PE Associate Middle East Sovereign Fund vs. Zurich family office

Dear all, 

May I ask for your advice/point of view and things to consider regarding 2 jobs opportunities that I have? 

I am currently an Investment Manager in the Private Debt team of an European fund (€15bn AUM,€1bn in PD) in Frankfurt (Germany). 

The first one is at a sovereign fund in middle east (€500bn AUM) in the PE team as an associate, c.€130k annual fixed salary (no tax). Bonus up to c.€60k.

The second one is at a Swiss family office as a Private Debt Manager, small team of 4 where I would use my experience in Private Debt for the launch of a new Private Debt funds. More responsibility and good work/life balance. Comps at CHF 110-120k and bonus at CHF 30-40k.

Regarding the experience, work/life balance, career, exit opportunities and comps, what would you recommend me to consider? 

Thank you very much for your help! Happy to give more details if that helps.




Comments (18)

Most Helpful
  • Consultant in Consulting

Good spot to be in. Couple points to consider:

  • Future Experience: Are you happy staying in debt? Sounds like the SWF role would be a tad more on the generalist side which can open up more future opportunities as well as teach new skills. The FO would be right in your wheelhouse, but do you want to continue staying in debt? If so, go for it. The additional responsibility would set you up well for rapid growth at this fund and give you the opportunity to "build" something yourself.
  • Location and CoL: Neither option sounds like you're going to a major party city. Location on both fronts will be important. If the SWF in Doha or Dubai? Is the FO in Zurich or Geneva? The QoL of day-to-day living really needs to be considered here as you'll probably spend the next 2-3 years at this role. Factoring in CoL, both offers appear to pay quite well but 190K EUR gets you much further in the ME than CHF 160K does in Switzerland.
ssksama, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you very much for your reply, that's really helpful. 

1. It's true that I am pretty attracted by Private Equity but it is not a problem for me to stay in debt. 

2. The SWF is in Riyadh and the FO is in Zürich. These are not the best party cities indeed, quality of life is certainly better in Zürich but I don't really know how it is in Riyadh. About the monye, it's true that it has nothing to do between both opportunities.

My real concern are:

a - Is it worth it in tems of career to go to a SWF in Riyad but "sacrifice" my life balance (family, friends) for experience and money even for 1-3 years? 

b - Are the exit opportunities much better with PE in ME or FO/PD in Zürich if I wish to come back to Europe in the future? 

c - What are the pros and cons of FO in terms of career development given that I am 29 and have only 4 years experience ?

Thanks again for your reply, that's really helpful!!

  • 2
  • Consultant in Consulting

I would avoid Saudi to be honest. It might make sense if you were given an offer that was 3-5x the Swiss one because you would be able to save in 3 years what would take 10 in Europe. Given the relatively small salary difference, it doesn't make sense. Exit opportunities will be generally better in Switzerland. Although the work won't be direcltly tied to PE, you will have access to European recruiters, can still leverage your general finance knowledge and craft a story around how you helped "build" the FO. The FO won't be a barrier to other opportunities. You might get a bit more attention from Debt funds than regular ones, but your previous finance experience should still allow you to conduct broad searches across different areas of PE. All things considered, I'd go to Zurich.

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge

FWIW, PIF is pretty sick. I've heard their NYC office pays a lot.

Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Take the Swiss gig, why live in a strange Middle East city where you don't know anyone and won't really fit in? Unless it's dubai, Middle East should be a hard pass for a white dude.

  • 1
  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

Happy to be corrected as I am curious myself but I have heard that the SWF jobs in MENA are not great if you want to end up moving back to Europe since the work you're doing in PE at the big SWF funds is not looked upon well. i.e. 

lots of co-invest and allocation rather than sourcing because of the huge fund size 

Lots of deals geographically in MENA i.e. you buy some bank in Oman which just isn't relevant to European investment scene

Idk I've heard being in Riyadh/Abu/Dubai burns your CV the longer you're there

Also consider you'll have to put up with locals who aren't that smart but got in through nepotism/drive to recruit Saudi/UAE nationals regardless of background

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov

Is pay really only ~€200k all-in in these places? Looks like the Original Poster has a few years of experience already. Had heard levels of closer to USD300-500k all-in with free housing. Otherwise probably not worth the reduction in quality of life

Vænnen, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Europe/ Switzerland does not have to pay the diversity bonus unlike NYC/ LA and other shitholes 

LongTermWarrior, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agree with the cultural shock comments if you move to Riyadh. I think your quality of life will be significantly higher in Zurich vs Riyadh (AD/Dubai/Doha would be different) and if you are happy to stay in the debt side I'd say go for the Zurich offer, you'll enjoy life much more although you'll have less money but I wouldn't worry about this if you are only 29. Also, why don't you leverage the PE offer to negotiate a better pay with the Zurich offer? Say that you are grateful for the offer and are happy to take it but compensation is making you hesitant because you have this other offer which offers you better base and much bigger bonus. Try to take the Zurich offer to 130k base and take it.

snowywhite, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dude, Saudi is totally different to UAE. That's typically really awful coming from Frankfurt

Swiss offer is very low comp. Remember average income is 80k. Even the cashier at Migros makes almost 70k

makura, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Zurich is a great city to live in, even if its a bit more oldschool than Frankfurt (have lived in both and liked Zurich better). Comp wise, the Swiss offer is low and should be much closer to 200k all-in, as I would assume you have >5 years experience based on your current role. But this is common practice for for candidates currently outside of Switzerland, as it is really difficult to get a solid salary indication for roles if you don't have a Swiss network already. But agree with the poster above, renegotiate your salary leveraging the other offer and enjoy your time in Zurich. 

  • 1
  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Gen

Great opportunities and good luck, is it fine if I message you with a couple of questions?

  • PM in HF - Other

Regarding lifestyle, I actually like Dubai a lot, Riyadh - not so much. 

  • Works at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

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