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Posted Mar 25, 2024

Fundraiser Feature: Alexandra Nussenbaum at Rivo Alto

Rivo Alto FF Blog

We recently spoke with Alexandra Nussenbaum, CFO and COO at Rivo Alto Capital, to learn how their approach to fundraising and investor management helped them become a Juniper Square Top Fundraiser for 2023.

As the most successful of the 330+ new clients who used our fundraising solution last year, Rivo Alto also received our 2023 Rising Star Award.

Q: Tell us about Rivo Alto Capital and your role at the firm.

A: Rivo Alto is a real estate investment company based in Miami. When first founded 20 years ago, we focused on developing single-tenant credit commercial real estate. The founders were able to sell that portfolio in 2006 before transitioning to buying property tax receivables from local governments. Buying millions of receivables gave us insights into what was happening in real estate markets in different pockets of the country, which is how we got into the private lending business in 2012. Today, we’re a small team—only 12 employees—with around $800 million in AUM and serve high-net-worth individuals and family office investors.

I joined the company as a financial analyst when they started the private lending business. Now, I am the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer, and I am responsible for investor relations, accounting, and the loan servicing department.

Q: Can you outline Rivo Alto’s fundraising efforts in 2023?

A: We were closed for some time after COVID-19, so when we opened the fund last year, many family offices and high-net-worth individuals were just waiting for an opportunity to invest with us. We also launched a new entity type—a real estate investment trust—that brought some tax efficiencies for our investors.

Q: How did you keep those investors engaged before opening the fund?

A: We tried to keep them in individual offerings—more short-term investments—to keep them interested until we could finally open the fund and bring them in.

Since we focus on income-producing assets, we can also send distributions on a monthly basis, a phenomenal touchpoint. We're a conservative investment fund, and we purposefully structured our investment in a way that the leverage we use and the loans that we make are both variable in nature. Even though rates increased last year, we could still provide attractive distributions to our investors. We do not utilize much leverage which means that sometimes our returns might be a bit lower than our competitors, but that also means our investment represents a low-volatility, constant cash flow strategy to our investors. Many of them find this lower-risk option attractive.

We also make an effort to build meaningful relationships. It takes a lot of communication, but we take the time to really get to know our investors and touch base with them frequently.

Lastly, we pride ourselves on being very transparent. If something is not right, we'll always communicate. We want our investors to know where things stand and where we're going.

Q: As a new client in 2023, how did Juniper Square's fundraising solution compare to past tools/platforms?

A: We had been using a homegrown solution where we used email and cloud storage to manually subscribe and collect information, and we wasted too much time that way.

Juniper Square helps us focus more on the direct business of fundraising and investor relations, and spend less time on operations. Digital subscriptions also made the subscription process much easier—the document collection was less time-consuming and more accurate. If an investor forgot a signature or didn’t give us an ID, the system caught that error before it became a real problem.

The integrated platform has also improved our files for audit purposes, consolidating the reporting of the capital accounts, the distribution accounts, and the tax documents in one place.

With Juniper Square, it’s much easier to keep track of all the moving parts, and the tools allow us to spend time on value-added projects.

Q: After a successful fundraise, how do you move from the fundraising mindset to the investment management and administration mindset?

A: We haven't stopped the fundraising sprint. We're working on an offshore investment that should be in full swing by Q2 2024. It's a game-changer, and we're very excited about it. It's incredibly complicated—we've been working on it for almost 18 months—but it's the right way for us to move forward and continue growing.

At the same time, our fund operations continue. We have plans to hire more people, but we’re trying to organize things so it won't disrupt our business.

Q: Do you expect it will be easier or harder to raise capital in 2024? Why?

A: It's likely going to remain challenging. There's a lot of competition and a lot of uncertainty. Whichever managers can produce constant results over time will have an easier go of it because they can show how they’ve handled different cycles. It's a challenge we're happy to confront, and we’re doing what we can to set ourselves up for success.

Q: Based on your experience successfully raising capital in a challenging market, what advice would you offer to other firms in the CRE industry?

A: Some newer firms might want to close deals and raise money. But sometimes you need to say no. Avoid a landmine and focus on the next deal rather than close a deal just to close it and earn some short-term fees.

Firms need to define what they're good at and what they should be investing in and stay disciplined about it. It's better to grow organically with what you can handle than try to accomplish too much too soon and implode.

Rivo Alto was featured as one of Juniper Square's 2023 Top Fundraisers, based on our analysis of the capital raised by our clients using digital subscriptions. Digital subscriptions is one of Juniper Square's digital fundraising tools, helping GPs deliver a better investor experience and raise more capital.