Is Apollo that bad?

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Serious question, how rough is life at Apollo? Long hours obviously to be expected at any MF, but would love any first or recent second hand input. Everyone seems to chuckle and describe it as a horror show but how awful is it really?

Mod Note: see a related post on Apollo: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/from-a-lev…

Comments (220)

 
  • Investment Analyst in HF - Event
Jun 4, 2020 - 9:45pm

Yeah its pretty fucking bad lol. Know a guy who developed stomach ulcers from the stress of working there.

Not to be a dick, but if you're actually a principal in PE shouldn't you already know the answer? Odds you are you would know someone or know someone who knows someone who's worked there, or maybe come across them on a deal when you were in banking, etc...

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Jun 4, 2020 - 10:47pm

A few people from my bank are going to Apollo. When I was gearing up for PE recruiting and asked them about the no b-school required and ability to just stay this is what one said:

“if you can make it through your 4 years as an associate at Apollo, who cares. Most people don’t finish their first 2-3 years because of how bad it gets. I don’t know if I’ll even make it to the finish line. For them, if you can get through that hell you are absolutely welcome to stay”

Long story short: yes it’s fucking that bad

“If you ain’t first, you’re last!” - GOAT
 
  • VP in PE - LBOs
Jun 4, 2020 - 11:02pm

Have heard that it doesn't get much better at the principal level either. Hours are still insane plus it's just an incredibly intense culture.

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Jun 5, 2020 - 1:36am

When I interviewed at Apollo, the guy interviewing me literally asked me "Are you sure you want to work here? We work really hard on really hairy, complicated deals that other funds don't usually look at" and continued to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. Definitely gave off some intense vibes.

 
Jun 5, 2020 - 2:04am

There's frankly not a justification for going to Apollo over other MF/UMMs unless you immediately need an extra 30-60K post-tax, plan on focusing purely on your career to the detriment of your life for 6-8 years to make an attempt to climb up, or have no other options. Apollo-style investing and experience can be done at other, high performing large funds with a better associate experience. As a place to work, there are few to no redeeming features.

Frame Apollo as a place that has to pay more to sucker in the best analysts that could and should go elsewhere rather than a place that chooses to pay the most. And given the relatively little support in finding exits after 2 years, you are relying on the Apollo brand and experience to help you find something else once you burn out. It's the kind of place that unfortunately breaks some of the weaker associates causing longer term psychological and career damage. And if you are doing your DD after receiving an offer, I implore you to reach out to former associates that had good exits coming out of their associate years.

 
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 18, 2020 - 4:35am

Centerbridge is probably the closest to Apollo. From a MF perspective, Apollo's pretty unique - you have to give them that. From an LP marketing perspective, Apollo is the "contrarian" PE part of a portfolio.

Still, if you'd like to do distressed, there's tons of great shops out there. Distressed MF PE is pretty niche though.

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  • Associate 2 in HF - Other
Jun 5, 2020 - 2:42am

there’s something to be said about the above market pay but the lifestyle has such a terrible reputation. my bank group sends 2 kids to Apollo annually and it’s been hit or miss on the experience. one so far has stayed until principal but most leave after 1-2 years to go to Tiger Cubs

 
Funniest
Jun 5, 2020 - 10:49am

5 hours of sleep or less, 7 days a week, on calls nonstop for 3 live deals, screening 3 new things, and managing 4 portcos, all of which are hairy, complex, and challenging, for years straight, how bad could it be?

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Jun 10, 2020 - 11:14am

have a close friend who worked for one of their US performing credit teams. His lifestyle seemed okay (probably worked 60-70 hours a week).

"My name's Ralph Cox, and I'm from where ever's not gonna get me hit"
 
Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jun 5, 2020 - 8:44pm

During my time in IB, I've worked on 3 deals with Apollo, two being pretty large take privates. On 2 of the deals, we did some M&A advisory, and lead left financing on all 3. Their deal teams are slim (2-3 people from PE, 1-2 from cap markets negotiating terms with banks) and the associates were always plugged in until around 3-4am, including weekends.

A lot of people have been asking about what hairy actually means in Apollo context. It is often taking a very contrarian view of a situation and peeling back numerous layers of crap to find a gem within a business. For example, if a business is meaningfully declining in overall revenue, but there are 2-3 core segments that are growing, Apollo will figure out a way to divest the underperfoming assets and focus on the core business. Additionally, they often will do simultaneous LBOs and merge 2 competitors together, in their eyes yielding a ton of run-rate cost savings (not always achieved, but great for getting a ton of financing and putting up lower equity in a transaction). Most of their purchases are sub 9x EBITDA, often purchased through broken sales processes or take privates where the equity markets see little to no hope for a business.

Might get a lot of MS for the candid picture painted above, but the strategy clearly works. Apollo has been extremely successful; there are a lot of ways to make a return.

 
Jun 6, 2020 - 6:37pm

Very helpful description of Apollo's business model, which has its roots in Milken, who was the ultimate contrarian during his days and made a lot of money by buying, issuing and placing bonds of hundreds of Shitcos in his day. Leon Black was one of the most fervent Milken disciples and in a way, Apollo is a continuation/evolution of Milken's Drexel.

 
Jun 5, 2020 - 10:58pm

Yes, as others have mentioned, it’s really bad. I’ve worked with Apollo on two deals. Both extremely complex. The associates were both incredible and were pretty much running the deals from the Apollo side. Think it’s an incredible learning opportunity, but there’s no doubt it’s extremely brutal.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 6, 2020 - 12:16am

Can anyone comment on the extent to which the prevailing sentiment rings true in LA? Also, if anyone can comment on what industry verticals/roles are staffed from that office, it would be greatly appreciated!

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Jun 10, 2020 - 1:30pm

I generally agree with this based on having two acquaintances that went through Apollo LA.

The churn is real and it's easily verifiable. LA is one of those megafund offices where every year there is at least one recruiter search that happens for a lateral associate position. Like clockwork, the posting comes up every single year.

Others have already thoroughly covered the lifestyle points. One thing I will add though based on keeping in touch with these guys--which I found a little surprising--are the other stressors present as an associate. Basically these guys were constantly worried their heads were on the chopping block and they could lose their job there any day. Both are hard-working, intelligent people that earned their spots there, so it was surprising to hear this. Neither of them lasted more than 2-3 years.

I think a work environment like that would be extremely demoralizing coupled with the extreme hours and commitment to your job. You'd think if you're working that hard and doing a good job, you'd at least feel somewhat valued and could even see a bright future for yourself there. Pulling those kind of hours and constantly worrying about the prospect of getting canned has to be psychologically tolling to say the least.

 
  • Prospect in 
Jun 6, 2020 - 12:29am

This sounds brutal... what's comp for associates?

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Jun 6, 2020 - 1:22am

It's definitely an odd place to work. I know some people there and most people either stay for a long time or exit early to a hedge fund.

It definitely feels like the epitome of banking 2.0 as it clearly opens up a path to the top hedge funds, but it also is a life draining place to live. I'm sure it's probably the #1 place to work for work experience, but for what cost.

 
Controversial
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 6, 2020 - 3:00am

Jesus Christ a bunch of pusses on this forum

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Jun 7, 2020 - 7:38pm

Lots of alums, current employees, and advisors in this thread confirming it’s a burnout-inducing hellscape, but by all means, continue jerking off to their ‘prestige’ and/or the thought you’d somehow fare better.

IB at it’s worst can’t touch the depths of PE, especially at a place like Apollo. 99.9% of the time when you’re getting “crushed,” it’s brainless work that you can mindlessly do half-tuned out with music on. You’re changing every instance of green in the deck to a slightly brighter shade at 3AM. The guy at Apollo is building out, substantiating (at micro and macro levels), and preparing a business plan for a new downside case. And he’ll have to be sharp for the 8AM call to present and defend it all.

 
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 6, 2020 - 6:55am

Current Apollo guy. Yes it's that bad. It sucks, culture is awful with egomaniacal dudes who create an incredibly political atmosphere (again, only guys) and run you to the fucking ground with arbitrary deadlines, verbal berating time to time, and basically a banking 2.0 on steroids vibe. It is not for anyone without a thick skin. People can say if you can't / don't want to handle the culture you're a pussy, but that just isn't true. Try dealing with it day in day out including weekends. And it's not banking where you have a bunch of downtime to bullshit around with colleagues and whatnot. It actually is nonstop so do beware if you are considering signing.

That being said, what people above have said is right. If you can cut it in this shitty culture, you will be fine wherever else you go.

Also, this is a megafund, you will likely work on a TON of opps which don't go anywhere but are a fuck ton of work. If I could do it again I'd go to a MM fund.

EDIT: I can't make an APO complaint post without mentioning how shit the hours are. I honestly miss banking hours sometimes. The unpredictability in my schedule has actually worstened thanks to principals / newly minted partners who want to make their make their mark or present opps to IC

 
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 8:29pm

I went there because it was a prestigious, large megafund where I convinced myself that people's experiences I had heard of, would not be applicable to me or that I was stronger than everyone else. Would rather work at a place I can smile walking into the door of rather than rolling my eyes with a "here we go again" type of attitude

 
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 6, 2020 - 11:15am

Why an MM fund out of curiosity? I'm at another MF (admittedly with a better lifestyle) but almost think there is a lot of value into getting the number of reps you would get at a H&F / APO for a couple years and then going to an MM instead of either starting at an MM or an MF like mine which is more laid back.

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 8:30pm

So for me it's a lot of frustration rising from not being able to see entire transactions through and having no closed deals under my belt, even though I spend so much time balls deep in diligence or evaluating new opps. My friends at other MM funds have seen not only the closure of platform deals but additional tuck-ins which, in my mind, must be so much more satisfying seeing the actual platform strategy pan out. Maybe I'm of a grass is greener mentality but the grass ain't anything close to green here

 
  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jun 7, 2020 - 12:07pm

On a serious note though, how do you do those hours? 3-4am including weekends - how many hours of sleep do you get a week? Do you need substances or short runs in the morning or something?

Also curious, on the constant berating etc, that's gotta wear you down - how do you cope with that? Paste VPs face on a punching bag back at home?

 
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 8:44pm

Just determination but that's been waning quite a bit if I'm honest. I enjoy the have-nots outside of work but definitely do not use any kind of substances at work other than cold brew and water.

On the berating, I"m not sure. It sucks and there's no way out of it really. The berating tends to come mostly from the same people but they also tend to have quite two-faced personalities so you learn to adapt and get out of interacting with them as much as possible, granted it may not always be in your hands. Don't have a good answer for you on this

 
Jun 8, 2020 - 10:05am

Does a business model like this make sense in the long-term? Having such high turnover? I get it for BBs because they are huge and have an endless supply of talent to choose from, but is this sustainable for Apollo? Different industry, but I've seen over the years this didn't work out for LEK (at least in Europe). People wanted to go there, but the brutal hours forced management to implement a culture change as having the majority of your best and brightest consistently leave after 18-24 months is not great for business.

 
Jun 22, 2020 - 7:48am

Maybe a bit crazy to ask, but does anyone actually enjoy the experience? Of course no one would really love their life given the horror stories mentioned above, but would like to know if there are some odd-balls there that secretly enjoy the intensity/seem to be "okay" with the crazy hours (are those the ones that end ups staying?)

 
Jun 7, 2020 - 3:45pm

Aside from Apollo, curious to hear what other PE firms have a reputation for bad hours and culture?

For example, former analysts of mine who went to KKR and Silverlake have said that it was really bad there. Said it made the hours in banking look like a walk in the park. One former analyst went to Apollo. Said that he hated it for all the reasons above. He exited after two years to bschool and is now at a UMM PE firm, where he has been for a long time and is quite happy.

 
Jun 7, 2020 - 8:05pm

If your deal team (of cool people) is genuinely biting off more than it probably should chew, then it can be a high-hours/good-culture experience. Senior guys super-involved (and instructory), deadlines process-forced rather than arbitrary, people encouraging rather than berating, etc.

In short, if everyone’s “got your back” rather than “take my fall,” same amount of work feels a lot different.

 
Jun 7, 2020 - 8:18pm

Yeah, I think it's much more sensible/acceptable at smaller firms where workload can change very quickly and resources aren't nearly as plentiful.

But it really does come back to what you said re: culture and working together/collaboration.

 
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 7, 2020 - 9:23pm

Man... not that I'd have a good chance at MF anyway, but all this talk about the culture and hours at MFs make me strongly lean toward MM for PE recruiting

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  • Analyst 2 in AM - FI
Jun 8, 2020 - 5:06pm

When I worked in HY sales/cap markets, one MD said that Leon Black is the Emperor Palpatine of private equity after we placed an especially shitty loan for APO. I sorta picture all the associates and junior employees as storm troopers and partners as imperial admirals. I have heard nothing but the worst things about working as a associate at APO. The senior guys at Apollo are really smart and there is a reason that APO has been around as long as it has and has grown as much as it has. I would also that any debt APO raises for its portfolio companies trades with an APO discount because you know that Apollo is going to fuck you over.

 
  • Associate 1 in HF - Event
Jun 9, 2020 - 11:58am

They use weak credit docs that give them holes to exploit while preventing the creditors from taking actions. Apollo debt trades at a discount, and you have to go in prepared to fight.

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 12:57pm

I have heard similar things about their portco debt. Sentiment has always been “don’t touch Apollo debt because they will find a way to fuck you”

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  • VP in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 4:37pm

Can’t tell if this thread is just an elaborate bit or if these are multiple real people.

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Jun 19, 2020 - 12:25pm

In a few words: Y, it's pretty bad. The lifestyle, the people, the culture.

In more than a few words...

In my opinion your first few years out of school should be spent credentializing yourself. If you went to Ohio State and now work at Apollo, that has resulted in a step function change to your career trajectory and the caliber of opportunities available to you thereafter. If you went to Wharton, then Goldman, then Apollo, it still does quite a bit IMO because you've now branded yourself with premier pedigree at every phase of your adult life. It's a different calculus than Wharton, Goldman, Onex. There's nothing wrong with Onex. But showing a track record of the absolute best pedigree tells me that in HS you were the best and so got to Wharton, you were at Wharton and were the best so got to Goldman, you were at Goldman and were the best so got to Apollo. You have successively proven yourself to be uncommon even among uncommon people (to borrow from David Goggins). The Onex trajectory tells me that you've been the best until around GS, and then since then you've basically leveled off and are in a peer group that is appropriate.

People will pick at this logic, but there's a reason there is such a strong focus on pedigree in this industry.

The other caveat here is that this is most important in the first 5-7 years out of college. If you're a 35-40 year old choosing one firm over another because of pedigree/brand allure, you're a bit of a doofus unless you think that pedigree will either help you launch your own fund in the future (very few people have that intention) or will help you source investments.

Array
 
Jun 21, 2020 - 9:13am
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