European regional office at top BB (GS/MS) vs MBB for London PE exits?

Hi guys,

I am debating between offers a top BB (GS/MS) at a regional European office (think Frankfurt/Paris) vs MBB (McK/Bain) at another smaller city. I am aiming for a PE exit in London at preferably one of the upper middle market funds (e.g. Bain Cap, Advent, EQT, H&F), but would not mind going to one of the traditional US MFs either (KKR and the likes).

My understanding is that the office matters more when working in IB compared to consulting, and I am afraid I might be at a disadvantage compared to my London banking peers. On the other hand, bankers traditionally place better in PE, so going for the regional BB might still be more optimal.

For the context, I have previous experience of interning at 2 of the MBBs, a solid EB in London (think PWP, Rothschild) and a lower middle market PE firm (not in London). Overall, I preferred consulting work and performed slightly better than in IB (but performance in solid in both)


Comments (9)

Most Helpful
Dec 27, 2018 - 5:09pm

I'll tell you what I saw for Italy, and I think this is comparable to Germany and France.

  • Bain Capital: hired 3 Italy based consultants in the last 3 years (2 from Mck, 1 from Bain). 4 years ago they hired 1 Italian from JPM UK based (diversified industrials)
  • H&F: hired 1 Italian in the last 3 years (or maybe even from inception) and he was McK based in Milan - moved to Apax Digital fund now
  • BC Partners: hired at least 3 Italians in the last 3 years, all from McK (I think), Italy based. 3-4 years ago hired one Italian from JPM C&R in London
  • Apax: hired 3-4 italians in the last couple of years. 1 Mck Milan, 1 JPM TMT London, 1 GS LevFin
  • Permira: I know two Italians hired there in the last two years. 1 M&A Milan based, 1 from Growth Equity PE in London, Citi London before that
  • KKR: the Italian they hired in 2017 is from McK Milan
  • Centerbridge: last Italian they hired is from GS London (TMT I think)
  • CD&R: hired 1 Italian in 2018. He was in JPM C&R in London
  • General Atlantic: hired 1 Italian in 2017 from JPM C&R in London
  • Providence: hired one Italian from JPM HC in London in 2017
  • TPG: hired one Italian in 2018 from JPM TMT
  • Riverside (Brussels): hired one Italian from DB M&A in Milan in 2017 (or 2016)
  • Rhône: hired 1 Italian in 2017 from BCG Milan
  • Silverlake: hired 1 Italian 3.5 years ago from MS TMT in London
  • CVC (Milan): hired last associate from Bain in Milan
  • Investindustrial: traditionally hires from Lazard and Rothschild in Milan. Got one guy from JPM Milan this years
  • Blackstone: last Italian they hired was an analyst at JPM C&R in London
  • TDR: last Italian they hired (unless they hired someone very recently) is from Barclays LevFin
  • EQT: they are opening the office now so I don't have reference point. The Director they hired is from CVC (Milan) and before that he was in BAML Milan with stint in London; that said I have a German friend who got into EQT in Germany in 2017 and he was in MS M&A in NY and in London before that
  • Warburg Pincus: Italians are from Oaktree London (before BX RE London), AnaCap London (before CS London), and Wharton MBA (McK NY before)
  • SunCapital: italian is from DB TMT in London

Then I don't remember Advent, Cinven, Carlyle, 3i (I think they got a guy from UBS Milan a couple of years back), and few others. But to sum up, the vast majority is from IB London or MBB Local office. PE that prefers consultants (eg bain Capital, bc Partners, Advent, etc.) will still prefer consultants locally based vs bankers and local bankers are at a disadvantage vs both local consultants and London bankers. I'd go with local consulting.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
  • 3
Dec 28, 2018 - 5:20am

Wow, very helpful and thorough!

Out of interest, do you know how large the MBB offices are compared to GS/MS/JPM in Milan? I am just wondering if some of the discrepancy could be partially explained with the size difference. For example, I am under the impression that GS Frankfurt places relatively well in PE, but it is much more common to see consultants from German MBB in PE when browsing LinkedIn due to small class size of GS and the large number of consultants.

Dec 28, 2018 - 7:18am

Intake in MBB in continental Europe is much larger than banking and this partially also explain the PE recruiting number.
I'd say there are probably 30 consultants a year for MBB vs 10 in banking in Milan across BB (maybe even less than that). In Frankfurt there are probably more people in BB given DACH coverage tends to be larger than Italy.
However, just few people starting in consulting are really keen to do PE, while a lot of them are probably more focused on consulting and then strategy / corporate role at some point. On top of that, a lot of people who choose consulting in regional offices do so because they don't want to relocate at all out of their home country.

With regards to moving from regional office to London, it generally happens after 2 years or at associate promotion. I did it my self and I was asked to wait till my promotion but others that were more keen to move were able to transfer at the beginning of their third year. Then it takes 3-6 months to get a PE job (took 4 months in my case for reference) if you network hard with headhunters and are solid at interviews (if you get into Bain Capital process, which is very fast, you may get an offer in really no time).

Finally, to sum up, I would strongly encourage you to go for the job you like the most now. Your work experience will be better and you will have great chances of making it. You just need to network with headhunters after one year, practice LBO modelling, consulting case study and fit questions on a recurring basis so you are ready to go when they start calling you.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
  • 2
Dec 27, 2018 - 5:11pm

Generally speaking more banking people are placing in PE. That being said, I would assume that this is due to the fact that less people in consulting are interested in PE.

Going to your BB for a year or two and then lateral to the London office would place you very well for London PE.

I would advise you to take the job that you actually enjoy doing given that you'll do it for at least two year, if you crush your job you should be able to get to PE quite easily - I am assuming you are speaking other European languages - which is often the limiting factor for people recruiting for large funds when they only speak English.

Dec 28, 2018 - 5:25am

Fair point, if the placement is relatively similar then going for the more interesting job makes sense in the short-term.

Do you happen to know how feasible it is to transfer offices after a year? I have seen some people transferring after the second year, but not so many who did it after the first one. I am a bit worried that if I were to transfer after the second year, this would push back the start in PE quite a bit.

Dec 28, 2018 - 8:26am

Usually you can transfer after the associate promotion. Might be doable after a year but will be tough for sure. Don't worry about pushing back your PE start - if you want to do PE long term 6month to 1 year is nothing, and your roles will still pay very well so it's not like you're missing out a lot.

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