Neuberger Berman (NB) - my experience/overview

Making this post because I want to give back to the WSO community as I've learnt a lot from you guys. Thought I'd share some quality colour on NB as I noticed there isn't much insightful info about the company online.


Culture and London office

During my first day, the most senior person in the office gave a rundown on NB and its history as a rising phoenix from the Lehman bankruptcy (NB was the product of a management buyout from the Lehman Brothers asset management division). He described NB's culture as Lehman Brothers with less testosterone and I think that really sums it up. A lot of old dogs in the industry who are a lot more humble and experienced. However, this sword cuts both ways as it means that the firm is top-heavy, with no grad programme either (at least in the LDN office). Another differentiator is that it's one of the largest AM first to still be privately held and employee-owned, you can tell that there's a more long-term oriented strategy and less churn at the firm. Overall I'd say the culture is pretty top-notch for an American firm, even for AM standards. Culture is different in the PE team as they are china-walled to the rest of the firm.


Interesting public strategics

Not going to go into their public investment strategies because they're pretty bogstandard and I have no extra intel to share on this (fun fact: Steve Eisman, played by Steve Carell in The Big Short, is now an MD at NB). They do some pretty esoteric stuff like insurance-linked strategies or putwriting - I think these types of strategies, along with their private markets, really set NB apart from the other large AMs. 


NB private equity

NB's private investments are pretty much all co-invest or FoF. Within private markets, NB is extremely well regarded and has strong relationships with the largest GPs. With their mountain of dry powder and established processes that can execute quickly, they make ideal co-investors. They've also made a name for themselves within the secondary (GP and LP led) space and I think they're probably one of the top non-pureplay secondary investors in the market now. The PE team has much more of the banking culture that one would expect, but they seem to be very smart and avg tenure there is long. No colour on comp but have heard it's slightly below street with also slightly better hours. 


Hiring and internship

The LDN office does a 10-week internship that spans from late June to late August. There is one intern for each division. Sales, risk, PE, emerging markets, products, marketing, multiasset, fund management, etc... The intern class consists of 8-12 people - of which approx 40% come from diversity programmes such as 10K black interns. The pro rated comp for the internship was less than 25k GBP. The conversion rate is extremely low as most divisions are not expecting to hire their intern. The best chances are in PE or back office teams. Historically, the PE team can offer you an off-cycle off the back of the internship and you can convert into an analyst through that. You can apply via LinkedIn or directly through their workday portal. The process doesn't have any online tests, one round hr and then additional rounds with the team. IMO, I think it's a bit wasteful to not convert more of their interns, but on the flipside, the firm might not be the best place to start one's career anyway, with the lack of training and exposure. Think this is an amazing opportunity for 1st and 2nd years who are looking for a stepping stone into landing a FT or summer at their target firm. 
Happy holidays, happy to answer more questions.

 

Initially was going to post in the AM forum. But all the conversations about NB seem to be asking about their PE team, so thought I'd tailor the post to be more oriented about the PE team with info on the wider firm. 

 

Cheers for this.

Will definitely apply for the SA for 25 summer after I wrap up my internship here

 
Most Helpful

Associate 2 in PE - LBOs:

Neuberger is annoying as shit when it comes to co-invest.


Can you elaborate on this point please? I work in a co-invest role and am curious how GPs view these things (assuming you are on the GP side).

Having dealt with many GPs over the years I would also describe a number of them with bang average track records as incredibly aggressive and not very forthcoming with information when it comes to dealing with co-investors. The attitude I am describing is something like ‘I know better than you, you should be thankful that I am offering you the opportunity to invest in this business. Do not ask me any questions, just sign the cheque and trust me’.

This worked for many people when rates were negative and GPs were raising 3 funds in 5 years and they could afford to act like this while still hitting their target fund sizes.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years. GPs are being more open and keen to engage with co-investors now when debt is expensive, they still want to pay 20x for an asset but their fundraising is not going according to plan.

If you are describing a co-investor as ‘annoying’ because they drag you along and cannot deliver a decision in the agreed timeline this is one thing, however if your comment is on the back of a co-investor asking you a lot of questions (to which sometimes you may not have the answers to) in order to complete their due diligence, this is a different thing. I know who I would like to partner with in the long term… people who ask intelligent questions to understand businesses better and form a view vs people who blindly write cheques and hope for the best.

 

I appreciate your response and should say that my initial comment was definitely harsher than it should have been. I will also say that individuals that I've worked with are not reflective of an entire firm, especially one at the size of NB. To be clear, my comment isn't regarding the amount of questioning (although what you said is true and unfair that many of our partners view this as an annoyance). That's simply part of the process. Your takes on changing GP/LP dynamics are spot on as well.

I have found that the teams there I have worked with have a tendency to drag their feet unnecessarily when providing feedback and some VPs and up came off as rather unsophisticated when doing diligence. As a result, it has led to juniors on the side of the GP essentially having to spoon feed answers / walk through basic model questions to guide them along during the diligence phase on top of other responsibilities. I find the process of working with co-investors very similar to working with lenders. The PC community just always seems much more prepared and engaged, which is why I view them more as partners during a transaction. And yes, I understand that a large part of that is because of the pivotal role they serve in getting a deal done, but co-investors are given access to the same VDR and are brought in on a very similar decision-making timeline. 

This was longer than intended, but to summarize using part of your phrasing: I often find they want to be viewed as more than "people who blindly write checks and hope for the best" but in the end they have come off as not asking the most "intelligent questions to understand businesses better and form a view". I don't want this to come off as an attack on co-investment. I've worked and interacted with several similar groups of different sizes that do great work and even pose questions or viewpoints that we had not even previously thought of. This is just from personal experience.

 

Unrelated - I am currently in a MM shop considering a move to co-investment side. Would love to hear your thoughts on career path and comps trajectory if you can share some insights! 

 

Have had GPs openly rip on LPs as being “too unsophisticated to recognize a good investment opportunity”… meanwhile said GP’s returns are 3rd quartile at best. Every GP thinks their baby is different and the best.

 

Very much depends on who you are. If you come in with a tiny cheque that realistically any of the LPs can write then just open the h cheque book or don’t — we’re showing you something to bring your fees down and that’s it. If you’re a large SWF who can close a meaningful equity gap in the triple digits then you obviously have a bit more you can ask for. Ultimately, unless you’re one of the very largest co-investors, your cheque can likely be swapped out pretty quickly with someone else’s, which is why people get annoyed regardless of whether you are or aren’t asking good questions — if IC has signed off the deal team typically has very little to no appetite to do any further work. That may be wrong but is the reality of the situation often

 

Can you elaborate on this point please? I work in a co-invest role and am curious how GPs view these things (assuming you are on the GP side).

I would also describe a number of them with bang average track records as incredibly aggressive and not very forthcoming with information when it comes to dealing with co-investors. The attitude I am describing is something like ‘I know better than you, you should be thankful that I am offering you the opportunity to invest in this business. Do not ask me any questions.

I would second this experience 

 

There are separate teams for Primaries/Coinvest (internally called PIPCO) and Secondaries (mixed LP/GP-led, slightly weighted toward GP-led), and fully separate associate programs. I can’t speak fully to the balance of work between Primaries/Coinvest work for PIPCO associates, but I believe it would be pretty balanced given there is a pretty equal balance of FoF and co-invest AUM for that group.

Hours probably average 9-730/8, with sprints bringing that later a few times a year for a few weeks at a time going into IC, and also more chill periods a few times a year where people are leaving closer to 6. Weekend work is rare.

 

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