Trailer Episode

Unlocking Private Markets for Everyday Investors with Fundrise CFO Alison Staloch

Private assets have traditionally been accessible only to large institutional investors and venture capitalists.

But that’s quickly changing, thanks to investment platforms like Fundrise.

Fundrise is an online alternatives investment platform with over 371,000 active investors. Through Fundrise, everyday investors can access real estate markets and deals that they normally would not have been able to invest in on their own.

In today’s episode of The Modern CFO, host Andrew Seski speaks with Fundrise CFO Alison Staloch about the democratization of private markets, alternative asset management, investor communications and transparency, and more.

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Please note that the transcript is AI-generated and may contain errors. The content in the podcast is not intended as investment advice, and is meant for informational and entertainment purposes only.

[00:00:00] Andrew Seski: Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of The Modern CFO Podcast. I'm your host, Andrew Seski. Today's episode highlights one of my favorite topics again: thoughtful democratization and access to alternative investments. I know you've heard me discuss secondaries and venture funds with Aman and Andrea, regulating accreditation and the history of Reg CF with Woodie, even angel investing with Oslene. But today, I'm thrilled to take another approach at this topic, which is so important and so critical at this time, with Alison Staloch, the CFO of Fundrise. Alison, thank you so much for being here.

[00:00:43] Alison Staloch: Thanks for having me, Andrew. Super excited for the conversation.

[00:00:45] Andrew Seski: So could you give us a quick overview of Fundrise? I know it's actually the largest direct-to-investor real estate platform in the US today. Is that right?

[00:00:54] Alison Staloch: Yeah, that's right. So Fundrise is a FinTech company with a mission, a really broad mission, of building a better financial system for individuals. But today, that means alternative asset management, primarily focused in real estate, really with the idea of giving everyday people access to the private markets that they were historically excluded from whether due to lack of scale, lack of wealth. And in that mission, we've built a capital-raising machine founded in regulatory excellence that allows us to scale thousands of individuals' investments to then utilize capital deployment technology to compete for alternative assets with the Blackstones and Starwoods. And with the launch of our venture capital fund and now with the Sequoias of the world, we have about three and a quarter billion in equity AUM offered exclusively through diversified portfolios. And our goal right now is to disrupt the private markets by using technology and new approaches on old industries to give outsized returns back to investors.

[00:01:52] Andrew Seski: So I really like this approach and we're gonna go into the nuances of risk/reward investment profile for the differences between institutional investing and retail. But I'd like to go back in time first because you are a relatively recent CFO and in this industry. So I know you cut your teeth in the world of finance at KPMG, so Big Four experience. I want to take a minute to discuss your early career. And I think that sometimes people think that Big Four audit or accounting background is a qualification for a direct route to a CFO position, but you also worked at the SEC. So I want to kind of balance some of these, the regulatory knowledge that you have and some of the experiences that you had that are gonna make you and continue to allow you to be a really successful impact engine at Fundrise.

[00:02:41] Alison Staloch: Yeah, so I joined Fundrise as CFO last year, so 18 months in the making. I've been a CFO for a whole 18 months. Like you said, prior to that, I was in audit, I was at the SEC. I was in a policy-oriented regulatory role as the chief accountant for the Division of Investment Management, which is the division that regulates registered investment companies and registered investment advisors and sets policy for them. And I think that that background has been particularly important for Fundrise. We have kind of a business built on regulatory discipline and that's been a huge differentiator for us, really has set us apart. I always joke like, oh, we literally chose to play in like, all of the securities laws, not just like one of them. And whether that's Regulation A+ or the 40 Acts, I think the structure that we've built requires a ton of regulatory compliance and discipline for a company of our size and for really kind of a startup to deal with. And we've focused on that regulatory excellence within the organization since the beginning, innovating within the regulatory requirements. I think within Regulation A+ we're, I think we're the biggest user and the most successful operator in that regulation.

[00:03:53] And so, that comfort with the compliance and the regulatory discipline was one reason that I felt comfortable moving to Fundrise from the SEC. But obviously, my background is heavily, heavily accounting. And when you think about finance, it's obviously much broader than that. I think it makes sense for Fundrise and where we are. But certainly as we look to the future, we'll want to focus on hiring finance team members with different backgrounds that complement my background.

[00:04:23] Andrew Seski: Yeah, it almost seems like we're teasing out your definition of a modern CFO, so we could really, we could start there as well. I think that we get an overwhelming amount of guests who just argue that CFOs, the new breadth of responsibilities has really changed, especially today, whether it's, like you just mentioned, hiring, human resources, being a leader that attracts other team members from more diverse backgrounds and keeping them engaged. The retention I think is a huge issue right now in the churn of employment. So, really curious as to what you think. Even though it's been 18 months, these have been a pretty volatile and unique 18 months to take on this leadership position. So, really curious to hear it from your perspective.

[00:05:05] Alison Staloch: Yeah, so I think there's two things I'd mention. Maybe one more kind of like a mantra or approach to being a CFO today. And second, what I think is really important for a mission-oriented business like Fundrise to consider when hiring a CFO. So the first one, I think it's that you have to be constantly evolving. The CFO role is constantly changing, but what I mean is that as a modern CFO you must be constantly evolving as an individual and as a professional. Like you said, like any C-suite or senior leadership role, there's a really broad spectrum of knowledge and disciplines underlying the role and especially when you're in a high-growth environment of a tech company. So you can't possibly know everything, but you need to be agile and responsive to the needs of the business. And I think on top of that, being the CFO of a startup is very different than that of a late-stage kind of pre-IPO business is very different than that of a matured, institutionalized business. Obviously, my lens at Fundrise is kind of mid- to late-stage. We're a mission-oriented business and, again, my first CFO role, so take this all with a grain of salt. But I think what that has meant for me is really being able to flex as an individual, as a professional, and relying on resources, whether that's internal team members or external consultants to kind of help you have that breadth of knowledge.

[00:06:21] I remember, the SEC is a regulator. Whenever you are engaging with the public, you share this disclaimer, I'm sure you've heard it: the views I express today do not reflect those of the commission and commissioners, my colleagues, and staff. And I'm thrilled to be on the other side of that and to not have to watch what I say so closely. But I still have a disclaimer, which is, I think every day I want people to know I reserve the right to get smarter. And I think that's been true my entire career. When you ask people if they have a five-year plan, I would always laugh at that because I had a 50-year plan . But that 50-year plan did not point me with the expectation of landing in a CFO role. It did not point me to working at the SEC nonetheless as the chief accountant of a major operating division. It didn't even actually point me to being an accountant in the first place. I was pre-med in undergrad. I was a psychology major. That knowledge has actually like, really, really been incredibly useful in leadership roles. But I think it's the ability to pivot, to embrace discomfort in doing things you've never done before, and then again to constantly evolve. That has served me so well in my first 18 months as CFO. I want to say ask me again in five years, I might have a different answer.

[00:07:33] Andrew Seski: Right. Well, we'll do that. I'll mark it on my calendar now. I want to ask; point to something that you sort of teased a second ago on the complexity of the security environment and regulatory environment in general here. And I'm curious as to what you think about investor relations and investor communications and transparency because you have your own investors and stakeholders of Fundrise itself. Yet you also have thousands, I think I saw 150,000 investors since 2012 come through the platform.

[00:08:07] Alison Staloch: 380,000, I think.

[00:08:09] Andrew Seski: Okay, alright. So, that posits a unique challenge in ensuring transparency because I think that the compromise of understanding risk can be, it's a hard thing to help people go point them to the right resources just because of the breadth of the variety of background and education in alternative investments, understanding liquidity risk, understanding risk in general, and understanding alternatives and what opportunity cost of capital they have elsewhere. So all of that to say, I'm curious as to how you think about investor communications and transparency for Fundrise's stakeholders and how maybe that standard that you have to set in terms of transparency and communication with 300,000 plus investors, maybe those translate across, maybe you've created this really high bar for the rest of us to learn from in terms of managing our own stakeholders. Our firm here does not have 300,000 shareholders, yet we feel a very powerful need to be really transparent with them. So, kind of curious as to how those interact with each other and the standard that you set.

[00:09:22] Alison Staloch: Yeah, so it's interesting you asked that. I think because of the technology, because of the apps that we work through and how we engage with our investors directly, not through any intermediaries, we have a tool handy to communicate with them as often as we want really. And so, it's funny sometimes when I ask our auditors for feedback, they always say, you disclose a lot. And that's actually really rare, right? That you over-disclose. But we put out emails to our investor base every time we acquire a property or some major update happens that information is readily available in the app. You can go find it. We think that there are investors that don't care and they don't want to know every minute detail. But we think there are a lot of investors who also are interested in learning about that. And making that all available in the app gives them a tool at their disposal to go research anything that they want. We also have an investor relations team that handles incoming inquiries and certainly a lot of time in engaging with investors that have questions.

[00:10:31] And then in terms of understanding risk, I think something that's obviously, well, I think it's obviously unique about our platform, is that because of our incentive alignment, we're endeavoring to cut out the middleman. We don't work with sponsors of real estate anymore. For example, don't charge a 2 and 20. We don't have a promoter carry. And so, our incentives we think are therefore more aligned with investors to not have huge, huge risk because we don't need home runs 'cause we're not getting a carrier promote. And so, I think that also makes our platform a little bit interesting in communicating the risk and volatility of our returns to investors.

[00:11:13] Andrew Seski: Yeah, that's a really good point. I think that understanding all of the stakeholders in any sort of investment's really important just to ensure incentive alignment. And also, you point to a huge trend that we're gonna see in the venture world where maybe scaling at all costs and growth at all costs isn't the best for the entire industry, and maybe momentum in the venture world will be less of a strategy and maybe those dollars will switch. I think we're already starting to see growth at all costs, which to extending runway and being more protective over that runway. If we have more of a market turndown, I think we're gonna end up seeing a lot of consolidation of talent, a lot of consolidation of venture dollars. I think deal flow might slow a little bit. I think rounds might stay pretty large, but I think it's gonna be really competitive in the next few years. So, I think finding allocations into those environments is also really tough.

[00:12:07] We hosted, we actually hosted an event last year called Bridging the Gap in Private Equity. And we had a multifamily office investor, private equity investor, VC, and a small-cap hedge fund all get out on stage and talk about access and liquidity. And in the real estate world, I think about, there's a firm called Cadre. There are a couple of people who are really trying to hammer this point home that even extremely wealthy individuals, even family offices, RAAs, have an incredibly difficult time competing with institutional dollars because it's far easier for an investment firm to manage one to two pension relationships or endowments or any other institutional dollars than it is 300,000 individuals. And a lot of that can be solved through reporting efficiencies like technology. But even getting access to in a competitive environment like alternatives is really difficult. KKR just listed one of their healthcare funds on Securitize, trying to see if they could democratize some access, but I still think those were all qualified purchasers, qualified buyers.

[00:13:20] So there's a huge conversation here around access. I'm really curious to know. Obviously, Fundrise is really unique in terms of way, way smaller investment size minimums, right? And I just don't know that that exists elsewhere. There are fundraising platforms out there, but I worry that those have sort of a Costco-effect of startups and everything. I like the fact that Fundrise does a really great job of communicating and showcasing exactly what the offering is. And I really like the competition of fees. I think that's healthy for the environment altogether. I think you should be able to prove your value in competing in this space. So, that was kind of a small diatribe on my part, but it's really interesting.

[00:14:03] Alison Staloch: Yeah, no. I mean, to answer, I think you alluded to this. But, yeah. Our investment minimum is $10. I don't think that there's anyone else out there offering investments in institutional quality real estate for a $10 minimum. And that obviously requires a ton of technology. Like you said, in some ways, it is easier to manage bespoke needs of a couple of institutions. But I think we think that that's where technology is the differentiator. We have salespeople on staff and that's because salespeople salivate over the institutional investor over the $10 million, $20 million, $100 million investor, right? But our software doesn't care. It doesn't care if you're a $10 investor or if you're a thousand dollar investor or if you have millions to bring to the platform. I think that's where we're able to reach scale. And then now, we've been able to source institutional quality real estate and we are competing with the Blackstones and the Starwoods for real estate. That took some time to build up, but I think those are the reasons that we've been able to do that.

[00:15:10] Andrew Seski: So I actually learned about…I want to move a little bit away from the traditional real estate offerings because the Innovation Fund is really interesting to me as well. I think there have been a few swings attempting to do this elsewhere that I'm not positive have gone as well. I suppose out there, I'm trying to think if there are a handful of public entities that are venture firms that maybe you could buy the GP stake in but pretty rare. I want to talk about the innovation fund, and I want to share, I probably shouldn't be promoting another podcast on The Modern CFO, but I learned about the Innovation Fund from the Acquired Podcast. There was a Fundrise advertisement throughout it. And I immediately went over to the site and I was actually pretty fascinated by some of the data and the deck that is out there. So I'd love to learn a little bit more about it and if it is the same access to retail or how that fund is gonna be structured.

[00:16:05] Alison Staloch: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So, the Acquired guys are good colleagues and we love being able to advertise on, that's just an amazing podcast. So, glad you mentioned it. But yeah, so the Innovation Fund, we launched in July, taking a really slow approach to fundraising there. But I think there's really two reasons why we think this fund is so important. So, one, we want to give individuals access to investment opportunities they've been closed out of. This will be the same situation as our real estate funds, low dollar requirement minimum. And we think a low fee structure will allow them to get into pre-public companies, the private market equity, in the same way that they've been able to access real estate through our platform. But secondarily, we also want to offer founders an alternative to venture capital. We've avoided venture capital as a pre-IPO company. And that's been, it's been really unique. It's really allowed us to control our own destiny.

[00:17:04] And so, we think that founders, I guess I would say we think we're reaching an inflection point in private company financing. Not only do founders and leaders want different sources of capital, I think they're going to require it after the insolvency that probably will stem from this coming crisis. And so, we think our timing has come together perfectly there. It's a massive opportunity to fund the next public companies while they build. And because of that exponential growth that you see in private companies today, you really can't be successful if you're not built on some massive technology-enabled solution, in our opinion. We think the outcomes are non-linear. So, price matters less than quality. We want great companies at good prices, not good companies at great prices. And we think that will really speak to founders.

[00:17:51] I also think, you and I were hitting on this before we got started, the FTX Exchange meltdown. I think that's been really interesting, too. When you think about VC, I think there's so many venture firms that dumped their investors' money into something that it seems pretty clear they didn't understand or fully vet, whether it was fraud or lack of disclosure, I think the related party relationship, I just don't see how that didn't raise any red flags. And I think it's possibly part of a longer-term meltdown of trust in venture capital from both investors and founders. They've spent too long riding the coattails of their last successes. What do they say? Being successful in venture comes from being successful in venture, right?

[00:18:33] Andrew Seski: Right. I haven't heard that one, but I like it.

[00:18:36] Alison Staloch: And we think that's not enough anymore, at least in tech. And I think part of that is that venture has had a lot of power over founders, over entrepreneurs. The power to fund at like really insane pricing was their advantage. And we think the ability to truly evaluate the quality and sophistication of the technology will become the driver for successful venture investing instead. And you kind of see this already with venture firms, like they might have an engineer or two on staff or maybe one of their partners is a former engineer. But I think we would say, what if you had 150 technologists on your team who are currently and actively in the practice of building technology, something that changes literally every day, who could evaluate the technology of a portfolio company? And so, that's what we're doing. We think the ability to evaluate the fundamentals of the technology, which is the exponential growth driver of tech companies, is gonna be so much more important than the pricing power over capital that flows to pre-IPO companies.

[00:19:34] Andrew Seski: That's fascinating. I really love the fact that there are differentiated approaches arising because it is a reflection of a pretty crying need. Is there gonna be a full-time venture team on the Fundrise staff that's coming? Or are there existing investors that are really passionate about the space, is it gonna be industry-specific or relatively vague? Is it gonna be, are there gonna be multiple funds or is there just gonna be one target, really large fund? Really curious about some of the dynamics here.

[00:20:03] Alison Staloch: Yeah. So we already have a small team built out that has worked through the analysis of our buy box. And taking all of the like pre-public tech companies and narrowing them down to here are the ones that we think are probably good. And then starting to have conversations with those founders and leadership teams and then where there's interest, mutual interest, then starting to bring in our team of engineers to look at the technology and see what they think about the quality. Right now, I think the intent is to just have the one fund. We want to take a slow start to getting it up and running. We've started fundraising, but very, very slowly. And it won't open to all cohorts until probably sometime next year. But yeah, I think the plan for now is just the one fund and let's see where we can get traction and how we can engage with founders that, again, have an interest in an alternative source of capital.

[00:21:02] Andrew Seski: Yeah, I think it's really interesting to think about the dynamics of growth where I think the venture scenario still forces binary outcomes and they want them fast because a handful of companies are going to return the entirety of the fund. And I don't know if that's a really healthy environment for founders. It sort of promotes just some sort of reckless business behaviors I think that aren't necessarily very healthy whereas if you've got family office investors and more patient capital, or it sounds like this new Fundrise innovation fund could be a new participant in building out that ecosystem. It's really interesting to see. There's a Stanford professor that I follow really closely who puts out the average SaaS route to, typical timing to IPO. And there are a handful of firms in the last few years that are one to three years. It's pretty incredible to see how the typical timeline from seven to 10. And it also forces the question: is all this value creation synthetic when the public markets get to evaluate? There has been, I mean, there was a huge bump in IPOs in technology and then the public market sort started to dry up again in terms of IPOs 'cause it's a little rockier and more volatile at the moment. But it's really interesting to see the public evaluate these companies that are not profitable and public.

[00:22:29] So, there are some success stories still. There are the Ubers out there in the world and, but it's really interesting to see what's synthetic growth on paper and if there's going to be more liquidity solutions that are available for founders that can relieve that pressure valve a bit. I think that there's a more likely scenario that we have richer companies that take their time to grow properly. And I think that'll end up being great for the ecosystem. Also, probably better for investors over the long term. So, really, really interested to see that competition grow outside of the institutional dollars that are back in the VCs.

[00:23:06] Alison Staloch: Yeah. And especially for those investors that get to have access to that when founders choose that alternative source. I think what you said is super interesting. I would think about this from a CFO perspective, too; a mercenary CFO, one who isn't focused on your mission can be as bad for you as a company as the wrong venture firm because they'll get you to the next milestone. I mean, you might be falling over the finish line, but you'll make it. But the future of your business will no longer be their opportunity because they're so focused on that like shortsighted milestone that they're trying to reach. And in the process of doing that, it can destroy your team, it can destroy your culture, it can destroy your mission, and maybe even ultimately the actual benefit that you're trying to create for your customer. So I think it's like super, super important that private companies are getting an alternative source to protect that.

[00:24:02] Andrew Seski: Yeah. At the very least, it should be competitive. I think that's just healthy for the ecosystem as well. So we're making some pretty bold claims here. I want to also think about how we think this is gonna play out. So one of the things I really like to talk about is sort of short term, 12 month versus three to five year goals, priorities, and what you're thinking about in terms of what I think is gonna be a pretty aggressive shakeup in both public and private markets, which may actually be an interesting time to build the things that you're building. So I want to take a step back and think a little bit more broadly about the space.

[00:24:37] Alison Staloch: Yeah. So I think we spend a ton of time right now talking about what the next 12 months will bring. In our minds, we think this crisis is likely to be a slow, long, drawn out one over the next 24 months and really thinking about what does that mean for the business and what challenges will that bring up but also what opportunities will that bring up for us and for our investors. And so, we think that the only place to be at the moment is on the sidelines, kind of hoarding capital, waiting for the opportunistic rescue money plays to those opportunities to come up.

[00:25:14] I think longer term, one of the things, I'll say even longer, longer than three to five years, I think the technological developments that are coming and how they will impact both health and wealth preservation are really interesting. I think there's going to be massive shifts in how we think about that over the near term and then what tools are available to us. I'm gonna sound a little bit like a futurist, but I think we're living at a time when life expectancy has the opportunity to really change. I think many Gen X and millennials will easily see their hundreds. I think Gen Z will see that as an average. If you look back 25 years ago, we barely had the internet. 15 years ago, we finally got smartphones. A lot has happened even in the last two years during the pandemic. And I think we're gonna see an exponentially different world in 20 to 30 years.

[00:26:05] And so, what we'll see over the next three to five that will make that possible from a health perspective I can't really predict. That's not my area of expertise. But I think the healthier you remain, the more you'll be able to capture benefit from those technological advantages. But from a wealth perspective, I think it'll require you to step outside the traditional approach to retirement and investing. 60/40 stock bond allocation won't cut it anymore and private market investments really need will grow. And those who don't access it will be left behind. But I think that combined with a lot of the other paradigm shifts happening in the world right now — conversion to remote work environments, the wealth accumulation of millennials and Gen Z, death of the pensions, shift to self-management, and even like the distrust in institutions, the embracing of autonomy in individuals, network effects — all of those things. These coming years, we'll see individuals really owning their investment choices. It's really exciting I think for us because it means there's gonna be a lot of unsupervised capital out there from asset managers, old line asset managers who aren't thinking about individuals.

[00:27:10] Andrew Seski: Yeah, you can already see some of this happening, consolidation of the RA space. The interesting way that Gen Z is choosing more nontraditional career paths and creating wealth in really unique ways. So, I think you're right. I think all of this is taking hold today and we'll definitely see indications of the next three to five years.

[00:27:27] I think I've got a unique opportunity here also to discuss with you what you think the future of accreditation may look like. It's hard to speculate given the sort of more responsive nature of the SEC. It's hard to proactively regulate. I understand that it's a very, very challenging job to protect investors yet also democratize access to a space while educating on risk. And I think it's, like you mentioned, just a different world today, though, given the amount of access to complex investment theses and strategies. And if you take the time, I think you can be fairly sophisticated. I think it's a hard industry to cut your teeth in no matter what, given the risk associated with any highly illiquid investment. But as the world becomes more sophisticated and more comfortable with investing online, doing proper diligence and comparing that to the diligence of some of the best firms, I think it's fair to say that if you can gamble away at a casino, there's a good point that investors are who you can demonstrate education. Actually, I know Jason Calacanis is working really hard to create some sort of standard. I think he's raising a new fund, I'm not sure. But I think he's working very hard on that as well. And I know a lot of the regulators want to provide some more clarity on. I think maybe some of this will come, I hope not as a backlash from the crypto space in terms of investor protection. I hope we don't get set back too far. But curious as to your perspective on what the future of accreditation may look like and qualified purchase definitions and all that fun stuff.

[00:29:06] Alison Staloch: Yeah, no. I mean, I could be wrong, definitely could be wrong. I don't know that we'll see anything in this administration doesn't seem to be a top priority for them. But I think that's the challenge of being on the staff. Like there's people, I met so many people when I was on the staff who are interested in learning from people out in practice, people out in industry, what makes sense, what do you think. But they have the challenge of, they're oscillating between these politically appointed leaderships. At different times, wants you to engage, wants you to talk to people. And other times, they won't allow it. But I think they are smart enough to meet you where you are. I know, like my former colleagues on, when I was on the staff, like, we read your tweets, they view your Reddit posts. They're watching your TikTok videos. And so, I think keep speaking to them, engaging with them. But have the patience to understand that I think regulatory processes is so complex. There's limited resources. People can only focus on so much. I do hope that, like you said, because of the advancements and the way people are accessing investments, some future version of the staff will see that and think about unique ways to modify the definition and the requirements to meet accredited investor status.

[00:30:26] Andrew Seski: Well, maybe we'll see the advancement in, I think, well, the JOBS Act actually came out through the desire for more engagement from the public. Maybe it's a more cyclical thing that we discuss more proactively in market cycles. So maybe there's a way that that goes forward or if capital gains tax increases, maybe there will be more private investment exposure to drive revenue in the government.

[00:30:53] But I really want to segue into my favorite part of the podcast which is always the question, do you feel that there's anything underestimated in the world today? Whether it's something in the world of finance or something completely unrelated. It's my favorite thing to learn from. CFOs think, very unique vantage points and perspectives as to an area that maybe we're not thinking about but that you feel we should draw some attention to.

[00:31:21] Alison Staloch: Yeah. I love, I mean, I love this question. It's so big and broad. So, I'll maybe go big and broad but mention a few different things. To me, it's the power of the individual. And I think the dominance of the individual, rise of the individual, and the exponential value of scale that can come from empowered individuals. And we hear this a lot, right? Like, your vote matters, your wallet matters. But I think people really have a lot of agency over their future right now and including how you build wealth. I think that's super important. Obviously, that plays to our strategy, right? We believe that small but many is less fragile than large and few.And so, that's why we've targeted an individual investor. I think we think smart money won't be the big money, but the collective sentiments of the smaller dollars that aggregate to large effects and accrue benefits to the individual as well, which, again, puts the power back in the individual.

[00:32:15] And I think that change is really underestimated by institutions today. And most importantly in wealth management, I think they still devote the broad swath of their resources to other institutions. And I think that's gonna continue to work for them for some time. Like, that's not changing immediately, but I think the switch is happening now. And you don't want to be behind on that work of engaging with the individual. And then I think from an individual perspective, I think that's where you have to focus on constantly evolving, constantly adapting to the resources and the opportunities that become available to you and taking advantage of those.

[00:32:50] Andrew Seski: I really like that. I always say in these episodes that people should go back and just hit that back 30-second button and re-listen to a piece of the podcast. I really think that's an important trend that's already taking place, already capturing a lot of attention. And maybe we're seeing the rise of the next Blackstone as we speak right now. So that, I think that's really powerful; that the collective maybe the next institution just in a different way that we think about it.

[00:33:17] One of the things that we didn't cover that I really wanted to was the transition to Fundrise. I think that you mentioned briefly the really formal institutional background of the Big Four of government. I'm kind of curious as to maybe for some of the other aspiring CFOs or CFOs who are relatively new in their position, how is that risk profile in your mind, has it changed since in the last 18 months? And what was the onus and catalyst for that for you?

[00:33:50] Alison Staloch: Yeah. It's honestly been like such a big transition. In a lot of ways I was going from, I said this recently, like I was just judging what other people were doing from an auditor regulator perspective and not actually doing the work. And, man is doing the work a lot harder than you think when you're on the other side judging. But I think that transition from institutionalized organizations to a startup is just complex and challenging for so many reasons. I think a big piece of it is the mindset of technical specialization, right? Like when you work at a big institution, being very narrow and deep is super important. But then coming to a company like Fundrise earlier stage, then certainly where I've been in the past, you have to be able to step outside of that perspective of this very narrow accounting standard is so important and think about what does this mean more broadly for the organization? What's best for the company as a whole? And balancing all of those things. And I think that's, it's really challenging. I think I was prepared for it, but I don't think I was prepared for how difficult it would be. I'm really lucky to have a leadership team that appreciates that; that understands what a big transition that was gonna be. And so, they've like taken, they've brought me along on this journey so far. But I think if you're not prepared for that, that will be a struggle.

[00:35:18] Andrew Seski: Yeah, no. I really appreciate it. I think that's a great comment on the mindset shift that needs to take place for those thinking about making the leap to a similar company of size to Fundrise.

[00:35:29] The last thing I'll mention is kind of fun. We were chatting about, it seems like we're both voracious consumers of articles and information. And for those listening, Alison's got a pretty full bookshelf behind her. And it's always funny to say we're chatting about the Newsfeed that Nth Round has and just curious if there are any that standout. We talked about the Acquired Podcast. That's really great for deep dives. And me personally, I'm very lucky I get to have conversations like this. Is there any sort of your favorite outlet? It's very hard to curate your social media to get all the information and data that you want but curious if you do anything interesting or have read anything that we should all take a look at. Let's put you on the spot.

[00:36:09] Alison Staloch: Yeah. No, no, no. I love the question. It's so true. I always, like I keep hoping for some curated outlet that will — it for me so I don't have to. I think one of my favorite things to read — do you read Matt Levine Bloomberg?

[00:36:22] Andrew Seski: Yep. Sure.

[00:36:24] Alison Staloch: Yeah. So like I would highly, highly recommend him.I think it obviously speaks to my background. He focuses a lot on securities laws and. I'll tell an interesting story about him. I've kind of always, always read him. He recently, this is maybe in the last year, picked up on a nuance of like the accounting standards that don't work, particularly as it relates to digital assets. So with digital assets, if you're an operating company, you're in intangible accounting, and so it's impairment accounting. And so, you can never actually write it up. You can only write it down. If you think about huge companies like Tesla and Micro Strategies that have so much Bitcoin on their books, it's held at like the lowest price, the lowest market value that's been out there since they purchased it, which is just insane, right? And Matt Levine picked up on this and I just, I love that like somehow he was able to find that. But we used to joke that we should have a trigger as regulators or standard-setters that if Matt Levine picks up on complexity as a result of regulatory standards, then we should probably be looking at that. But he's, I mean, I highly recommend. So entertaining and so much fun to read.

[00:37:33] Andrew Seski: Oh, thanks so much for that. I really appreciate it, Alison. And I should probably mention we've covered a lot of topics around alternative investing. Obviously, none of this is investment advice. Everyone should spend a lot of time managing their assets, talking to their advisors, and making really informed decisions. But I do have to say that Fundrise also puts out a lot of really great educational resources that I've had the opportunity to explore recently and I can definitely vouch to their quality. So, highly recommend checking out the website. Alison, is there a way for people to get in touch with you if they'd like to learn more, or is the website the best way to explore the new, all the new things that are happening at the firm?

[00:38:15] Alison Staloch: Yeah. I think I'd say like Fundrise in general, our website, our app, sign up for our email. You don't have to be an investor to get information about the acquisitions we're making and our portfolio and our strategy and our letters. And then check out our podcast. It's called Onward. Not to mention another podcast but that we're slowly building that up. We also have a newsletter called The Distance, where we talk about long-term thinking broadly, not just as it relates to an investment strategy. And then for me, LinkedIn is probably the best. I'm on Twitter. I read a lot of it, but I'm a lurker. I don't actually tweet so.

[00:38:52] Andrew Seski: Excellent. Alright. Thank you so much, Alison. It's been another episode of The Modern CFO Podcast and I hope you have a chance to circle back in five years.

[00:39:05] Alison Staloch: It's great. Thank you so much, Andrew. I appreciate it.

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