PE Analyst Exits -- MBA vs HF vs PE Associate?

Incoming FT analyst at one of BX/KKR/OAK/GA/TPG/Ares/WP. I plan on doing 2 years as an analyst, and then going to 1 of 3 paths: in no particular order, 1. MBA, 2. SM HF, 3. Stay as an associate and start partner track. 

As far as the MBA goes, I would probably only consider HBS, so if I don't get in obviously that's not going to be an option. As far as HFs, I am mainly interested in L/S, would like to work at a $10bn+ manager, and would prefer east coast. As far as staying in PE, I know that the early years are tough, but if I really enjoy my time as an analyst I could see myself staying. Long term goal right now is HF though. 

How hard would it be to get into HBS as a MFPE analyst (2 years experience under belt) -- is that doable? Would I have better HF prospects if I went the MBA route, or will the MFPE analyst role provide the same, if not better, HF exits? I saw a juicy list of funds that recruit at HBS on their website -- does anyone have a list of top funds that have taken PE analysts, not associates? Thanks in advance

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Comments (14)

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
May 9, 2021 - 4:42pm

I wouldn't suggest going for an MBA after only 2 years as an analyst. Think of it from a recruiting standpoint - once you're at HBS, if you're trying to go for PE / HF you'll be competing against others who have mostly done 4+ years across banking / PE so having only 2 years of work experience would be a setback. From a firm perspective, it would also be less straightforward to figure out what to hire you in as (likely wouldn't be given the same role / title as someone who did 2 years as a pre MBA PE associate before business school)

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
May 9, 2021 - 5:27pm

Thanks for pointing that out, didn't really think of it through that lens. If I would be competing against 2 IB + 2 MFPE folks, would I appear as if I'm the same level because I skipped the IB years? This is incredibly stupid, but the main reason I would go to HBS is ego -- I didn't get into my top choice out of undergrad, settled for a school that was still a target & great school and I had a blast there, and I'm blessed to be going into MFPE out of school, but I think having that HBS name on my resume would be the missing piece to the puzzle. The HBS network, the harvard name, being able to one day tell my kids I went to HBS & my kids being harvard legacies, you get the point 😂. It's stupid but it's something I would seriously consider and I think it's worth far more than the money. The network aspect I can build up myself, but it's moreso the other stuff like I don't want my kids to have to go through the same difficulty I had in the admissions process and I would be....*an HBS alum*. Lmfao

I just don't know if it would be smarter to just skip the MBA and land a seat at an HF after my 2 years in PE. That would be the quickest, most inexpensive route to a top HF obviously. Are there any funds that wouldn't take a MFPE analyst BUT would take an HBS grad? Everything was virtual last summer so during my internship, I didn't really get to connect w/ some of the 2nd year analysts/associates and ask them about exits that much. Massive first world problems from a semi-insecure guy over here 😂. Thanks!

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
May 9, 2021 - 5:36pm

Recruiters would clearly see from your resume that you only worked for 2 years as an analyst, rather than the more typical 2+2 IB/PE experience. My original point was that firms would have trouble figuring out what level to bring you on as, but if you're going through an on campus recruiting process your resume will just be tossed in with everyone else's so it might be a net negative since there are other more traditional candidates that are more obvious choices for a post MBA hire.

I don't think any HF really cares about an MBA, some HFs probably see it in a negative light given the pretty bad ROI of paying for tuition + 2 year opportunity cost from not working. With that said, if you want to go HBS then you should consider it, but I would say you'll realize after getting out of college that "prestige" / doing things to impress others is a bad path to go down - no one really cares at the end of the day so I wouldn't do it for solely that reason 

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
May 9, 2021 - 6:33pm

Isnt that the case for any high finance career including HF? I know the hours are better and since it isn't a deal related career its more predictable (work flow wise) but would think the stress/intensity factor in a L/S HF is the same as PE 

May 9, 2021 - 11:29pm

I think there are two types of stress - stress of the investment and stress of time/lack there off. To your point, the stakes are the same so similar stress, maybe more so in regards to investment performance day to day on the HF side.  But as you eluded to the big differentiator is just a process oriented job with deal sprints vs not. My comment was not about stress of underlying job rather the stress of grind. From what I've seen in the industry, and having friends at the Principal / Partner level in PE and Director of Research / PM level in HFs is the PE people grind way harder than the HF counterparts. I personally find this stress, lack of control of your time and a significant portion to be a negative compounder and worse that performance related stress as its harder to every decompress. Again, not a knock on PE. Great career path for those that don't mind the hours and lack of predicability. Buts its real and its different than on the HF side. To your point though, IB will have this as will Consulting. LO and HF are materially better, typically. The OP was also specifically referencing grinding, with the presumption it will go away later - so my comment was addressing that issue. 

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