Private Equity Analyst - Panic Mode

I am worried that I made a decision around this time last year that will have permanent consequences on my career... First, I will start with a brief overview of my background.

I came from a pretty small town in the mid-west, and was admitted to a Big 10 university. Originally planning on going into the medical field, a full academic scholarship to a solid school was too good to pass up. When I would ultimately decide to pursue a career in finance, I knew this would be a headwind. Long story short, through relentless networking, cold calling, and trips to NYC, I landed a summer analyst role at a top BB (GS/JPM/MS). I excelled in my program and secured an offer to rejoin the firm. However, momentum was strong and I figured I would explore my options for buy side analyst programs. At the time, I believed any buy side job directly out of school would non-controversially give me the best chance at landing a top-tier pre-MBA associate role. I accepted a job at a smaller MM firm in NYC as an analyst, where I have now been for a little over three months. To give an idea of size, we are less than 10 IP's and seek to do 2 or 3 deals a year in the ~$100mm range. I am only one of two junior IP's and have been told that this is not a career track opportunity; I was aware of this going into the program. With on-cycle recruiting having come and (almost) gone, I am starting to worry that I shot myself in the foot.

All of my former colleagues are placing into amazing roles for 2020 starts. On the other hand, the headhunters I reached out to over the last couple of months have given me radio silence during the on-cycle process. I am starting to think that my role as an analyst is not that attractive to the upper MM / reputable MM firms I was hoping to target for 2020 PE roles. I am wondering if anyone has any advice for getting myself in an ideal position to land something in the off cycle recruiting process. I am getting great exposure to deals and believe I would perform well in a process, but I just need a way to get my foot in the door. I know there are plenty of great opportunities in the off cycle process, so I have not completely lost hope. I am, however, worried that my background has somewhat closed the door.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. (FYI - I created this as a "burner account", if you will, to keep my identity off the radar). This website has been infinitely helpful in the past, so I am optimistic that some great advice will come of this. Thank you ahead of time.

Comments (12)

Nov 1, 2018

Current firm fund size? AUM? Do the associates come from IB backgrounds or MBB? More context here would be great, had a friend who was tangentially in a similar situation, joined a buyside fine that did solely equity co-investments on the west-coast rather than buyouts and had some difficulty with recruiting as well.

Nov 1, 2018
and0ne101:

Current firm fund size? AUM? Do the associates come from IB backgrounds or MBB? More context here would be great, had a friend who was tangentially in a similar situation, joined a buyside fine that did solely equity co-investments on the west-coast rather than buyouts and had some difficulty with recruiting as well.

Current fund size is roughly 500mm. Junior IP's (there are no associates) have IBD backgrounds. The structure is incredibly flat, which is good for me as it has definitely maximized my responsibility. We focus solely on buyouts, however.

Nov 1, 2018

The reason why it's been hard to get interviews is because your experience is not as transferable to an upper MM or MF as you're dealing with signicanly smaller companies and more so LMM. While unfortunate, it will be tough to move around to a significantly larger shop, I would recommend trying to lateral over to a $1B-$2B AUM firm next, doing a couple years there and moving up again. It's just hard to go from a $500MM AUM firm to a $20B AUM shop.

Nov 1, 2018

Why not stay at your current fund, is associate promote a possibility? And head off to an MBA from there.

Nov 1, 2018

I may have not been totally clear, but the fund is very top heavy, so promotion is not likely. I would also want to join a larger platform, especially because I see myself going to business school.

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.

Nov 1, 2018

Should have accepted the ib return offer and recruited for associate roles

    • 1
    • 9
Apr 24, 2019

Over the past few months I'v received 4 offers from great firms and recently accepted an UMM offer that I would have been lucky to land at my banking group. Here's to not being a risk averse sheep. I'll definitely be prepared to hit the ground running knowing full well I that I would get (and am getting) a unique experience in my current role. Having been through two deals, I already full as up to speed as two associates we hired at my current firm.

That being said - if anyone gets an offer to join a buyside role that gives meaningful responsibility out of college - seriously consider taking it. You're going to learn a hell of a lot more evaluating deals as an investor than turning CIM comments on broad sale processes and organizing data rooms. As masters said, be proactive, network, and smoke interviews (which should be easy considering the work you'll do).

Apr 24, 2019

What was the biggest thing that changed from when you wrote this post to when you received your offers? How did you end up getting the traction you wanted all along?

Nov 2, 2018
Comment