Moving from South East Asia MM Buyout House to America

Hi all, my first time posting. Brief background about myself: Mechanical Engineering graduate from a top 10 school in the UK; did IB internship with an European boutique and returned to Singapore upon graduation. Landed an analyst role in a MM PE in Singapore focusing in buyouts within the ASEAN region, have been here for close to 3 years. Working on my CFA too to supplement my non-existent finance / accounting undergrad.

My issue here is my fiance wants me to move to the States, but I don't know what sort of job I could land in the States with my background. Is it possible to land another PE job by unplugging myself? Is it even worthwhile to make the move given my decent job here? What should I do to maximize my chances?

Thanks a lot peeps.

Comments (23)

Aug 29, 2019 - 9:55pm

honestly - and don't take this the wrong way, i just want to shoot straight - it is going to be impossible for you to get into PE in the US

your best bet is to trying to get into ibanking but that may require getting an MBA first so that you can "reset".

  • 1
Aug 30, 2019 - 1:32am

Hm interesting - can you elaborate on why this is impossible? Keen to understand which are the key hurdles going into this - is it an issue of Visas, employment preference for local market knowledge, or something else?

OP, am in a similar position - mind PM-ing me? we can chat a bit on this

Sep 4, 2019 - 10:55pm

there's just a billion kids here in the US already doing banking and PE - why would they go with someone int'l? there's zero advantage, possibly only disadvantages.

the visa thing is a non-starter.

  • Analyst 3+ in PE - LBOs
Aug 31, 2019 - 9:02am

OP here. Thanks for the no BS reply, appreciate it.

Before making the post, I kinda have a sense that it's near impossible - the cards aren't really in my favor (zero connection with the country, other than my fiancé lol).

I was hoping that perhaps doing a MBA in the States might work, but I don't think I ever want to go back to IB again.

If I've decided to give up on my cushy life here, what other jobs in finance I could explore that have way lesser gatekeeping?

Aug 31, 2019 - 10:29am

Corp Dev roles are way less picky on things like connections, familiarity with their particular "deal type", etc.. and you'd still be working on deals so that might be an attractive option. Have seen a couple of friends make that transition. Other potential options might be FP&A, banking - but haven't seen many people make that switch, but that's probably just due to personal interest

Sep 4, 2019 - 10:54pm

if it's an option, perhaps you can go for an MBA now - if you can get into a top 5-7 program (really though you'll need to get into HBS/Stanford/Wharton to have a real chance), there could be an opening to get into PE full time after in the US assuming (i) you have your papers in order and (ii) you get some good luck and willing to join a no name shop, but there's not guarantee.

as for other finance jobs to consider - i would look at potential mezz and co-investment opps. would be tough but if you have the skill set, could be an opp. same with private debt, but still won't be easy just given the availability of homegrown talent.

i would consider corp dev roles as well.

ibanking sucks, i would never want to do it, but it may not be the worst way to get into the game here.

lastly, i would just consider an MBA in general, assuming you're still young enough (i.e., not past age 28). if you get one from a top program, it really will open up your options.

  • 3
  • 1
Aug 30, 2019 - 3:59am

I'm currently facing this issue as well - trying to move into a similar role albeit in a different geography. What I sense is that most firms just see it as an unnecessary risk to take when they can find a bunch of great candidates who are already in the same city/state/country.

Aug 31, 2019 - 9:51am

Op visa is the biggest issue and you can't overcome that unless ur fiancé is american. Second of all there is no value ur pe experience as valuable it may be will add to pe firms in america.
Pe firms states side don't invest in asean countries - almost all focus on North America. So ur network and prior experience will count as nil to limited. Only way is to do a mba and that too at a top school

  • 2
  • Analyst 3+ in PE - LBOs
Sep 1, 2019 - 2:07am

I see. Visa wouldn't be an issue for me because my fiance is American, so that's settled.

I was hoping the skills would be transferable (financial modelling, due diligence, etc.) I'd look into MBA as an option. Thanks!

Sep 4, 2019 - 10:56pm

it's not just visa. no one in the US cares about PE experience overseas when there's a ton of domestic talent. the visa is just a non-starter to begin with.

Most Helpful
Sep 1, 2019 - 10:30am

Visa will likely be your biggest issue. If you're going to try and lateral in the US, you might get looks from MM or LMM PE firms, but I'm not sure if many of them will have the administrative bandwidth to handle visas. There are plenty of locals they can hire without jumping through those extra hoops.

Going through MBA might be a bit easier as you'll presumably have a student visa to delay that headache a bit, but I think the same issue will come up for FT recruiting. But if you're targeting say IB at large banks / EBs, or consulting at big global firms, they will be more likely to help with work visas.

As for whether or not the skills are transferable... some PE deals in Asia seem to look more like growth plays than traditional PE. I would imagine your skills are transferable, and if the Asian PE shop is recognizable you'll get some looks, but if you did happen to do some growth equity or tech deals, you could also look at similar firms. I think same issue will probably apply (re: visa), but just something to consider as part of your story and why you'd be an attractive candidate. Some large funds like SoftBank vision fund (more venture than PE) could be interesting- they hire a lot, and have a global view (they may appreciate people with international background).

EDIT: Just saw your other reply about your partner being American so the visa issue is settled... if that's the case, you should make sure you put that somewhere on your resume so people don't just assume you need authorization.

Sep 4, 2019 - 10:57pm

that's just not true. visa makes it a nonstarter but even if that wasn't an issue for OP, int'l experience isn't valuable in US PE. it's a domestic market and there are a ton of candidates eager to get in that are already here in the US.

Sep 5, 2019 - 10:04am

I don't think I said anywhere the visa is end all be all of all issues - it's definitely the biggest obstacle...

At the analyst / associate level they'll care more about his technical skill set, familiarity with deal process, and in general if he has an investor mindset. Of course it'd be better if OP had regional US experience, but I wouldn't call that a dealbreaker - particularly if he's able to demonstrate immediately transferable skill sets he'd have gain already being in PE vs say an IB Analyst. It would matter more if he were gunning for something beyond say post-MBA sr Associate / jr VP where it becomes a partner track question and where his network and regional expertise will be important - particularly at LMM / MM.

Where there's additional concern (besides the visa) would be whether the PE shop he's at is legit. Asia's a different animal with regards to IB and PE, and sometimes the work relating to valuation and diligence is a bit "looser" (from what I've personally seen when I worked there, but it's been awhile so maybe things have changed). So it will definitely help if the MM shop he's at is reputable and he can talk intelligently through his deals to mitigate for that potential perception.

Moving to a new country and continent and in PE no less is going to be really tough. He will have to do more leg work to network with firms and connect with headhunters (and convince them of why they should look at him vs locals), but it doesn't mean he can't try... It just means he should have several back up plans (like via MBA) and be prepared to cast a wider net.

Would be good if someone like APAE can chime in on what OP's game plan should be.

Sep 5, 2019 - 3:44pm

I am very interested in making the reverse move for the same reason you cited (gf). If you're willing to share some insights, please send me a DM.


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