Private Credit / DL Megathread

I've seen many threads on here regarding PC/DL and wanted to start one large thread (like PE) so we can consolidate information instead of having 10+ smaller threads. Feel free to post anything related to this industry (comp, hours, firm culture, recruiting, general career advice, etc.).

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Comments (180)

Jul 25, 2020 - 3:44pm

Thanks for making this thread. I have a few questions that I haven't gotten clear answers to from the previous posts:

  1. Does Private Credit/DL recruiting generally follow the PE recruiting timeline, where the big shops recruit way in advance and other opportunities come up "off cycle"? Or are most opportunities on an as-needed basis and interview close to the start date?

  2. What do the technical questions look like in these interviews? Should we be using the same prep guides as our peers recruiting for PE or something else? The only threads I could find were a bit vague and just referenced brushing up on "basic debt" and LevFin that sufficient?

Any insights would be appreciated, thanks.


  • 1
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jul 25, 2020 - 4:31pm

I believe on cycle recruiting is similar to PE but less hectic. And yes, my understanding is that levfin material will be the primary things tested, but unfortunately I'm not too familiar with the interview process.

Credit can get very technical. Hopefully others can chime in.

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Jul 25, 2020 - 10:07pm

Currently work at MF credit as an associate. Mostly off cycle. Know that KKR, Carlyle, Owl Rock, HPS, and Apollo do off cycle. GSO might be on cycle although I'm not positive.

In terms of what to expect for interviews, it's similar to private equity. Expect to meet the whole deal team and to have at least one case study. Having some precursory knowledge in credit is important, but they also don't expect you to be an expert coming in. Just need to understand how to talk about a transaction and what makes companies good credits. Some companies that make good credits are not good equity stories and vice versa. Happy to answer any questions people may have.

Jul 26, 2020 - 11:54am

Currently work at MF credit as an associate. Mostly off cycle. Know that KKR, Carlyle, Owl Rock, HPS, and Apollo do off cycle. GSO might be on cycle although I'm not positive.

In terms of what to expect for interviews, it's similar to private equity. Expect to meet the whole deal team and to have at least one case study. Having some precursory knowledge in credit is important, but they also don't expect you to be an expert coming in. Just need to understand how to talk about a transaction and what makes companies good credits. Some companies that make good credits are not good equity stories and vice versa. Happy to answer any questions people may have.

Thanks for this. Can you provide any color on what a private credit / DL case study would look like?
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jul 26, 2020 - 6:33pm

Do most Associates at MF come from Lev Fin? What about the IB Credit Risk side?

I feel I can talk through documentation, financials and transactions just fine, but worry that I'll be perceived as less capable at modelling, etc. Are there any other nuances that one should be aware of?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jul 26, 2020 - 9:40pm

Do you need an MBA to make it to the senior positions (VP/ED/MD) of MF credit shops in NYC or can you make this jump if you went to a target undergrad (Brown/Cornell/Dartmouth) and went straight into credit at a smaller shop?

Also how are the hours at a MF? From what I've heard, credit hours seem to be much better than PE and IB (50-70 Hours a week).

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jul 30, 2020 - 2:51am

Thanks. This is really helpful. "Some companies that make good credits are not good equity stories and vice versa."

Would you mind elaborating on this statement and if you could provide some examples off the top of your head that will be really helpful!

Jul 26, 2020 - 10:40pm

Worked @ SEA-Based PC/DL firm here.

Hours are a still bad by all means, 70 are minimum and it could get to 100 including some all nighters on Sundays. But its mostly about reading endless legal documentations and strategizing on covenants.

Modelling are done usually in templates and it is less complicated (most of the times) than PE or IB transactions model.

My firm recruits wide range of people since we do other things beside DL. We have appraisers, ex-banking credit risk, ex-big4, and there are ex-gov officials as well. We recruit almost exclusively from previous interns and/or personal recommendation from someone within the firm.

Culturally speaking it's pretty good in my group, Partner is really looking after his team. Although the firm as a whole could get really toxic regarding office politics.

Comps are touchy thing, the partner has a exit-clause of not paying us bonuses if some metrics and/or situation(s) aren't achieved. All-in comp is probably equal to MM IB, better bonuses tho if i might said so myself (but then.. i didn't get mine this year).

Jul 26, 2020 - 11:49pm

Someone also recently inquired about what DL in London is like. Does anyone have any insight on this (comp, hours, big players in London, culture)?

Would doing a part-time Msc in finance from LSE be worth it for being promoted in DL?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jul 28, 2020 - 2:21pm

Curious about this as well. In addition to a masters in finance from LSE or Oxford, is having international credit experience helpful/looked favorably upon?

  • Analyst 1 in CB
Jul 27, 2020 - 9:57pm

Would be interesting to see people comment on their general experience working for, with, or against certain DL shops. No particular subject of interest here, just generally curious to see what others have to say about certain shops. Here are a couple of observations I've had first hand or heard anecdotally from people in the space about certain shops:

Golub: not afraid to stretch on leverage for high quality assets. Was on a tear pre-COVID with large one-stop facilities (>$500MM). Heard hours can be long here and that the shop has a strong reputation within the space.

TwinBrook: have seen them make some arguably aggressive leverage reads for just OK companies. More curious than anything to see how their overall portfolio is holding up and if any layoffs are in order like at Antares.

Owl Rock: If your'e a 1L lender in a deal that has a 1L/2L financing structure and ORCA is in the 2L, good luck trying to get concessions from them. Tough to negotiate with and heard they're looking into buying up 1L in their 2L deals.

HPS: deals here tend to have a fair amount of hair on them from what I've seen and as a natural byproduct a fair amount of yield. Would like to know more about these guys quite frankly in terms of what they look for in a deal, how they box the higher risk they seem to take outside of higher pricing.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jul 27, 2020 - 10:10pm

Great post!

Would also like to hear thoughts on the culture at these firms:








Jul 28, 2020 - 6:22pm

GSO - 800 pound gorilla in the space. Have something like 240 billion in assets. Work hard, pays well, decent returns. Very rigid corporate culture, have heard that you shouldn't expect to talk at IC as a junior.

Apollo - do the hairiest deals around and deal with significant complexity. Make top notch returns (talking more than most pe funds honestly) and hours are similar if not a little less than the pe side.

Carlyle - started by a former HPS partner. Carlyle's core competency is government connections and being close to the heartbeat of DC. Always has been and always will be. No different on the credit side. Haven't really heard of them being active, think they do smaller sized deals for now. Not familiar with how returns are.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - CB
Jul 29, 2020 - 10:20am

Want to clarify the Antares layoff comment as I used to work there and know many people there. Antares portfolio is holding up fine for now as are most of its competitors, lets be honest they all mingle in the same deals/industries. The layoffs were primarily driven by the prevalence of unitranche and internal PE syndication arms knocking the wind out of Anatares own cap markets group sails. Additionally, they added a PM group that handles post close portfolio monitoring. , and brought in enough that they didnt need as many (more expensive) credit juniors. Also were super top heavy at the SVP level and trimmed the fat there. I would guess these layoffs wouldve happened with or without COVID, it probably just sped them along

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
Jul 27, 2020 - 10:08pm
Buyside Monkey34:

Couple very active ones off the top of my head

Ares Management - Arguably the strongest direct lending/credit player in the industry

Golub - Very active in direct lending and have a great track record

Maranon Capital - Majority owned by Todd Boehly's (Former President of Guggenheim) family office, Eldridge Industries, has seen explosive growth within the last 12-24 months with a very bright future ahead

GSO Capital Partners - Blackstone'a credit arm, extremely active and great reputation

Apollo - Recently have been expanding their debt capacities and have long been known as a leader in credit

KKR - Have been leveraging their strong PE arm and have large mezzanine and direct lending arms

Madison Capital - Backed by New York life and have aggressively increased in AUM over time

THL Credit - Strong and very solid credit platform, also have a very solid tradable credit platform

Owl Rock (founded by a former GSO founder, head of GS LevFin, and an investment committee member at KKR), very very agressive in the market right now

MC Credit Partners - Founded by former Co-head of global leveraged finance at a Morgan Stanley

Jul 28, 2020 - 12:03pm

From DumbDebtGuy:

"Couple of harder data points from my experience (both as an employee and talking to HH as someone partially responsible for recruiting)

Firm 1: Smaller DL (~$1Bn AUM) in a lower CoL and no-tax location (think FL or TX)

Associate 1: Something like ~$90k base + 75% bonus (no carry / co-invest)

Associate 2: Something like ~105k base + 75% bonus (no carry / co-invest)

Firm 2: Mid-size DL in NYC (figures likely a bit under "market", particularly as you move up in seniority)

Associate 2: Something like ~$100k base + 100% bonus + Co-invest

Sr.Associate (no MBA): Something like ~$130k base + 100% bonus +Co-Invest

VP: Something like ~$160k base + 100% to 125% bonus + Co-Invest + Carry

Other Data Points

The standard "market" for DL associates w/ IB experience is between $200k - $250k all-in for your normal HCOL cities such as NY. Few years ago the $200k all-in was standard, but that has moved up some in the last few years. As others have noted, it's going to vary widely though by fund size, investment strategy, firm brand name, pure-play shop vs. multi-strategy asset manager, etc. Once you get out of NYC, it really can be all over the place, but it's likely going to be $200k or under on average.

I've seen VP comp all over the map. Have heard some numbers that are more PE-like in nature of ~$600k+ all-in cash comp for some larger firms, but those are likely more "experienced" VPs (i.e. not your 29 or 30 year-old direct promote with no MBA). Standard is probably somewhere in the $400k - $500k cash comp ballpark, with some carry and co-invest economics on top of that.

Generally speaking, you're not going to get PE-rich on the direct lending side. That being said, you're going to still get paid very well and generally live a much better lifestyle than your MF PE peers."

  • Analyst 1 in AM - FI
Jul 28, 2020 - 2:19pm

I think this depends somewhat on where the fund came from. Sometimes the BDC mangers had a lot of people from the commercial banking side. If it's the credit arm of a MF or other large PE shop, a slight discount to PE comp would be more normal.

Jul 29, 2020 - 6:19am

Would be interested to hear people's thoughts on how easy/hard is it to move Public Credit --> Private Credit, and what to expect in interviews with this background? Haven't seen a lot of info on other threads.

Jul 29, 2020 - 11:12am

I would assume it really just depends on what is being done in public credit. If working in research on high yield names then sure or if working on distressed. If you're working more as a portfolio manager or on IG names then it gets a bit harder. It's a much different skill set of working on company's and diligence vs comparing relative value and yields. That being said, even within funds, you could go to a buy side role and be on the "public side" doing things like CLOs or opportunistic credit.

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jul 29, 2020 - 10:20am

How does leverage appetite differ across firms? Know it's a very broad question but any trends across firms - their sector preferences / leverage appetite, preferred cap structure etc would be much appreciated

Jul 29, 2020 - 11:16am

Leverage isn't the right question, just because different companies and different industries require and allow for different levels of leverage and LTV. I guess a better way to frame/subset funds is based on spreads for their deals. Most "direct lenders" that do middle market buyout are more in that L + 500-800 bucket and compete mainly on price.The special situations funds are more like L + 800-high teens. Finally the solely distressed funds are focused mostly on opportunities with 20%+ type IRRs. Mind you these are unleveraged returns, using leverage on the funds, lenders can generate higher returns (ex. 1.5x leverage on a 10% IRR investment for ~15% IRR)

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jul 29, 2020 - 11:49am

Do the direct lenders above only do senior debt / unitranche? Is their underlying credit thesis usually stable cash flow?

How does that differ from special sits? Are these "unstable" cash flows in that the credit facility enables some event / transformation of the borrower?

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jul 29, 2020 - 11:47am

Thanks for this. When looking at smaller deals, I imagine even RCF sizes are comparable to term loans you lend out - how do you build these corporate ancillary debt (rcf, trade facilities, etc) into your considerations?

Jul 29, 2020 - 4:54pm

Honestly we are pretty against RCFs since they are effectively dead money to us (mostly undrawn, non-interest earning... or nominal). So I'd say we steer towards the small end for RCFs (maybe $500k for a $5m debt facility, as an example). Lots of times, given we are a BDC seeking to maximize interest-earning assets to meet divvy, we will encourage borrowers who want a larger revolver to get one from a traditional bank. The bank will have 1L on Cash+A/R, we will have 2L behind them and 1L on everything else.

Aug 3, 2020 - 12:59pm

To the extent you (or anyone on this thread) can speak to this, it would be interesting to hear perspectives on some of the main similarities and differences about working for a smaller vs. larger direct lending firm. Feel free to comment on anything beyond this list but example topics of interest include:

  • How the general overall experience differs for junior employees (i.e. Analysts / Associates) at a smaller direct lender vs. a larger one.

  • What are some key areas of diligence / considerations that are weighted higher in a smaller deal vs. a larger one and vice versa.

  • Intern in AM - FI
Jul 29, 2020 - 4:34pm

Some shops have analysts programs for directly out of undergrad and was wondering what would be best to read up on in regards to technicals and other interview prep. I've read you should plan similarly to IB interviews but curious if anyone has any insight

Jul 30, 2020 - 5:25pm

I went through the process at a few places for SA. It honestly varies a lot from place to place. There were interviews where I was clearly in over my head with technicals, but even then I think they give you a lot of leeway and understand you aren't experienced. Most of my interviews involved easy to medium technicals, which were usually centered around debt, LBOs, and an "investing" mindset. The majority of questions were behavioral however, but often asked about previous experience (got a little technical as a result).

  • Analyst 1 in CB
Jul 29, 2020 - 11:53pm

Anyone have insight / perspectives on some of the traditional banks that play in the direct lending space (e.g. Citizens, CIT, BOI, BMO, CapitalOne)? How competitive are these guys relative to direct lending funds? Would imagine they probably have restrictions on hold size / risk appetite but could also see them being a bit more competitive on pricing due to not necessarily having return thresholds / requirements. Curious to see what people have to say.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jul 30, 2020 - 9:27am

I've heard it's pretty difficult since you are pegged as a debt guy and have to change the way you think (equity vs. debt mindset) and that it becomes more difficult the longer you are in PC/DL.

But then again, I've also heard on another thread that the transition isn't as difficult as people have made it out to be. Curious on other thoughts as well.

Jul 30, 2020 - 5:21pm

From what I've heard it can be tough, but it's definitely possible. It helps if the private credit shop has more flexibility with cap structure, so you get a bit of the equity side. Full disclosure, this is me just recycling what I've read on here (no firsthand experience).

Aug 2, 2020 - 1:04pm

More likely to get support for CFA, haven't seen MBA as common for private credit

  • 1
Aug 1, 2020 - 5:28am

Hopefully I can offer some useful insight here. As a first year in banking who was completely unprepared, I interviewed and got to the superday for GSAM's PC group with no offer as well as a first round at a large credit fund (OR / Ares) which I didn't get past.

The GS interview was pretty tailored to my M&A background which made it a lot easier and thus probably why I wasn't grilled too hard on the credit mindset etc and at the time the group seemed to be in a growth phase so they openly said they were looking for all types of backgrounds - these were a great group of people and I messed up my case study memo after spending too long on a debt paydown model.

With the OR / Ares one, I basically was grilled on macro credit environment questions and was able to provide shitty soundbites on what I read on bloomberg the last week. Recruiter told me there would be a lot of accounting questions but I didn't get any and was thrown a lot of the broader credit environment questions I wasn't prepared for at all.

Seems like for interviews be prepared for understanding and distilling the current credit environment (more important now in COVID than ever) and having your deal / technical capabilities down the same way one would prep for any PE interview. Focus on the credit mindset and learn how to evaluate downside risk in a way PE investors such as myself wouldn't normally be asked in an interview

  • 3
Oct 29, 2020 - 5:16am

I guess those who have a levfin / private capital kind of background with a deep understanding of debt products both private and public. It's pretty subjective obviously. But as a general trend those in M&A and coverage groups largely go for the PE roles while those in levfin/dcm flock towards the PC/DL roles. But I'm sure if you had a strong interest from M&A etc you could make the move to DL with adequate prep.

Aug 2, 2020 - 1:06pm

Curious what exits people have seen outside of other credit shops, distressed. Have people ended up in corp fin, if so what division

  • 2
  • Analyst 1 in Other
Aug 4, 2020 - 11:44am

Anyone know how realistic it would be to go from commercial or corporate banking at a BB to a direct lending firm like Golub or Ares?

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Aug 13, 2020 - 2:49am

You would have better luck going to a lower tier DL shop, also commercial and corporate banking shouldn't be bundled into the same bracket imo. If u really wanna know just look through LinkedIn and see where people came from

  • Analyst 1 in Other
Aug 13, 2020 - 9:24am

The reason I put them together is because the lines become blurred between banks. For example, a BB commercial banking group may deal with companies with over 1Bn revenue, when you have a corporate banking group at a smaller bank who deals with companies that same size

Aug 13, 2020 - 8:42am

Commercial banking? That'll be tough given size and scale of deals and diligence. Corporate banking? That may make sense. Within corporate banking it depends on if you're on the credit/transaction side or more the rm type role. If you can show deal experience then sure it makes sense and could happen if you push hard enough

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Aug 5, 2020 - 11:59pm

What material is there to prep for private credit/ direct lending recruiting? Is it similar to LBO models for PE recruiting?

Aug 7, 2020 - 8:28pm

If you can bang out a quick LBO model then that's all you need. The important thing is that you can understand cash flow modeling. If you get how the three statements are linked, and can represent that in excel, then you'll be fine. Would recommend doing macabacus's lbo training model, or the street of walls one. Wall Street oasis's pe course is also pretty good. I'd also recommend reading through Merger and Inquisitions IB interview guide as well

Aug 14, 2020 - 12:55pm

What is the carry potential folks have seen across DL/private credit firms? Structured similar to PE? Would be interested to understand how that impacts earnings potential (long-term).

  • 1
Jan 4, 2021 - 5:57pm

Mezzanine/junior debt funds often come with carry, however how its shared among the team will vary from firm to firm. If things go well, carry will blow your already healthy salary and bonuses out of the water. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Aug 14, 2020 - 1:24pm

SBed. Thank you for elaborating. Going to ask some really intro questions so please bear with me.

When you say "senior fund" are you referring to funds that only use first lien & generally senior secured debt? Why is the payout higher than Mezz if senior debt is considered the safest form of debt?

Also, what would the payout look like in reality for someone at a DL firm? Assuming 10% for a senior fund, would the money someone makes (like a VP for example) be 10% of 10 million (assuming the fund made 10 million) so the VP would get his salary + 1 mil paid out to him that year or would he need to wait years to get that carry? Or is the 10% carry divided across all employees with MDs getting more % and junior employees getting very little? Thanks again.

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Aug 14, 2020 - 1:31pm

Senior funds include first lien term loans, unitranche debt, and second lien investments

Mezzanine funds can do mezz debt, some second lien if yield is high enough, preferred equity, structured equity, and common equity

Mezz payout is higher because mezz is inherently a riskier investment and is lower in the capital structure and as such commands a higher yield. Thus higher hurdle rate as well. Not sure what you are saying about senior payout higher than mezz.

No idea about payout, that's for more of a question for a senior investment professional at a private credit fund

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Aug 26, 2020 - 8:45pm

Hey everyone. My little brother has an interview coming up for Churchill Asset Management and he was wondering if anyone could speak to what the interview process at Churchill is like? Modeling test, behavioral? Also was wondering but is afraid to ask what comp and career progression is like there? Do people tend to be promoted pretty quickly? I don't work in credit so was wondering if any of y'all could shed some light on this.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Sep 14, 2020 - 3:30pm

When writing about deal experience, should we stick to capital markets deals (IG and HY) or can we also put M&A deals?

  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
Sep 17, 2020 - 10:05am

Anyone come across Adams Street Partners' Private Credit Team/have any insight into the group?

Nov 8, 2020 - 4:16pm

In the mid/long run, would the ratio comp / hour be more interesting in DL or in Corporate Banking for a top lender (JP, Citi, BofA)?
A lot of similarities in the day to day I imagine: writing credit memos, doing credit - focused modeling and originating when you are a senior.
I guess you have less admin / reporting / KYC stuffs in DL. But it seems also less safe than the « classic » route to MD at a big bank.
So wondering if it would make sense to go to buyside when sitting in a position as corporate banker in a top bank in terms of job interest / comp / lifestyle ?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Dec 1, 2020 - 3:52pm

I've heard in private credit you do less due diligence compared to PE. Is this true? That doesn't really make sense to me because if you are investing based on the down side, I feel like you would want to dive deeper into the weeds. Maybe I'm thinking about this wrong?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Dec 1, 2020 - 5:22pm

In PC you can be directionally right, as any losses/gains are sustained by the equity first, so when you underwrite equity you need to be much more precise and sure of yourself since you are first in line to reap potential benefits/losses. Think of it this way: if a company is worth 10x EBITDA and receives 7x EBITDA of debt at acquisition, then at exit if you are one of the debt holders you don't care if you exit at 7x or 30x EBITDA (same outcome for you), whereas for the equity holder this makes a world of difference. Basically with credit your upside is capped (getting back your money). Think of the capital structure as a waterfall, the further up you are the more things have to go really to shit for you to not get back your principal as you are cushioned by the tranches below you.

Dec 2, 2020 - 12:29pm

Depends on the investment and strategy. A lot of funds legitimately just throw out the free money bazooka (cough cough gso, cough cough) and don't do any real diligence. That being said, the performance differential hasn't been that different because it's been a bull market. There's a couple lenders like hps and Apollo and maybe ares that do a lot deeper diligence at the high end of market. If you're doing a sponsor deal, honestly you usually can just use the sponsors diligence work for the most part 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 3, 2021 - 9:10pm

^also curious, more so about the MF Credit funds (KKR/GSO/Ares/Oaktree). Does the recruiting cycle typically happen on-cycle with PE or is it off-cycle?

Jan 4, 2021 - 6:06pm

Really weird that this thread is in the PE sub-forum and not the Asset Management one where it would be more relevant, but oh well. 

I work in private credit, specializing in real estate debt in London. Addressing a few things that have cropped up in this thread:

1) Compensation: I'd say this survey is pretty spot on for London comp:…

2) Carry: mezzanine/junior debt funds do usually have carry. How its divided between team members will vary from firm to firm, but if things go well then you can earn a lot more from carry than from bonuses and salaries. 

3) What I like about it is that debt is a defensive asset class. When things go sour during downturns, equity gets wiped out first, while as debt will be more protected. Hence arguably slightly better job security. Also you don't have to be smashing through deals day in day out to get your paycheck as you might do on the sell side, all you need is for your loans to be outstanding and you'll get your AM fees. 

4) How do people get in? Experienced hires from the debt teams of banks/IBs or other funds, law firms, credit rating agencies or if you're a large firm then from their own graduate program. 

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Other
Jan 4, 2021 - 8:07pm

3rd year associate making 115k salary +80% bonus, or in USD $156k + $124k = $280k USD?

At least for the U.S. - that seems very low and off-market for a 3rd year associate...more like 1st year associate or something

Jan 5, 2021 - 4:11am

For London that is on the high end. Salaries in the US are way higher than the rest of the world. But at least we get free healthcare....

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jan 5, 2021 - 5:30am

IIRC, UK IB Associates typically start at 90k GBP, with 15k increments each year. So 115-120 seems about right. Current FX rates obviously makes it very low in terms of USD

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Other
Jan 5, 2021 - 7:12am

Fair point on healthcare, but a 3rd year associate (at top firm) should be making something in the neighborhood of ~$450-500k USD so it does seem a little off.

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