In the midst of the 2008 financial crisis and recession, Gerardo Gato wanted to stand out from competitors and boost his exposure in South Florida’s growing international real estate marketplace.
The Hollo School of Real Estate and its Master of Science in International Real Estate (MSIRE) provided Gato with expertise in accounting and financial management as well as real estate, consolidations, cash flow projections, and financial modeling.
“I had been in real estate for nearly nine years, and I wanted to become a real competitor, to increase my education, skills and talent level,” said Gato. “I didn’t want to be caught without opportunities.”
Today, Gato is the chief operating officer/chief financial officer of Monument Real Estate Services directing activities including Accounting, Human Resources, and IT. He also manages fund operations for Monument Capital Management, an asset management company that owns and manages over $300 million in multifamily apartment properties across the U.S. The company also manages the properties and assets of third party and institutional clients.
The industry is changing rapidly, Gato noted, especially at the real estate investment level, which is becoming more accessible to a broader range of investors.
“Low interest rates are making investing in real estate more attractive than stocks or bonds,” he added. “Today, the large institutional and private investors have become a mass population. All have needs for yield and returns, with private investors looking for an annuity that will supplement their 401k or social security down the road.”
The growing commercial real estate market is requiring potential investors to conduct a rigorous analysis before a sale or purchase as well as predetermine their investing strategies. “Investors, owners and operators are being more careful; they’re doing more vetting and in-depth reviews,” said Gato.
Why was FIU’s MSIRE program the right one for Gato? Its focus on finance and on how real estate operates across the world, versus other programs that center on architecture and design.
“While still in its infancy, the program started me on the way to become a CFO,” said Gato, who received a Bachelor in Finance at FIU. “The program gave me the ability to research at a greater level, to calculate values and to better analyze assets for purchase.”
Prior to joining Monument Real Estate Services in 2014, Gato was the CFO for the Adler Group Inc. and its subsidiaries. The company manages more than 8 million square feet of commercial real estate space throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southwest U.S., as well as multiple development projects, including ShoreCrest Club Apartments in Miami.
Valuable lessons and networking.
Ten years ago, FIU’s College of Business established the MSIRE program with a clear mission: to provide graduates with the vision and skills to become leaders in an increasingly global real estate market. The program has grown into national prominence and is shaping the next generation of real estate leaders.
FIU’s MSIRE program counts 91 current students and 322 alumni. The Hollo School is ranked #1 in the U.S. and #2 globally for real estate research by the Journal of Real Estate Literature.
As MSIRE celebrates its 10th anniversary, Gato stresses its relevance in today’s real estate landscape.
“This is a program that will set students apart,” said Gato. “They will be able to network with alumni across the U.S. and they’re guaranteed to be on equal footing with any other program.”