Brookfield vs. Onex vs. Altas [TORONTO OFFICE] - Which One is Best?

As someone who will be going through on-cycle recruiting in Canada next year, looking to gain some insight on (in my opinion) the top 3 PE shops. Let me know what you all think - below is my opinion based on networking and research I've done.

1) Brookfield

Pros:

  • They have been growing recently (fund V was $9B and fund VI target is $15B)

  • Can get to work on very large deals - they've made recent massive investments such as CDK Global and Nielsen.

  • Global prestige / brand name.

Cons:

  • Cash comp is below street (lower than Onex / Altas but higher than other pensions)

  • Have heard most of the PE team sits in NY, so not sure what kind of stuff the Toronto office gets to work on. Is it mostly just a satellite office?

  • Also heard culture is sweaty, you have to show up to office everyday wearing a tie and overall work long hours.

  • Exits seem minimal but assuming thats because most people stay there long term for the carry vesting?

  • Not an established associate program as they don't typically do on-cycle hiring and dont have the "2 and out" kind of associate program - so might mean not the best associate experience (both from learning and social standpoint)

2) Onex:

Pros:

  • Associates get good experience working on "hairy" deals

  • Established associate program - they do on-cycle and have a "2 and out" kind of program

  • Pay in-line with US MF's and they pay in USD. Apparently in the range of $300-$350k USD.

  • Exit opps seem pretty good too (some leave to start their own fund, for example, Altas and Pillar 49)

Cons:

  • Onex is a meat grinder and culture is sweaty

  • Firm is a shitshow right now with recent underperformance and senior (and junior attrition). In fact, 2 seniors left to Brookfield PE in Toronto, 2 more left to join their own fund, and there are several more who recently left, including an MD

  • compared to Brookfield, they are not growing as much but historically have done well

3) Altas:

Pros:

  • Growing fund, great culture, great exits (Uber corp dev, B-School, etc.), and pay is same as / higher than Onex.

Cons:

  • Not a global brand name, not a lot of upwards mobility (looks like most people leave after 3-4 years and their senior team is all hired externally). Heard hours are long too but not as long as Brookfield or Onex.

Comments (22)

  • Intern in IB - Cov
2mo

Just don't even consider Brookfield unless your interest is infrastructure or some shit like that LOL. 

Between Altas and Onex - would you be willing to work at a firm like Apollo, given all the horror stories? If so, take Onex. If you are like 90% of people, take Altas.

2mo
hardomonkey123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Really? Ik their infra and RE teams are more active in Toronto but given recent activity (PE deals like Neilsen, CDK, Scientific Games) and stuff management said about "beefing up PE" and making it as big as their other asset classes I thought Toronto PE would be growing and a better place to work

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
2mo

All depends on what you want. If you want the best exits / brand and maximize comp, prioritize Onex first and then Altas Partners after. If you want a bit better hours (but still not chill), Brookfield would be better. I think Brookfield also does more "off-trend" deals similar to an Apollo investment strategy, vs. I think Altas is more focused on your classic PE darling companies. 

Altas is extremely sweaty actually - have friends at all 3 shops and in terms of best hours, it'd go Brookfield, then Onex, then Altas. 

2mo
hardomonkey123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you mind sharing what your friend at Brookfield Toronto works on? Like is it a satellite office just doing ad-hoc work with NY mostly driving the deals? Or does Toronto actually get a good solid PE investment experience where they get to work on deals from start to finish like Onex / Altas?

  • Analyst 1 in PE - Other
2mo

I couple of things:

1) don't believe that Onex is a 2 and out - from what I know, most if not all associates are given the option to move to the SenAso level after 2 years

2) Can second the Onex comp range from what I've heard

3) not sure about the underperformance at Onex; I have to look again but I believe a lot of the recent heat has been from WestJet + Covid - in the recent IR decks they quote 27% IRR and 2x moic over the past X years (maybe 5-7? if I remember correctly)

4) I believe that Altas benchmarks to Onex/US mega funds in terms of comp and not aware of any significant difference between the two (but could be wrong here)

A question for the group: does anyone know about carry/coin vest at Onex or Altas?Edit: I can't spell

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
2mo

This could totally be NYC vs. Toronto (and please correct if I'm misinformed) but I don't think Brookfield comp is below street, especially if you consider the vesting of carry and options.

Once again, not so sure about Toronto, but have a close friend at Brookfield and heard cash comp is 300k+ with vesting that can make total earned in Y1 375k-400k+ (assuming you stay long term ~not actually what you'd take home Y1)

2mo
hardomonkey123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think you're right. Brookfield CASH comp is lower than street but including the carry and options vesting its higher. But the latter is risky and illiquid and only starts realizing 3-5 years into your stint, if you even stay for that long.. 

Think in Toronto context people say BAM lower than street because they are lower than Onex / Altas on a cash basis and they dont pay in USD

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
2mo

Thanks, this is super helpful. Is the 300k cash for Associate or Senior Associate? I've heard from other sources that Associate used to be 140k + 40% bonus = ~200k

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
2mo

Sagard is a glorified single family office. Anyone who knows them knows their investment strategy and team is a joke

  • Intern in IB - Gen
1mo

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