While chief accountant for the SEC’s investment management division, Alison Staloch reports, she found herself being greeted by a degree of inclusive enthusiasm that she had seldom encountered before.
“People would say, ‘Great, the accountants are here!,’” recalls Staloch, who tells us that accountants at divisional meetings were sometimes sparse in comparison to the number of agency attorneys seated at the table.
“Coming from a place where everyone was an accountant, this was new to me,” continues Staloch, who tells us that the commission’s high regard for her expertise and the accounting discipline in general helped to make her 5-1/2-year tenure there a satisfying career chapter.Read More
Having joined the organization as part of the SEC Fellows Program, Staloch found that her experience there seemed to grant her a healthy dose of professional activation—something that she admits that her early career had not always provided in large supply.
“I wavered a lot early in my career—I took the MCAT but didn’t go to medical school, and I took the LSAT but didn’t go to law school,” remarks Staloch, who as a seasoned KPMG auditor found herself similarly vexed with regard to possible next opportunities behind the doors at that firm.
The SEC Fellows Program, however, was different. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow!—this is just a great way to become ingrained with an understanding of how regulations impact the accounting standards that companies operate under,’” remarks Staloch, who eventually exited the SEC in Spring 2021 to step into the CFO role at Fundrise, a software company that gives investors access to commercial and residential real estate deals by pooling their assets through an investment platform.
Self-dubbed as the largest “direct-to-consumer alternative asset manager,” Fundrise has future investor-related ambitions that no doubt made Staloch’s resume—rich with regulatory smarts and investment management intuition—an attractive match.
Says Staloch: “At the time, I still had thoughts about going back to public accounting. I do have a deep respect for that profession, but this came up somewhat serendipitously after I met Fundrise’s CEO through my network. He was very visionary and inspiring as he explained Fundrise’s mission, and it became very appealing to me.” –Jack Sweeney
“Embrace uncertainty, don’t fear it! This may be easier said than done, but it has been my experience that being comfortable with ambiguity and taking calculated risks leads to more innovative solutions and better opportunities. So, this means that you need to remain open to different perspectives and stay agile in the face of changing circumstances.” –Alison Staloch, CFO, Fundrise
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CFOTL: Tell us about Fundrise … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Staloch: Fundrise is a technology company. We’re America’s largest direct-to-consumer alternative investment manager. Very broadly, our mission is to build a better financial system for the individual. Our goal is to grow and preserve our investors’ capital in really any economic environment, including ones like the challenging one in which we’re sitting today. We do this by building software that enables us to deliver institutional-quality investments in asset classes like real estate, private equity, private credit, and growth-stage venture capital.Read More
Fundrise has existed for about 10 years. Initially, like a lot of start-ups, we were bootstrapped by the founders. Ultimately, early on, we brought in one strategic investor who capitalized the company in its early stages of growth. Since then, we have really wanted to avoid having the trappings of a venture capital investor on our cap table, so to tell the full story, I need to back up a little bit and go into our products.
We started out as a real estate investment manager and intended to do this for unaccredited investors. In order to do so, we had to utilize a rather esoteric part of the securities laws called Regulation A, which allows you to raise up to $75 million a year from unaccredited investors. Hence, Fundrise launched vehicles to raise capital under this structure. Although early in our growth this approach provided a lot of runway, over time the capacity provided has proven to be insufficient, so we’ve had to move into the 1940 Act for these investment vehicles. In the meantime, though, we were able to get really good at the regulatory compliance and rigor required by Regulation A.
Fundrise | www.fundrise.com | Washington, DC