PE Associate Career Path

363 Banker's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 35

Hey guys,

I'm currently a middle market credit analyst for a larger regional bank. Internally, I'm on the career path to become a lender.

Last week I was approached by a recruiter from a private equity company. I have always wanted to move to private equity, but I thought it would take a couple more years to develop the skills I'd need to make the move.

Anyway, they have a couple of associate jobs open that they'd like me to apply for, risk associate (sounds like periodic reviews of portfolio companies) and leveraged finance associate (working on new transactions). Which of these two should I make the priority?

In commercial banking it seems that when they have roles dedicated to existing borrower risk review, those jobs are typically not where you want to go, but given the higher level of commitment to deals/lower number of transactions in PE I could see that not being the case there.

My bank actually has our credit analysts do both new deal underwriting and existing borrower reviews, and our middle market groups do a lot of deals with PE firms, so I feel like I could do either job.

Which job has the better career path? Is it even an issue in PE? I may be well served to take what I can get on the PE side and figure it out when I get there. I just don't want to leave my lender track job if it's like commerical banking where the dedicated review people are locked in a closet with no hope of ever working in a revenue generating role.

Private Equity Interview Course

  • 2,447 questions across 203 private equity funds. Crowdsourced from over 500,000 mem.
  • 9 Detailed LBO Modeling Tests and 15+ hours of video solutions.
  • Trusted by over 1,000 aspiring private equity professionals just like you.

Comments (9)

Nov 15, 2017

Leverage finance sounds like FO and risk associate MO. Where do you want to be?

Nov 15, 2017

I'd definitely rather be FO. That being said, I'd think that MO PE > FO Commerical Banking.

How difficult would it be to move into a FO role if I start in MO? I think the recruiter is trying to push me toward the risk associate job.

Nov 18, 2017

Middle office is basically back office. It is very hard to make the switch, I am in the process of making the transition at my current PE firm but it is solely due to the fact that I had prior transaction experience and the back office position I took allowed me to hit a lot of different areas from valuations to prelim deal diligence and modeling.

Nov 19, 2017

I dont fully agree with that statement that middle is basically back office... you can do a broad variety of analysis and info gathering while also doing monthly performance checks internally, making sure ops is doing things correctly and continuing a relationship with clients on the phone and in person. It really depends what it leans to. You can say asset managers are middle office, but they most certainly are not doing the wiring instructions that back office does.

    • 1
Nov 20, 2017

From my PE experience if you are not an investment professional or business development professional you are back office. Investor relations is also considered back office in PE even though it is the life blood of the organization. There maybe overlap from back to front but regardless of the title going from middle or back to front without significant buy or sell side experience is extremely hard and that was the point I was trying to make.

Learn More

9 LBO Modeling Tests, 10+ hours of PE Cases and 2,447+ interview insights across 203 private equity funds. The WSO Private Equity Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to break into the competitive PE industry. Learn more.

Best Response
Nov 19, 2017

Be careful with that fucking bitch ass recruiter. No offense, but you are not a top tier pedigreed candidate. In essence, you are a dime a dozen. A lot of times, these recruiters have two different jobs which are 1:) To find a top candidate that has the skills and experience that will add value and that the investment firm will find attractive. 2:) Find a candidate that is WILLING and FINE with taking the job given to them. The second one is arguably harder since they have to go out there and find candidates that are willing to do less glamorous work. I'm not saying you aren't qualified for a PE front office job, but this is the experience I have had as well, since I am a not considered a "top candidate."

Be careful with the bait and switch method too where the recruiter gives two jobs, then pulls out the better one and says that the middle office one is the only one that is available now.

    • 6
Nov 16, 2017

Leverage finance associate. If I were you, I'd look to become an sme on capital structure on a deal. Be the guy that can make most deals attractive from a financing standpoint.

Nov 18, 2017

Do not go MO. Once you do that, it is INCREDIBLY difficult to move to FO.

    • 1
Nov 19, 2017
    • 3