By Al Barbarino
CBRE Vice President Michael Movshovich was seven years old when he and his parents moved to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn from his native Moscow.
While the predominately Russian neighborhood had many similarities to his homeland, his first look at the Manhattan skyline was unlike anything he had ever seen.
It blew him away, sparking an infatuation with buildings that would lead to a lifelong passion and a long-held desire to break into real estate.
“When you see the Manhattan skyline for the first time it’s really impressive,” Movshovich said. “It changed the world that I was living in.”
Movshovich joined CBRE in 2007 after a stint in the retail division at Newmark Knight Frank upon graduation from Tulane University, where he majored in Political Economy, a mix between history, philosophy, and political science.
His career at Newmark involved work with tenants and landlords in the acquisition and disposition of prime retail space throughout the greater New York area.
But after picking the brains of colleagues he decided that office leasing was a better match for his style, preferring the rigorous consultative approach that went along with it, he said. The broker thinks outside of the box, encouraging clients to do the same.
“I try to take an open-minded approach and look beyond the obvious, while making sure clients don’t get too hung up on preconceived notions,” he said. “Sometimes what they might perceive as the best solutions for their needs are surpassed by other alternatives that surface by maintaining a broader approach throughout the process and not eliminating anything until it is thoroughly vetted.”
After nearly five years with the firm, he’s amassed an array of diverse clients – from boutique investment firms, to Fortune 100 corporations, to privately held media and information companies.
A large chunk of his clients work in the financial realm, he said, calling it a “good niche” because of his genuine understanding of the financial industry and the tools that are needed to function efficiently.
Most recently, he represented hedge fund PDT Associates in leasing over 55,000 s/f office space; executed a renewal, expansion and lease restructuring of over 81,000 s/f on behalf of inVentiv Health and its subsidiary, Chandler Chicco Companies; and leased 68,000 s/f on behalf of landlord Savanna, owner of 104 West 40th Street.
Part of the trick is thinking creatively and identifying ways to increase efficiency by looking across geographic regions and maximizing floor space. It’s essential not only to work closely with a client, but to get into their heads to understand their needs, he said. It’s a skill he picked up from two CBRE brokers he called his closest mentors.
One of them is CBRE EVP Ben Friedland. Movshovich called him an “amazing people-person” who helped him develop an “ability to deliver a message to clients and have them understand exactly what you’re telling them.” The other is CBRE EVP Paul Myers. Movshovich praised him for his analytical prowess, adding that the executive helped him “learn how to think like a client thinks.”
At the end of the day, it’s Movshovich’s attention to detail that allows him to stick out from the pack, he said. And after years of canvassing and growing his client base, he’s seeing more referrals than ever.
“I like to dig in deep when I think about the client’s situation and how they can be best served,” Movshovich said. “They need a guide through the process and I try to be as involved as possible.
“I think the best measure of success is having clients that recommend you because of the value that you’ve added.”