Hi there WSO junkies,
I wanted to give everyone a glimpse of hope into the realm of possibility on getting into Asset Management / Private Equity / Venture Capital (let's call it portfolio management - think David Swenson model).
For those of you feeling lost and in a spiral of tough moments, day after day, trying to find work in this ever competitive industry, here is my story, I hope it yields some sort of positivity to work from.
Let's start with a bit of background about myself.
I graduated from a top 10 university in the US with a BA in History. I wasn't the top of my class, far from it actually. While I was in school, I ran a business, just hustlin a bunch of stuff; tshirts, photographs, art, jewelry, whatever I could get my hands on, to pay my bills. I paid for school, graduated with little debt, and paid that all off within 6 months. (Entrepreneurial mindset is a plus)
When I graduated, I moved to the mountains and did a ski season, and met random people from random walks of life. After a ski season, I moved to the West Coast to work in agri-business for 3 years. Started out by working on a small farm, then leased and ran a large farm on my own accord, and finished my current agri-business stint as the president of a consulting company that focused on sustainable management and design. Also, I became an "expert" in my field by reading, writing, and putting this information into action on a daily basis. (No holding back, just go get some life pumping in your veins).
How did I go from ^^^THERE^^^ to Portfolio Management, you ask?
To make a long story short, I decided to move from the West Cost to the South to be closer to family and interact with grandparents before they pass. Before I made the move, I got advice to take my expertise to be able to utilize in a role with a Portfolio Management group, whether through commodity trading (I thought) or through PE/VC insight (easier said than done). I wanted to make a bigger impact than just a few farms in a small section of the US. For PE, in order to truly have a top notch team that generates alpha, you need experts, right?!
After I made the move, I networked my ass off for 8 months, living off of savings (which will continue into the unforeseen future), and met with every CEO and President of wealth management groups that exists in the city, except for two. I met with Presidents that manage over $10 billion, to guys who manage less than $.5 billion. The two companies I wasn't able to find anyone to meet with manage $50 billion and over $100 billion, and are either super risky or very traditional, neither of which I wanted to dabble with, so it didn't bother me I couldn't land the face time. Furthermore, I met with guys from multiple trading desks (any where from day traders to crude traders, and everything in between, which I found wasn't my cup of tea), multiple investment banks, and a number of solely private equity groups. I wanted to find my way in no matter what, and leverage that to work in my field of expertise, which I found I wanted to advise in PM, PE and VC (not many joint groups exist, but they are out there if you look hard enough at the fine print).
During this time, I have taught myself financial modeling, and the "lingo" of the biz, which helps immensely when someone gives you a pre-hire test of, "What do you think about this portfolio?". No one wants to hear, "this looks great!" ... they want to hear, "why did you choose $xyz company which has high beta without offsetting risk through high alpha and probable positive cash flows into the future?" (asking questions is GREAT, don't be a know it all, because, likely, you aren't).
Furthermore, I tell my story. I've been through hell and back in my life. Since high school, very few funds have come from other people, I take charge of my life, and am far more mature than my peers in that respect. Also, I am willing to hemorrhage from my savings to make this transition, willing to take little pay, willing to be the bottom rung person and learn this business. I put off the, "I'm hungry, I'm eager, so either help on the way or get out of the way, I'm here to stay, so get used to it," type of vibe.
One of the two companies I got offers with is a "sustainable asset management" group with PE and VC arms. I had half a dozen interviews, and got the offer which entails little pay, a start up environment, and lots of travel. I took this option over the other zero pay offer at a traditional AM shop, since the other is a start up branch of an existing high net worth shop.
Needless to say, I didn't have to work at an Investment Bank in order to land this gig, I just found myself talking to the right people at the right time with the right amount of push, I know my shit, and I have the right amount of "vibe" (I'm super stylish, always wearing crazy ties and bowties, long unkempt hair, and I play hard when the time is right: I'm just a real dude who isn't willing to go status quo to fit in and I tell it like it is).
I hope this tale helps some of you guys out on this forum that aren't your traditional, "I went to Yale, got into IB in NYC, left to get MBA at Booth, and became an associate, then leveraged experience into PE/VC/PM/AM".
Summary : It takes an emotional toll, but nothing worthwhile comes easy. Be yourself, and tell us your story as things work out! We all love the story of your hustle.