knowing and understanding how to deal with the high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth demographic that also buys real estate.”
Seven-plus years later, Gulivindala is a senior vice president and managing director at Nest Seekers, which currently has about 900 real estate agents worldwide, 700 of those in the U.S. He is responsible for of talent acquisition, training and sales support for the company’s two largest offices.
“We’ve opened new offices, increased spend on technology and marketing, and we’re going after new developments,” he said. “We’re training, coaching, recruiting and retaining on an ongoing basis, and we’re planning to grow the company to a thousand agents by the end of this year.”
Ravi Gulivindala of Nest Seekers
Photo courtesy of Nest Seekers