IB Associate -> VP PE

A2/A3 associate and just got a gig with a PE firm in a junior VP role. Firm basically expanding their geographic presence which opened up the opportunity.

Anybody who has done this transition have any insight / advice? Realize it is not a traditional path so welcome feedback or insight. How was the transition, what were the challenges / mistakes / et cetera


Congrats on the new role! Transitioning from an IB Associate to a junior VP role in PE is indeed a significant leap. Here are a few insights based on the most helpful WSO content:

  1. Expect a Learning Curve: Even though you've been in IB, PE is a different ball game. You'll be expected to not just understand the financials, but also the business and industry of your portfolio companies.

  2. Due Diligence is Key: In PE, you'll be involved in a lot of due diligence work. This is a critical part of the job and can be quite different from what you've done in IB.

  3. Portfolio Management: Unlike IB, where your involvement with a company ends once the deal is done, in PE you'll be involved in the ongoing management of the portfolio companies. This could involve everything from strategy to operations to financial management.

  4. Communication Skills: As a VP, you'll likely be dealing with senior management of portfolio companies. This requires a different set of communication and people management skills.

  5. Longer Time Horizon: In PE, the time horizon for investments is typically much longer than in IB. This requires a different mindset and approach to decision making.

  6. Networking: Continue to network within your new firm and the broader PE industry. This will help you learn faster and also open up future opportunities.

As for the riddle, a needle has one eye but can't see. Good luck with your transition!

Sources: Q&A: I grew up in Consulting and reinvented my brand 3 times, Who here is trying to transition careers?, Transitioning from Tech Sales to IB, Transitioning Veteran Advice Please

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Most Helpful

The first piece of advice that comes to mind is to realize that unlike in banking, in PE you're allowed to say something isn't worth spending time on. Now, that doesn't mean you want to be the guy that tries to kill every deal, and you should have justification for why you think something doesn't make for a good investment, but if you have that justification and present it well, people will respect the opinion even if they don't agree with you, and won't view it as laziness or avoiding work. On the other hand, also recognize that once you have presented your case, if your seniors decide it still is worth spending time on, then you have to row with the rest of the team. There will be plenty of additional check-in points throughout the investment decision process, and ultimately the buck stops with the Senior Partner, so even if you don't agree with the decision, your role is to present your honest view and then do as good of a job as you can effectuating the decision that others make.

Early on, you'll want to try and immerse yourself in how your firm approaches investment decisions. You should hopefully already have some frameworks in mind for how you think about things, but you'll become much more effective when you are able to speak to people internally on the same terms. You can start to get a bit of that by looking at investment memos for deals that have gone through, and I'd actually also ask if there are deals that were taken deep into diligence and then ultimately passed on to also understand what makes for a reason not to do a deal. Don't be afraid to reach out to those deal teams and pick their brain on why they ultimately passed.

From a workstream perspective, it's worth having a conversation with someone more senior and others in your role about what the typical delineation of responsibilities is. It's always tough in any new environment to get a good sense of what you should be doing vs. what the Associate should be doing. That said, especially early on you should err on the side of being more hands on. Better to do that early and then step back than to build a reputation as someone that is passive.

More than anything else, don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for feedback. Try to understand what they think "success" looks like for you after 6 months and after a year, and then aim to hit those targets. Congrats on the move, not always a straightforward one to pull off, and it's very rare to get pulled into a VP role from an Associate level at a bank, so you're in a great spot. 


What’s your set up like above you and below you? Frankly a very uncommon move and my immediate reaction is that you’re not ready. Banking is very different as a job. Id try to get up the curve asap somehow on topics you’re not used to (FDD, legals and MEP in particular)


Nice job making the switch! I haven't seen that transition at that level as it's tough to do, both in terms of getting an offer and actually performing. Assuming you can from M&A, you probably will have little-to-no experience with credit docs, portfolio management and having the "buyer / investor mindset". As someone else said, I'd highly recommend asking the principals / experienced senior associates to work through those with you. Nobody will blame you for asking the question, but once you hit the ~1-2 year mark, that transition period will be up so make use of it. 


Does the fund you're moving to invest in the same sector you covered in IB? I'm looking to make a similar switch (IB Assoc --> PE), thus wondering if it's possible to move into a different industry as PE VP or more likely have to drop down to entry level PE associate


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