Q&A: PE Associate to MBA to HF Analyst

Hi all - I'm a 1st year analyst at a concentrated, $1bn+ HF.

My background:

  • Semi-target = > MM IB = > MM, Nichey PE (~$1bn AUM) => Top non-H/S MBA (think Columbia, Chicago, Wharton, NYU) => $1bn+ concentrated HF
  • Throughout my career, I have doubled down on sector expertise in an industry that is both growing yet difficult for generalists to invest in (think HC services, software, fintech)

Questions I can answer:

  • Hour and lifestyle at a concentrated HF
  • General compensation at each level (with IB being 2015-2017 timeframe, PE being 2017-2020 timeframe) including my rough trajectory, as communicated to me by my bosses and told to me by older HF analysts in similar seats
  • Why I think I've been successful (*cringe*)
  • How MBA HF recruiting works
  • What story I told during PE and HF recruiting that seemed to resonate
  • Why I think concentrated HF is a good career bet to make and general outlook on the active investment management industry

Questions I won't answer:

  • Anything more specific about my background
  • Anything more specific about my fund
  • Anything highly specific about my investment process

Comments (89)

BankerOrBust, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First of all, thanks for doing this. Would love to hear more about how the lifestyle is at your current fund, and how it compares to your time in PE. Also curious about your decision to pursue an MBA instead of direct to HF after PE - any insight on your thought process would be greatly appreciated.

kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:


  • My days now start around 9, end sometime after 4 whenever I feel like, unless there's something time pressing (earnings / event reactions, specific analysis my PM wants, etc.). So maybe 9-4pm 2-3 times per week and then 2-3 nights where I log an additional 2-5 hours of work. I probably average 50 hours per week and more like 55-60 during earnings heavy weeks or when I'm trying to finish up a write up on an idea.
  • Relative to a PE associate, this is a significant step back in hours. I probably averaged 9:30-9pm Monday-Thursday, 9:30-5pm Fridays, but would frequently see weeks of 9am-midnight+ with weekend work during periods when I was staffed across multiple priority deals. Relative to a post MBA PE role, I probably work a similar amount of hours but have a little more flexibility around hours.
  • Generally, working at a concentrated hedge fund land means fewer blow ups than working in PE. Vacations and 3 day weekends are much easier to take, as I have better visibility into events that may transpire. I've never walked into work on a Monday expecting a relatively tame week just to have a partner push me to get a 10-20 pager done on a new deal that wasn't even on my radar the week prior. Now, the things that blow up my weeks are events (company specific news, M&A, financings, policy changes, sector wide news) but the "output" is usually just a bulleted email explaining any updates to my views and/or model so those events tend to just require a lot of reading and some back of the envelope analysis, not building a 3 statement model from scratch or learning a whole new sector.

MBA Decision:

  • Life is very short. I thought I wouldn't get any other opportunities to unplug from your career, make new friends, and benefit from the perspective of new people. I think this benefit is hard to quantify but worth the opportunity cost of the lost 2 years of income, especially given the likelihood of making far more in my lifetime than I'll end up needing.
  • MBAs enable you to "date around" which is crucial for the hedge fund world, which operate in a much more heterogenous fashion than PE funds. I would never join a hedge fund without some sort of trial period of reporting to the PM. The MBA program gave me 3 distinct periods to work for different PMs and get a sense of what's out there and how they differ.
  • A hedge fund seat is not a hedge fund seat is not a hedge fund seat. Prior to B school, I had final round interviews for a $50mm startup fund with ~$250k total comp , a ~$400mm Carlson spinout where I'd be 1 of 4 analysts reporting to a PM on a relative value strategy, and a pod shop seat at one of Millenium / Citadel / Baly under a freshly promoted PM. In retrospect, these were all dog shit opportunities. MBA gave me significantly better at bats. Most of my friends pursuing HF roles out of my MBA program ended up at far better roles than any of the roles I was considering prior to MBA
BankerOrBust, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Appreciate the detailed response - sounds like the MBA was well worth the investment. Could you elaborate on what the recruiting process was like, whether you landed interviews via on-campus recruiting or other channels (e.g., direct outreach, headhunters), and what story you told once you had your foot in the door? Thanks again!

  • Developer in PE - Other

What are you looking at in terms of first year comp and your progression moving forward? 

Sounds like a great gig. Congrats to you - graduated from a top MBA also, however doing something entrepreneurial. 

kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First six month comp was fairly fixed for me at $175k. This is fairly typical for post MBA hedge fund analyst comp, though the mix of salary to bonus is all over the place. My target is $400-600k this year, with the vast majority in the form of a bonus. After that, it will be a relatively fast ramp (2-5 years) to $1mm per year. Getting past $1mm will require outperformance by either me or my fund.

packmate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Respectfully, I find it difficult to believe you'll have a straight forward ramp to $1m per year in the next 2-5 years. You'll be expected to generate real alpha through your ideas. I'd argue comp will be much more variable than you think. Again, respectfully, I'd recommend you start putting more hours in than 9-4pm. I'm in a similar seat as you and know no analyst who works <10 hours a day...there's many hungry folk looking for a HF seat. If your comp numbers are real, this is a legitimate HF and you should put the hours in to generate some money for your LPs. Else you'll eventually get canned.  

dickthesellsider, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for doing this. I will just ask this then:

Why you think concentrated HF is a good career bet to make and what's your general outlook on the active investment management industry?


Most Helpful
kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My take is that money is generally flowing into the antipodes of the investing world i.e. low cost, completely passive on one end and niche, unscalable strategies on the other. The guys in the middle (mutual funds charging 70bps to underperform their index 8 out of 10 years, massive long short funds that charge 2 & 20 for levered beta with 30%+ of their long book comprising FAMGA stocks) seem to be offering products that don't have a place in the allocations of LPs, whose decisions are increasingly based on modern portfolio theory. We've had LPs apply disaggregations of our returns backing into our alpha based on Citadel-like multi factor risk models, to prove that we can actually persistently generate alpha. The limited scalability of funds like mine means that we actually can produce alpha in our little corner of the market year in year out. Funds like Tiger and Coatue would not look good under such a lens. 

In addition, funds like mine that take $100mm+ positions in mid cap and relatively illiquid large caps will do well because we're not actually dependent on any net new capital. We'd rather just keep the investor base we have while compounding our assets. Our investor base has been with us for decades. The redemption rates we see are far, far less than fundraising dependent long/shorts and inertia dependent mutual funds.

wallsarebig, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have you ever considered working for a quant fund?

How one should make the decision between quant funds and fundamental funds, any tips?

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs

What do you look for when someone interviews at your fund and is doing a case study (firm provided  name)?

Pizz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

how old r u and how much do you make? 

  • 1
knowyourcustomer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What are the backgrounds of other analysts at your hedge fund? Are there any from nontraditional (e.g. non-IB or non-PE) backgrounds?

To reword the question, do you think there are any alternate paths to getting to where you are now?

kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Analysts at my funds have generally similar backgrounds as me. I've seen other hedge funds hire a) from sell side ER and b) hire people with very non traditional backgrounds e.g. investigative reporters. Things I haven't seen are corporate types, consultants, or auditors, which are all profile not rare in IB & PE.

Intern_CorpDev, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What's your advice for someone who's just started out in banking (6 months into a role at an MM) and is looking to get into Private Equity? Thank you.

Intern_CorpDev, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  1. What was your recruiting strategy for PE?
  1. Did you go through recruiters or a direct reach out?

3.If it was a direct reach out did you speak with the juniors/seniors?

4.How early into your banking career did you start reaching out?

  1. How did you do your diligence on the funds that you were targeting, in the sense which questions did you ask to understand if this would be a good fit for you?

Thanks again!

@patagonia_monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a international, is there any way to break into? Especially if non-target school.

How to connect with someone if they aren't alumni and have no similar interests/background?

kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not really sure about internationals. You're fighting a way uphill battle.

Get people's attention with unique research i.e. stock pitches and/or thematic research pieces. If its a stock pitch, don't just show me you know how to write a book report. Go and pound the phones and get some channel work that I don't want to do / am wary of doing because I want to avoid MNPI. 

@patagonia_monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I figured as much. Really a shame that there's slim chances for europeans considering that we don't have that many HFs over here.

oakley17, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for doing this post. Interested to know why you think concentrated HF is a good long-term career and also what story you told during HF recruiting that seemed to resonate?

bzfracas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1. What were your thoughts on the skillsets learned in IB vs. PE? Was that typical path necessary for learn the fundamentals for your current role at a HF?

2. When recruiting for MM nichey PE, did you do oncycle or did you diligence the PE firm you were going to based on sector expertise/culture of fund 

3. Do you think doubling down on sector expertise has greatly helped your recruiting for PE/HF? Would you say its best to pick a growing sector and stick with it to see the true "gains" later down the line of your career instead of jumping around sectors? 

4. What do you mean by HF recruiting was much better in a MBA? Was this because you had internship experience or a matter of funds coming on campus to recruit? Or was this because you doubled your alumni reach by going to undergrad + b school?

5. At a HF, there seems to be the perception that funds "blow up" and then you're out of a job and trying to hop to the next pod/fund so wondering what your thoughts on this and how you thought about picking a good fund and the criteria for that.

6. Did you do the typical 2+2 IB/PE, MBA then HF? Do you think its necessary to follow this strict timeline for making jumps just because I was considering spending 4 years in IB before going to PE

7. Why is HF a good career bet to make? What are the exit opps here if you have a bad HF track with picking wrong funds? Seems like IB+PE leads to Director Corp Dev roles, Strategic Finance roles, Startup CEO roles? How about for HF?

Thank you!

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kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1: banking = Basic productivity skills, and basic financial / accounting fluency. PE = market diligence, process management, basic investing, and valuation. Not necessary to learn those skills but certainly efficient.

2. Off cycle, focused on doubling down on my niche. Also didn't have an on cycle pedigree.

3. Yes, people want to invest in my sector and know that its not something you can just pick up without bringing in the expertise of someone who previously did it. I tried to / ended up sticking with my sector but see the arguments for moving between sectors.

4. Better job opps for MBA than for ad hoc PE associate hires, at least in my experience.

5. I did significant diligence on funds track record and, to the extent they'd tell me, LP base. If they wouldn't tell me anything pre case study then I wouldn't do the case study. Also, funds with long only / net long mandates are often not fully invested and don't use much margin (both actual margin and de facto margin i.e. funding their longs with a short book) and therefore are generally less likely to "blow up". I am a little bitch so don't want to work at a fund that can be down 30%+ in a month.

6. Not exactly 2+2 but pretty close. Not necessary for HFs generally, have plenty of success stories of friends who had different backgrounds but seemed like a big leg up for concentrated fund investing.

7. Don't want to give any more personal information but I have a good backup plan in case HF doesn't work out. I agree that stock picking is a hard skill set to pivot. I still think I could walk backwards into a corporate development role in my sector if it came to it because my intelligence, sector knowledge & pedigree would shine through. I have zero interest in corp dev though.

banananizer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a bunch for doing this. Gonna fire off a couple questions here:

At what point did you realize you wanted to do an MBA, and when did you actually start preparing for the admissions process?

Do you think going to a MM PE fund makes it severely more difficult to attend H/W?

Why did you decide on a HF exit post-MBA?


kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Genuinely I didn't know I wanted to get an MBA until it felt like the only way to get where I really wanted to go i.e. after getting a bunch of mediocre HF job opportunities. If I could have done it without an MBA I would have. Then it was mental gymnastics to justify the ~$150k out of pocket + ~$500k opportunity cost. 

I was shocked when I didn't get into H&S but in retrospect, I don't think H/S admissions people really love people like me. There's too much silver, not enough gold on my resume. Their loss IMO. Are there impressive H/S graduates? Yes but there are also a lot of empty suits. At my UG my graduation year, the people who went to H/S were the student government, volunteer work, good looking useful idiots. If you want neurodivergent weirdos that are going to take big risks and get big paydays, you probably have to look outside of those schools. PE cares about MBA pedigree though so not going to H/S kind of meant I'd have to take a step down if I wanted to recruit for PE.

I chose hedge funds over sticking it out in PE because I love investing and hate process work. I also think its more meritocratic. I again did a ton of mental gymnastic to convince myself that the HF / PE trajectory of the 2010's was going to reverse. Am I positive that HFs will still be awesome places in 10 years? No but I'm not positive PE funds will be either. Better to make a fund specific decision than an asset specific decision IMO. 

joehuntbbc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for being very helpful in all your responses so far. My question to you is if you've seen anyone go from asset/wealth management -> MBA -> HF? If so, what's the desired route/niche to do so. Top AM? PWM? CFA? M7 Schools?

Dimonfan, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you so much for doing this.

How would you advise regarding GMAT and application consultants?

How did you manage to study for the GMAT and prepare for the apps during busy work time? 
How long was the prep? Did you at some point feel like GMAT was harder than expected or was just a cake-walk for you? Given your background, assuming you are from an over represented group, I assume you needed about 730 or beyond to better make your case. 

Any advice on how you picked consultants if you did?

kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I self studied for GMAT during a light month and didn't use any test prep service or consultancy service. I took it once after 1 week of prep, got a score that maybe would have sufficed, then studied hard for a month and crushed it. Standardized tests have always been easy for me (which I realize isn't helpful advice).

keeninvester, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are 31 years old graduating a the top of your class at a community college, what would my path be to break into investment banking, then private equity, then to a hedge fund? Is it even possible? Should I get my undergrad degree, then a top MBA? Should I even bother because I am so old....

1.5L-Camelbak, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For MBAs looking for HF seats, would candidates with IB experience only be at a large disadvantage vs. 2+2s? Thank you. 

3.14159andIceCream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your post.

Just wondering, as a Canadian working on my business undergrad, what path should I take to get into American banking? Looking primarily HF or PE. I could easily get into top MBA schools here, or are those basically invalid because I am in Canada? Is it vital that I get an MBA from an American school to attract any attention from US based funds? 

I'm a current student at uWaterloo. Just looking to get another outside opinion, really new to figuring this out.

Many thanks!

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  • Intern in AM - Other

sorry im confused, you are an undergrad, how tf can you "easily" get into top MBA schools? 

Forever Analyst, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for doing this!

A couple questions from me:

1. What are the common tasks for IB, PE & HF and what kind of person would enjoy working in each career?

2. What are some challenges in each career that are overlooked on this site?

  • Prospect in IB - Cov

How did you explain the move from PE to Public markets? What aspects/how do you find your work now more interesting? Thank you so much! 

venomh777, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Did you ever consider pursuing Fixed Income post-MBA, maybe at one of the big LO shops or the smaller boutique players? Would be interested in learning what the thought process was like there.


jtfriar, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks so much for sharing. Quick 2 part question on the MBA route. How did you feel your analytical skills held up with 2 years out of the day to day grind? I've been in research for the 6 years I've been out of school and worry cutting out to do my MBA could set me back development wise. And secondly, how was the recruiting process different post MBA? Were the networks/hiring opportunities abundant or was it similar to pre MBA but you just had a better resume?  Thanks so much for your insights. 

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kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've heard people say most of the big name tiger cubs (Tiger Global, Viking, Lone Pine, Maverick) only recruit from H/S though I interviewed at one of those names and know someone (granted, not a white/asian male..) who got an offer from one. I think each of the big funds have schools they're loyal to, which depends on the investment philosophy of the principal and personal connections e.g. Baron Capital, which is probably one of the best places to end up, recruits from Wharton & Columbia, as Ron's sons went to each.

keenchimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for doing this.

Do you know any EU students/IB/PE professionnals that are working in concentrated HF ?

If not, what about EU IB/PE that went doing a top MBA in US in order to break in the HF industry ?

What would be your advices for a student coming from a EU target school for IB/PE, considering the fact that very little from their alumni's network are placing in hedge funds ?

  • 2
keenchimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

With or without a top MBA (generally speaking) ? And more precisely, If you know any French folks in your head who have made it in the HF industry, that would be an awesome thing to know. I'm guessing most of the Europeans you've seen breaking in HF (in the US) are from the UK

Billoverleveredonthesauce, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you so much for this post.

What would your advice be for a high schooler who wants to break into HF and who has a deep passion for equities?

kingfantastic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hate to break this to you, but if you're not on the golden path by preschool, you're SOL.


On a more serious note... this is what I've observed from my friends' paths...

High School: Get into the best college you can-ideally HYPSMW+-by crushing your high school grades (aim for straight As in the hardest classes you can get straight As in) / the SATs / your letters of recommendation / your extracurriculars & leadership / your college essays.

College: Get a GPA there over 3.5 in a subject that's somewhat math-y or business-y (e.g. STEM / Finance / Econ / Business). Get the highest elected leadership position you can get in some organizations/clubs on campus you care about. Get any internship you can get your hands on after Freshman year. Get something closer to what you actually want to do after Sophomore year. Get your dream internship (or close thereto) after your Junior year. And try to convert that Junior internship into a full-time offer after Senior year.

If you want the most common conversion career path to a top Hedge Fund that Junior year internship should likely be Investment Banking at a top group -> Converted to FT Offer for 2 Years in an Analyst Position -> 2 Years in an Associate Position at a Top PE fund (ideally a Mega Fund) -> (Possible 2 Year MBA ideally at HSW) -> Top Hedge Fund.

(Note, though, that this career path is just the most commonly well-known path to the best-of-the-best single manager hedge funds. There are many other possibilities that aren't as clearly defined such as... PE/IB Junior Year Internship -> PE Analyst role -> HF // or // Equity Research -> HF // or // network directly to a startup HF right out of undergrad // etc. However, not knowing anyone personally who has followed these alternative paths, I don't feel as qualified to comment on them in more detail.)

Oh... and most importantly, learn how to talk to people and be a fun, nice, interesting, likable person. It may sound silly, but if people don't like you and don't want to hang out with you at work 16 hours/day, it doesn't matter how good your technicals are-they just won't hire you. Basically, this comes down to the consulting airport test.

Good Luck!

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  • Prospect in HF - EquityHedge

What's your take on HF vs LO?

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - RelVal

OP, appreciate the post and time spent offering detailed answers to folks here. But do yourself a favor, step back and realize you are only a first year HF analyst. Notwithstanding your prior experience, there is a ton you still don't know and frankly you come off as arrogant and complacent, both of which will kill you one day. 

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kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Analyst 3+ in HF - RelVal

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs

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kpx5ar4SSW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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