MF PE is Paradise...LOL

The biggest myth and most naive take on this site is the conventional take that MF PE is a desirable job/exit, beside the fact, more senior folks have been shedding light on how it's really not that great since the beginning of times. I am just going to blabber, because I have so many takes on why this is wrong that I don't even care about writing coherently anymore. I also don't care if you want to MS me, so please throw your virtual "discredits" at me you narrow-minded 20-24 year old college junior/IB analyst 1. I'm just going to pick a context (say programmers) and use it as an analogy. Let the ranting begin:

1. Working at a MF PE out of IB is like a somewhat talented developer/engineer going to work at Google.

You work at a big name, and every service provider you deal with strokes your ego, and now you think you are hot shit. You get comped 15-20% above market, and you get to brag anonymously on WSO. You think you have made it because you made it to the big leagues. No, you are just a freaking clog in a massive machine. You have an abysmal chance of making partner, and you are just an execution monkey. You are a white-collar slave, where they throw marginally extra money at you, and in return, you sell your soul and your life. But unlike the dev who goes work at Goog and only works 40 hour weeks, you are still cranking 90-100 hours/week like you did at a busy group at a BB. You actually burn out, and lose motivation in a couple years time. The tortoise and the hare.

2. You don't really get mentored or taught anything because you are there just to complete tasks.

It's a cutthroat culture at most (not all) MF PEs. (Again everything I say is going to be a generalization and not absolute, but) you think you are going to learn dealmaking and taught the secret sauce of PE, but you are just there to complete tasks. You are absolutely replaceable (please MS me if you genuinely think that a MF PE will fail to deploy or generate returns because an associate like you/future-you leaves). I guarantee you the guys at smaller shops learn more than you when it comes to sourcing and dealmaking, holistically speaking. You are actually further away from dealmaking than the MM guys are.

3. Your happiness and well-being will suffer.

You are going to argue, "well, wasn't that the case in IB?" IB is like pledging to get into a frat. But, once you pay your dues, you actually get to enjoy the benefits of joining one. IB for most people is a rite of passage that gets you to better places. In the MF PE asso case though, you are valued as much as you were as an analyst in IB. You are absolutely dispensable. You wear your MF PE title like a badge of honor, but your friends/peers actually pity you. The ones who went elsewhere (emerging managers, MM PE, HF, growth equity, VC, Corp Dev, Start-up) think you are an idiot who keeps drinking his/her own koolaid. They feel bad for you.

You have no time to spend with your gf/bf or wife/husband, despite telling them that things will be better after 2-3 years of IB analyst. Maybe, you are single and ready to mingle, but you are actually just single and lonely. You think you add a lot of value because you built the model, managed the 3rd party diligence process and drafted the memo, but you also deep down know that those things are commoditized, there are hundreds of monkeys skilled enough to do that, and the deal didn't get approved or done because of your multi-scenario LBO. I hate to be such a downer, I call it being realistic, but you will never build another Blackstone, KKR or Thoma Bravo.

4. The skills you learn and deals you do in MF PE are not transferable to your personal investing and wealth management.

Despite deal value and capital raised in MF PE dwarfing the industry in value (whether M&A, fundraising, exits, etc.), it's actually a really f-ing niche space. There are only so many participants at that level globally. The way the underwriting works and how value is created don't bear much relevance to how you can personally build your wealth and grow your own balance sheet (when your net worth is anywhere between $500k - 5m). It doesn't make you a better investor. In the context of private markets, I'd argue that VC and growth investing teach you more and is more relevant to personal investing than large-cap buyouts.

5. Attrition

I only ever read about MF PE asso/VPs burning out and quiting. I have never heard of, met or read here of anyone actually quitting MM PE/growth/VC because it's soul crushing, and physically debilitating. Yeah the MM PE guys and other finance people may complain, but it's not to the degree of absurdity of MF PE. Do you really just think that everyone who quits MF PE is soft, or have you considered that maybe it's really that bad because even the toughest bunch of young and motivated finance people don't last? 

6. Never making it to the top

Do you realize that there are thousands of people between you and the executive management teams at the top? You realize making CxO at a Fortune 500 company is much harder than making one at a startup or growth company right? The systems and processes in place are why they are sustaining asset managers. Your value-add is beyond negligible. Using the programmer analogy, you will never be CTO of Apple. Literally, never. Again, I hope one of you prove me wrong in 30 years time. You have a better chance and growth trajectory at a smaller shop with the right strategy and fund performance, where you actually have room to step up and perform. Your MD/Principals will actually value you more, and if you are lucky, they invest in your career development and mentor you like a protege.

7. False sense of success

You think that you have achieved something by going to these places, but no one cares. It's not something to be proud of. No one in the business/social world cares that you work at Apollo. The only people that care are bankers and lawyers that  work with Apollo. It's nothing to brag about, and you have not yet achieved anything. It's like being on the practice squad of a Varsity team.

8. Are you a killer?

Guys who last to principal, and eventually make it to MD/Partner dedicate their lives to this and the sole purpose of their existence is to make partner. They will sacrifice anything (including their family time) to ensure things work out. They take the phrase "goal-oriented" to the extreme. Yes, so they will chew out lev fin MDs at BBs and make them cry. They will drown lawyers and consultants with the cocktail of work and unrealistic deadlines. And, yes, they could care less about their associates that will only last 2-4 years, because new fresh ones will come in with a naive hopes anyway.

Prove me wrong when your net worth hits $50m from happily working in MF PE.

When one of you monkeys do a multi-billion dollar buyout as partner of a MF PE and pocket $20-30m in carry a year, and is genuinely happy in 15 years time, please remember to DM me. You can also MS me then. I will treat you to a dinner at Per Se. 

Grow up.


Comments (146)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 8, 2022 - 6:17am

Everyone's talking about a recession, which means there won't be one. Europe's going to suffer though because of the soaring energy coasts.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 7, 2022 - 6:25pm

Do you work at a MF PE firm?

Jun 7, 2022 - 7:43pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No, thank god I don't. I have friends who do, both in MF PE buyout and MF Growth. Some who were MF PE buyout, but then switched to growth within same MFs (more than one). Also, met people via work/deals whom are MDs at MF PEs, or very very large caps but not MF.

I also know plenty of MF PE people who leave MF PE thinking they f-king understand how the world works. But, they can't raise capital, because they don't realize that people don't credit them for their experience at a BX even if they were Principal/MD, because people in the business world only give credit to BX the firm (similar to GS/MS in banking context). And if you start an investment firm with one of these career BX-type guys, they would be amazing gatekeepers. In terms of diligence, valuation discipline, legal documentation, etc...but congrats, if this person sits on your IC and is unable to snap out of his BX dream world, you will never get a deal done. No deal is squeaky clean enough. Price is always too high to underwrite. Always too many risks. Buddy, you aren't Blackstone. You are now in the real world. You gotta actually take risks, move fast. Lack of better language, you might have to blow someone for allocation if it's a hot growth deal. And if it's LMM/MM PE, pay up buddy. You are not doing deals where there may only be 1 or 2 other buyers out there in the entire world. Blackstone's way only works if you are at Blackstone. I have met people like that from BX, but obviously also using BX as example here. MF PE guys may not be scrappy enough to survive outside of the platform. MS or call me out if you have valid reasoning as to why my statement is wrong.

Again, in banking context, you can be picky and choosy with clients if you are say Head M&A at GS/MS. I literally was on a call with one of the global heads of MS TMT, and dude was a smug prick. But hey, you can be that way because you have MS behind you. But don't mistake as you having a big package. Nah, it's the logo on your name card that enables you to do that. Try go work at low tier BB or MM IB and apply the same attitude, I guarantee you don't win a mandate.

There are a couple of them that are just cut out to be partners at some point. I know a few of them. They are just absolute machines, with street smart and emotional intelligence. They are made for the job. They are elite. And yes, they will eventually make partner and clip $20-25m carry a year no matter what. And whilst they will not be a billionaire ever, they will love what they do until they retire and easily hit $200m by the time they hang up their cleats. These guys just have been crushing it since day 1 as an analyst at whichever IB they were at. Their peers/friends at same IB would say they were always f-ing fast at what they do. People on same team would say these guys saved their ass once or several times during IB days. There is a recognizable pattern.They don't spend their time estimating the % of exits from a said class of EB analysts go to MF PE, as if MF PE were the holy grail. And that the past is reflective of the future (pretty sure this is like rule #1 of finance).95% of the 20-24 year olds on this site are never going to be elite. I'm not a dick. It's just math and statistics.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 7, 2022 - 6:56pm

It's true but I think we all knew this. Overpaid accounting + PMO jockey gets (1) deal skillset (2) good junior pay (3) brand name that helps for MBA and next job, and in return you get ground into a dust, left burned out, and quickly forgotten. Most understand the agreement and accept anyway; only those who did not read the fine print beforehand are the fools.

Jun 7, 2022 - 8:09pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The only reason I wrote this is I hope at least one 20-24 year old really sits down and think about what they want, before rushing into a MF PE job, because they are top bucket and the recruiters are over them.

Unfortunately, I disagree. I don't think most kids sign up knowing that they will get burnt out and won't last. I think there are other paths in finance that can be more rewarding and provide 10x more satisfaction, where you can actually learn more and do more. There can be more sustainable and longer lasting choices than MF PE.

Jun 10, 2022 - 1:16pm
jackalope, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I thought about it... but MF PE mfs get paid. IB doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation for being easy on newcomers either.

Jun 25, 2022 - 7:28pm
ape2017, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The only reason I wrote this is I hope at least one 20-24 year old really sits down and think about what they want, before rushing into a MF PE job, because they are top bucket and the recruiters are over them.

Unfortunately, I disagree. I don't think most kids sign up knowing that they will get burnt out and won't last. I think there are other paths in finance that can be more rewarding and provide 10x more satisfaction, where you can actually learn more and do more. There can be more sustainable and longer lasting choices than MF PE.

Well, thanks for sharing perspectives! It would be great if you can share more on other paths in finance that can be more rewarding with satisfaction. It is because people not in the industry or the exact roles often have very limited vision when only more relatively high paying roles are getting more attentions/ discussed. Thanks!

Jun 7, 2022 - 10:43pm
monkilovesbanana, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dude, you should really take some time to reflect on why you're harboring so much negativity about this and have sucu a need to tear people down. Sure, MFPE is far from perfect but telling people they've achieved nothing by making it to MFPE or that they'll never be successful as they dream is probably reflective of some personal issues/insecurities. MFPE is obviously not a good fit for you but there's really no point in being so spiteful so I hope you can figure out why you feel this way and fix it

Jun 7, 2022 - 10:50pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You made an account just to write this lol. I think you should be the one to reflect tbh.

I have made it clear that my intention is to let people who are in college and IB analyst roles know that the MF PE is not what this website makes it out to be. Most of the people on this site that speak about MF PE have no idea what they are talking about. I have been speaking nothing but facts and realities of the harsh finance world. There is no spite. If you feel like MF PE is for you, then my opinion or statements shouldn't affect you or tear you down. 

The world is a rough place. If after hearing what I have to say, kids still want to go for it, then maybe they are cut out for it.

Don't want to turn this into a big dick competition, but I guarantee you I am doing very well in life.

There is no ill-will. Take it easy man. I wonder how many accounts you have made.

Actually, you know what? You want people to just cheer for you right? Great, well done man, you are a junior associate at a megafund...woohoo!! You have made it in life. Is that what you want?

Jun 7, 2022 - 11:44pm
monkilovesbanana, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This whole post was already a big dick competition though? You're again just reacting with hostility which this entire post reeks of for no reason. No one is your enemy - MF PE associates whatever don't think they're better than you which you seem to think. It's just why not write an objective and mature post instead of one that is clearly biased by your own insecurity if you actually want to help people. You're doing well in life! There is no reason to be insecure and tear people down - so figure out what's making you feel this way and address it. And if you actually felt bad for MF PE associates, you wouldnt feel the need to be so mean so figure out where your feelings are actually coming from

Most Helpful
Jun 8, 2022 - 1:04am
StreetofBulls, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not sure how you can be dogmatic on this topic when you've never worked a day in MF PE. While this thread likely means well, realize that everyone has their own motivations and you can't sketch out someone else's pursuit of happiness (or lackthereof) with your brush.

Coming from someone who has worked at both a boutique / large institution, the pros you outlined of working at a small shop resonate with me. However, the big fallacy (ironically) with your post is you're trying to paint anything but MF PE as greener pastures when that's clearly not the case. I left the boutique not because of the money & prestige (but you'll probably tell me I did), but rather wanted to start my career on a more established platform where I can lay down the foundational blocks for my career.

Whether you accept or deny it, the key limitation of working in a smaller environment is the lack of resources / training / deal complexity (generalizing but broadly applicable). Sure I wore more hats and was closer to the deal process at the boutique, but getting the meticulous reps in at my current bank made me much more confident today than I would be if I stayed at the boutique.

Last point I'll touch on is your point on the likelihood of becoming a CxO of a F500 company - if that was someone's ambition, 9 times out of 10 they'd be better positioned with a reputable background vs. someone without. Look - I'm glad you found happiness outside of prestige / compensation and I don't think there's enough in the finance world who can say the same, but let and let live. Very rarely do people heed to advice; they have to stumble a few times to figure it out which is instrumental (and arguably a requirement) for personal growth.

Jun 8, 2022 - 1:24am
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You are correct, everyone has their motivations. I worked with MFs on deals and my friends currently or have worked in MFs. I don't need through the Navy SEALs training to know it's damn difficult, and that it's not for everybody.  

I am not sketching out someone else's pursuit of happiness with my own brush. Rather, I am purposely trying to play the 10th man right now, and point out that MF PE is not as glorious as all these kids think it is. It takes a very specific kind of person to thrive, and all I am saying is there are better ways to achieve what they want to achieve.

I guess, in other words, what I am trying to say is that not all that glitters is gold.

Some people are cut out for it, and some people are made for it. But, a lot of the kids on this forum just chase it blindly before taking a second to really sit down and think about what suits them or not. And then, they end up suffering and regretting it. That is what I am trying to say. I stand by my CXO at a Fortune 500 analogy though (which frankly, you completely missed the point). The guys who run these MFs now were early employees of the firm. No different than employees 1-20 at a seed/Series A startup. Other people that get to senior ranks at these MFs (Tim Geithner at WP for example) are lateralled in with very special political bacgkrounds (look up Frank Carlucci Carlyle), not by grinding your way up from the ground at the F500 company (or in our context, when the firm is already a MF). It's not even the point about being better positioned vs someone who doesn't have a recognized background. If you think MF means recognized background, then you still have long ways to go. The point was that you have a better shot at running MF by joining a future MF as an early member, which is below the radar today as it is an emerging manager running Fund I / II / III only. Leftlane in VC/Growth is a great example. Hence, my point on scouting promising shops with interesting strategies and great performance. You get to shape the culture, and help contribute meaningfully. And you have a better chance of making partner, without needing to weather the pain that other MF PE guys have had to go through.

  • Senior VP in AM - FI
Jun 8, 2022 - 9:57pm

While the OP is being tongue and cheek and you have worked at big and small platforms...I think the benefits of the larger platform in terms of resources etc are only great for larger platforms. Being on a large platform is great for having a W2 career at a large organization. I think part of what the OP is driving at is for those that don't want a stable low risk W2 career (and yes MF is extremely low career risk), or at least one without growth risk, you're just not built to be scrappy/entrepreneurial. You become great at being a processor within a riding organization, even at higher levels. But its just a different skill set. Someone like a Tim Cook for example probably wouldn't be a  great Series A CEO despite being an amazing mega cap CEO. So for those that want a more entrepreneurial career, whether actually as an entrepreneur or joining a business early and helping it scale the skills at a large MF type organization aren't going to be the ones you need, if anything they may handicap you. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jun 8, 2022 - 1:49am

This is probably too biased of a view but maybe some kernels of truth in it. Ultimately if you start in MF PE people think you're very good and it's quite easy to move to an MM fund. That's just a fact

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jun 8, 2022 - 3:24am

Haha my man, a fact cannot be biased. What you are saying is valid.

But, if you want to end up at a MM PE, why need to go through MF. Unless you are going to MF because you want to collect that badge of recognition on your resume/LinkedIn.

Thought about pre empting this point but didn't wanna write a longer post. It just offers the optionality of making into at the MF as far as you can and softly landing with in many cases a promotion at an MM if it doesn't work. Just one reason not the only

Jun 8, 2022 - 8:30am
falconeagle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post OP. As someone who works in PE (not MF thankfully) but has ex-IB colleagues who went into MF PE, it really does sound like a gruelling existence. Roughly half the guys I know who went into MF PE have since "burnt out" and taken easier gigs eg corporate development (or even gone back into banking!), the other half really have a "killer" personality/mindset and are no doubt making serious coin as Principals, but at serious cost to their personal lives. Most of them are single, look perpetually rundown whenever I see them, and seemed resigned to living an exhausting existence.

One thing you didn't touch on OP is also as you get older you realize the (rapidly) diminishing value of having more money. Sure, would I rather earn $1m or even $500k rather than $300k a year? Of course. But would I sacrifice half of my weekends every year for it? I'm not so sure.

Of course I'm sure the young hungry college kids/young analysts will think "who's this soft-minded guy, of course it's all about maximizing $$$$" But to them I'd say there's 2 things they haven't considered - taxes and also real estate prices.

Taxes mean you see waay less of your comp than you'd expect - plus with the cost of homes these days, earning $500k isn't going to get you some mega mansion like you'd expect, but instead just a slightly nicer home than the $300k guy. So really it comes down to how many more pairs of Rolexes or Gucci loafers do you want? At least until you have a family (and even then a six-figure salary is a lot more than most American families have to support themselves on).

Not trying to knock the MF route, but just saying I've realized it isn't for everyone - if you want to do it then do it with your eyes wide open, and understand it isn't some guaranteed golden life where your life will become automatically fulfilled/perfect.

Jun 8, 2022 - 9:11am
rabbit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One thing you didn't touch on OP is also as you get older you realize the (rapidly) diminishing value of having more money.

Ding ding ding, this right here.

Man at one one point, the hours and lifestyle really catch up to you. Mentally it's always tough but you're not 22-25 forever. Took me a long time to physically recover from the stress, limited sleep and no time to workout. It's really not something that's discussed a lot but you see it lately in a lot of the "my anxiety / mental health" type posts here.

Stay strong everyone.

Jun 8, 2022 - 1:52pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes, the incremental of each $ that you accumlulate diminishes as your net worth goes up. A person who has $200m might have a nicer house than a person with $20m, but besides that, so what? You are not gonna be able to have 4 steaks at a dinner because you make more. Your kids are only going to go to 1 school and not 5. You can't wear two pairs of Gucci's at a time because you are richer. I failed to point that out because I thought that was common sense.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 8, 2022 - 9:43am

Can someone that works at a MF chime in? Literally a whole bunch of people talking about firms that have never worked at them. We all just have "friends" there.

Jun 8, 2022 - 10:33am
A.Hardo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Those at the MF are too busy getting grinded to respond lol 

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Event
Jun 9, 2022 - 12:08pm

Former MF PE here. A lot of the sentiment expressed in this thread is reasonable. Although I do think the OP's motivation is somewhat borne out of psychological need to self-soothe for some insecurities that I don't care to learn more about...

This is not hard to figure out if you've had a few years of experience in the real world. You're a small fish at a big company and bigger fish at a small company. This isn't some unique insight that pertains to PE only. People optimize for different things - some like the stability and high coupons you can clip for many years in exchange for quasi-serfdom, others want to take risks and build equity in something - even if something small.

From what I've seen, the people who eventually branch out to take risks and build equity tend to do better in life (in all aspects, not just money) than the "company men" at big shops. They are generally more entrepreneurial, have a healthier outlook on life, have diverse interests/networks vs. just getting stuck in the finance hardo milieu, and adds to the table more than just being a "preftigious guy" in gucci loafers (ew..). The perils come when you stay at a MF PE for a while and start buying your own bullsh*t - once you commit to being there past Principal/Director level, the cognitive dissonance is too great to not believe that "you work at BX/KKR/APO = you are hot sh*t". This just seems to make it easier for grown (wo)men to deal with the fact that they have basically amounted to a high-salaried monkey in somebody else's big machine and it's too late to turn back (your lifestyle has already creeped, kids on the way, your self-identity is already too tightly intertwined with your company logo, etc). 

What I will caveat though - people I've seen do really well taking a more entrepreneurial path still benefit greatly from the branding/credibility that you obtain from MF PE. Whether or not that is deserved is an irrelevant question - I'm not talking about how the world should be, but just how it is. The laypeople in business that are not specifically in PE recognize the brand and associate your profile with high performance/big connections (i.e. it opens doors). So it is not a moot point that you should still spend a couple years doing it if you can. 2-3 years of your life in a slightly miserable state in exchange for ability to "glide" a little easier later in career is not a horrible trade. There are many paths to success and everyone has a different starting point. MF PE is just one of the paths.

Jun 8, 2022 - 11:42am
Alt+A+W+T, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A bit over the top by OP, who seems to have not gotten a job at a MF & is holding a grudge, but fair point as a whole that is worth mentioning to the WSO community of sheep desperate to go GS/MS > MF golden "path".

I think a point OP made that's worth reiterating is the advantage VC/GE has in developing better overall applicable / personal business acumen than MFPE. You just see/assess a ton more businesses, from the ground up (particularly in VC), that face a multitude of unique challenges different from what a $B business faces, forcing you to really think about the core business model and overall market for hundreds of companies. Not to mention a likely higher sourcing component to VC/GE that forces folks to have to build critical soft skills and deal making ability that are important for the long run. Personally, I see a big difference during conversations with VC/GE peers vs MFPE/PE peers. Noticeably more brainy discussions on market, business model viability, & genuine comments on the number of businesses they're excited about vs. the MFPE guys where it's for the most part, complaints about how much they're working, how long their diligence processes are, the multitude of new cases they've had to build in their excel model. Seen a ton more empowered, inspired, intellectually curious VC/GE investors vs. MFPE investors that largely seem no different that who they were during IB - from an intellectual & WLB perspective in particular.

Regardless, unlike OP, I see tremendous value in doing time as a MFPE investor from a brand and pedigree perspective, but feel that VC/GE is a noticeably better route in developing strong applicable business acumen & is a path that should be spoken of and highlighted more on this forum.

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself
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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 8, 2022 - 11:54am

Agree, but some VC / GE investors are so cringe with their social media presence. I think it really depends on the specific firm whether it's MF PE or VC / GE. You can't make general statements because there are some really shitty firms out there on both spectrums so YMMV.

Jun 8, 2022 - 12:04pm
Alt+A+W+T, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very good point & good to highlight as well. Tons of bottom feeder VC/GE firms as well as PE firms out there. Important for folks to diligence the individual firms to decide - through network calls & just plain thinking through each portco they've invested in.

Maybe a good way to compare apples to apples is:

MFPE vs Top Tier VC/Growth (Insight, GA, etc.): VC/GE is better imo

MMPE vs Middle of Pack VC/GE: VC/GE by a smaller margin

LMMPE vs bottom feeder VC/GE: LMMPE takes the cake by a good margin

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself
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Jun 8, 2022 - 1:26pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You are absolutely retarded if you think I posted this because I am holding a grudge. I have never been interested in buyouts, and no, I never applied to any of the MF Buyout roles. 

You really think a regular person will be able to apply megacap buyout skills to growing their personal wealth. 

My post was over the top by design. It  HAD to be intriguing to get people to read. Writing like a nice guy on this site, sometimes doesn't get the point across....and sadly, some folks here are too sensitive to handle a contrasting opinion.

I guarantee you I have pocketed more than most people at MF PE roles, on an apples to apples basis...and currently in the process of spinning out to launch my own 1st-time growth equity fund. I am able to back myself with a meaningful GP commit (>10%), and already have investors lined up for my 1st close. My career is just fine, and you thinking I hold a grudge reflects on your shallow biases. 

Like I said, if I were able to help one single 20-24 year old sit down and really think whether they want a MF PE job....I will stand by my "over the top" post and consider it a success. At least, I know I helped someone from diving right into something blindly, without knowing what it really entails.

Jun 8, 2022 - 6:03pm
Alt+A+W+T, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Woah lol … dude, you needa cool it

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself
Jun 8, 2022 - 1:00pm
fodet12592, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This feels like a post made out of insecurity. For some context, I work at a large fund but not the traditional core 4 MFPE. Previously, I also worked at an endowment fund (in college as an internship) so I've seen the investor spectrum on both sides (buyer and seller of PE/HF services). Without a doubt, the branding you get from working at a name brand place matters. This is evident in how most of the best jobs / launches recruit for talent from a comp perspective and opportunity perspective. The finance job market is too efficient, gone are the days where you can try something new and walk your way into the next great opportunity. Most of those roles you will never hear about. Addition when founded hired straight out of Silver Lake, Baupost, and Warburg Pincus for the first 4 hires. No one from LMMPE is getting these opportunities to even interview at regardless of how good you are or how much experience you have. That's just the reality of life.

A wise mentor of mine asked me a question my senior year of college that's stuck with me. He said you (and your peers) can do whatever you want in life (within the context of corporate America), "what kind of doctor do you want to be?" Basically his way of asking do you want to be a small fish or a big fish etc. Some people don't mind working hard and enjoy the trappings of a high status life. Others might care more about making a lot of money and keeping a low profile. The former person is the type to go the white shoe route from MS / GS / EB -> MFPE -> HBS / GSB -> whatever is next and hobnob with people in very elite circles (children of world leaders, billionaires, oligarchs, etc.). Talk to anyone who went to HBS or Stanford and if they weren't a total shut-in they'd have one or two friends like that. Ultimately, these things just beget  more opportunities.

The flip side is you don't own much equity for a long time going this route, unless you do a roll-up after B-School or something. In either case, unless you build a major business over decades, the $100M or so you have doesn't mean that much in the big game. It certainly allows for a nice life, good family time, etc. but not everyone cares to have that? The common adage is that these things are valuable and worth striving for but some people just like to compete. This also assumes you sack up and become a GP on your own and get lucky to work at a firm where you build a track record you can sell to LPs because you certainly won't have the same brand name to fall back on like the above group. 

In any case, whatever marginal lifestyle benefit at a smaller PE fund you may have in your 20s is offset by the value of the brand and the tree branches you'll see in your life.

Your response to this is probably, stop drinking the Koolaid, you sound like an intern or something. But honestly, why do you care how other people choose to live their life? If your message was, there's more to life than work (a great message on its own), it was unfortunately drowned in the vitriol you have towards a group of people you seem to think look down upon you whereas most of them probably don't bother to think about you and neither should you them.

Just my 2c.

Jun 8, 2022 - 1:39pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks, Chad. Read above. Replied already.

Yes, spinning out to be a GP on my own. Having a 1st close despite being in this atrocious environment. Think I am doing just fine. If you think I am being insecure, you are absolutely wrong. I have iterated 10 times already that my intention is merely to let kids know that "not all that glitters is gold"

You mention Warburg Pincus. Yes, I think it's a great firm. I know people there who were OG partners who have retired (think guys who made partner in the 90s). I know people there who work on both the fundraising side and investing sides. I absolutely admire the firm's ethos and expansion efforts in emering markets early. Don't ask me how, but I have physical copies of their PPMs, and have read them page to page. I don't know if it falls within "MF MF" (if that makes sense), but it's certainly one of those exceptions to the traditional MF PE shops. They are a growth PE by definition, and often make venture bets, so quite different from tradition MF Buyout. I know people who have left WP and done well raising standalone vehicles for deals. I also know absolute execution monkeys at the VP level, who have zero soft skills and have inability to source. 

I guarantee you most MF PE guys will not be able to raise their own fund. Bet you anything. If you are interested, shoot me your name card on DM. I promise you that I won't disclose your identity. I also promise to ping you when I final close in around 12-15 months. How about I loop you into my LP email list, and you get to monitor my investments?

We can see how well I fare...whether I do fine or not. But thing for sure, I am not insecure lol. Just my 2c.

Jun 8, 2022 - 2:16pm
fodet12592, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is becoming more and more unbelievable. Really I don't get it. If I was in this position I think going on WSO to try to bring down people younger than me wouldn't even cross my mind.

I hope you find peace one day my friend regardless of whether this all of this is true or not.

Jun 8, 2022 - 1:14pm
Al's, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This post makes a good point about how the vast majority of people will never be "the man" - at any large, established organization - and I think there's three main paths in response to this:

1. Try anyways, make the sacrifices, jump ships when needed, and push to become "the man." 

2. Relax, take less crappy hours (or at least only do crappy hours you're okay with), build up your savings, send your kids to college, go on nice vacations, etc. This is the most common path in my experience, and is done with far smaller pay stubs than this forum likes to compare and contrast.

3. Leave the big boys and go smaller: mid-market businesses, small/family businesses, startups, or straight up start your own company. The further down, the more risk and higher upside, broadly speaking. 

I'd argue that given the sacrifices you'd have to make anyways, 3 is more attractive than 1, particularly if you can build up your Position of F*ck You and be able to take the financial risk. Of the MFPE/MMPE/VC/etc paths, is there a substantial difference in how they prepare you for pursuing 3 (particularly startups or entrepreneurship)? I know there are PE funds that say they're more operating-focused, but is that legit and something an asssociate could actually get exposure to? 

  • Associate 2 in PE - Growth
Jun 8, 2022 - 1:30pm

This is a bad take. If you don't work for a megafund, how else can you get a mega-mba at HBS/GSB? Then after that, work for a mega-hedge fund and buy a mega house in a mega neighborhood with a mega-model wife?

In all seriousness though, working at a megafund does give you crazy credibility and earnings early in your career. I wouldn't knock it completely because if you do the traditional 2+2 you should be 26/27 and that still leaves lots of time left in life and you have a nest egg and a very solid business background. There is experience and earnings still to be gained by getting pe experience post IB.

Personally, I agree with OP and found growth more fulfilling and found the optimization didn't make sense for me, but everyone is optimizing for different things or they should be after their first job or two. I think most on this site just don't understand that there comes a point where "working hard" isn't just working hard and eventually becomes sacrificing other areas of your life such as being a good father or friend. Or missing out on other parts of life. I think the mentality in college of many type a kids is just grind grind grind and once kids do IB they often realize that life path is the best way to end up single without friends or any experiences that differ from high finance. The money is worthless if you have no close relationships.

Jun 8, 2022 - 2:01pm
monkeyMAN8008, what's your opinion? Comment below:

LMAO this guy versus like half the WSO PE industry. Obviously, you mean well and I don't think you're in denial (also I don't think it would matter anyways). I think OP def has an honest take and provides honest advice even tho the tone is somewhat insulting. Without coming off as too koombaya, 20-24 y/o who read this just make sure you keep this all in mind and try to prove him wrong if you want to cause at the end of the day you guys are in charge of your success and well being in life.  

Jun 8, 2022 - 3:00pm
rabbit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

OP, you are one cynical bastard and I fucking love it.

Tone aside, I very much agree with the "all that glitters is not gold" message. Have never graced the halls of the buyside, let alone MFPE, but my experience is modeling / execution experience only takes you so far. I would argue for , good execution experience and hustle are the bare minimum, the absolute "must haves". Fuck modeling, I hate that shit.

The 1%, the sharks, the Schwarzmans of the world bring WAYYYY more than that to be table.

Jun 8, 2022 - 3:16pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you. 

Being in finance makes you cynical. You just see so much shit. Normally happens to people when they hit early/mid-thirties (assuming they are in a front-office role that allows them to see how the world works). 

Really only had the intention of letting people think twice about where they go, after grinding for 1-3 years in IB. I want them to know that you don't win by staying in the rat race. Pause for a second and really ask yourself what you want. I was an analyst myself, and I know it's hard to reflect when working 15 hours/day was considered a good day, and you have asshole seniors that just grind you to the max.

I have people under me today, and I still work 15-18 hours. I need to make rules to carve out time to force myself to not work. But, it's different. I am passionate about what I do, and I have genuine care about everything that is happening pertaining to my work/efforts. If you are passionate, you don't feel like you are grinding, even when you are grinding. I bet you Elon Musk doesn't complain about how stressful, tough and demanding his life is running two massive companies that are changing the world, even if it is. I bet you he feels alive, and his work is play. His work (and Twitter memes) make him happy.

If mega-cap buyouts get you "horny", obviously go for it. But, I am just not a buyer of putting yourself through hell for another 2-3 years (when you have just done 1-3 years of hell in IB), because of the MF brand, or thinking it means you will get into HBS because your were a junior associate at KKR's buyout funds, etc. There has got to be more to life.

The only exception in my opinion is that you have family members depending on your pay checks, and that extra $80-100k is the difference between putting your sibling/niece through college or not, then I respect you for suffering hell to support your family. But, if you are not, do you really think MF PE is the only way to success, when most don't even last 2-3 years?

I just want people to be happy dude.

  • VP in PE - Growth
Jun 8, 2022 - 4:48pm

I'll bite - I am always quite curious about the types of people who write those kind of posts, and I know you say you don't hold a grudge and are just trying to save the next generation, but still. Additionally, I also always like the „do you work in MF PE / have you worked in MF PE? - no but I have 16 friends who did / do and I swear they miserable!" add-on.

Anyway, won't go into details, but just a reality check:

- I am now a VP at one of those funds you despise so much and life is actually pretty solid

- I am married, spend lots of good time with friends and family on the weekends (and if lucky during the weeknights) and get do to sufficient vacation

- My friends (ouch I did it myself) at other funds are all reasonably happy, and those that were not switched. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you are not but that also happens in MM PE, VC, Growth or FP&A at F500 A

- There's some rough times here and there, but in the end I usually do 9.30am - 8/9pm, maybe some emails from home thereafter + limited weekend work

- Pay is pretty generous, perks are nice, I like the people I work with and my input is (often) valued - sometimes I have to shut up and execute, as is the case in other jobs btw.

- I prefer working with interesting companies, admittedly enjoy working with high-profile companies and inspiring founders vs some midwest car repair shops that for sure also make a nice roll-up story

- The downsides are competitive deals with tough timelines, resulting in tough peak hours from time to time and a good chunk of internal politics

- Rest is all fair game and not all doom and gloom; just need to find the right seat and team, regardless of MF PE, MM PE, Growth, HF, F500, Startup, etc.

Jun 8, 2022 - 4:57pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

People thrive. Never said they don't. Glad you are able to spend time with family. I am married too. The point of this post is not to say that everyone in MF is miserable. MF PE is by nature more miserable than other MF products, including growth. When I refer to MF PE, I refer to Buyout specifically. Growth and buyout lifestyles are not the same. I am in growth myself.

To clarify to you (incase you didn't read my comments), I don't despise those funds. I literally collect GP PPMs as a hobby. Don't get me wrong. If anything, I idolize those funds and always want to learn how those founders were able to build such incredible organizations, besides pure hustle and some luck. 

People who are happy are because they are cut out for it, and they love what they do (which is not a function of hours). People who go for brand/prestige, but not genuinely interested in mega-cap buyouts are more likely to detest the work.

I don't really care what you think of my intentions or myself. At least one person has commented that my post has hit home for them. I am glad you enjoy your career, and have a great balanced life (12 hours/day to me is good WLB). I am happy for you. 

Edit: my friends are MDs and principals. So, they are not miserable, and they are successful at their firms and understand the game. People who are miserable are the kids on this site that get into MF Buyouts for the wrong reasons. Not my friends or people I deal with in real life. Get your facts straight. My post was intended for people who are considering MF PE for the wrong reasons. This is a career advice blog. 

Jun 9, 2022 - 2:41am
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

12 hours doesn't necessarily mean working til 9pm. You can still go out for dinner and drinks, but do a couple hours of work when you go home. To me, in the context of trying to be successful in the game, it's not bad. It depends. Some people are not shooting for the stars, and happy just clip a pay check, then 12 hours will could seem bad. Everyone who wants to eventually do their own thing or make MD will have do that. It's just what it is. Depends what you want.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2022 - 9:54pm

For what it's worth I think these hours are exceptionally rare for MF buyout VPs. At my MF VPs work associate hours or slightly better. There are 3-4 week stretches like you describe but any sense of work/life balance is out the window once you're going to committee on a new deal

  • Analyst 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 8, 2022 - 5:27pm

Sorry that your girl left you for a MF PE Associate and reopened the trauma you got while unsuccessfully trying to recruit for MF PE some time ago.

your post smells soo badly of need for self reassurance… damn, I hope you get over the need for external approval. Be happy with what you do,  you don't need to tear what others do just to make you feel better. And even worse, trying to disguise it as you wanting to help. It doesn't take a PhD in psychology to figure out the motivations for this post.

and just for clarity, I don't work in MF PE I don't think that it is the only/best path to follow

Jun 8, 2022 - 6:07pm
Alt+A+W+T, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Man, this is kinda making me wanna go work at a MFPE

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself
Jun 8, 2022 - 8:23pm
Alt+A+W+T, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Says the guy named "P***y galore". Sit this one out. You used multiple F bombs & the "R" word while trying to preach social acuity & emotional intelligence lol.

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself
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Jun 9, 2022 - 12:39pm
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"Retard" is not a curse word.

Man are people soft these days…


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  • Senior VP in AM - FI
Jun 8, 2022 - 10:26pm

This is an epic post, clearly written to be controversial (even the follow up comments) but for those that can see past the caricature being painted is a very good take. 

I think a less controversial way of saying what the OP is writing is that instead of just following the path of target -> top BB -> MF one should really reflect on who they are, what they enjoy and are good at, what type of organization they want to be part of and what lifestyle they want. For the true finance junkie workaholics that want to be part of large platforms MFs are great ways to chart that course. However, for someone with a more entrepreneurial mindset, someone that wants to be closer to investing or operating and/or have any semblance of a work/life balance then entering a MF after IB is not a good decision. The skills learned there will not help, and maybe even handicap, working at a smaller and more nimble organization. Which is not to say they aren't valuable skills..they are but just specific to very large organization with unlimited resources and very fine tuned processes and infrastructure. However, such skills of managing complex processes with unlimited information handicap much of the business world that requires making decisions without anywhere close to perfect information and vastly inferior resources. In terms of lifestyle, its one thing to grind while young but once you get older and certainly after having kids working long hours is miserable. There are plenty of high paying jobs, buyside or corporate, that are paying mid to high 6 figures doing a 40-50 hour week at the more mid to senior level. You won't have as big of a house and maybe you're at the fairmont and not the rosewood while on vacation but directionally speaking your life isn't that different. For some, working long hours is worth it to them so that's great. 

Basically, plan your career for what you value most, not what is the most prestigious to a 22 year old. 

I'll end by saying a friend of mine at the partner level took 2 days off when having a kid. That is the type of person one is ultimately competing with. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2022 - 3:46pm

Lol what jobs are paying $500K-$1M where you work 40-50 hours….

  • Senior VP in AM - FI
Jun 9, 2022 - 4:43pm

Credit (high yield, CLOs, direct lending), long only equities, growth equity and VC....of course things can ebb and flow so lets say 50 can be the norm (firm specific)...and again mid/sr level. Not to be crass or throw shade as you both say LBOs but there is just so much process driven work that is avoided outside of the LBO space. Also, the amount of compound learning for a sector analyst is pretty massive and highly leveragble in terms of time. Not saying these jobs are better or worse...just describing the realities that exist and then its up to the individual to choose what path they want. 

Jun 10, 2022 - 12:45pm
Chimp scampi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Allocator here. 

Don't know about the rest on this post. But I do know that MF ppl spinning out to create their own funds don't really make the bar vs someone from a smaller but reputable shop. We know that part of the "success" of ppl's track record at MFs are partially, if not all, due to the MF's deal flow and resources. So if that's the route ppl want to go, here's a data point. 

And if I look at spinout founders' resumes, not often we see ppl going from MF to smaller shop then spin out - most of them join a smaller shop from IB immediately. Not sure how much of that is false correlation, but my guess is ppl who are at MF probably wouldn't want to move to a smaller shop. All conjectures and anecdotal observations. 

Jun 10, 2022 - 1:55pm
2rigged2fail, what's your opinion? Comment below:

every PE guy I've met is a virgin.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 11, 2022 - 2:59pm

The only thought I want to highlight which I think gets understated on this forum is this idea of "I'll grind hard for a few years early in my career and eventually get to a place where my life gets good". I think anyone who's gone through IB should understand or maybe even have experienced that even one year of burning the candle at both ends can feel like an eternity and derail your career a la burnout.

This lesson should be transferred to those looking to get MFPE jobs. If you go somewhere with bad culture that doesn't respect your personal life/time you'll likely burn out of the industry right before you actually start making real money through carry/coinvest. If there's anything I can urge people is to take a long-term view and discount the thought of "oh if I hate MF pe I can easily lateral to a chill MM firm"- that's going to be hard to do when you hate and develop an aversion to pe investing. 

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Jun 14, 2022 - 2:01am

Most of the above is to varying degrees true. But you still sound like a humongous pussy that is trying to make yourself feel better now that you invested so much time and effort to get to a destination and realized that you don't have it in you to double down and invest as much as your peers are willing to in order to excel there.

It's a long hard grueling road. Anyone that thinks they reach the Destination and will be on a glide path 4 years into their career is naive and misinformed.

Jun 14, 2022 - 2:31pm
blackshoes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In hindsight, I should have just expressed my views in my normal tone, and not put on an "over the top" persona. That, I completely agree.

In terms of not having it in me to double down and invest as much as my peers, I have no idea what you mean. I am not in MF Buyouts and have never been interested in buyouts, so what I do and where I am at is likely not the same "destination" that you are referring to. I am complacent with my career and my current trajectory, so not sure what I need to make myself feel better about.

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Jun 15, 2022 - 12:42am

In hindsight, I should have just expressed my views in my normal tone, and not put on an "over the top" persona. That, I completely agree.

In terms of not having it in me to double down and invest as much as my peers, I have no idea what you mean. I am not in MF Buyouts and have never been interested in buyouts, so what I do and where I am at is likely not the same "destination" that you are referring to. I am complacent with my career and my current trajectory, so not sure what I need to make myself feel better about.

Uh huh, ok.

For someone that's not in MF PE and never has been, you sure spend a lot of time thinking about people that are.

Jun 16, 2022 - 3:19pm
chihayafull, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lmaoooo all the bozos in this thread calling OP a pussy are the real insecure pussies. Dudes point, when distilled down, is literally "don't make yourself miserable for the wrong reasons." Imagine getting triggered over that! 

Nobody's putting anyone down for doing PE, we're shitting on the guys who go in purely because of name brand and are clearly miserable yet handcuffed (for y'all that are happy, post is not for you). And you know the scary part? That description applies to me 100%, along with a lot of my friends, and we're going through the process of unlearning the toxic mindset that put us here in the first place. First step is recognition of the problem, and the more posts on this for young people, the better informed kids are gonna be. I know when I was recruiting for IB it was all like "oh yeah it's gonna suck but I'll do it anyway." Well, 4 years later, it still sucks and I'm depressed despite being pretty good at my job. Could I continue and get promoted /whatever? Yeah, I'm actually pretty fucking confident that I could. Do I want to? Absolutely not. 

Jun 21, 2022 - 9:59am
Yoooooo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I matched with a few guys on dating apps, top PE firm associates from Ivy. Same people sending me likes for 5+ years. Yet they were always so dismissive. One guy said " I don't need to chase", another said "people don't know what PE means".

As someone that knew finance was BS before I got in, but almost got caught into that prestigious lie, it was an epiphany.

Jun 25, 2022 - 2:38pm
knowledgeispower81, what's your opinion? Comment below:

did this clown post this because he got rejected from a MF PE firm? I don't work at a MF. Just find it hilarious that he took all this time to write about something that he doesn't know about from first-hand experience. that's WILD haha

Jul 2, 2022 - 7:09pm
crimsonpe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Quia quo sed illum blanditiis quia voluptatem voluptate. Molestias nam amet laboriosam saepe. Blanditiis ratione et deserunt esse error. Eos sed illum molestias qui velit nihil.

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  • Works at Goldman Sachs
Aug 2, 2022 - 6:18am

Officia et asperiores dignissimos et quo quasi numquam. Id sed qui sed debitis consequatur officiis. Non commodi et veniam ex. A saepe qui aut velit ea repudiandae. Voluptatum sunt iusto est. Omnis aspernatur quae illo ratione sapiente autem velit aspernatur.

Consequuntur aut et corporis odit ut. Velit corporis eligendi est quis quas est. Aut est qui tenetur distinctio soluta ea id. Enim facere debitis consequatur necessitatibus facere. Architecto voluptas nulla quia. Qui tempora dolore rem aut enim repellendus. Sunt fugiat debitis asperiores nulla.

Voluptates nulla voluptatum nisi voluptatem a velit est. Quas maxime sed eius. Reiciendis voluptatem praesentium nemo impedit est libero fugit.

Deleniti voluptatem qui facilis necessitatibus. Fuga ipsam laboriosam quod possimus in et. Labore ipsam perspiciatis sed enim.

Aug 2, 2022 - 11:41am
Nice_____, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Aut voluptas sint animi libero nobis est. Voluptates non reiciendis rerum aut accusantium explicabo. Ullam et vero ut soluta sit ea rerum. Optio omnis in et quia ea. Voluptatem laborum qui commodi accusantium.

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Aug 6, 2022 - 12:11am
Wallstreetertobe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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