Allen & Co. - An In-Depth Review

In browsing this forum, I've come across some misinformation (or none at all) about Allen & Company. The firm has historically been shrouded in secrecy...until today. Hopefully, I can shed some light on this super-secretive firm. All information was gathered through online resources and discussions with current and former employees over several years.

The History of Allen & Co

Informative link on Allen's history: http://www.cornerofberkshireandfairfax.ca/forum/ge...

Currently, the firm is run by the third-generation of the Allen family, Herb Allen.

The Allen & Company website is nonexistent.

Overview of Allen & Company

Allen & Company has 180 employees split among M&A, Capital Markets, Wealth Management, and Venture Capital. The M&A group consists of approximately 35 bankers and hires both summer interns and sometimes fresh college graduates.

Some well-known Managing Directors include George Tenet (former Director of the CIA), Bob Kerrey (former Senator), Bill Bradley (former Senator), and Dan Lufkin (founder of DLJ). Ian Smith (based in San Francisco) is the most important banker at the firm: he brings in the vast majority of the firm's deal flow and IBD revenues.

Ian Smith on Business Insider's list of top tech bankers: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-tech-bankers-in...

Ian Smith's LinkedIn and list of deals: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iangsmith

The firm does not have a San Francisco office. The entire firm is located in New York, with two Managing Directors in San Francisco.

Allen and Company New York Office

Located at the Coca-Cola Building on 711 Fifth Avenue in New York, the firm's offices have a very "old-school" vibe: dark wooden furniture, framed wall photos, expensive art, sculptures. The firm also has a full kitchen and butler staff, whose responsibilities are to serve clients and Managing Directors.

Allen & Co Investment Bank - Deal Flow and Fees

The M&A group is known to work on high-profile transactions in Technology and Media. However, Allen & Company will often slip into a deal more because of its relationships rather than its ability to execute. As a result, the firm is rarely, if ever, the sole advisor in large deals: it will usually co-advise with other banks (sometimes swooping in last minute) and allow them to do the heavy lifting.

Many of the firm's transactions are not publicly disclosed, so league tables underestimate the firm's true deal volume. Clients often come to Allen & Company for its discretion, since they can be certain that the deal will not be leaked before closing.

The firm does little pitching. On a revenue per employee basis, Allen & Company ranks near the top and very competitive with Qatalyst. The firm's transaction size "sweet spot" is between $200 million and $1 billion.

Culture and Compensation of Allen and Company

The firm is known to have a good culture. People are extremely accommodating, supportive, and respectful of each other's time. There is little busy work, and senior banker exposure is excellent. However, there is a lack of junior banker camaraderie given the lack of "home-grown analysts" (most of the junior bankers are lateral hires) and the conservative nature of the firm.

The firm has earned a reputation for being extremely secretive, but not in a good way. The firm is effectively a "black box": internal decisions are made behind strictly closed doors, and there is little communication within the office regarding high-level matters. When a large deal closes, or when a new senior banker joins the firm, or when someone retires, an employee will often first hear about it online.

The firm claims to have an "entrepreneurial" environment, but in reality, the culture is very stuffy and traditional. The firm is incredibly bureaucratic, as every decision must go through the CEO. The entrepreneurial part refers to the fact that MDs are paid 100% on revenues they bring in (30% cut), though other firms may employ a similar structure.

Compensation is in line with other banks, likely at the higher end.

Exit Oppertunities from A&C

Analysts do not get many looks from headhunters as a BB/EB/MM because of the small analyst classes and lack of name brand. However, a few Analysts have gone into growth equity, though these candidates were extraordinary. Most end up in corporate development, startups, and business school. This is not the firm to join if you are set on buy-side opportunities.

While the firm claims that it wants to hire career bankers at the Analyst level, essentially all of its Analysts exit. The majority of the firm's Associates and above are BB/EB/MM lateral Analysts who knew they wanted to stay in IB long-term, which is the same case at any other bank.

The junior bankers are very bright, but not ridiculously impressive. Many of the best undergraduate candidates will often leverage an offer at Allen & Company for something else (see below for reason).

Allen & Co Sun Valley Conference

This event is reserved exclusively for the Managing Directors, along with one or two select Vice Presidents and Associates. For all intents and purposes, this conference does not affect Analysts or Associates.

How to Get A Job with Allen & Co? The Recruiting Process

The firm will conduct OCR at a handful of schools and offer resume drops at others. These schools are not consistent year over year, nor do they have true "target" schools. The firm is open to recruiting from non-core schools.

The surest way to get a job at Allen & Company is to cold-email (see bottom for email format). Expect 1-3 phone screens before being invited to a superday in New York. Superday questions are a split between behavioral and standard M&I technical questions. For relationship hires, expect an easier interview process, or none at all. Recently, 1/4 of the class has been composed of relationship hires, and the rest normal hires.

Summer Analyst Positions for Allen & Co New York

Each summer class consists of 13-15 interns split among sophomores and juniors (overwhelmingly juniors). About 2/3 are placed in the M&A group and the rest into Capital Markets and Wealth Management. Sophomore interns have historically landed top-notch junior summer internships (BX, JPM, Lazard).

Note that sophomore interns who return to Allen & Company for their junior year are not guaranteed full-time offers.

All junior interns in M&A are eligible for one of three full-time spots in M&A, while junior interns in Capital Markets and Wealth Management do not have an opportunity to return full-time (the firm does not hire out of college for these divisions). The firm will also consider external candidates for full-time spots in M&A.

Converting a summer internship into a full-time position is extremely risky because most banks fill their full-time positions with summer interns. As a result, many top candidates will leverage an offer at Allen & Co. for something more secure. Overall, it is not recommended to intern there as a junior as the odds are not good (the firm prides itself on hiring based on relationships). But this all depends on your risk appetite.

Landing a Full Time Position at Allen & Co

For lateral hires, going through a headhunter is the best way, though you'll need to work in a TMT group or TMT focused firm. Otherwise, cold emailing would probably work best.

How to Find Contact Information for Bankers

While the firm does not have a website, you can still email employees there. For example, John Smith's email would be [email protected]. Use that email template along with LinkedIn to find employees at the firm. Both of the female Vice Presidents handle recruiting.

Review of Allen and Co

Allen & Company is a great firm for those interested in a long-term career in TMT investment banking. Many senior bankers joined as lateral hires from BB/EB/MM, and this is the recommended path.

Junior summer interns should be wary of the firm given the extremely low return offer rates, which are by far the lowest on Wall Street. Sophomore summer interns can easily leverage their experience at Allen & Company for a top junior summer internship elsewhere.

Overall, there is inconsistent brand quality among the firm. For those interested in a more well-rounded experience, better brand name, and better exit opportunities, a BB/EB tends to be a better bet.

Additional Comments about Culture and Reputation

Rooster101:

Ignore ignorant posts posted elsewhere on this board. I'm gonna give you guys the true look inside Allen.

The office is near 5th avenue inside the Coca Cola building. They have butlers - and they wear uniform, usually just white collared wso/" rel="nofollow">shirt/black pants/black shoes.

Internship at the firm is a joke. You don't do shit. Literally. If I were interviewing and I see Allen & Co. on your resume, I'd really dig deep into what you did at the firm because interns don't do shit. They can leave after like 7PM (WTF?). FT analysts there also head out after 7-8PM. Very rare to see anyone at the office post 8PM, doesn't mean allnighters doesn't happen, but on average, their hours definitely doesn't deserve respect.

Exit opps are nearly non-existent. You might go to a small shop or lateral to another bank, but don't expect KKR/Carlyle. Allen is only hyped up on this board. No on in the real world/buyside take their analysts that seriously. You will be killed in PE recruiting by the traditional bulge bracket banks and elite boutiques.

Breaking into Allen as a SA isn't hard. GPA screen is a pretty big at the firm though. After that it's really about how "chill" you are and how big your tits are. They don't worry much about how much you know.

Your job security is pretty worrisome. I know Allen this summer took 12-13 kids for SA. Out of those only like 2 got hired. One was a relationship hire or something and the other is a Michigan guy. A majority of their candidates are relationship hires.

The trend is that most of their candidates are from OCR and networking, with a few relationship hires sprinkled in. As a result, interns are very qualified and get quality work. Because of the low return rate, only the best and most confident interns will accept an SA position there. However, the number of full-time spots (three per year) hasn't changed, and with the increased quality of the SA pool, the full-time conversion rate becomes even more difficult. Furthermore, family connections will come into play here.

gridironceo:

Thought I'd give back a little. Allen & Co is recruiting OCR and info sessions at my non ivy league target/top tier semi target school which I find odd given its mystique on these boards. Their email structure is: (first name initial)(whole last name)@allenco.com so John Smith would be [email protected]

"In selecting candidates, Allen looks for well-rounded individuals with outstanding academic records, proven analytical skills and a genuine interest in or understanding of finance. Top candidates often demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills, initiative, proven leadership capabilities and the ability to play a key role as a team member in a fast-paced and challenging work environment.
Documents Required
Cover Letter, Unofficial Transcript"

While Allen & Company does do resume drops on a number of campuses, be clear about the role you're applying for. One of my sources interviewed for IBD and, after he accepted the offer for IBD, they placed him into Wealth Management on the first day of work.

APAE - Private Equity Partner:

Allen & Co. hires connected kids. That tends to be the clean, fresh-faced kids from good families who go to good schools. This isn't the scrappy hardworking second-generation kid who broke his back to get into Princeton. It's also not the old money like the Brahmins or families from the Social Register.

It's the kid whose family has been going to Stanford or UVA for four generations. The ones who come from quietly strong political families in Arizona, New Mexico, and California; who went to Andover, Choate, Thacher, Webb, and instead of going with their classmates into the Ivies, went back to the flagship state school (U of Arizona) because great-great-granddaddy was one of the first student body presidents ever before going on to be a senator or ambassador or something.

What I'm trying to paint here is that a lot of really qualified kids who sent in an application after finding out the firm's strong dealflow and reputation are always mystified how they never got an interview there while they wound up with offers at GS, Evercore, and JPM.

It's less about 'who are the very best interns we can hire' and more about 'who comes from the right people' and 'how can we get the kids who will best fit'. Since like attracts like, it's very often the sons and daughters of past or present employees, clients, or people otherwise economically or politically connected to the firm.

From what I've seen (on resumes from summers trying to lateral for full-time) and heard, summers don't get really technical work; it's a real resume-builder in that the firm's name carries a lot of weight and chances are you can put a headline deal in your bullet points, but the exposure you get is often qualitative and on the strategic advisory side rather than the execution side.

The ones who succeeded trying to lateral (e.g. the girl who went to BX [PJT] after summering there) self-taught modeling and/or were able to really spin their story favorably.

This post is mostly true. Not all the employees fit that background, but many do. This is part of the reason why Analyst exits have generally been subpar. From a summer internship standpoint, the qualitative vs. technical experience will depend on the intern's skill set.

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Comments (33)

Sep 1, 2016

Very cool info. Thanks

Sep 1, 2016

Thanks for the info. Seems like an awesome place for senior bankers but I will no longer be pursuing them for junior SA.

Sep 6, 2016

This post is pretty accurate. I interned at Allen & Company in recent years. Good experience (they are effectively an EB) but can't recommend it, especially over a BB or EB. They were pretty unprofessional in the way they handled the SA and FT offer situation. As others have maybe mentioned, they don't really view the summer internship as a hiring tool, even if they tell you otherwise. When I got my SA offer, it was really hard to get information because current employees were purposefully vague on the details and former interns offered conflicting information. What the firm should do is scrap the entire internship program and hire analysts full-time, or cut the number of spots they have and hire just enough for full-time spots. When I spoke with one of the VPs, he was very surprised that other banks aim to hire ~100% of their interns (and do full-time recruiting if some interns don't perform well and don't get returns). Overall the conversation just showed how out of touch the firm is, and didn't really inspire confidence that they would be changing anything soon. So I'd recommend avoiding this firm until it's evident they've changed some how they approach recruiting.

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Sep 2, 2016

Thepost is definitely helpful as it offers pretty accurate insight on Allen & Co culture, and the intern class return rate. It's great to have this on record for a firm that puts no information out there. That being said, there are a few big inaccuracies. First on the top dealmakers. Ian Smith is a big rainmaker, but there is also Nancy Perestman, one of the most powerful media bankers anywhere, and Ketan Mehta who joined a year ago, the former Global Head of TMT at Citi. The second inaccuracy is about Allen's role on a deal. I'm mystified as to why this is wrong given it's the easiest to get right. Look up the deals. Just this summer, they were the lead advisor for Walmart (it bought Jet for 3bb), Verizon (it bought Yahoo for 4.5bn), and the 400mm Nervana sale to Intel (only advisor). If you look in past 2 years, they were lead advisor to Time Charter ($55bn), lead and only advisor to Facebook on acquisition of WhatsApp ($19bn), only advisor to Amazon when it bought Twitch for 1bn, lead advisor to Aol on sale to Verizon (4.4bn), only advisor to Providence/Ironman on 800mm sale. I can go on and on and on. These by the way are just a few of the LEAD positions on deals for Allen. If we look at co-advising, then LinkedIn/Microsoft should be on here and tons more. As for exit opps, the post is both correct and wrong. Correct that fewer people go to PE firms but wrong in that that's because they are at a disadvantage. From my conversations with analysts, very few decide to recruit b/c they have lateraled in, and love being at Allen. Those who decide to move are competing w/ few in their class and have gone to TPG, Providence, General Atlantic, major venture funds and more. Anyway, hope this is a little helpful for context. But very useful post to stir this conversation so thanks.

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Sep 4, 2016

you're an idiot. go lurk some more. you crazy if you think allen was lead advisor on YHOO (liontree ran that shit) and look at AOL's 14D. Allen didn't do shit other than CEO's meeting at the allen TMT conference and doing a bullshit fairness opinion rubberstamping the offer. fb whatsapp was zuckerberg doing whatever the fuck he wanted.

Allen & Co is a relationship shop, and, as an analyst, it's not the type of experience you'll want / need to get solid exits.

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Sep 11, 2016

Agree with the inaccuracies. Allen is hands on during deals and very often the lead advisor. Completely wrong that the firm is at a disadvantage for exit opp. The brand is first class and arguably the best TMT name on the street. However, many analyst/associate will stay on because they get competitive compensation and get investing exposure. If you wanted to recruit you would have no problem getting intvs at megafunds and your CV/experience would equally as strong as a GS TMT, MS M&A etc

Sep 4, 2016

are you / were you an analyst? comp doesn't mean much for most ex-analysts - banking analyst life for 3 years just isn't worth it both in terms of the hours and how banal this job is.

an incremental 50 grand doesn't mean much, and my first year, i was paid that much above street top bucket at my EB.

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Sep 3, 2016

The fact that an IB with no website and no name outside of high finance can win any clients shows how important relationships and who one knows are in IB and business in general. Students should remember this when networking.

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Sep 2, 2016

again your answer defies logic. i can also point to activisions 18B acquisition of vivendi (blizzard) on which they were only advisor.

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Sep 11, 2016

agreed

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Sep 2, 2016

or 6BB health net centene deal on which allen was lead. go do your research.

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Sep 5, 2016

:(

How is my grammar? Drop me a note with any errors you see!

Sep 5, 2016

It's okay Papa H, your boy is resting behind the pearly gates of heaven right now.

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Sep 6, 2016

Wow. Ian Smith's Linkedin reads like a who's who of big name IPOs.

Best Response
Sep 6, 2016

Awesome info. Thanks, OP.

The firm sounds like a classic Wall Street crony capitalist/corporatist organization, hiring former senators and CIA directors to peddle their influence. It's f*cking disgusting.

Sep 9, 2016

And that's different from the firms most of us are working/trying to work at how?

Sep 6, 2016
cob92:

And that's different from the firms most of us are working/trying to work at how?

It's not different, which is the sad and pathetic thing. Although I don't work for a crony capitalist company, I'm proud to say.

Sep 6, 2016

What's sad is that people throw monkey shit at the comment that hiring former government personnel to peddle influence is disgusting. That's what we've come to in this industry--cronyism is so commonplace that opponents are considered basically traitors.

Sep 9, 2016

Welcome to Wall Street bud. It's been this way since the days of J.P. Morgan himself.

Sep 6, 2016

They should change their name to Lucky Sperm & Co.

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Sep 9, 2016

Lucky Sperm & Fit Blonde Coeds

Sep 11, 2016

Thanks for the post. It sounds like Allen & Co would be some great exposure to the TMT industry out of undergrad. I was looking for the email template you mentioned above. Where can I find it?

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Sep 12, 2016

So I know people in TMT and Allen & Co. is a very respectable shop. I don't think you'll have problems going to the buyside if that's what you are thinking of doing.

Sep 15, 2016

As a buyside recruiter with over a decade of experience in the US I feel I should address some innacuracies of the OP. I can't offer any insight into the SA or FT processes but have worked with a small number of Allen guys over the years (analyst & associate) so hopefully the below is relevant.

Firstly, forget the idea they are not a top shop. Within the TMT/Consumer space these guys are arguably the best candidates around and will always have ridiculously good deal flow, be lead advisor on most deals and also have some hands on investing exposure.

'Analysts do not get many looks from headhunters as a BB/EB/MM because of the small analyst classes and lack of name brand. However, a few Analysts have gone into growth equity, though these candidates were extraordinary. Most end up in corporate development, startups, and business school. This is not the firm to join if you are set on buy-side opportunities.'

The above is the biggest inaccuracy as far as I am concerned.
1. Headhunters do not look at class sizes as an indication of quality.By that logic RBC would be a better platform to jump to the buyside than Centerview! Arguably if you are in a lean team you will have had a better analyst experience (platform dependant) given more responsibility, more senior interaction etc.
2. Name brand is phenomenal - as explained above. Understandably lesser known outsise of TMT/Consumer world.
3. It is hard to track their buy-side exits admittedly but this is a premier platform to transition from. Speaking from what I have seen over the years, an Allen analyst or associate is very well placed when considering corporate, PE or HF. Best way to think of it is you are working at one of the best EB on pretty much every headline TMT deal AND getting exposure to their in house fund.

Hope the above is helpful - if I come across any more information relevant to the SA process will be sure to put it up.

Sep 15, 2016

^ You don't get exposure to their in-house fund as an Analyst or Associate.

Just got my hands on Allen's list of sports transactions. PM me if you want. If enough people are interested, I might upload it.

Sep 18, 2016

I'm interested in this, please upload when you can!

Sep 15, 2016

Whilst I can't say with certainty every analyst/associate does - every one I worked with/spoke to had

Sep 15, 2016

The "exposure" they get is updating public comps for companies that they're assigned, so the VC team can update their portfolio valuations. Really wouldn't consider that to be VC experience.

Sep 2, 2016

Allen and co and GS are only 2 firms advising Twitter on potential sale - according to NYTIMES and BLOOMBERG.

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Sep 5, 2016

I blame Obama!

Jan 27, 2017

Hi guys--do you know if SA recruiting is over for Allen? Or is it conducted on a rolling basis?