PE firm with <60hr/wk worklife - are they even a thing?

First-year analyst at top NYC EB and beyond crushed on. I wanted some megafund when I was a senior, but now I just want a job where I can have a life. Are there ANY PE funds in the mm space that have a <60hr/wk wlb? 

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Comments (108)

  • Prospect in AM - Equities
Mar 18, 2021 - 9:59pm

EB RX group and historically no one at the group has exited to corpdev. Also, want to stay in a relevant space as I do find it interesting, just hours matters to me a lot more now.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 18, 2021 - 9:57pm

Same situation. Might just go LMM PE (Like a $500mm fund), have heard decent things but obv. depends on the specific shop. 

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Mar 23, 2021 - 7:20pm

QQmore

100% accurate; I'm in LMM PE and my work weeks are 40hours MAX. 

How does that even work? Why does a smaller fund size equate to less work intensity? If anything in my experience it's been the opposite. The smaller companies and family owned companies are usually a ton of work because they're not even close to professionalized.

The smaller targets have less infrastructure and reporting, so it's even more work to diligence. Your fund size is subscale so you have to run a super lean deal team, you don't have the scale to burn a few hundred grand on broken deal fees to advisors/lawyers/bankers so you're the one doing all that work, you're not a real attractive fee payor so there's no bankers/advisors willing to do free work for you to invest in the relationship.

Just curious.

Mar 20, 2021 - 12:34am

LMM is hit or miss. Some really firms are run by talented and creative investors and others are run by guys that you wouldn't want to learn from. Base case outcome (from a learning perspective) will be a lot higher at a larger fund, and you can always move downstream when you want to

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 18, 2021 - 10:10pm

I've got friends at sub $500M funds who get crushed too because those tiny funds have no overhead so you wear every hat... a small fund is no guarantee of a cushy life.

Mar 18, 2021 - 10:34pm

For some reason WSO changed recently where you can't use the less than sign or else it cuts off the rest of your message, FYI.

To answer OP's question I feel like the reason these are so rare is because often once people are in those seats they don't leave precisely because WLB is so good for being in PE, and those shops are usually smaller and there's just a lot less info available out there about them. Definitely firm dependent too and it's not as easy as saying "oh just join any fund that's sub-$x"

  • Associate 3 in PE - Growth
Mar 18, 2021 - 11:06pm

I'm at a single family office doing direct PE deals for a well-known multi-billionaire family, after a couple of brutal years at a top BB. Lifestyle probably hovers around ~60 hours a week (with no weekend work) unless there's a sprint for a deal. I do take a haircut on comp relative to traditional PE funds, but the work life balance is much better and they won't kick me out after X years like some funds do. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 21, 2021 - 9:18pm

Family offices & UHNWs are the bomb in LMM/MM space in my opinion. More flexible time horizons and usually bring some added value to the table as an LP/platform.

May 3, 2021 - 8:21am

Associate 3 in PE - Growth

I'm at a single family office doing direct PE deals for a well-known multi-billionaire family, after a couple of brutal years at a top BB. Lifestyle probably hovers around ~60 hours a week (with no weekend work) unless there's a sprint for a deal. I do take a haircut on comp relative to traditional PE funds, but the work life balance is much better and they won't kick me out after X years like some funds do. 

Can you share your views on future opportunities after your stint in a single family office? Does it weed out future opportunities (including return to PE)

Also, is carry typically deal-by-deal given the nature of the fund source?

Much appreciated

I'm in a LMM PE right now and considering a move to a single family office doing PE

Mar 19, 2021 - 6:42am

Don't know in US. In Europe working ,60h/week in PE is feasible. It depends on the fund culture - Your MD

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Mar 19, 2021 - 9:25am

If interest is in LMM or MM direct buyout/lead, look at single/multi family offices that focus on these types of deals (i.e. Pritzkers and the like). Can't speak to Pritzker specifically but generally I hear the hours are more "reasonable" and can average out in the 60-70 range (obviously when you're closing, it ramps up to your expected 100/week levels for about a month but that's typically only 1-2x occasion each year).

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Mar 19, 2021 - 10:27am

Worked at one myself - typically it's going to be smaller, non-NYC type firms (NJ/CT/Westchester if you're targeting northeast).  A good barometer is the background of the partners and deals per fund versus associate headcount.  If they're all from MFs, senior BB M&A guys, or from sweaty shops in general, they will probably grind you.  

  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
Mar 19, 2021 - 12:59pm

Currently at LMM PE shop where we work maybe 55 a week on average, gets down below 50 in the summer and around holidays assuming no deals are going on. With deals it usually looks more like 70 or so, which still isn't that bad all things considered.

Dealflow is pretty sleepy. We run hard at maybe one deal a month, and typically only close 1-2 per year. Our goal is to be ultra-concentrated (5-6 investments per fund) so the light dealflow isn't a death knell in terms of deploying the fund. Fewer portfolio cos also helps you focus time on the handful of new deals we're looking at.

I'm a little concerned about prospects if I end up needing to lateral, but luckily there's no 2-and-out program here. I won't get rich here, but it's a nice balance in a MCOL city

Mar 19, 2021 - 10:31pm

I'd be careful with the LMM PE advice. Sure, some funds may offer better WLB than others but a large % of LMM PE funds are super hands-on with portcos and involved in several deal processes so they are jammed on the resources front. Not the best bet IMO to go to a LMM for the WLB unless you know that specific firm has a culture like that.

A safer bet is usually something like a permanent capital vehicle or a family office, though those opportunities are generally a bit more rare.

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Mar 19, 2021 - 10:55pm

I'm about to go to a LMM shop where the feedback from past associates has been WLB is pretty good, hours are pretty good except for deep into live delas. However, it appears the culture is not great and the partners don't really connect with the juniors. Any advice and has anyone been in a similar situation?

Right now in IB I'm in the opposite situation where I really like my group and we all get along nicely, but its been grinding 100 hr weeks for over a year now.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 21, 2021 - 2:17am

Know its not the focus on this sub but currently at an UMM ($6bn fund), never experienced <60 hours but have been averaging ~70ish hours (9am~10pm with 4-5 hours on sundays) with pretty solid comp (~$250k all-in) so honestly can't complain here.

Of course once every other month you have that 100+ hour week when closing deals. So there definitely could be some type of W/L balance even at the larger shops.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Mar 21, 2021 - 12:10pm

At the end of the day, it's entirely driven by the people/strategy versus fund size.  The guys that want to crack the whip on juniors and generate the highest fees/do the most deals will more likely be at the larger funds.  That's not to say there aren't hardos at the sub $500mm funds, just fewer of them.  

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 21, 2021 - 10:01pm

I'm at a MM firm (~$10Bn AUM), so can provide some relevant thoughts. You should watch out for firms that are highly acquisitive / pursue rollup or build-up strategies. What this actually means is that on top of doing normal PE Associate work (i.e. evaluating new investment opportunities, building models, etc.), you could end up getting completely buried in add-ons and other strategy work for your port cos. It's pretty interesting stuff, but has been worse hours than banking for me and the other associates all concur. I'm looking at pursuing other opportunities because I just can't live like this anymore. 

Mar 23, 2021 - 2:01pm

Got donkey fucked in LMM as did my peers in other LMM funds. You look at shittier companies with way less resources than those at UMM/MF PE and your optionality + economics are significantly worse. If you want lifestyle, PE is not where you should be. If you still want to be involved in deal space look at family offices or if you're interested in investing, go to the public side.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Mar 24, 2021 - 10:59am

Out of curiosity are you and your friends in NY/SF or smaller market cities (chi, bos, Dallas)

Mar 23, 2021 - 5:43pm

Careful with family offices. These vary hugely in size and sophistication. 
 

On the low end of the spectrum,  you are at the risk of being at the mercy of one very rich person who is used to having domestics and servants working for them and will be working on random deals  coming from dodgy connections 

on the other side of the spectrum it wouldn't be very different to the more sophisticated funds (EQT was originally a family office)

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 24, 2021 - 10:55pm

Also, the pay is coming directly out of their pockets and it's possible that they wake up one day and fire everyone/outsource to their friend's firm etc.

Mar 24, 2021 - 5:06pm

Hi OP. I work less than 60h a week, but not in a London / NY kind of city. A smaller European city. Fund size is >EUR 300m. Small team of 10. 

Comps is a lot lower but overall I am happy, work on interesting stuff and I have a life outside of work.

So yes, it is possible but you would have to make some sacrifices 

Mar 24, 2021 - 8:07pm

LP chiming in here... 

I think people are defining LMM firms differently. In general, let's call LMM funds $250mn-$1.0bn and anything less than that as micro cap. Within this space, you could see a range of approaches--firms who are small and want to stay small, Fund I/II spinouts from established firms starting at the lower end of the market to raise LP capital, or more niche strategies (sector specialists) where fund sizes are restricted by the focus on opportunity sets.  

Some here are talking about firms that are dedicated LMM specialists in non-core geographies. I would expect these firms to be less polished, have lower deal velocity, pay less, but have better work balance. For spinouts (ie firms led by GPs spinning out of megafunds/upper middle market), I would expect there to be no change in WLB. These GPs are used to working with associates that constantly grind and likely will be working just as hard alongside them as they build their own firm. At these spinouts, you would likely have more of a long term, potentially partner path as a junior investor.

So, TL;DR, do your homework. Look at the pedigree of the partners and do your referencing to understand the culture. No two firms are really that similar in the grand scheme of things, especially at small shops.

  • Analyst 1 in PE - Growth
Mar 25, 2021 - 2:32am

I am at lmm pe with  

But I have to bear 35k base salary. No bonus given so far, and I doubt I can get any anytime soon.

Apr 5, 2021 - 8:20am

Very fair question you're asking and hope you're able to catch a bit of a break soon. Generally speaking, it's tough to find PE roles that guarantee a certain set of hours, as the biggest destroyers of WLB are process timelines. Even at a MF/UMM, you may have a stretch when you're just working on early stage opportunities, and then the hours are like ~65/70 hrs per week, which isn't terrible. However, even at a smaller fund, if you're in the later stages of a deal, you're inevitably going to have to go through the natural aspects of the PE job that create the tougher hours e.g. diligence, IC decks / memos, etc.

What's very messed up (at least from what I recall in banking) is that people somehow continue to market that any PE role in general will be better than banking, and that just isn't true. For the most part, unless you get very lucky with the shop / team / vertical, PE is 100% banking 2.0 - as a side note, a few of my friends thought they were going to "lifestyle" groups at smaller funds and they were definitely wrong...at a certain point it's challenging to also figure out what someone is marketing to you during an interview process / what you hear from friends about lifestyles is actually true or not. Hope this helps!

Array

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Most Helpful
Apr 8, 2021 - 7:44am

I really hesitate to make generalizations and if WLB is the single biggest criteria for you, then I would try to diligence the below aspects as hard as you can

(1) partner vs. associate ratio - a lot of smaller shops are pretty lean or maybe they're just starting out, hiring patterns are less predictable and if you don't have many associates per partner then the few associates are doing everything; even MFs who might be starting satellite offices...for the first few years they might be testing out the headcount and only have a small group of associates which can also pile on the work fast

(2) dry powder left in the current vintage + prior vintages not fully deployed - if there's dry powder left and if deployment is behind schedule, you best believe people will be hustling, which means sourcing more opportunities

(3) ratio of proprietary deals or bank processes in vintages - this one is pretty hard to assess as an outsider but definitely a question you can ask during the interview process, the more proprietary the deals the more you have a chance to not be working on bank deadline schedules which like I mentioned above is what kills WLB

(4) is the current vintage one of a first handful of funds raised - a lot of LMMs are spin-offs of larger platforms and etc., so managers / partners are very much incentivized to knock it out of the park for the performance of the first few funds, which again can drive a lot of incremental work

(5) the average tenure of associates and is there an existing track record of promotion - the higher the promotion ratio, the more the fund is encouraged to nurture you and not totally burn you out

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Apr 7, 2021 - 12:44pm

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 8, 2021 - 12:21am

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