Lifestyle at LMM PE

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I'm in banking now and I really can't wait to have a life again. I don't really think PE is for me given I've heard the lifestyle isn't much better, but does anyone have a view on what actual life is like at an LMM shop? For reference, I'm talking about a pretty small shop in (SF/LA/Chi) with maybe 2-3 associates. Just wondering how long a normal day is. I work until roughly midnight every day now and I want to do stuff after work, even if it's not a lot.

Thanks!

 

Comments (13)

 
  • Principal in VC
Aug 20, 2020 - 8:40pm

I know this isn't super helpful but it really depends on the culture of the firm you're at. I know people at lower MM funds who pull a hard 60 hours per week (9-8 weekdays and some clean up on sundays) and others who aren't much better than banking. The nice thing is no matter where you're at you'll almost certainly have fewer fire drills and be able to plan around important social things as long as you get the work done. 

 
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Aug 21, 2020 - 2:22pm

Personally I don't see how the predictability of someone's lifestyle in PE can be that much better. Maybe it's just the case of my fund, but last minute (fire drill) deliverables come up all the time where I work. Friday 6PM meeting request for one pagers on businesses a partner has meetings scheduled at a conference with, last minute back pocket analysis ahead of a deal deadline, IC decides Wednesday to convene on Monday for a deal discussion, the list goes on...

 

However, I would echo the point that, just because a fund is LMM, it doesn't mean the hours will be any better. My fund unfortunately being an example of this being the reality. I would actually say that my hours have gotten worse than when I was a second year analyst (and the stress is much, much higher).

 

Don't make the mistake I made. I really wanted a lifestyle improvement so I shot for LMM and figured that hours would be better at any fund, so I took the first offer that I had in front of me. I didn't do any homework to gauge this expectation and here I am, late into my first year, performing not so well (jaded af), and probably will have difficulty staying in the industry. 

 
Most Helpful
Aug 21, 2020 - 3:22pm

I disagree that asking current associates is helpful, beyond maybe a bit at the margins.  I see current junior employees in IB & PE lie to prospective employees all the time -- only when they are truly mad and out-the-door is when you will get honest answers.   

 

From the POV of a current associate -- If someone has already interviewed and is about to sign, and then they talk to you and no longer want to work there, it would be obvious that you are giving the firm a negative "internal review" and it would hinder you.  

 

I personally was told that we worked "a few weekends a year," when really it was the opposite, we worked most weekends.

 

I think this can only be overcome if you have close friends at a fund (tough since there's usually only a couple associates at each...) - still trying to find the answer myself to be honest.

Array
 
Aug 21, 2020 - 3:42pm

YMMV greatly based on fund. That said, there is a different mindset when you are no longer in the service business. So generally, the hours are more predictable, especially around weekends.

You're the one sending comments on a book, the next draft of the LOI, or questions on the QE at 3pm on a Friday rather than being on the receiving end.

 
Aug 21, 2020 - 8:41pm

Maybe if you're the client, but if you're bidding, especially now where any deal that's out there is out there because it's so attractive and "COVID-proof" you're the one that's digging through that data room over the weekend if the sell side rep decided to do a massive upload on Friday at 4 PM, assuming that the deadline on next bids is tight. There have been plenty of times where I've felt bad for the bidders on the receiving end of our CIMs and data rooms and follow up data requests going out the door late on Fridays. Maybe there's less of that last-minute dumping being received in PE than IB but certainly doesn't seem like it's rare.

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 21, 2020 - 7:00pm

Depends on the firm but generally hours are better. Firms that have really ambitious owners that want to grow will have bad hours and you can kind of get a sense of this by their deal count. Older firms that have maintained a similar AUM from their start will probably have better hours. Doubtful an associate will talk bad about their firm, unless they're leaving soon, so reach out to some former associates.

 
Aug 22, 2020 - 12:27am

Honestly it depends. In general, a PE Associate and even VP is putting in serious hours, though probably better thank banking but this is arguable. 

 

What I will say for me was the biggest difference is just the visibility. There are, at least in my experience, much fewer late Friday staffings - and when that does happen, it's something like asking an Associate to put together an LOI draft I can review later and I don't care if they do it from home on Sunday afternoon.

 

Obviously if you are working on trying to close a deal, all bets are off the table.

 
Aug 23, 2020 - 4:20pm

100% firm dependent. I started in LMM PE and my hours were variable. On deals, I had a fair share of 80+ hour weeks and some crazy final deal close weeks with travel, final diligence etc. The day to day tended to not be that awful though. ~50-60 hours/week and although there is always more to do at a small firm (sourcing, building firm infrastructure, recruiting, etc) It was manageable because I had a decent amount of autonomy as to when I could do the work. I have to leave a little earlier on Friday for a friends Birthday? No worries, as long as I have whatever I need to have done.

If you're screening a firm and trying to figure out work life balance, I'd mainly base it on the background of the partners. What firms did they come from? Have they spent much time in banking etc. Culture will be dictated largely by the senior folks.

With that being said, PE will never be a lifestyle job. Even though it's better than banking in that it's not client facing, if you want to move up in PE that means doing/finding deals and in order to find good deals and execute on them well, you're going to have to sacrifice your time and sometimes if not often times, it will mean long hours, tight deadlines, travel, etc. You kind of have to love doing deals and sacrificing whatever it takes to get them done. I don't think you'll see any Principals/Partners of PE firms, even small ones, winning father/mother of the year awards or having many significant hobbies outside of work, but then again I don't think they care.

It sounds like you're getting a particularly rough go of it now in banking, trying recruiting for smaller shops, and try and do as much backchanel referencing on the firm as you can.

 
Aug 25, 2020 - 6:17pm

Having worked at two mid-market PE funds, I can confirm that the lifestyle just never gets better, and this is irrespective of what level you're at and even which geography you're operating out of, as long as you're investing a fund with a traditional 10-yr lifecycle which needs to deploy $X/yr. I wrote a bunch about this, and why I ultimately decided to leave PE here. Hope it's helpful to folks:

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/why-i-left-pe-switched-to-the-public-markets

 
Aug 27, 2020 - 10:37am
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