Is it just me or are PE Associates garbage these days?

Typing this up from the office on a Friday night because I'm covering for two separate incompetent juniors right now. It's especially a problem with the last two classes. It's comical how little I can trust them with - even basic analyses or admin work are riddled with errors (let alone important things like models). Plus, no responsiveness, no initiative, no drive to succeed, or even a basic motivation to get better at their jobs. All of which is fine - we all have dud associates now and again - but it's accompanied by this aggressive, borderline hostile attitude and entitlement that gives me zero faith that they'll get any better. Friends at other MFs have had the exact same experience and we're all at a loss.

 

I mean, the buck has to stop somewhere. I've seen colleagues put in bare minimum effort in their IB analyst years, knowing they have PE offer in hand. Then PE hits, and they learn very quickly that it's tough to build a career when you're only ever putting in 50%. 

 

Five Star Man

None of the juniors seem to give a shit anymore. It's really a problem for our group as well, despite hours of training. The only feedback is they want higher comp, better hours and more exposure. They don't really seem to understand how the world works.

Not a ton of helpful advice, but you're not alone.

Hire me

 

There's a corporate culture shift going on, and Gen Z is driving it. Things like job-hopping and preferring salary to experience used to be frowned upon, but when an entire generation does it, it's kind of hard to ignore. Broadly speaking, everyone's goal has always been to produce more output from less work, but it seems that the newer generations are leaning towards the latter half of that goal (in all industries, not just finance).

There are basically two ways to think about this behavior. The first way is to conclude that Gen Z is lazy and entitled, unwilling to do the kind of work required to be successful. The second way is to conclude that Gen Z is the first generation that actually understands their self-worth in the marketplace and won't put up with the old ways of rampant employer abuse. In my experience, both views are pretty common, and the dividing line is usually age / seniority. Of course, seniors and management are upset that juniors aren't putting in the same effort. On the other hand, juniors don't really see work as anything more than a means to earn a paycheck, so they couldn't care less either way.

If the culture shift continues, then maybe we really will see reduced hours and better comp. But if employers can hold out long enough, maybe Gen Z will be brought back down to Earth. Personally I think the juniors will win, at least in finance. Finance simply doesn't have the same appeal it used to, and most of us see it as "waste a few years of your life doing mind-numbing soulless work in exchange for the ability to quit and move to a better job later on".

A large portion of my peers choose to avoid finance entirely, due to its nonsensical culture that is hyper-fixated on wearing fancy watches and acting subservient to your boss, and its poor work-life balance ("what life?"). The result is a dwindling talent pool where employers have to make more and more concessions, since there is no alternative. It's not like my generation is dumb, it's just that the smart ones are actually smart enough to know that they will be properly valued and respected elsewhere.

 

Thats because even when you chase consistent comp increases and are in the 95th percentile for your age, you still really dont make that much. If you arent in the top 2% for your age you should absolutely continue to chase higher salaries. Look at what the 90-95th percentile makes at age 30 now relative to those in the same bucket in 1980. This isnt Gen Z shit this is basic human logic

 

They're at the high end of comp, probably better than most of their peers. Hours-wise, nothing I can do to change that, I don't have them run around putting pitchbooks and other bullshit together, I push on the client as much as possible without fucking up the entire deal. Exposure-wise, you're just not going to present to the CEO or board as an associate.

In summary, they've got it pretty good.

 
Most Helpful

What entitles you to have beast juniors who basically do your job for you and make your life easy? Are your skills sharp enough for the juniors to respect? Do you give them opportunities to shine and go to bat for them? Or are you giving them admin b*tchwork that you don’t want to do, taking credit for their work, are not that smart yourself, then making surprised pikachu face when they want nothing to do with you?

Usually it goes around, comes around with these things in my experience.

 

But juniors doing grunt work for their superiors is how the world operates.

last thing anyone wants is not leaving office at decent time because you’re checking that low-level munchkins aren’t fucking up.

 

You're confused as to how the world actually operates vs. how you wish it would operate. The world operates on supply & demand and incentives. Juniors take a deal to eat shit sandwiches for a few years in exchange for establishing their careers, earn some cash, and, most relevant to you, to learn valuable skills from their seniors. If you can't get juniors to your satisfaction, either one of two things are happening - (1) you're not delivering on your end of the bargain, so you can't get worthwhile people to do the work for you or (2) your expectation is skewed unrealistically on what a junior brings to the table vs. what you are offering to them. 

Finance jobs are some of the freest forms of labor markets there are out there. The market is efficient and shit employers get shit employees and vice versa. This is the equilibrium you can either accept and work with, or find ways to improve upon the status quo by offering a better bargain to the market.

 

IME guys like that (always at the VP / SVP level and never making it beyond - I wonder why) really aren't sharp.

But they'd like to think they are.

They aren't good with people.

But they'd like to think they are.

They aren't even good at corporate finance

But they'd like to think they are. And they get real mad when you catch their mistakes and tell them privately.

Sure bro, keep presenting to the IC with the wrong equity cheque because you don't even understand how equity roll works (true story of a man similar to OP).

 
[Comment removed by mod team]
 

I can tell you haven't worked with analysts pre and post covid.

I get that as an analyst, this probably isn't what people want to hear, but the last few years of analyst classes have been terrible across the board. Think it's a combination of a few things:

 - Not having real internships in 2020 made it harder for firms to filter out people who had no interest in the job and similarly people who would have realized this wasn't the job for them didn't have the summer to figure it out 

 - increased volume in 2020 and 2021 led to firms taking analysts who never would have met the minimum threshold at any other point and people with obvious flaws / attitude problems

 - second years (and junior associates) got burned out in 2020 given extraordinary volume and reduced staffing leading them to have less interest in recruiting and less interest in developing the next generation

 - WFH made it harder to ramp up and learn 

You saw a bunch of posts over the last few years complaining about an overall deterioration in quality among analysts.

Now the lower quality analysts have moved on to PE. It will all normalize over the next few years as the job market gets more competitive and deal flow normalizes. 

 
reformed

I can tell you haven't worked with analysts pre and post covid.

I get that as an analyst, this probably isn't what people want to hear, but the last few years of analyst classes have been terrible across the board. Think it's a combination of a few things:

 - Not having real internships in 2020 made it harder for firms to filter out people who had no interest in the job and similarly people who would have realized this wasn't the job for them didn't have the summer to figure it out 

 - increased volume in 2020 and 2021 led to firms taking analysts who never would have met the minimum threshold at any other point and people with obvious flaws / attitude problems

 - second years (and junior associates) got burned out in 2020 given extraordinary volume and reduced staffing leading them to have less interest in recruiting and less interest in developing the next generation

 - WFH made it harder to ramp up and learn 

You saw a bunch of posts over the last few years complaining about an overall deterioration in quality among analysts.

Now the lower quality analysts have moved on to PE. It will all normalize over the next few years as the job market gets more competitive and deal flow normalizes. 

May be it will normalise. I do think it's more nuanced than that though.

IB / PE have low acceptance rates even in normal / good times. The lack of apprenticeship model may have made things worse over the last two years or so (with the effects now being felt in these industries) but I don't think things will go back to being the same across the corporate world (IB / PE may just about be fine). 

I say this because I do think WFH / Covid has allowed a variety of different perspectives to creep in to the working routine. Most of all the hybrid work routine, a need to create a well defined boundary between working hours and personal ones etc. I think that now that the veil has been lifted, and that most juniors have witnessed this first-hand, I think this will never go out of equation in terms of being a factor of consideration in choice of careers and also in terms of how much loyalty any corporate role garners from this generation.

If you ask me, I think they have it right. If I were to do it again, I would much rather keep my physical and mental health in check, care about learning the important stuff (not working group lists but PF synergy adjustments on bolt-on platform etc.), fully capitalise on upwards reviews and legal / professional mechanics to ensure I do not get exploited (yes, with seniority comes greater accountability and responsibility)... the list goes on.

I do think though, IB / PE may be OK. They may not go back to the old times (thank god!) but due to the small number of spots and attrition / replacement rate, they may be OK. A down market may allow seniors to wrest some of the employee momentum but what happens when things pick up? Sure, not 2021 levels but even if they pick up reasonably the likelihood is that juniors will be back to expecting (demanding) what they had / or heard their peers had in normal times. 

I just feel like the cat is out of the bag. Personally, I am quite happy. Also cannot wait for automation to ease up the job (that's a whole another discussion for another thread and boy is that going to be fun).

For what it's worth, I just made Associate 2 (A2A track) so not my first time around the block :)

 
Controversial

I mostly attribute this problem to the headhunters / interview process, in which the characteristics of motivation and drive are lower priority than they should be. Headhunters used to be able to trust GS/MS/etc. to funnel in the best candidates, but over the past 5 or so years the over-focus on things that don't matter such as diversity stats and what school someone went to has led to the analyst classes being lower quality, and therefore the PE associate candidates being lower quality.

You want kids who are responsive, have drive, a hunger to get better? Hire the 4.0 finance major from Penn State who is at WB Chicago instead of the political science major from Brown who is at a BB. Hunger can't be taught - modeling can.

 

We are saying the same thing on your comment for the increasing emphasis on diversity - my point was, everyone is focusing on this which is resulting in hiring practices not focused on important traits. If banks are first filling their classes with people not qualified, and then PE funds are further choosing to want a diverse class vs. just the best available talent, the problem is on both ends. And models don't care what gender you are, they just get done correctly or not. 

 

DBisntaBB

I mostly attribute this problem to the headhunters / interview process, in which the characteristics of motivation and drive are lower priority than they should be. Headhunters used to be able to trust GS/MS/etc. to funnel in the best candidates, but over the past 5 or so years the over-focus on things that don't matter such as diversity stats and what school someone went to has led to the analyst classes being lower quality, and therefore the PE associate candidates being lower quality.

You want kids who are responsive, have drive, a hunger to get better? Hire the 4.0 finance major from Penn State who is at WB Chicago instead of the political science major from Brown who is at a BB. Hunger can't be taught - modeling can.

truth. the obsession with target schools and firms, nepotism, diversity, "networking" has what made this class what it is and i think it's going to get a bit worse. 

you think Timmy who's uncle used to be a partner at GS will be open to being taught by a "lowly VP"? or Brenda who's told that "the future is female" and not to take "mansplaining" who got in through the diversity program? or Leticia who's dad's an entrepreneur and just wants her to get a job so she'll stay out of trouble and in better company? 

Hire those who are hungry to learn, willing to put in the hours, willing to put their pride aside, and maybe you'll get better juniors. 

Unfortunately, then more of the analysts will be asians or indians who wants to keep their visa and continue working in the US but still, they'll have better fundamentals and won't bitch quit after 2 weeks or months.

 
[Comment removed by mod team]
 

Taking someone who is from a tier 2 school and is hungry to succeed >>>>>>Harvard kid who has never had to worry or grind in his/her life.  You can even see this in managers (public/private) where partners went to no name schools and had to prove they were worthy vs. being handed it.

  8.3.4
 
DBisntaBB

I mostly attribute this problem to the headhunters / interview process, in which the characteristics of motivation and drive are lower priority than they should be. Headhunters used to be able to trust GS/MS/etc. to funnel in the best candidates, but over the past 5 or so years the over-focus on things that don't matter such as diversity stats and what school someone went to has led to the analyst classes being lower quality, and therefore the PE associate candidates being lower quality.

You want kids who are responsive, have drive, a hunger to get better? Hire the 4.0 finance major from Penn State who is at WB Chicago instead of the political science major from Brown who is at a BB. Hunger can't be taught - modeling can.

I was the Penn State without the 4.0. I endorse this post wholly. Hunger cannot be taught.

 

Have you heard of diversity? Compresses returns when you hire people based on what they look like vs skill. Heard it from across the board IB, PE and even consulting 

 

Yeah man, returns get compressed because of the 10% of juniors that are diverse instead of the 100% of seniors that are white males.

 

The people that blame minorities instead of the people whose dads run as an LP for the firm certainly love pushing down. 

 

Some of you above probably haven't been in banking the last 2+ years, and holy shit the general competence / drive of analysts has fallen off a cliff, not painting a broad brush, still plenty of powerhouses/rockstars among the ranks but it just seems like the overall bar has fallen a lot - 2020 grad here so I'm talking about my peers / the interns and first years I worked with in banking (not some disgruntled associate/VP). My PE associate class somehow hired a kid who didn't know sumif() and another who didn't know how to populate or add parties to a first round VDR (both coming from strong banks). So yeah, OP isn't talking out of his ass. There is something to be said about the kids who will struggle and spend friday nights / weekends suffering through the steep learning curve IB/PE presents, I'm doing it right now and yeah it blows dick at times but I'll be better for it a year from now. I know that's not allowed to be said in 2023 but can't hide from the real world forever.    

 

Well I figured out all of this shit myself in my analyst years in a toxic environment and still disagree hard with OP's opinion.

Yes, I get dud juniors / interns. You don't necessarily get them all the time. People may not be good but they can be hungry, so they can be trained. And they're usually not hostile.

Being hostile / aggressive as a junior is a last resort because it's not accepted, period. Most juniors aren't idiots - if you're an asshole but you're a competent asshole, they'll still work with you and show obeisance to get your backing and valuable experience (lord knows I've done that)

A hostile / aggressive junior is one who wants absolutely nothing to do with you and two of them doing so suggests that OP is a dick at work who probably isn't actually good at his job.

 

If that makes a weak analyst that is fucking insane... How do you glide by a 2-year program and not know what a SUMIF statement is or how to populate a fucking VDR?

 

OP, I hope this doesn't offend you, but the current crop of IB analysts and PE associates just dont really care about your "profession" like your generation did.

Working 90 hour weeks and missing weekends/holidays over deals where you are just throwing debt on boring businesses and laying off people to generate "synergies" isn't attractive to gen z.  And why would it be?

Oh, but you gain valuable experience!  So they can go do more boring deals at a corporate later on making half the pay?

Oh, but the pay is so good compared to everyone else out of undergrad! (except inflation sucks, cost of living and housing is phucked, and tuition bills are out of control).  Many have simply just stopped caring when everything seems so stacked against them.

Have you actually set foot on a college campus lately and asked the top students if they are interested in IB or PE?  Most will laugh at you.  All they have to do is google "IB/PE Culture"and the results are all about how terrible it is, How soulless the leadership is, how firms will just lay you off in a heartbeat before bonuses after working 100 hr weeks all year.

Another common thing you will hear is why work 80 to 100hr weeks just to make some boomer extremely rich.  It's a fair statement.  Perhaps if they spent 100 hours a week trying to do something for themselves the results could be interesting.

Or, why not just go to med school if you going to work so hard?  People actually respect doctors, and they essentially work for themselves, aren't at risk of layoffs, and can at least look themselves in the eye that they are helping people as public servants.

  IB and PE is for people who fail to have better options now.   You will disagree with me, but it's true.  The bar has been lowered.  And the ones who you ARE getting in understand how crappy it is, and frankly don't care either.

The only people who reach out to me to get into finance now (Im at a top BB) are all internationals that barely speak english and have visa issues, kids from non targets, and people who were grabbed by the diversity council to interview and don't even know what IB is (and frankly dont care about it once I tell them).  I'm not making this up.

Whether you contributed to PE having a horrible culture is not apparent to me, but you need to understand that recent grads simply don't respect the profession like you did.  You can either work on fixing the culture so they do care, or continue to enjoy flaky kids from The Ohio State University and Wuhan University as your future employees.

 

Definitely agree with most of your comment, but I would not say that IB/PE is only for those who don’t have other options. I’m someone who chose PE over getting my physics PhD at a top three program or joining a high potential startup. If you play it the right way, finance can provide an extremely stable career path with high earnings and intellectual stimulation. Definitely a lot of attractive aspects still.

 

If you’re making such strong assertions, what are some actual examples of jobs which have a risk adjusted same earnings potential as finance? Not talking about ‘lbe Facebook’s next savant and you’ll work 40 hours per week and a BJ at lunch’. Talking about real world programs with significant hiring needs on a yearly basis

 

any job in tech.  Software engineer, data science, product management.

higher pay, less risk, less hours, better culture

there are signficant hiring needs for this.  if you can prove you are highly technical (no...not stupid IB/PE "technical"...im talking really engineering), you will always be in demand.

try and tell a software engineer or data science guy to work an all nighter (wont go over well).

 

Agree with a lot of your points, will counter the logic medical graduates work for themselves. Very rare, private practice is down and most doctors aren't entrepreneurial at least earlier in their career, most of them are drowning in debt. But still can find a decent job working for someone else with a good WLB. The downside is most people I know who went that route in medicine either love it or hate it / bored with their career.