Is Vista’s Analyst Program Any Good?

I go to a top target and I am confused because people on WSO think highly of Vista’s summer analyst and analyst program, but I know people from my school who turned down Vista for banks like MS Menlo and PJT M&A which are obv good, but are no PJT RSSG or GS FIG.

The same would never happen if one was deciding between KKR, Bain, or BX and these banks so I am just wondering if I am missing something about Vista’s program and why this occurs?

 
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Vista's analyst program is top notch. Will try not to fully repeat what other threads have said, but in general:

Reasons:

- They're a top private equity firm in terms of size (certainly a MF now) and returns, so great brand name

- As an analyst you are developing an investor mindset which is what any PE Analyst program offers you over banking (also comes with the additional bonus of not having to do the hell that is on-cycle recruiting, which is why all PE Analyst programs, Vista included, are gaining traction). You are completely differentiated from one of the 1000 investment bankers, many of which are trying to land such a role in PE.

- Like Blackstone, KKR, Bain, and Warburg, their analyst program has been around for a very long time and is highly structured -- that is usually a deterrent against most non-MF private equity analyst programs, just given their unstructured / new nature

- See other threads for exits - everything from top VC like NEA, other top PE firms, and I think there's even an entire thread on their HF exits from former analysts / associates, which included some high caliber names

- If you want to stay (majority do), great internal promotion - majority of associates A2A, unsure if that is the same across most other PE Analyst programs

But, acknowledging the other side:
-  Location - Austin (HQ), Chicago, and SF. Summer analyst program in Austin, but bottom line it is not a NY role, which makes many reconsider

- As mentioned above, dedicating to tech. It is completely understandable that plenty of college sophomores do not know / feel dedicated to SaaS investing right out of college, which is what Vista will offer. Although there is more to tech, I will slightly caveat the point above - there is more to tech than SaaS, but looking at a majority of all large-cap tech LBOs / deals recently, just take a look how much is software, and who knows how many investments we'll see from Vista / TB / H&F when the AI wave develops

- Hiring Process - As a "newer" PE shop (relative to other MFs), they seemingly care a lot less about MBA and undergraduate institution (completely unlike the olden days of Wharton BA + HBS MBA). So at Vista you will see a few of backgrounds that are at least somewhat contradictory to what you'd expect of a MF PE background. Unsure why they have a slightly higher proportion of non / semi - targets relative to other PE shops (typically 2-3 wtf schools per class, and the rest targets), especially given that they could entirely fill the class with target schools (take a look at a majority of the past few summer analyst classes & incoming analysts, and you will see this exact trend).

 

Wouldn’t the same be true of the other PE firms listed on there? I highly doubt Blackstone, KKR, Bain Capital, Ares, and Silver Lake summer analyst programs (lol) are any better for return offer rates.

Isn’t the bar just higher in PE compared to IB, which trickles down to these SA programs to an extent?

 

Vista has a reputation for lower intern return rates than peer firms; in general the other programs have return offer rates generally in-line with banking programs (with an emphasis on generally)

 

This is only partially true.

Vista SA PRE-Covid (summer 2020 and before) had extremely low return offer rates. Some classes <40%.
 

Post-COVID, they have significantly increased that rate in the three classes since (summer ‘21, ‘22 and ‘23), all above 70%, which is about as reasonable as it’s going to get for any top PE firm SA.

Also, not sure where you’re getting the “consistently lower than other PE firms” (but will definitely agree with Analyst 1 above about the rate being lower than IB though, that’s no doubt).
 

Taking even just last summer, Blackstone and KKR almost always cut around half, heard Bain interns went ~50%, Silver lake lol, and Ares did pretty well I think. Seems Vista is on-par with other PE firms in terms of return offers, if not a little better.

 

Vista's analyst program is excellent. Vista and Silver Lake are the most sought after seats for people interested in technology investing out of college. Vista has a near 100% analyst to associate retention rate, no MBA requirement, and generally does not hire externally at the mid and senior levels, all of which contributes to a strong flywheel of internal promotion. For those who have left, past exits have been strong, including growth equity (head of Kleiner Perkins growth is a former Vista analyst, multiple IPs at Greenoaks) as well as more traditional hedge funds (Lone Pine, Coatue, etc). 

 

This is slightly misleading. Vista A2A pipeline is strong because the financial modeling piece. Vista runs through an intense financial modeling bootcamp for the analysts that get promoted since the analysts aren't responsible for the financial modeling. If you notice on LinkedIn as soon as many of the analysts get promoted and go through the financial modeling intensive training that they receive that exit the firm.

 

And this is slightly inaccurate — analysts are 100% responsible for cutting SaaS data which then feeds into the LBO (associate work product).

As an analyst, you’re not “limited” to just the data room / SaaS modeling for 2 years — deal teams are lean and once you’re up for it, you can run through LBOs, especially after the ~1 year mark

 

I have first hand knowledge of this information from a current analyst at Vista. What I said is verifiable on this forum and through LinkedIn. Vista deal teams are actually not lean, which causes Vista analyst to have slightly higher WLB balance compared to other MFs. I didn't say that Vista analysts don't cut the SaaS data, but that is 95% of what they do. All of the LBO modelling is handled by an associate. Once an analyst gets promoted to associate they go through 6+ weeks of intensive financial modeling training. The responsibilities at Vista are very segregated with very little overlap (due to the non-lean deal teams). 

The reason why Vista's analyst program isnt considered on par as the other PE analyst program is because of the lack of exposure to financial modeling and the location. Analysts have to be Austin or Chicago, while most of the senior investment professionals reside in the SF office. I was told that it is to prevent analysts from recruiting easily.

If you look at pre-associate exits, they aren't to other large-cap buyout funds. They tend to be more orientated to GE and HFs, which both have less emphasis on the in-depth modeling typically seen in PE

Cutting SaaS data is fine and will teach you how to navigate excel, but it is a 100% undisputable fact that associates hold the pen on the model and go through weeks of training to do so.

Edit: For the people giving me MS, do you want me to PM you my Vista offer letter??? Like I said, what I'm saying is 100% correct

 
[Comment removed by mod team]
 

To shut down this nonsensical argument, which makes no sense since most people would kill for a job at Vista or any single firm even mentioned on this thread.

1) Vista deal teams are definitely lean, not sure where you heard anything otherwise. Typically 1 Analyst, 1 Associate, 1 Senior Assoc / VP, and 1 senior. Vista does have decent WLB (debatable) compared to other MFs but don’t think this is any contributing factor
2) Yes, location sucks. Austin / Chicago are not the best for anyone in finance. Analysts however do have access to SF, and for the last few years, all incoming FT analysts get their top choice. “To prevent analysts from recruiting easily” is a ludicrous take, maybe was the case before 2020, if at all.

3) Pre-associate exits are largely self-selection, as most stay. You’ll see a lot of those GE / HFs, and if you want to stay in tech PE there’s not much better than to stay at Vista and take the associate promotion (also, getting promoted is way easier than recruiting again)

 

I actually received an offer from Vista and turned it down "To shut down this nonsensical argument" is irrelevant because it is obvious you do not work at the firm. Everything I said is what I was told by all ranks of people that work at the firm. What you stated is inaccurate especially considering the fact that Vista has Senior VPs and a distinction between Senior MD and MD, hence more people, and not lean-deal teams. Idek why lean-deal teams is viewed as a positive. It's like that thread with the Intern that said he wants to work at a HF because of the high-stress environment, that's just stupid. I was personally told by analysts at Vista that the rumor at the firm is that they do not let analysts work in SF is to prevent poaching. The only way an analyst can work out of SF is if they have family that live in SF. 

It also not self-selection for the fact that there is not a single pre-associate exit to another buyout firm. Vista has had their analyst program for over a decade and there's not one analyst that left to go do buyout? Use your common sense. Also the HF exits are mostly the VC arm of the HFs, not the equities arm. You seriously think self-selection is the reason that over a decade, the software sector of PE firms hasn't hired a single person from one of the top 3 software investors?

It's funny how I've actually gotten an offer and spoke to people at the firm, but people who would have no shot getting an offer feel like their 5th hand knowledge is more accurate.

 
Funniest

ah yes, of course, having Senior VPs, MDs, and Senior MDs is what creates non-lean deal teams (sarcasm)!

and who in their right mind would leave vista to do buyout tech PE when you’re literally at one of the biggest ones in the world along with Silver Lake and Thoma.

bros just yappin on wso lol

 

I actually work at Vista, and your claims are false. If you actually did get an offer, I'm glad you turned it down so I don't have to work with you. Cope harder, IB intern

 
 

Ok so I am seeing a lot of dumb shit being posted in this thread so let me go ahead and clear up as much as I can. For context, I worked at an adjacent tech-focused PE analyst program and exited to a crossover where some of my colleagues did the Vista analyst program. Also I know some people from college at the firm as well.

In terms of top PE SA programs Vista and Ares have undoubtedly the highest return offer rates. 

It is true that analysts don’t do any of the actual LBO modeling but are able to cut data and create rev builds. A lot of undergrads may think this is a big deal. It is not. This is all you do at top HFs (if you cover tech) and more than you’ll ever need to do at top GE/VC firms. 

If you turn down Vista because of this it’s kinda dumb, because if you want to learn advanced LBO modeling (which is literally only applicable if you choose to stay in PE) then just wait two years and you get training from a MF. Then you can choose to lateral or stay or whatever. Once again, if you plan to leave to a HF or GE/VC firm then this is irrelevant. 

Also, even though you don’t get to hold the pen on the model, the deal teams are very lean so you get to see how the model is made. This is basically the same experience across all MF PE analyst programs. You are dumb if you think you will be holding the pen at any of the other programs. I barely got to touch the model in my program.

This experience is substantially better learning experience than any bank will ever be. I have interviewed candidates from top tech PE analyst programs (SL, Vista, KKR Menlo) and top tech banks (Q, GS, MS) and consistently the former are far better. This is because they can actually think critically and understand what makes a good investment. This is so much more valuable than just pounding through excel trying to appease your clients. Sure you get more modeling experience but that shit doesn’t matter. The inputs drive the model and PE analysts are better at finding accurate inputs simply put because that was their job previously.

I am obviously biased. I don’t care this is my experience and opinion. I think the only situation that warrants turning down any one of the three tech PE analyst programs I listed is if you don’t want to only do tech. Also for what it’s worth I know people who turned down GS TMT, Q, and KKR Menlo for Vista so there you go. Also don’t ask undergrads or fresh grads for opinions on what programs to take. Ask VP+ people in the seats you want to have in the future. I did that when I was deciding between PE and IB back in the day and I think those people offered the best advice out of anyone. 

 

PE Analysts at any of the aforementioned shops don’t really get many PE associate looks — 1) because their HH firm can’t approach them, because it they can’t poach from an existing client and 2) for those PE analysts interested in staying in PE, they would stay at their firm

HF looks are great across the board, as per the paragraph mentioned ahead, developing investing acumen is the clear differentiator with these programs, but obviously silver lake and vista are really going to get tech HF / crossover looks more often, like Altimeter Coatue Dragoneer. KKR and BX more traditional HF looks relative to the rest

 

Most in these programs don’t even try for on-cycle because it is not worth starting from scratch at a new fund while you already have two years of rapport at your current fund. I do know some who have ran on-cycle from all of the listed funds and all were able to get looks and offers from MFs. However, you have to really convince HHs that you have a good reason to switch to another MF (most I know used location or investing style as the reason).

 

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