Private Equity shops with the best work/life balance

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Anonymous Monkey

Interest to know what New York PE shops are known for the best work life balance. Currently a consultant at a major strategy consulting firm and am interested in making the switch to PE but don't want to work banking hours. Where should I begin my firm search?

Comments (31)

Aug 21, 2018

From my experience at a MM shop, you won't be working banking hours. ~9-7 for typical days, but you can expect longer hours when working a live deal. Weekends are typically yours. This is generally true across MM (not sure about MF).

I wouldn't go in with that as your main selection criteria. Better to find a fund with people that you mesh with, and a strategy/industry focus that you like. And better to work longer hours with a great group, than lesser hours in a bad environment.

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Aug 22, 2018

9-7? That can't be right. You are describing a =<50 hour week. I base this on absolutely nothing but that simply can't be right... right?

Aug 22, 2018

No it is perfectly right, some shops align with around 50-60 hour work weeks with occasional work during the weekend, usually less than a couple hours however. Other shops might be closer to banking hours, just very firm dependent. I've seen both ends of the spectrum.

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Aug 22, 2018

Its possible. I probably work 8-630 on average, with deal times bringing that slightly higher. ~500m AUM shop, ~1b total raised since inception.

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Aug 22, 2018

Completely shop dependent. I've worked at and have had friends who work at MM PE firms who work banking hours, consistently 12am on deals with weekend work, I still had to do light work on Christmas and thanksgiving. Please stop generalizing MM PE as this great place to be, it can be just as much a grind as a megafund if not more dependent on the team

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Aug 23, 2018

No idea why people are throwing shit on this. I've worked at two firms in NYC, both in the $1-2bl AUM category where the norm is about a 10hr day M-Th and more of a 9-5 on Fridays when not in the heat of a deal deadline; then over the weekends a few hours of reading/prep for the week which I normally take care of on Sunday. I'm currently firmly on the 9-645 schedule at the moment when not closing something down. Of course when I have a big deadline Friday / Monday I'm probably working till an average of 10pm that week (830-1230 nights). Most firms just care that you are self-sufficient and get your work done... if you can do that you can start setting your hours more.

I'd venture to say that I think this is more the norm than the irregularity, and that most people know the names of the shops where it will be bad and will avoid those unless they're the only option to break in.

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Sep 22, 2018

Could you share which names are the good/bad?

Aug 22, 2018

It may be easiest to potentially continue to do consulting and then pivot to PE after an MBA. An MBA will provide you with a huge network of alumni to speak with about their experiences and hopefully you can find a place that will be a good fit.

As others have said, MM PE can definitely be a grind, so if you are extremely concerned about the hours it may not be the right field for you.

Good luck!

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Sep 23, 2018

@Excelling - This is definitely not the case.

OP, if you are interested in PE and have a chance to get into it now, and get it on your CV (and see if you like it!), you should. Making the jump post MBA, especially with no banking/finance on your resume, while not impossible, will be extremely difficult. Especially if you aren't at an MBA program known for placing people into PE (there are several top schools that are great but this just isn't where they typically place people).

If you are meh on PE (concerned about the hours / lifestyle) then maybe that's a different discussion, but don't put it off til post MBA and figure you can find a sweet gig then. It'll be an uphill battle.

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Aug 22, 2018

@KingCluny - The question was "I want to know the NY PE shops known for the best work life balance..Where should I begin my firm search?"

My answer was that getting a large network of contacts in the field via MBA would be one route to finding out about people's experiences at a wide variety of firms and having time to find the proper work life balance fit (while in school).

Whether recruiting now or later it's going to be tough for a consultant to break in, especially one that is concerned about having to put in long hours.

Also I agree with your statement, "If you aren't at an MBA program known for placing people into PE, it will be extremely difficult to make the jump post-MBA." It is pretty much like saying, "If you are at an MBA program known for placing people into PE, it will be easier to make the jump post-MBA."

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Aug 23, 2018

Any chance some names can be thrown around? I feel like anyone will say they have a good culture during a coffee chat / recruiting and want to hear opinions on specific firms

Aug 23, 2018

bump

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Aug 23, 2018

Here's my two cents on why you don't find names of firms that pay well with good hours posted all over the place online. From my network of similarly aged individuals (Sr. Assoc / VP level), those who work a 50-60 hour average week when not hitting a deadline tend to work at shops that have 1-4 Associates and maybe 1-3 Sr. Assoc / VP level individuals; generally this is a $500-1.5bl AUM shop. By someone coming on a forum like this and saying x, y, and z are great firms, they unfortunately give enough info that people can start backing into who they are, which gives up the anonymity that helps a site like this be so resourceful. Even if they're spreading positive news, most firms on the buyside are very internal and that's for a reason.

We all know the shops that suck because they tend to be larger and have had enough people burn out of them by now. We all see the posts saying Apollo crushes souls because every year 5-10 people easily are churning out of those places so they can spread the word and remain anonymous without burning bridges.

The reason for this write up is that from experience, I think many more shops with reasonable hours exist than you think. People just aren't out there sharing my life is great like they do on instagram. Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule. You just have to try to leverage your network when interviewing, and if you get the offer just be open with the junior people there... most people in their 20s aren't going to throw you under the bus, but once again there are always exceptions to the rule

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Aug 27, 2018

Yep, exactly. Good point re: anonymity on this forum.

Aug 28, 2018

Agree around points on anonymity. Anonymity allows people to give an honest take on their firm without having to worry about direct repercussions. Have also come across The Lobby, which takes a similar, anonymized approach for mock PE interviews. Mentioning it here in case that helps OP (which, perhaps coincidentally, is completely anonymous, so I can't tag here lol)

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Aug 23, 2018

Family offices are often a good bet.

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Aug 28, 2018

Family offices, LMM funds, and MM funds with minimal dry powder (not a good thing)

Aug 28, 2018

If we exclude family offices, the types of PE shops with the best lifestyle are going to be relatively small ones. Definitely under $1B and probably under $500M or so. Either those, or shops with very specific niches.

The core issue is that once funds get bigger, things just get much more competitive. It becomes somewhat of an arms race as to who can find enough of an edge on a deal in order to make it worth investing in.

If an upstart PE fund is competing against a megafund for a deal, you know that everyone at that megafund is working 80-100 hours to figure out exactly how much they can lever the deal, what the operating edge is, traveling to meeting with management on as short of notice as possible, etc. There's money to be made on these deals and there's not really enough carry to go around, so everyone is busting ass to earn their carry dollars. That means in order to compete you hire a similar group of junior bankers and put them to work the same hours in order to compete.

At small funds, things don't move quite as quickly, processes aren't as competitive, so lifestyle should generally be better.

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Sep 16, 2018

Anybody have a list of places with good work/life balance?

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Sep 16, 2018

Cav21x's post goes over why you won't find any names thrown around...

Sep 16, 2018

I hear Apollo is great for lifestyle

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Sep 17, 2018

I work at a mega fund - I work 9 to 7 on the daily and almost no weekend. A lot of travel (twice a month) this breaks the 9 to 7. When there is a deadline I work longer than 7, but that's only maybe 2-3 times a month.
Tons of people do a lot of face time where I am at, I just don't do face time. I am efficient.

That said: I am also in ops, not acquisition. After 7PM none of our operating partners are here, so can't really get anything done then...

I see that OP is a consultant, good fucking luck breaking into PE... I went to a HSW MBA and almost not a single consultant placed into PE, just went back into consulting.
* to add: I was hungry to get into PE, and did everything it took to get there. I placed in a fund no one wants to work in due to the hours. I didn't get care, I just wanted the job. With an attitude type: I just don't want to work a lot of hours, it's going to be tough to do the jump. Shorter hours is a bonus not a given.

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Sep 23, 2018

@Disjoint - Agree. this is spot on. I also did HSW MBA, we had 1 person go to MBB after school and then break into an M&A role at a megafund after a year or so, but that's the only example I know of (how that person did it, I have absolutely no f*in idea). We also had a couple people with non-finance backgrounds (consulting, other) break into PE directly from MBA, but they ended up at tiny no-name shops (which is fine, they thought it was better than banking at the time, and that calculus makes sense). For the record, they are still there several years on.

(Keep in mind that I am excluding from this count international students who went on to investing roles in their home markets, where experience and networks may work differently.)

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Sep 17, 2018

work

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Sep 17, 2018

I'm in a kind of hybrid FO/biz dev role where we're going to do about $1 bn TEV in the next 12 months in the U.S. with plans to do $3-5bn TEV over the next few years. I'm the only junior in the U.S. and our investment committee is basically 2 people for a corp with over 10k employees. We'll see how total comp winds up, so I can't speak to that yet. I work from home fairly often, travel for work on average a few days a month, and hours aren't too crazy. Do you count dinners with bankers or target management teams as work? It is, and it isn't. I just know that it is better than being unseen and unheard slaving away at 3 in the morning on something the client will never bother to read.

Sep 18, 2018

Great insights on this thread. Here's my 2c - I worked at 2 diff MM PE shops before moving to the public side. The hours were bad at both - I consistently worked 12+ hrs a day plus atleast a full day each weekend. You have to remember the hours are a function of a transaction driven environment. As long as you work in this environment (regardless of whether its an MM fund or mega), your life even in PE isn't going to be all that awesome because you're typically working on a banker's deadline.

For the OP- the honest reason no one here's been able to give you a specific answer is because there isn't one. As someone remarked, size of the fund doesn't completely drive lifestyle/culture. Have seen enough of my fair share of a-holes in the LMM side as well.

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Sep 19, 2018

Agree with both points. i'd add that since PE firms are small relative to banks (speaking MM/LMM, which represent the vast majority by count), founder / leadership view on how deals get looked at is critical to work/life balance. E.g. at my firm we make conviction bets, and quickly bail on stuff we aren't going to pursue or don't have an angle - I can shut down deals in as little as three sentences over email to a partner (did so this week, actually). Some of my friends work at places where partners want to drive hard at every book that comes across their desk, even if they know they have a very low probability of prevailing; those friend's lives suck.

Not to be a dick, but if you're looking for work/life balance, I wouldn't recommend PE. No, you're not updating stock price charts for 100+ hours per week as you do in banking, but your work is more consuming - you think about it all the time. It requires a very high level of personal engagement, even if that doesn't translate into more hours at the desk, there is a different level of depth that can be just as impactful to your psyche.

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