IBD Associate… Now What?

Greetings fellow monkeys,

I'm currently an IBD associate at a BB, who did not get an MBA. Instead, I spent a few years as a corporate lawyer at one of the larger NY firms (e.g. Weil, Skadden, Cravath).

I've been reading a lot on this site about how "impossible", "improbable", etc. it is for an associate to break into private equity, but no real solutions on what to do. Putting all of the negativity aside, what are the steps that should be taken to maximize my chances of getting into a reputable PE shop? I understand that it'll be a long and difficult road, but getting into PE is really why I made the switch from law in the first place.

And before the WSO trolls start attacking, I've already done the following:
1. Contact useless headhunters (especially CPI, who really hates any non-analyst candidates)
2. Network like a madman/ninja (including at the strip clubs)
3. Pray to every deity known to man

Private Equity Interview Course

  • 2,447 questions - 203 PE funds. Crowdsourced from 750k+ members
  • 9 Detailed LBO Modeling Tests and 15+ hours of video solutions.
  • Trusted by over 1,000 aspiring private equity professionals just like you.

Comments (21)

Dec 20, 2014 - 12:17pm

Networking is your best bet. Also reach out to recruiting firms like Oxbridge, Mercury Partners, etc and you better have a damn good story as to why you no longer want to continue down the Associate path in banking vs. PE.

Also realize you may have to take a step back (pay and title) in PE should you break in as the Associate title in banking is weightless.

An Associate at my bank just left for a PE firm. Definitely more challenging, but doable.

Dec 20, 2014 - 6:02pm

Honestly, I think you'd be a great fit once you know the banking skills. PE is just as much about negotiating the deal as it is about putting together a model. Yah, you'll have counsel to do the work, but being able to understand and discuss detailed legal points will be completely helpful.

I'd just start networking. Maybe focus on work out groups or distressed debt funds. Anything where knowing the law will be an important aspect of the job.

  • 1
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Jan 4, 2015 - 7:56pm

ld2106:

Thanks for the helpful advice. What level should I be trying to go in as? I had been trying to interview as a pre-mba associate, but I've been told after a few interviews that I was overqualified for the position.

I'd agree with their assessment. I faced a similar issue with banking recruiting off-cycle with being on the line between Analyst and Associate. The way I approached it which I guess worked was changing how the question is perceived. I would say "I want to do IB. I really don't care what level I come in as, I just want to be here" and it was well received by everyone I talked to.

Best Response
May 17, 2015 - 2:21pm

pudding If your professional goal is to go to into finance, I would forgo law school. Learning about the law doesn't really require you to attend. Pick up a few Examples and Explanations books (the Cliff Notes of law school) and you'll have a rudimentary understanding (which is about the same as a law student's understanding) of what the law is. As for practicing, it's been my experience that you don't really learn much till your second or third year as an associate at a law firm, so you'd have to stay at least till then (plus many VPs and MDs at banks are fairly well versed about the important issues in a merger doc, so you'll get some opportunity to learn in finance as well). If your goal is PE, I'd take the conveyor belt path and then go do a JD/MBA after your two years of PE. Just my two cents.

May 23, 2015 - 5:16pm

All of the above is good advice, I'd also try targeting guys in PE who have JD's. Pick funds that you're interested in and look at their bio's and contact them, either cold or through a connection and check LinkedIn if there are any guys who previously worked at your law firm and/or went to your law school. Approach it as "I'd like to discuss how you did it..." type of conversation and just go with it. You're obviously not going to get into PE in the traditional ways of getting recruited pre-MBA->MBA and back to PE but practicing at a Cravath level firm (and the level of law school you probably went to get in there) and BB will be compelling. I'd also stay somewhat flexible and don't only concentrate on the mega funds-don't avoid them, just cast a wider net where they're probably more flexible.

May 23, 2015 - 6:36pm

Dingdong08 Thanks for the advice. I've approached some smaller funds and a few start up funds as well. However, as I've been recruiting I've noticed that even the smaller funds have become set in an institutionalized hiring mentality (or possibly it's due to their recruiters). If there are any funds you know of that have a history of hiring more "outside the box", I'd very much appreciate hearing about them.

May 23, 2015 - 7:40pm

IBD Associate...now what? (Originally Posted: 06/28/2011)

Hey guys,
I'm heading to a bschool that sends a ton of kids to top banks each year. I am looking to head into banking and was wondering:
If it's so tough to make VP from an associate, what do other associates do?
- Do they head to other banks as VPs?
- head to hedge funds?
- do corporate?

I've heard entering PE is very tough for associates because they're way behind on the path, but if you wouldn't mind, can you please tell me of your own experiences? And assuming the prestige of the bank is the same (ie, Goldman, MS, JP, Evercore, etc), how do the exits vary by product/coverage type?

Thank you so much, as always

May 23, 2015 - 7:41pm

if you do banking as an associate, you must really suck to not make VP. It's making the MD/Principal level that's tough. Just abuse your analysts, take all the credit from the summers/full time analysts, run the VDR checklist and check for that period at the end of the footnote and you will make it to VP.

joking aside...(kinda)

you see a lot times BB associates head to MM as VPs.

Not so much to PE because you are too senior by the end of your associate career, unless you are willing to move down 2 years and become a "senior associate"

A lot also do corporate

Associates don't go to hfs from what I have seen...(actually, I haven't seen anyone personally going to hf as an associate).

You still want to execute deals and especially M&A deals. If you are in TMT, you get the choice to go to a lot high tech start-ups / large F500 companies as a corp dev guy.

  • by a bitter analyst
  • 3
May 23, 2015 - 7:42pm
Ricqles:
if you do banking as an associate, you must really suck to not make VP. It's making the MD/Principal level that's tough. Just abuse your analysts, take all the credit from the summers/full time analysts, run the VDR checklist and check for that period at the end of the footnote and you will make it to VP.

joking aside...(kinda)

you see a lot times BB associates head to MM as VPs.

Not so much to PE because you are too senior by the end of your associate career, unless you are willing to move down 2 years and become a "senior associate"

A lot also do corporate

Associates don't go to hfs from what I have seen...(actually, I haven't seen anyone personally going to hf as an associate).

You still want to execute deals and especially M&A deals. If you are in TMT, you get the choice to go to a lot high tech start-ups / large F500 companies as a corp dev guy.

  • by a bitter analyst

That joking statement is quite accurate. There are some absolute dumbasses for associates who never do the heavy lifting or anything technical, abuse their analysts and take all the credit on their way to VP promotions.

I do know of ONE associate who jumped to a hedge fund, but he was an analyst-to-associate promote. I personally don't know any post-MBA associates who didn't do banking pre-MBA and still jumped to the buyside.

May 23, 2015 - 7:43pm

That helps alot.

It's funny that you say I may head to a start-up afterwards because when I actually came from a start-up background (GS Portfolio) and when I left, the guys on my team (ex bankers, lawyers) jokingly said "see you in a few years". Now, I understand why.

May 23, 2015 - 7:46pm

Eaque nulla quia et ipsum. Id adipisci soluta alias nemo hic explicabo. Omnis iusto praesentium fugiat sunt.

Ab omnis ab quas itaque. Placeat adipisci ipsam eum minima consectetur exercitationem rerum. Reiciendis eveniet aut non optio aperiam.

Omnis odit quasi voluptatem dolorem. Itaque voluptas sint ducimus consequatur cum ad. Qui natus veritatis est error qui cumque maxime. Amet assumenda quia nisi in quaerat quod aspernatur molestias. At a ullam dignissimos rerum.

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own. Oh, you mean I can't count on you? No. Good!
Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

September 2021 Private Equity

  • Principal (7) $694
  • Director/MD (18) $575
  • Vice President (67) $365
  • 3rd+ Year Associate (68) $270
  • 2nd Year Associate (139) $254
  • 1st Year Associate (284) $222
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (25) $160
  • 2nd Year Analyst (61) $135
  • 1st Year Analyst (183) $118
  • Intern/Summer Associate (20) $67
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (218) $59