U.S. PE Associate ==> Asia PE

I'm beginning a 2-3 year program as a pre-MBA associate at a reputable upper MM PE fund in NY.

Following the eventual conclusion of my 2-3 year Associate program, I would like to try to make the move to Asia. I can speak an Asian language fluently, but not Mandarin Chinese.

1) Does anyone have any experience / examples of this? 2) Are most professionals pushed back as first year Associates? 3) Is the US PE skill set relevant? Or do most people start out in banking then transition?

Any experience that you can share would be very helpful.

Comments (27)

 
Jul 29, 2013 - 7:50am

Are you a native of wherever you're trying to end up? I work in non-china asia PE and I rarely ever see junior professionals who aren't at least from the general region. I'm not sure about the big buyout shops like KKR and TPG but for most smaller funds it's pretty crucial to be able to interact with local business owners beyond just speaking the language. If you are, I don't see how PE experience in the US would hurt...

 
Jul 29, 2013 - 8:38am

F. Ro Jo:

If it's Bahasa you're golden...

Echo the sentiment. 2-3 years PE experience in the US + Bahasa --> you're set to go!

My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil - JP Getty
 
Jul 29, 2013 - 10:47am

hedge funds are easier since the companies are publicly traded and more transparent..... private equity = private companies = lots of translation and it makes more sense to hire a local since they'll have better deal sourcing abilities down the line

then again i am in china where it is ultra competitive. though my coworker who went to harvard just got a job in PE in beijing (she is ABC + went to harvard + worked at a BB in london)

 
Jul 29, 2013 - 11:02am

Language? Cross-border deal experience? You'll have to show you're more than just interested - have to show the long-term desire for the position.

Calm down.
 
Jul 29, 2013 - 11:27am

To answer the question above, I have the background of having lived in and speaking the region's language as well as good connections in the region but not specifically PE. The issues may be 1) how to break in, is it through headhunters or connections or what not? 2) do I have any edge by having US PE experience and somehow be able to convince them that my last 4-5 years doing US deals in English will have any value-add to deals in local region.

 
Jul 29, 2013 - 2:16pm

There are a lot of headhunters out there, especially for HK/mainland P.E. - just be careful and actually visit the place first, some of them are sweatshops that just use you until you're burned out and throw you out right before bonus season.

Connections would work since mainland is mainly connections, but it all depends.

I would leverage any "foreign" deals you've worked on, whether it be for a foreign company or a chinese company. It's important to make that connection, even if it's small.

Lastly, having the background/language skills is good; they typically look for interest in China and language ability as an initial screener.

Calm down.
 
Jul 29, 2013 - 11:28am

highhater:

hedge funds are easier since the companies are publicly traded and more transparent..... private equity = private companies = lots of translation and it makes more sense to hire a local since they'll have better deal sourcing abilities down the line

then again i am in china where it is ultra competitive. though my coworker who went to harvard just got a job in PE in beijing (she is ABC + went to harvard + worked at a BB in london)

Yes, China seems to be a whole different ball game which is why it was separate in the first place.

 
Jul 30, 2013 - 10:14am

why aren't you telling us any information whatsoever?
it's not like we know you or anything
it wouldn't hurt to at least tell us what language you know

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please
  • 1
 
Jul 30, 2013 - 3:14pm

OP - language would be useful to know, countries and opportunities vary widely.

I transferred out to Singapore from US based PE and working on transactions in the region. I don't speak any asian languages, and even though it is not an issue living in Singapore, it only works due to the type of deals my shop works on.

 
Jul 31, 2013 - 12:26am

Leveriched:

OP - language would be useful to know, countries and opportunities vary widely.

I transferred out to Singapore from US based PE and working on transactions in the region. I don't speak any asian languages, and even though it is not an issue living in Singapore, it only works due to the type of deals my shop works on.

Targeting Hong Kong but I don't speak Cantonese. What type of deals allow for your situation?

 
Aug 1, 2013 - 9:55pm

I guess firms? actually the type of position i am thinking about would be not so much for China PE investing, but rather Chinese PE fims doing outbound investing in US/Europe. The friend i'm asking this for is Chinese but has been working in PE in the west, and now is wondering about opps at Chinese PE firms given they seem to be looking at foreign investment opps increasingly... so in terms of headhunters would imaging it's firms serving the bigger funds?

 
Jul 31, 2013 - 9:26pm

OP - I'd say it really depends on the fund and fund strategy. Some PE shops in Asia really prefer local guys - in fact I was speaking with a headhunter recently who said that over the past year and a half he hasn't hired any non-mainland Chinese for PE positions. Granted, China is its own animal, as you've pointed out.

Back to the initial comment - the fund strategy is of the utmost importance. It sounds like an ideal circumstance for you might be to work in a HK-based fund with special focus in the region of your native language. This would allow you to establish credibility immediately due to your U.S. PE exposure and still be valuable in the due diligence and perhaps sourcing processes, over time.

Advice for getting in contact with these people: headhunters would be okay, but I might recommend speaking with any friends you have in banking who work with these PE shops. Finance is the religion in HK and business circles are fairly incestuous. I think there's a very good chance your contacts/contacts from your current fund or previous bank could introduce you to those 'in the know.' Good luck with the new job and the eventual search.

 
Aug 1, 2013 - 9:00pm

the short answer is yes
and it really depends on which language you are talking about, korean, japanese, or a south east asian language, each one has a slightly different group of funds you would target

cantonese is probably the least important for business since most people based out of HK target other markets anyways

after your two years as pre-mba associate you would need to target senior associate/VP role, which by definition have much less availability. Some people do get pushed back by an year or two when they make the switch

 
Aug 2, 2013 - 5:45am

danoob:

F. Ro Jo:

If it's Bahasa you're golden...

Hi F. Ro Jo, my first post here in this forum. Can you please elaborate on this? I am really interested. Cheers

there's been a lot of economic growth in Indo, and to a lesser extent, Malaysia.
Hence Bahasa (yes i know there's 2 kinds) is useful.
There's been a big shortage of Bahasa speaking PE professionals.
Having done deals on the grounds is also helpful.
Try Falconhouse, Ancora, NorthStar, if you're interested in Indo.
For recruiters, try Selby Jennings, Executive Access, Michael Page HK, Talent2, Pure Search

 
Aug 2, 2013 - 5:48am

jajaja:

I guess firms? actually the type of position i am thinking about would be not so much for China PE investing, but rather Chinese PE fims doing outbound investing in US/Europe. The friend i'm asking this for is Chinese but has been working in PE in the west, and now is wondering about opps at Chinese PE firms given they seem to be looking at foreign investment opps increasingly... so in terms of headhunters would imaging it's firms serving the bigger funds?

really only 2 firms doing outbound that I'm aware of

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