As vice president, capital markets at Cohen Financial, Matt Terpstra is responsible for the origination and placement of debt structures throughout the United States. Since joining the Chicago-based capital markets team in 2013, he has helped to close over $650 million of financing transactions that include development, value-add and stabilized financing.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I grew up in a very rural town in south-central Iowa call New Sharon. I had a unique upbringing, spending my early years living on an ostrich farm that my dad and uncle ran. To answer everyone’s question, no, we did not ride them. Later, I attended the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
As a child, I dreamed of playing college basketball for the Iowa Hawkeyes and leading them to their first ever national championship. This would, of course, be the precursor to a long and illustrious NBA career that culminated with me being the league’s all-time defensive leader in every statistical category. Once it became clear that basketball was not in my cards, a distant second was nearly anything aviation related.
How did you get your start in the industry?
During college I double majored in finance and real estate. I ultimately got involved in the real estate club (Rho Epsilon), primarily because they offered free pizza and beer for those who attended weekly presentations put on by employers in the real estate industry. It was during these presentations that I started to see the common thread of how real estate was a tangible and relational business, which appealed to me beyond the data-driven analysis taking place in my finance classes. Upon graduation, I joined Cohen Financial’s asset management team in Kansas City and shortly thereafter joined the mortgage banking team in Chicago.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
In the same way that it takes a village to raise a child, there have been a number of people who have encouraged and supported my career and personal aspirations over the years. That said, when I moved to Chicago, I joined a team led by Manny Brown and Dan Rosenberg. Both individuals have provided endless opportunity, instruction and guidance, which has fostered my growth in the organization and industry, as well as my personal pursuits.
What does a day in the life of Matt Terpstra look like?
Although no two days are alike, I almost always start my mornings with a HIIT class. Once in the office, a majority of my day is spent managing deal flow. Interspersed throughout the day, I make time to meet with new and existing contacts over lunch or coffee. In the evenings, I take pride in eating well, whether that means making a new recipe or going to a new restaurant throughout the city.
What do you like most about your job?
Without question the best part is meeting with new people and cultivating those relationships. I’m continually impressed by the number of quality individuals in the real estate industry. Ultimately, many of these relationships extend beyond the work week, which blurs the lines of “work/life.”
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
I think there is a great opportunity to grow our team’s brand recognition and market share in the Chicago marketplace and beyond. Personally, I’d like to build upon my existing network and continue to grow my outreach and connectivity throughout the industry.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
Regardless of the activity, I’m mostly interested in spending quality time with those who are important to me. My favorite group activities include: boating Lake Michigan, ski trips, cycling, watching/attending college football games, playing basketball and trying to keep up with new restaurants and cafés throughout the city.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
Generally, my favorite travel has been to destinations that offer scuba diving or skiing. The best scuba diving/snorkeling that I’ve encountered was off of a small island of Puerto Rico called Vieques. A close second was diving with humpbacks off the coast of Maui. My next adventure is likely a ski trip to Whistler and/or a diving trip to Belize.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
My grandpa Terpstra. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but his legacy has had a generational impact on my family. Although his “office” looked much different than mine, I think there is so much I could learn about myself by hearing from him.