Q&A: 2 years in Banking and now in MM PE - ask me anything

Happy to answer any questions about recruiting (being a non target and from a non top tier IB), first few months on the job in PE, pros / cons, things I like and don't like.

Brief bio below on my background below:

  • Non Target Undergrad
  • Investment Banking Analyst for 2 years 
  • Current 1st Yr Associate at MM PE Fund
  • New York based

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Comments (46)

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Gen
Nov 12, 2020 - 10:39am

Thanks for doing this - a few things from me:

1. How was your background viewed during recruiting, did you feel like it was really a grind to get firms comfortable with your background, or was your solid experience in IB good enough and you felt like you were given a fair shot, the benefit of the doubt etc?

2. Can you elaborate a bit on the reason you chose MM PE? I feel like I read a lot on LMM and UMM/MF but never much about the firms that are kind of in between. How is comp vs the other two options I listed, and how does the lifestyle seem comparatively as well?

As a guy in the early days of the process, I'd hope to work at a decently good firm with smart people, but not get my shit rocked MF hours style - but nor do I want to be looking at $5mm shitcos in a WeWork with 3 other guys at a tiny shop getting paid peanuts. Thanks man!

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 12, 2020 - 11:00am

No problem - happy to help. 

1. Mixture of both. I would say some HHs wrote me off pretty quickly based on my background and others gave me a fair shot. I do think that your initial meeting with them is super important because once you build that relationship, they will do their best to place you at a good shop. That said, I think I had solid IB experience, 2 sizable M&A deals on my resume. 

2. Wanted to be at a firm that 1. current employees had experience / been around the block so there wasn't any issue of deal flow 2. lean deal teams and a place that a junior can speak up and get a ton of responsibility. LMM is tough at times because the firms can be really small and you may get stuck only working on 1 thing. Comp is a wide range in the broader MM space, but it wasn't as important to me because I was focused on larger, more established MM shops that paid closer to UMM/MF than small shops. Lifestyle - I think it depends on the shop, as you grow, the more sweaty it typically gets and my shop fits that criteria. 

I feel you, I think the last thing I would say is that you should be specific with HHs. You can say something like I want to be at a shop that is in the MM range, but is established and is active in the space, etc. 

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Gen
Nov 12, 2020 - 11:12am

Really appreciate the insight. I completely agree with your characterization of "MM range but more established", will definitely use that term! Cheers man, good luck in the role.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Nov 16, 2020 - 3:51pm

How were you able to slot out time for interviews when you were an analyst? I'm assuming you probably interviewed in waves, and so did that bring up suspicion amongst seniors(or did you interview on weekends and such)?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Nov 12, 2020 - 10:47am

How many deals did you close in IB? How was the workload in year 1 vs year 2? When did you sign your PE offer? Advice to someone starting out in IB? 

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 12, 2020 - 11:03am

I was fortunate enough to have 2 sizable M&A deals and a few financings as well. Workload in y1 was way worse than y2. Signed PE in late summer, early fall (12 months into banking). 

Take your time with recruiting. I wouldn't go to HH meetings until you're fully ready to go. Don't burn those bridges

Nov 12, 2020 - 11:17am

what what IB shop did you work at? was it renown

path less traveled

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 12, 2020 - 11:48am

I'm starting to recruit for MM PE as well and wanted to ask how broad was your search - did you target several MM firms that you liked or try for as many as possible? Did you network with the firms before going through a HH? Just trying to get an idea of your process.

Nov 12, 2020 - 4:42pm

One thing to add and not trying to hijack (appreciate the AMA, OP) but I wouldn't have a narrow search if you're looking at MM PE unless you have a specific reason for it that won't be changing. There are so many firms out there that you may not have heard of but are a good fit that only sticking to your top list may make you miss some solid firms that fit the qualifications you're looking for (geography, size, culture, b school vs internal promote, etc). I recruited MM PE and ended up signing with a firm I didn't know prior to recruiting but am really happy with how it worked out. Just my 2c. Best of luck

  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Nov 12, 2020 - 9:17pm

Did you the topic of b school/promote ability come up in your interviews? Did firms outright say that they want associates to go to b school or for the alternative where there is internal mobility how did that come up or how was it phrased?

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 13, 2020 - 12:35am

I don't think it is required. However, you need to assess whether or not your experience / resume will stand out enough to HH and firms. It is more of a individual by individual basis. that said, I think if you get your foot in the door, anything can happen if you prove yourself in an interview. 

Nov 13, 2020 - 1:10am

I know you were an IB Analyst but how do you think IB Associate vs PE Associate stack up? Especially since you said the bigger the fund, the more sweatyit becomes, so is work-life balance really better in the buy side? How about the pay? Some people say it's comparable between the two, and the carry will only kick in much later; but that time you're pretty senior so you should be pretty comfy financially. Lastly, how about the work itself? Do you think your day-to-day work is much more interesting than banking?

Last but not least, which bschools (HBS, Wharton, Booth, CBS etc.) are the most represented at your firm?

Most Helpful
Nov 13, 2020 - 11:54am

(Hijacking) The bigger the sweatier isn't really true. A lot of lean, MM operations have less institutionalization / resources, but equally high demands; so, you end up having less junior people to process the diligence, IC materials, quarterly memo's, industry landscaping work, etc. that you would have at a MF (and with less back and middle office / ancillary support). If you're recruiting for a MM PE firm that has been growing quickly (in terms of fund size and deployment) and generating high returns, you bet your ass you're going to get grinded to the bone. Think this site does a great job of making reductive generalizations about a lot of things, and this is definitely one of them.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
  • 2
Nov 13, 2020 - 12:02pm

Really appreciate you doing this.

  1. Do you have a better work/ life balance than in IB? What does your work day look like?

  2. Did your group at the bank you worked at really make a difference when recruiting? (ie M&A vs Consumer)

Thanks again!

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 13, 2020 - 3:16pm

No problem - happy to help. 

1. During non live deal times - much better in PE, during live deal time, worse than IB. I would said average day goes until 10pm and 1/2 spend in model 1/2 spend doing other analyses.

2. Yes and no. The group doesn't matter, rather it depends if you group is able to bring in deals and then get lucky to be on them 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Nov 13, 2020 - 12:04pm

Hey, thanks for this - you mention you came out of a non target into IB, what was the biggest roadblock you had to overcome in order to get that offer out of college? What would you say helped you the most or was the most important thing in helping you through the interview process?

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 13, 2020 - 3:15pm

I think the biggest roadblock to get the offer out of college, was just getting in the door at place. I felt confident that if I had a chance to prove myself, then I would let the cards play out. The thing that helped me the most was making sure that if an interview came around that I didn't need to jam or get ready, I felt ready to interview once things kicked off

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 15, 2020 - 7:33pm

Really appreciate you taking the time. Couple questions:

1. What was the breakdown of time you spent networking vs. prepping technicals? How much emphasis do you think should be placed on networking?

2. Were there any questions (or types of questions) that you wish you had spent more time preparing prior to your interviews?

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 16, 2020 - 2:56am

No worries, happy to assist. 

1. I would say I spent more time on technicals / deals / case studies vs networking. maybe 80/20. IMO networking didn't really help too much (if we're talking about Ib to PE)

2. Not particularly. I think some questions on LFCF yield and how to imply valuations etc were something I remember being caught off guard, but nothing too bad. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Nov 16, 2020 - 10:51am

How was your IB groups culture? How did you handle the workload? Did you rank well? Is getting middle vs top bucket a big deal?

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 16, 2020 - 11:02am

Junior culture was good, but overall seniors didn't really care for the juniors.

1st year was much harder than second year. Candidly, once I had the offer for PE, I cared less too. I ranked well and getting middle vs top bucket isn't the biggest deal unless you feel like people on your team wouldn't be helpful when giving references. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Nov 16, 2020 - 10:14pm

I honestly hate banking, I started in July desk in August and it's so boring and tedious. Any advice? I feel like I have to do the IB->Pe route but idk. What's the fastest someone quit your firm

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Nov 16, 2020 - 6:38pm

Thanks so much for doing this. Have a few questions below

1) How long did it take you to get on a live deal as an analyst in IB? I just started as a first year at a BB back in September and have not been put on a live deal yet (M&A or financing). My group overall gets good deal flow and I would say about 40% of my class (~10-12 analysts total in my class) are on live deals now. I know that PE recruiting hasn't kicked off yet, but it would be nice to have a live deal on my resume when it does, so I am just wondering what the case was for you?

2) What would you recommend to focus on the most ahead of HH meetings? I know that they typically aren't technical, so would it just be your story? You mentioned earlier that establishing a good relationship with HHs early on is important...how can one impress early on (non-target background as well)?

Thanks again!

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 16, 2020 - 6:45pm

No worries - happy to help. 

1. I had an announced M&A deal about 6 months in and then a second about 10 months in with a couple of financings along the way. I didn't recruit on cycle so keep that in mind. I wouldn't be too worries, but try to make sure you get one on it before you start blasting your resume to HH. It just shows that you're credible (although in reality it doesn't matter). 

2. Making sure you are ready to go. (A got a couple of technicals in HH meetings, but relatively light / easy questions). Yes, story, where you want to go and see yourself and being able to talk through a deal. I got asked that a few times. Impress them early on by being completely prepaid without sounding robotic. 

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