European Private Equity Associates backgrounds

I have made a research into the backgrounds of PE Associates in Europe to find where and what they studied and where they worked before to repeat their steps and land among them in the future.

I analysed 28 companies and found 162 analysts that had information on their background on their website. I used the list on AskIvy, which has PE firms with offices in London with AUM 500+mil.

101 of 162 associates are based in London and 61 in other European offices. The high number of London associates is due to the list that only has companies that have a London office.

Findings for London graduates:

33 of 101 London associates had Masters degrees that were not part of a bachelor's program.
5 had PhDs

Out of business, finance and economics related masters, the target ones seemed to be:

HEC Paris 5x (Grande Ecole MiM program)
HEC Paris International Business 3x
HEC Paris Finance 2x
LSE Economics&Finance 2x
SSE Economics & Business 2x
ESCP Management 2x
Copenhagen BS Finance 1x
Copenhagen BS Finance & Accounting 1x
Copenhagen BS Economics & Finance 1x

Which MBA?

Associates mainly did not have MBAs, even the ones that had been with the company over two years, so it seemed that they are less common than in the states.
Out of the 101 London associates only 6 had MBAs. 3 were from INSEAD, 2 from Columbia BS, 1 from Stanford.

Which fields did they move to PE from:

72/101 in London were involved with IBD
12/101 in Management Consultancy
10/101 in BIG4, either Corp Fin/Audit

Findings for Continental Europe associates:

60% of associates had Masters of PhD degrees

10/61 had MBAs, mostly from HBS, Insead, Columbia

Popular masters programs

HEC MiM 4x
HEC Finance 2x
ESCP MiM 2x
SSE MSc Business Administration 2x

19/61 from management consulting
6/61 from Big4
30/61 from IBD

A lot of continental Europe's associates had had their IBD experience in London.

Summary:

Consider opting for a management masters

1) For me, these findings were interesting as I found that MSc Finance programs were less popular than Masters in Management programs. Therefore, people who are looking to get into European IBD/PE might consider opting for a management masters when they don't get in straight after UG.

International experience

2) Also, I personally underestimated the international scope that a person needs. International education and languages seem to be very important as the number of similar level continental schools is bigger than the number of UK schools among these associates, so if you are considering between two similar level higher education institutions, pick the one that gives you more international experience.

Starting off in Management Consultancy or Audit

3) Starting off in Management Consultancy or even Audit is not that awful and can still land you in Private Equity down the line. What I saw though, was that usually you need more years of experience when in audit compared to management consultancy or IBD. IBD 2 years seems equivalent to 3 years of management consultancy and 4+ years of audit.

ACA vs CFA

4) Fourthly, ACA was more popular than CFA. There were 5-10 people with ACA and only 2 with CFA. But the fact that both designations were noted in the website might show that companies still value both of them to some extent, so if you don’t have a lot of better things to do with your time, even CFA could add some value.

If you have any questions/comments, feel free to add them. If you have some similar kind of information that could help to understand the European PE landscape, please share.

Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday - this originally went up September 2013

 
Best Response

Great statistics, perhaps I can take a shot at explaining the reasoning behind them. My credentials (for what it's worth), I grew up in the states and have an ivy undergraduate and masters degree. I have worked in the UK (and all over Europe) since graduating. I'm in consulting but have friends in PE--

The thing to note about the European education system is that many/most undergraduate programs are 3-year programs (including science/math). Most schools (oxford/cambridge/etc) have a 1-year master program that is very easy to stick around for after third year and hence many of the people I work with have masters. This is very different than the Master of Science program in the US where students go through a new application process and have to defend a thesis (generally part of a pre-PhD track). Additionally, PhD programs across the board (including CS, Math, etc.) are much shorter than in the US -- up to 3 years for the longest ones rather than 4-5 years as some hard science majors find in the US.

More importantly, what this means for you-- I personally have a masters from the US. I don't think it would have hurt me if I didn't have it since the perception here is that a masters can simply be added on in your 4th year. In fact, I tried to negotiate higher pay when joining due to my masters but the UK MD said everyone in the UK has a masters so it isn't that special and I know PhD's who were hired at our analyst level (and this is quite common, even across MBB).

Regarding PhD's-- since they are shorter here (as in 3 years total after undergrad) it is much more common for people to pursue a PhD to help with career placement (opposed to the US where most of my friends sought PhD's b/c they had at least some inclination to become an academic professor or researcher -- since the time commitment is huge). Furthermore, during tough financial times some of my consulting colleagues left and decided to go pursue a PhD for a couple years to make them more attractive job applicants (this would be quite unusual in the US). My PhD friends say the discrepancy in time spent is due to the thoroughness of which you must defend your thesis in the US and professors are always looking to reject you so you stay around longer and work in their lab -- I can't personally speak to this claim.

Finally, on MBA's-- average age is much higher but all the partners at my firm still had one. Most INSEAD, LBS, Cranfield, etc students have 7 years experience. I know statistics are published on this sort of thing but from my small sample of personal contacts I've noticed many more people in the US working for 2 years or (2+2 years -- i-banking and pe) who head into b-school with 4 years total so they are still quite young. The UK view it more as a course 'for managers' (not a course 'to become managers') and hence it is almost always a 1-year program, no summer internship and attended by more senior individuals for better dialogue.

Whoa, that was a lot longer than I intended... apologies for some of the sweeping generalizations above as I'm sure there are exceptions to everything I said but the point was to emphasis the differences to help bridge the gap for some of you without international experience so you can compare the education trade-offs and assess for yourself.

 

I don't agree 100% with your post.

speedycoffee:

The thing to note about the European education system is that many/most undergraduate programs are 3-year programs (including science/math). Most schools (oxford/cambridge/etc) have a 1-year master program that is very easy to stick around for after third year and hence many of the people I work with have masters. This is very different than the Master of Science program in the US where students go through a new application process and have to defend a thesis (generally part of a pre-PhD track). Additionally, PhD programs across the board (including CS, Math, etc.) are much shorter than in the US -- up to 3 years for the longest ones rather than 4-5 years as some hard science majors find in the US.

This is not accurate. Most of the BSc programs are 3 years long, yes. However is it not the case that most Master of Science programs are 1 year and can easily be added on top of that. The majority of the MSc programs mentioned in the original post and most of the ones in Continental Europe are 2 year programs. And as for defending a thesis: You have to do that in the European MSc as well and it is actually very difficult to the point where people have to delay graduating because of it.

PhD's are not 3 years, but are on average 4-5 years in Europe.

I know PhD's who were hired at our analyst level (and this is quite common, even across MBB).

Regarding PhD's-- since they are shorter here (as in 3 years total after undergrad) it is much more common for people to pursue a PhD to help with career placement (opposed to the US where most of my friends sought PhD's b/c they had at least some inclination to become an academic professor or researcher -- since the time commitment is huge). Furthermore, during tough financial times some of my consulting colleagues left and decided to go pursue a PhD for a couple years to make them more attractive job applicants (this would be quite unusual in the US). My PhD friends say the discrepancy in time spent is due to the thoroughness of which you must defend your thesis in the US and professors are always looking to reject you so you stay around longer and work in their lab -- I can't personally speak to this claim.

As I mentioned before PhD's in Europe are roughly the same length as US ones. People in Europe, especially continental Europe, get PhDs because they give you instant credibility and are often seen as a sort of requirement for someone to become CEO etc. Your PhD friends are wrong in assuming that there is a discrepancy etc. I know that from my university PhD students go on to become Professors at all Ivy League schools, best business schools in Europe. etc. It wouldn't make sense for ivy league schools to get people from aborad who are not as thourough in their PhD studies, now would it?

Finally, on MBA's-- average age is much higher but all the partners at my firm still had one. Most INSEAD, LBS, Cranfield, etc students have 7 years experience. I know statistics are published on this sort of thing but from my small sample of personal contacts I've noticed many more people in the US working for 2 years or (2+2 years -- i-banking and pe) who head into b-school with 4 years total so they are still quite young. The UK view it more as a course 'for managers' (not a course 'to become managers') and hence it is almost always a 1-year program, no summer internship and attended by more senior individuals for better dialogue.

Average age for Europeans getting MBAs is higher due to most of them starting unviersity later and then earning both BSc and MSc. If you work for McK for example you will still go after 2 years for MBA or PhD. You will still be older than your peers who worked starting at 22. There are only two MBA programs that can be compared to the US in Europe anyway - INSEAD and LBS. one is 1 year, the other 2 years. The only MBA that is really solely aimed at managers in Europe is IMD, which fits your original description of MBA in Europe.

No offense, but what do we learn from your post? Superficial knowledge is dangerous.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing. See my Blog & AMA

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