Middle-Market PE

What do people consider to be the best middle market (or maybe between middle market and the mega funds) PE shops? I guess I am looking for the perceived prestige and quality of the fund.

Comments (55)

Mar 1, 2007 - 1:23pm

Kohlberg, Questor, Summit, Arcapita, American Securities, Olympus, TA and General Atlantic (latter two do non-mid cap deals as well)

Who told you Summit is the place to be? It's a glorified call center for associates.

Didn't pay attention to "best" midcap sponsors to work at, just rambled a few off the top of my head that were not on the list. Summit & TA = Call Centers.

Mar 2, 2007 - 1:14am

I'd argue LGP, Hellman & Friedman are a bit better than the others mentioned on this board. Both of those were / are the top choice fund for many people at top groups. Them along with MDP I would say are between middle market and mega funds. I'd feel guilty putting those three in the same breath as Summitt etc.

Golden Gate guys are geniuses- their last fund shot the lights out - very interesting strategy.

Mar 6, 2007 - 12:21am

Capital? They focus primarily on aerospace/government and their new fund is focusing on above and half on industrials/consumer. Do you guys have any info on their prestige?

pretty well known to those covering industrials.

Mar 2, 2007 - 2:44pm

Don't hear much about Castle Harlan. May be a very good fund but the above are what I think of in terms of the best performing funds / places where people are trying to get to.

Mar 3, 2007 - 4:31pm

Oaktree is more of a hybrid than pure PE shop. So its hard to rank them comparably.

Jan 4, 2011 - 3:23am

oak hill, vector, FP,Catterton on top of my head

Feb 18, 2011 - 12:19am

Middle Market Reputation in the PE Community (Originally Posted: 12/26/2014)

Hey guys. I am currently a junior, and I am in a tough spot. I just received a SA offer with Harris Williams in one of their regional offices (not their Richmond headquarters). I am extremely excited.

However, I have an exploding deadline that occurs before all of my on-campus interviews. I have 12 interviews at other places, including a few places such as Evercore and Rothschild (although these may be a longshot). Other than these, my options are between one BB, some high quality full-service MM firms (Jefferies, RBC, etc.) and other smaller middle market firms. I'm going to try and extend the deadline to my exploding offer, but chances are, that's not going to be a realistic option.

Ultimately, I'm going to probably have to make a tough decision between choosing what I have and taking the gamble on the other interviews. One of my goals is to work in PE, and from what I can tell, this will be an excellent place to work if that is my goal. I know a lot of people place into well-respected middle market PE firms. However, I am wondering if I would be making a huge mistake forgoing the other offers.

Do you think that choosing to accept this offer would be a mistake on my part if my goal is PE? Part of my thought process is that if I don't like it, I can still recruit for full time, although it might still be stupid to throw away all of my other SA interviews for that risk.

This is easily the toughest decision I have had to make in my life, and I really appreciate all the help I can get!

Feb 18, 2011 - 12:20am

HW places very well into MM PE. Typically, you will be working on deals a notch below Jefferies, RBC, etc. and two notches below BBs and EBs. HW typical deal size is probably $100-$500 million, though it has worked on deals lower and higher than the range.

HW's model has long been one of blast every fucking financial sponsor in the world every deal we have. While that sounds a bit ridiculous and annoying (at least from my perspective), it clearly works because HW gets a TON of sponsor exits/sales. Working with PE on both sides will give you plenty of opportunities to interact with various firms and because of its strong deal volume, you will be in good shape for MM PE recruiting. Just don't expect to land at a megafund and it will be more difficult to crack upper MM PE. You can still earn a nice living.

Feb 18, 2011 - 12:22am

This is great advice. For AA, based on your group, timing (especially if you end up doing PE recruiting after only working for a year and change), and just plain luck of the draw, your deals at HW could be larger or smaller than other MM firms, but your experience will be focused on sponsor-to-sponsor transactions. You will have very limited exposure to public companies and division of larger companies, so that will make megafund recruiting more difficult. However, you'll be at least as competitive for MM PE as you would any of the other MM IB firms.

My advice might be different if you were a senior, but I'd lean towards taking the HW offer. HW is well respected so you'll probably have a chance to "move up" in full-time recruiting if that's what you want to do. Therefore, it may not be worth the risk of striking out on your other interviews. However, you may have a better sense of your competitiveness for the other interviews. Depending on your resume, school and network, you may be a sure thing for 1 of those 12 or you may strike out on all 12 (better men than me have).

In summary, if MM PE is your goal, HW will certainly give you that opportunity. If you have bigger aspirations, it may make sense to roll the dice, but a summer internship at HW shouldn't close any doors.

Feb 18, 2011 - 12:31am

Take it. Harris Williams is probably the best investment bank (including BBs) for landing in middle-market PE. As stated above, it is highly unlikely that you'll get into a megafund. However, I'd argue that Harris Williams analysts place better into the sub $1bn PE market than the BBs. For a confirmed summer gig vs. rolling the dice in interviews, you really can't go wrong. The downside of striking out far outweighs the upside of going to a larger bank for the summer.


Feb 18, 2011 - 12:34am


Take it. Harris Williams is probably the best investment bank (including BBs) for landing in middle-market PE. As stated above, it is highly unlikely that you'll get into a megafund. However, I'd argue that Harris Williams analysts place better into the sub $1bn PE market than the BBs. For a confirmed summer gig vs. rolling the dice in interviews, you really can't go wrong. The downside of striking out far outweighs the upside of going to a larger bank for the summer.

CB is spot on per usual.

Feb 18, 2011 - 12:32am

I would absolutely turn it down. Because you aren't going to be at the firm's headquarters or any of their large offices, you won't be in a big summer class, which means you are going to get swamped with more work than summers in the bigger programs. You also won't get any training and there might not be any other interns for you to be measured against. You're performance will often just be compared to the full time analysts, which puts more pressure on you to perform from day 1.

There will be no HR to regulate anything and it's quite possible you will get worked to death. And since you are doing sell side M&A working primarily with sponsors, it's going to be boring as shit for you. You won't learn to model. You'll be working in powerpoint all day doing CIMS, management presentations, and meaningless research on sponsors' relentless diligence requests. Also tons of bullshit administrative work.

You won't have the same resources as a bigger firm and could very well be spending 20% of your time binding pitchbooks. There will be no powerpoint plug ins or any of that fancy shit. Also you will have no time/ability to network over the summer because you'll be in a city that is completely peripheral to finance. So basically you're fucked if you don't get the offer - and unless you're from this regional city, your group will probably be skeptical you even want to be there be FT. Also, all the full time recruiting at all reputable shops is very accelerated. You will need to be networking early if you even want a shot. It's practically done by mid september.

If you are confident in your interviewing skills, try to get something at a bigger firm in a bigger city through on campus recruiting.

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