MF PE to MENA, bad idea?

All,Thank you for taking the time to reading me. Asking for advice here as I tried to get a sense of what life in the Middle East (UAE) could be , but so far had a poor success rate when trying to cold-messaging people on LinkedIn.

A bit of background:

  • Associate at what some would call a MF or large fund (real estate team)
  • London based, but originally from another western EU country

The idea: London has been good so far, but somehow I intended to get back to my home country on the short/medium term. Thing is, there is not really MF presence there, so I would take a pay cut but still live decently as I should be able to make it to top local shops due to my current experience.However, I recently heard from relatives about very lucrative positions in Dubai/Abu Dhabi, great lifestyle for families (housing, car and other expat allowances, no tax, etc.). I am now thinking about a potential move there for a few years (stacking cash ++) before coming back, but I also heard that whatever my previous experience was, it would be heavily discounted/complicated to come back due to being in the MENA region. I must admit that weather + chill lifestyle (better hours at top SWFs) + stacking cash sounds pretty appealing to me (+ potential connections to wealthy people for fundraising).

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

 

Honestly, no, I mean, I have heard people say all of your contacts are now from that part of the world, but to me, that doesn't make sense. Suppose you are investing on an LP basis globally or, more specifically, in Europe, the US, etc. I don't understand how that makes any sense because if you're the capital provider, why do your connections to the smaller, more localized GPs make a difference?  Maybe I am missing something but it just doesn't make sense to me.

 

Understood. That does not make sense to me as well, especially as large SWFs have also direct investment capacity now. I have been working on a few deals recently (South Europe) and they were competing against us in several processes, which makes it harder as they have a very low cost of capital from what I know. In that case, they have not only direct relationships with EU/US brokers, but also investment bankers and other funds when co-investing.

 

It’s largely a pedigree thing same reason why experience in London is perceived as more appealing than Paris or Berlin for example and they are in close proximity.

From what I have seen it’s harder for these euro guys to get into London than people actually in the market not only because they are easily onboarded but also the assumption that the best people are already operating in the market.

On ME, my personal opinion is that it’s a cash out you enjoy the benefits but you largely dull your blade in the competitive markets regardless of deal flow. (i.e the market assumes you made the move because you couldn’t make it in prime time).

 
Most Helpful

Know a few juniors and seniors who made the move. The reason is always one: money. And everyone knows it. I’d split it by seniority:

  • At very junior level a couple of years in ME won’t hurt: you can spin it as exploring different cultures etc. It’s almost financially equivalent to remaining in London.
  • At mid-level (think Associate/VP) it’s a very bad move: these are the 5-10 years when you build your professional relationships. You can definitely build your network in the ME but as you are switching being hired from “what I know” to “whom I know”, it will be hard to justify your value-add when you want to move back to Europe / US. The difference in economics won’t make up for what you lose professionally.
  • As senior (think 15y+ experience, team head) moving to the ME is many times a family choice (private schools, significant expat benefits). If you want to come back you can afford not to work for a couple of years thanks to the wealth you created for yourself while in the ME.
 

OP here - thanks for this! Just wanted to understand your second point as I would move at the associate/senior associate level. SWFs tends to invest massively in Europe, meaning that you are on a daily or weekly basis discussing with EU counterparts, working on EU deals as well. How is that really different from being in major EU cities to build your network?

Also, what about staying until director/MD position, stack a lot of cash and build a network of wealthy Middle Eastern guys? Can it be seen as valuable for fundraising or co-investing/JV partnering?

 

Likelihood is you wont make D, and definitely not MD through internal promotions. These seem reserved for locals or external hires.

I agree with other parts of your post, if you're in Real Estate in a ME SWF you'll be covering Europe, not local investments. Your network will be European GPs, lawyers, advisors, IBs etc. I can't see it being an easy transfer to very reputable fund, but it's a pretty obvious crossover for the larger pension funds / SWFs (ex: CPP / GIC etc) who have offices in London and would be targetting the same type of investments. Important caveat is that this assumes you're at a reputable SWF like ADIA, not some local prince's play thing.

 

Eligendi maiores ad est laboriosam. Id dolor ab quas ipsa fugiat. Ut eum voluptatum reprehenderit laborum et doloremque.

Nostrum enim ad eaque porro. Sed maiores mollitia incidunt aperiam consequuntur amet inventore. Eius sit dolorem sint.

Deleniti dolores id accusantium quaerat eaque reprehenderit consequatur. Aut sint enim cupiditate. Provident eius alias qui itaque quos animi nobis.

Career Advancement Opportunities

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company 02 99.4%
  • Lazard Freres No 98.8%
  • Harris Williams & Co. 25 98.3%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 04 97.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Harris Williams & Co. 18 99.4%
  • JPMorgan Chase 10 98.8%
  • Lazard Freres 05 98.3%
  • Morgan Stanley 07 97.7%
  • William Blair 03 97.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres 01 99.4%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.8%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 98.3%
  • Moelis & Company 07 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 05 97.1%

Total Avg Compensation

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $648
  • Vice President (21) $373
  • Associates (91) $259
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (14) $181
  • Intern/Summer Associate (33) $170
  • 2nd Year Analyst (68) $168
  • 1st Year Analyst (205) $159
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (146) $101
notes
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”

Leaderboard

1
redever's picture
redever
99.2
2
Secyh62's picture
Secyh62
99.0
3
Betsy Massar's picture
Betsy Massar
99.0
4
BankonBanking's picture
BankonBanking
99.0
5
dosk17's picture
dosk17
98.9
6
CompBanker's picture
CompBanker
98.9
7
kanon's picture
kanon
98.9
8
GameTheory's picture
GameTheory
98.9
9
numi's picture
numi
98.8
10
Jamoldo's picture
Jamoldo
98.8
success
From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”