Family Offices vs MFs

Hey guys,

I'm currently a second year analyst at an EB (Evercore / PJT / CVP) and looking to make the jump to PE. I've had a few interviews, mainly with MFs, and have a few upcoming with large family offices (think Soros, Dell, etc.). Obviously, this forum is full with info on the MFs, but I can't seem to track down much information related to these large family offices. Generally speaking, can someone provide additional insight into FOs, specifically in terms of exit opportunities, pay, culture, and ~prestige~? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Also, as I am looking at both MFs and FOs, how would you compare the two opportunities? Obviously a very vague question, but what are the main benefits of one opportunity over the other? Do the two offer similar opportunities in the long run?

Thanks everyone for your help!

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Comments (39)

Nov 12, 2021 - 8:51am

Not really educated on the topic, but would assume a family office would have better WLB? Potentially worse career progression as well since its owned specifically for someone else. Would to love hear more from someone who is more in tune with this.

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
Nov 12, 2021 - 8:52am

Large, established FOs are so slept on. At those shops, you get paid very well to do interesting principal investing with great WLB.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Nov 12, 2021 - 9:03am

Thank you! This is a very personal question, but do you think the WLB outweighs the potential sacrifice in prestige (and, in turn, career progression)? I'm trying to wrap my head around if pursuing FO in lieu of MF is worth it.

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Most Helpful
Nov 12, 2021 - 10:21am

Prestige is so unbelievably overrated. Most people in the real world, not on this forum, do not care that you work at a MF. They certainly don't know whether WSO thinks it's a Tier 1, Tier 2, etc. MF. Most people's knowledge of investment firms is basically just the meme:

they're all the same to most people

Solve for the highest paycheck, the best WLB, some mix of the two... but solving for prestige is a wild goose chase because 99% of people don't know and don't care. The only ones who care are in your analyst class with you, and they probably won't care in another year or two either.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 13, 2021 - 2:12pm

Job security is also at the whim of the family. Overnight you could be fired because of some external factor.

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Nov 14, 2021 - 11:51pm

What makes you say Wildcat is institutionalized? It's like 10 guys subletting some office space in TPG's office. They run a slice of Bondermans net worth, a bunch is in RE and public markets (FI and equities) and a sliver is in PE. From an asset allocation standpoint, he's already massively over exposed to PE, so he's not exactly running his own $4bn sleeve of PE on the side.

More broadly, the FO mandate is 'stay rich' not 'get rich'. So it's typically (even tho there is no typical in FO world) not dramatically over-allocated to direct investing and not much of a slugging mentality.

WLB for sure better. Economic model varies. Some are decent but pretty uninspiring comp-wise, others can be very attractive if you have ability to put a lot of capital to work (even at a jr level) and get paid off AUM you put to work and performance. Lots of unknowable family drama/infighting and sometimes the FO staff is just viewed as part of the help.

Unlike actual PE world, being at a $2-3bn FO is actually pretty scaled. Unlike managing institutional capital, there's slim to no tail outcomes.

Also have to think about more practical outcomes like "what happens when Soros dies in like 3 years or Bonderman dies in like 7 years?" Etc. So from that perspective none of these places are institutions.

Pretty sure Lemkau was hired at MSD to turn it into an actual alternative asset manager.

I think Pritzkers, Mousse Partner, JAB are up there.

Nov 14, 2021 - 3:13am

Really depends on the FO. Pretty standard information on MFs on this forum but there's a difference in being at Soros Fund Management and a no-name type of FO which may have a singular type of mandate. On one hand FOs could offer you a diverse experience with good upward mobility without the need for an MBA or whatever, but there are also some which could feel trapping given how narrow the investment mandate could be.

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Nov 18, 2021 - 9:51am

Do you happen to know particular FOs that have a strong WLB, while having a more institutional investment structure?

  • Research Analyst in HF - Other
Nov 18, 2021 - 8:11pm

Soros is pretty institutionalized. WLB is pretty darn good but it depends on who your PM is mostly. Comp runs into the 7 figures so that's not terrible.

MSD I'm sure is more institutionalized as well. Especially since they're opening up to third party money (MSD partners vs capital. Idk how the whole thing works)

  • Investment Analyst in RE - Comm
Nov 20, 2021 - 6:18pm

FO in the sense that it only runs money belonging to soros (and employees). but yes, it runs HF-like strategies. from what i understand, it consists of trading pods and placing money with external managers

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Dec 3, 2021 - 3:51pm

i work at a $4B family office doing private company direct investing. happy to answer any questions anyone might have. 

  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Dec 3, 2021 - 4:48pm

Hi, how many YOE and can you provide information on total comp and breakdown for Associate and Senior Associate? Thanks. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Dec 3, 2021 - 5:08pm

I've for 2.5 YOE. We do standard hiring like most funds so Asc1 come in with 2-3 years of work experience. As an associate you make $160 your first six months (summer you start thru Dec), $175 then $190. Definitely a discount but WLB is amazing.

  • Analyst 2 in PE - LBOs
Dec 3, 2021 - 5:01pm

How do you see the longevity of your role if you wanted to stay and progression?

Always wanted to work at a FO for the best of what it can be, but the politics and such make a strong deterrent. Are there capital lock ups typically? What's gonna happen if there's too much political issue and how to diligence for that when joining a firm?

Any red flags at your current firm that you would stay clear of at the next // what are things you've realized once actually working at the firm vs the marketing they had toward you before joining?

Also are you in a popular geography (nyc/CA) or smaller city? Southern (warm) or no?

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Dec 3, 2021 - 5:16pm

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