PE Ops Associate Comp and Future?

I'm currently a BA/Associate/AC in MBB, potentially looking into on-cycle PE recruiting in the fall. A few friends from college who are analysts at top MFs have reached out to me to say I should consider applying. They've also told me that if deal side/technical financials aren't my cup of tea, I should look into the operations associate track (e.g. KKR capstone).

What is this career path like at the moment? From what I can tell, it seems like it plays sort of second-fiddle to the deal team in terms of comp and overall organizational "importance". Is that true? I've also heard that a lot of funds are building out their ops groups and hiring at more junior levels, so where do we see the future of the ops track going? Does this hiring suggest it's becoming more important, and comp/emphasis will rise alongside it? Or will it always be second to the deal team. 

Interested to hear everyone's opinions, because I'd hate to leave MBB where I like working on a ton of diff projects in a role/stream that is valued by the company and having protected weekends, to slaving away in PE for no real comp increase in a second-thought role.

Comments (12)

Most Helpful
Jan 7, 2022 - 8:48pm
CashBuffer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You'll need to reach out to alumni and talk to your friends to get a sense. A lot of firms are building their ops group and experience varies. Likely at some funds, you'll be considered "2nd fiddle" but perhaps at others there's real parity. It depends on how the firm views your team and how comp is structure.

FWIW, I've heard KKR has a great program and they are supposedly generous with sharing deal economics. But what is clear is that the experience will be different from consulting and likely a step down in quality of life and diversity of projects. You'll also likely end up doing similar work but without the perks of MBB culture and expense budget. 

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Jan 9, 2022 - 5:31pm

This response matches what I've been told so far. The most in-depth conversation I had, my friend (MF) said that at the associate level, Ops route was compensated less (more in line with a Senior BA/AC at Mck/Bain role than a PE associate role), but that there is the opportunity to earn carry at the VP/MD equivalents. Seems to be the kind of role you'd take if you were into PortCo work instead of F500 work, or wanted to try and game long-term comp.

He also told me that they hire from waaaay beyond MBB (lots of B4/T2 consulting firms with alum at this shop and others), and I guess this could be a much better comp game for those people too.

Nov 23, 2022 - 11:13pm
suban, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Im in my 4th year out of undergrad and I'm a PE Ops Associate, make $300k+ cash plus levered CoInvest, working about 50 hours a week. Love the work Im doing as well, super interesting learning how to run a company. We work closely with the Deals folks. Dont regret taking this over deal team at all tho, they make a bit more but also work wayyyy more, not worth it IMO.

  • Prospect in PE - Growth
Nov 25, 2022 - 7:30pm

Did you recruit into the team out of UG? Or did you do IB/MBB beforehand? I'm definitely more interested in being an operator than being an investor

Nov 24, 2022 - 7:44pm
dhhfhfhfhfhfbfbfhfhf, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Incoming MBB analyst interested in this. Just wondering which funds are known to have the highest comp for their operating associates as well as which funds have the best teams. Are there any where you aren't treated like a far second to the deal team? 

Nov 26, 2022 - 12:08pm
kindheartedconsultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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