Biggest wastes of time in Private Equity

Want to hear from junior PE monkeys what their biggest wastes of time are.

I have to deal with a bunch of process bullshit, and I want to hear what else sucks up people's time.

For example:

When first looking at a company, I have to enter details on salesforce and send around a "minimemo" which no one reads. Combined, this takes ~ 2 hours.

Then if we get a little more serious (not a lot, just a little), have to do a bunch of research and send around more flushed out memo, which is mainly fluff and people just skim through (~5 hours).

Every week I dread having another one of these pop up -- and let me tell you -- we look at a lot of companies...

-
SBs for all who share their bullshit.

Comments (57)

Jun 27, 2017

Why don't you automate that stuff from SF?
We have weekly reports that send to peoples emails on our pipeline of deals
Also able to enter call notes from a meeting and attach it to the opportunity

    • 3
Jun 27, 2017

Tell my boss.

    • 4
Jun 27, 2017

Write a macro...

Jun 27, 2017

If you wanted to be proactive, hook your pivot table to SQL and write VBA to output your charts etc into powerpoint. It would be 2 clicks and then you adding commentary. If you have SAS you can automate sending the emails within the reports, at a specified time. But It doesn't sound like you have that luxury.

Edit: In terms of waste of time assignments I have had, they generally are along the lines of pull all the data pertaining to x and denote any trends, much like yourself they were never read so I began doing the above and sending them at 8:00 am.

    • 5
Jun 27, 2017

It's the memos and silly formatting shit that kills me.

    • 2
Jun 27, 2017

If you can format it nicely once, I would highly recommend the automation route if at all possible.

Edit: I feel you though, it is tough to format a spreadsheet and then have to format a powerpoint with the same data. That is why I think setting a range to copy it as a picture and paste it into a deck is far more efficient. I never really produced memos, rather lengthy emails, so not sure if that is a constraint on your end.

Jun 27, 2017

Np I hope it helps.

Jun 28, 2017

Anyone else?

    • 1
Jun 29, 2017

Not in PE, but I'm in a somewhat similar buy-side role (corp dev).

  1. It's my job to keep my group up to date on an happenings in our industry. I spend about two hours a week compiling news stories in a presentation that I email out. No one reads it, but did notice the one time that I was on vacation and did not send it out.
  2. Remember that one SA you had in IB whose work was always error-ridden and sloppy? That's ten times worse in corp dev when you need internal financials from just about anyone. I have probably spent hundreds of hours reformatting and double-checking financials from FP&A, finance, and treasury.
  3. Target profiles. We have several internal M&A groups that are made up of ops people and corp dev. After we have put together a list of 25 of our top potential acquisition targets, I get to make profiles for them. No one ever reads them. In fact, no one even remembers receiving them. I could have included a nude in one of the profiles, and I'd still have my job because no one would have seen it.
  4. "Can you help me with [ridiculously easy task] X?" I get this all the time. I made the (HUGE) mistake of telling people outside of corp dev that I am good with Excel. I now get questions every day on how to do the simplest of tasks with Excel. Problem is, no one writes these down or remembers them, so the next week, I guarantee I'll be explaining the same thing again. Don't get me started with having to explain how to upload documents to data rooms, basic questions that should have been Googled, etc. I don't mind the actual teaching, but it's that people refuse to use Google and/or write down what I told them, so they don't have to ask again the next week.
    • 8
Jun 29, 2017

Not only did I make the mistake telling people that I was good with excel when I was starting out, I also told everyone I was good with powerpoint. I fixed sooooo many powerpoints after that. Admittedly, I was good at it and it did not take me long to do whatever people asked - but the amount of powerpoints!!! eek!

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

    • 2
Jun 29, 2017

Rookie move @tropos

Jun 29, 2017

Did you just fix actual mistakes, or did you fix their formatting too? The former IB analyst in me could not let a poorly-formatted PP slide, so I feel like I'd be wasting so much time correcting their formatting.

Jun 29, 2017

Same here. Can't deal with a poorly formatted excel or PowerPoint. That usually ensures that I stay late at night correcting other people's errors. For once, I appreciate MBB's concept (and most BBs) of hiring Indian PowerPoint specialists.

Macros and VBA are a lifesaver, whether in IB, PE, or consulting. Sometimes you may want to consider redoing whole elements and tables of their PowerPoint and spreadsheets using VBA and macros, since in my experience, they make it easier than individually reformatting stuff.

On a side note, when I was in my junior year summer, one of my buddies in highschool in Dubai who had already graduated from his uni in India had begun working as one of the PP experts in McKinsey. I honestly considered networking through him (since his job title sounded fancy and I had no clue about MBB) to get an interview, until I found this site and realized how retarded that was.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

    • 2
Best Response
Jun 29, 2017
Sil:

The former IB analyst in me could not let a poorly-formatted PP slide

Pun intended?

    • 14
Jul 9, 2017

Hi

Jul 6, 2017

I hate it when I get requests like #4 from portco CFOs / controllers who are just being lazy and know that I cant really say no

Jun 29, 2017

Biggest waste of time for me is explaining the same simple crap over and over to colleagues who are too lazy to do things themselves and/or remember what I told them last week. Seriously rage inducing at times.

Jun 29, 2017

Commuting

    • 6
Jun 30, 2017

Macros are a godsend. Its one of the main things I do in my job and my bosses start freaking out when they see the programs work.

Jul 22, 2017

Would love to get your advice on what and how you use them. Any resources, websites etc you recommend? I just joined a new middle market pe fund and feel I spend too much time on formatting memos/ routine excel tasks ... thanks in advance!

Aug 18, 2017

I learned the fundamentals of macros completely through Wise Owl YouTube tutorials. Then, once you know the fundamentals, you just google situations as needed.

    • 1
Jul 1, 2017

Administering LTIP plans (management and our attorneys are both incapable of doing this). Collecting signature pages. Running impractical bullshit scenarios concocted by my partner who has his head in the clouds through an operating model.

I'll get other random one off tasks that are bs but the above are recurring items.

    • 1
Jul 7, 2017

Collecting signature pages is such a waste of my time. Wish we had a better system for this.

Jul 3, 2017

Biggest wastes of time:

1) Memos (like you've said, no one reads them, and they suck up time)
2) Filler slides (bios of management, logos of potential rollup targets, industry landscape of logos - although logointern.com makes these easy now)
3) Reading through CIMs and putting together initial decks for deals everyone knows we'll never do (our firm's gotten a little better about this recently, but still happens too much)
4) When not working on live deal, douche VP asking me to assemble a list of companies in XYZ sectors so that maybe he can find his needle in a haystack (I've never heard any of these exercises progressing beyond hours of my time)
5) Quarterly valuations (BIGGEST WASTE OF TIME)
.... There are a bunch more

Jul 3, 2017

Yeah quarterly valuations are my least favorite

Jul 5, 2017

4th of July edits to a memo for a company we're not going to buy... senior partner clearly hates spending time with his family...

    • 2
Jul 4, 2017

Putting together 20-30 page decks on companies we are passing on.

    • 2
Jul 4, 2017

Yeah that's my favorite too

    • 1
Jul 6, 2017

shit posting on wso

    • 3
Jul 7, 2017

coordinating calls/meetings with multiple individuals in multiple parties across multiple time zones, all of whom have packed schedules.

Jul 19, 2017

This is my least favorite. Sometimes my firm treats me like an overqualified secretary, and I have to coordinate times with each involved partner's assistant. Love it.

Jul 12, 2017

Reading the same sentence/concept 30 different times throughout lengthy information memoranda.

    • 2
Jul 13, 2017

Lolz

Jul 15, 2017

I don't know what you guys are all complaining about. Putting up call/meeting notes takes 30 minutes max if you know how to headline and sift out key takeaways.... And, you do this for higher quality opportunities. This helps with orienting yourself and reflecting on what it is you just learned and how it plays into your investment thesis

Logging stuff on Salesforce takes at most 2 minutes...

Putting together deal memos for crap companies you are passing on is a waste of time. If there is something fundamentally unattractive about the business, you should be able to get to that point and recommend passing without having to put together useless slides.

Deal teams should be oriented towards putting together material that matters most for the prospective investments. Sounds like there is a lot of inefficient process going on if you are spending hours on market maps and management bio slides...this kind of stuff is intern work. Given OP's name, it sounds like he/she is an intern getting mundane work, which is totally warranted in this business....

My one gripe has to do with useless meetings around internal initiatives that don't get much visibility across the firm. What especially annoys me is if I am a lead on some of those initiatives, which in many cases are thankless acts.

PS - I just gave monkey crap

    • 4
Jul 16, 2017

Ohhh you lead inititiatives? Cool story brah. At least your colleagues have some common sense and don't give yours the time of day.

But yeah endless internal meetings are a pain, on par with the other points above.

    • 1
Jul 19, 2017

Real Estate Private Equity (LP side)...

A potential new operating partner (GP) shares a deal with us. It's out of our investment criteria, but I am told to "underwrite it anyway, that way we can get them on a call and discuss with them and get a sense of how they look at things". Underwriting a deal and reviewing with my VP generally takes me 2.5-3 hours.

This is a huge waste of time for two reasons:

1) Even if we do learn a lot about "how they (the operating partner) look at things", it will be another 3-4 months before they bring us their next deal. By that time, all of us will forget what was just discussed, and we will need to schedule a call anyway.

2) We know this deal is not going to happen. They know this deal is not going to happen. We are busy. They are busy. I will underwrite the deal, discuss with my VP. After that, we go back and forth with the operating partner trying to find a time that works best to discuss. Typically, the call never materializes.

    • 2
Jul 21, 2017

On the traditional PE side of things, but know this feeling all too well.

When you're not the one putting everything together, no sweat off your back to ask the associate to "pull together a few slides and see how it looks..."

Jul 19, 2017

NDA

    • 2
Jul 21, 2017

Yeah these take up way too much time. Understand it's important to have restrictions on confidentiality, but it feels like such a formality

    • 1
Jul 24, 2017

Am I in PE? Because it still feels like banking.

Got a Sunday ask for some slides detailing the bios of board members for a company that we're considering talking to later this week. Def needed to be done on Sunday though!

    • 1
Jul 28, 2017

Sounds like that will take less than an hour to create...

    • 1
Jul 28, 2017

Yeah an hour of my time! Since when did that become a good rationale for doing something!?

Jul 28, 2017

If your bosses ever ask you to make 25+ biographies in a CIM for a MM company, including "second tier regional managers" tell him no one reads them (if we did that would be the biggest waste of time in PE).

    • 1
Jul 28, 2017
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