Q&A: MBB to Private Equity Associate

Open to questions of any nature from students, consultants, or anyone else.

I am an incoming first-year associate at a tech-focused PE fund, currently rounding out my 2nd year at MBB. I attended a top target (H/Y/P/S/W) for undergrad and interned on the buy-side in undergrad. I can try to help by explaining any part of the process, including what seems to be a trickier jump from consulting to buy-side, or anything more specific that I can be helpful with.

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Comments (38)

  • Analyst 2 in Consulting
Nov 3, 2020 - 3:59pm

Was your background in finance and investing crucial? How would you suggest someone with no finance background learns what they need to? Is it just picking the right cases on the job, or is it more dedicated studying on your weekends?

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  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 12:28am

It definitely helped, both for my learning and for reassuring the fund that I could do the work.

Without a finance background, you need to find a way to learn 3 statement modeling cold. There's probably good materials on WSO, didn't actually look.

Cases will hopefully help you a bit with business intuition, which is important, but the key tested skill that you should worry about it modeling, since you can build that much more easily than business sense. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 12:32am

I recruited on cycle during training. I spoke with recruiters before I started, and had an offer before my first staffing. This was the timeline to start after 2 years in MBB. Many people will recruit after 1 year of work, and will spend 3 years at MBB. Without internships, it's probably a bit harder to be prepared for the 2 year approach

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Nov 3, 2020 - 5:56pm

How is recruiting as a first year in MBB different than waiting until your second year (since it seems a decent number of consultants do 3 years before switching)? Is it looked down upon or are there compensation reasons to wait? 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 12:36am

Shops are usually a bit more receptive to MBB that have worked 1 year and plan to stay a total of 3. I don't think it's required at all, and they mostly want people who are prepared rather than a specific amount of experience. I wouldn't expect compensation to be meaningfully more attractive from waiting.

Nov 4, 2020 - 12:04pm

Thanks for doing this. I'm joining an UMM PE fund next year from MBB

How's the transisiton been, along a few different dimensions:

  • Work Life balance
  • Learning how to do the job
  • Working with your team
  • Adjusting to the increase pay

These are things on my mind and would love to hear your thoughts! Also does your fund let you coinvest/was it explictly stated in your contract?

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 1:19pm

Awesome, congrats. I'm starting in a few months so I can't address these questions.

I can co-invest

Nov 4, 2020 - 1:39pm

Thanks for posting. Could you comment on your internship path through undergrad and how you leaned toward MBB vs BB?

I am a first year also at top target HYPW. I find myself a bit lost in the weeds on navigating the road. I feel at some point there needs to be a division in undergrad to lean toward MBB or finance at BB or EB. Am I being too hurried and will this become choice become more evident with the next 1 or 2 years? Any suggestions on timing of internships and roles freshman, sophomore junior year?

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 2:13pm

You can work a summer in BB and go to MBB full time. For PE (which you may not want) this is not a bad path. BB to PE is much easier if that's what you want.

Generally, working at a place that is selective signals well, so especially for a freshman / sophomore summer gig it's mostly prestige signalling. Junior summer should be MBB or BB if you can't get a fund job.

  • Senior VP in HF - Other
Nov 4, 2020 - 2:36pm

Being a bit older, I've been so confused by these extremely accelerated timelines. Setting aside the stupidity of it all, curious how offers are structured - is there any form of guarantee, can offers be pulled if firms later decided they don't need as many heads. More importantly, are there requirements to be rated a certain level by your firm and if not an offer can be pulled. I can see an extreme disincentive to not be a top bucket performer knowing that one already has a plush gig signed up. I certainly would not have been going the extra mile unless I knew there was a viable chance of losing an offer from under performance. These early timelines seems to be a disservice to everyone involved - new hires, PE firms and banks. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:29pm

I agree - bad nash equilibrium.

Offer not formally contingent on anything, expectation was that I would stay at MBB for 2 years but even that seemed negotiable if I wanted to do something else (move to banking most likely). I asked about that and was told their concern would be more that I wouldn't join them at the 2 year mark rather than wanting to cut me. 

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:00pm

Did geography play a role? Are you in NY/SF, and which city are you going to? Curious to see how your geography impacted your recruiting prospects.

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:15pm

Geography only mattered to the extent that the fund understood I was going to be happy to move to them. Otherwise they didn't really care. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:23pm

So did headhunters reach out to you in August/September like they do for first year bankers? Are there any headhunters you reached out to individually or would recommend taking the initiative to talk to? I'm also an incoming MBB in a Northeast office (NY/Bos) so would definitely appreciate insights on your process/how it worked since I'm likely going to want to recruit first year. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:28pm

It was mixed - I accepted an offer that came through a recruiter I reached out to. I don't think reaching out/ being contacted is an important distinction.

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 6, 2020 - 5:34am

Recognizing that most people reading this can't change it - honestly pretty helpful. Coming from a top target to MBB reassures the interviewer that you are good to go, while coming from a non-target creates a dilligence issue that many firms are more reluctant to have to deal with. The easier you can make their decision to hire you, the better off you'll be.

Nov 7, 2020 - 1:15am

Hey, thank you so much for your insight. I'm currently an investment analyst at a small (sub-200m AUM), early-stage VC fund based in SF. How difficult would it be to lateral into an analyst position at a tech-focused PE firm considering my lack of sell-side experience? Will I be better off making a lateral move over to an IB or MBB analyst role instead? 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Nov 7, 2020 - 12:16pm

what are your thoughts on recruiting potential for someone who moves from banking to MBB within 6-12 months of starting as an analyst? i'll be starting in IB next summer (i would have liked to start in consulting but my return offer didn't allow me enough time to recruit for consulting FT), but at the moment think I would like to try to make the switch over to MBB within a year. i'm pretty convinced that I still want to go buyside, just not sure how my proposed plan will affect me. appreciate it if you have any insight

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 7, 2020 - 2:33pm

Biggest question is why you moved. If I was interviewing you, I'd be concerned that you can't handle the job.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Nov 7, 2020 - 2:45pm

fair enough. haven't moved yet lol (still in school), but was just something I was thinking of pursuing b/c of more actual interest in consulting as opposed to banking, but I see how eyebrows could be raised

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  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Nov 8, 2020 - 3:54pm

1 - Do headhunters reach out to your managers for more info on your performance?

2 - What does the timeline look like for people who recruit for MF/UMM during year 2 at MBB? 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Nov 29, 2020 - 1:56am

1. Since recruiting happened so early, there just was no data to access

2. Should be same process, just with a year of experience to talk about

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