Carry in REPE

I have heard a lot of people talking about carry in REPE, but can anyone give me an idea of the levels that can be expected? I appreciate that with seniority comes more carry, but what level is to be expected ?

As a % of base pay potentially.


I won’t get into the amount of carry. That is firm, individual, and position specific. Carry could be on a project level or fund level. Timing is also a factor; you might have been essential for firm growth regardless of seniority.

I will say there are different types of carry vesting that I want to point out:

  • carry that only is effective (vested) if you are still employed by the company

  • carry that is not contingent on employment (which is if you leave the company, you still get)

  • or some variation thereof (rolling vesting)

The nature of carry is it usually takes years to obtain. Usually it is doled out at the beginning of the fund/project when a LP(s) are in the deal/fund. It can be great additional cash (or it can be small - less profitable deal, smaller deal, lookbacks, big accumulated deferred pref, co-investors, taxes, etc). It can also be golden handcuffs (you are chasing the Hope Certificates deeper into your career). It can also be taken away from you if contingent on employment. Companies change, people change.

For those who think carry is the holy grail, it’s not often always the case. It’s a sweet incentive structure, but often the terms are in the employer’s favor.

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For those who think carry is the holy grail, it’s not often always the case. It’s a sweet incentive structure, but often the terms are in the employer’s favor.

Not to throw extra cold water on the 'value of carry' but many firms have provisions that the value of carry 'given' to employees usually gets reduced or factored by firm expenses (i.e. like your salary, perks, travel, etc.). The net effect is that the actual cash value of the carry can be a lot less in many circumstances. Like when a recession comes and delays the exits that trigger the liquidity events that fund the carry payouts; those extra years of firm expenses (and any interest compound if applicable) can eat the value of carry positions dramatically.

My advice, fight for big salaries and annual bonuses, I like my pay up front.

The better, but riskier deal, is being allowed to invest co-equally at the GP level with the firm. This will require your cash. Some firms 'front' the cash in the form of loans (sometimes interest free). Don't expect this early in a career, you probably have to be at EVP/MD type level in most cases. Still in small firms, it could be negotiated for.


redever once again great comment. In a lot of things Cash is King. Recessions, unforeseen events will happen.

I could see where carry is attractive with rolling project sales (promotes) and extra money coming in every year or two. Taxed at long term capital gains rates (biggest advantage vs a bonus which is taxes at ordinary income). I would say you should have a high degree of trust with the firm’s leadership if you are going to go all-in with your career and earning potential. If you are busting ass and you get the opportunity, I won’t discourage anyone from taking it, because it’s a great sign the firm likes you around. Ultimately the firm (or your firm) should become a vehicle for you to get rich - if you are deemed deserving; this is how you hitch a ride without a lot of personal risk (this is key).

Yes, a bit of cold water with the details. There’s always that.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life. Check out my blog at

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