Weekend work in PE

Realize there has been some discussion on this, but I would like more thoughts on the amount (hours) and nature (predictability) of weekend work in PE (especially MM PE).

Right now I am spending my entire weekends doing a million turns on stupid shit. I can't even plan anything for 2-3 hours as I'll get 5 emails asking for changes to a book, and a follow up email asking "When can I see the next version?" Aside from dealing with turns from associates/VP's/directors, I often read people on the buyside saying they are glad they are the ones sending emails on a friday night and are not on the receiving end. Is there truth to that?

From my own experience and from what I have heard, it seems like dealing with companies is easier as they get lazy on Friday's and usually don't ask for stuff on the weekend. PE firms though tend to be more demanding, and love sending work Friday nights and setting up sunday morning conference calls.

I can deal with working 16 hours/day on the weekdays if only I can have the weekend off. Shit if only I can have one day off with some predictability. I think I am going to burn out pretty soon if this keeps going.

So everyone working in PE right now please discuss your weekend work, hopefully at least I have something to look forward to if I can jump ship.


Comments (33)

May 29, 2011 - 11:19pm

In same boat brah, all my friends are drinking/celebrating their one night a year to black-out on Sunday nights, and I'm also turning comments and printing stupid shit they won't even look, but enough bout that.

I'm interested to hear PE guys comments, but certis paribus, but from what I'm told PE is banking 2.0. Obviously it vary's from shop to shop, deal cycle, etc. We had a bid deadline last week. One bidder was a KKR/BX/TPG and we had bids in from the at 4:30 AM mon morning. You know for a fact there were some first year associates in that office till 4 grinding that shit out.

Ace all your PE interview questions with the WSO Private Equity Prep Pack: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/private-equity-interview-prep-questions
May 29, 2011 - 11:37pm

yea i am sure mega funds are as bad as banking (with higher pay of course)

my priorities in life have changed though, when I am trying to make the jump to PE, my first criteria is going to be hours, i am even willing to take a slight pay cut and jump to a lower MM PE firm

no way i want to spend all my 20's working 90 hours and 7days/week

May 30, 2011 - 2:40pm

[quote=CompBanker]I worked at a

People tend to think life is a race with other people. They don't realize that every moment they spend sprinting towards the finish line is a moment they lose permanently, and a moment closer to their death.
May 30, 2011 - 4:17pm

I'd echo CompBanker's comments. The only time I come in on the weekends is really when I have way too much stuff from the week that I didn't get to because of travel, other work taking priority, etc. I'm rarely 'forced' to come in on the weekends (i.e. some VP and above wants to see something on a Saturday) and usually take care of on Monday. That being said, I do have friends at KKR, audax, other PE shpos, who usually go in pretty much every weekend.

At the end of the day, you'll probably still be the junior person at a new firm. While my experience has been pretty amazing with respect to the type of hands on things you get to do, less turns/iterations, etc., I'm still the one that's doing a lot of the grunt work.

I think the other point I'd make is that a lot of PE shops are very cognizant of the shitty work schedules for VPs/associates/analysts at banks, mostly because we've all been there. Trust me when I say it's not because we love making bankers miserable (okay, maybe sometimes) but there's always a bunch of stuff that gets in the way and as a result, we end up sending over requests or what not way later than anticipated.

May 30, 2011 - 8:05pm

Have yet to start, but I'm heading to a late-stage VC firm and from talking to the associates there, typical hours are 9am to 6-7pm with absolutely zero weekend work. Hours can be a bit later depending on deals and whether there is "urgent" work to be done, but even still, unless there's a tight deadline, it's about 9-10 hours per day Monday to Thursday, and 4-5pm on Friday's. Amazing.

May 30, 2011 - 9:19pm

Have yet to start, but I'm heading to a late-stage VC firm and from talking to the associates there, typical hours are 9am to 6-7pm with absolutely zero weekend work. Hours can be a bit later depending on deals and whether there is "urgent" work to be done, but even still, unless there's a tight deadline, it's about 9-10 hours per day Monday to Thursday, and 4-5pm on Friday's. Amazing.

Sounds sweet. congrats bud.
May 31, 2011 - 12:46am

Have yet to start, but I'm heading to a late-stage VC firm and from talking to the associates there, typical hours are 9am to 6-7pm with absolutely zero weekend work. Hours can be a bit later depending on deals and whether there is "urgent" work to be done, but even still, unless there's a tight deadline, it's about 9-10 hours per day Monday to Thursday, and 4-5pm on Friday's. Amazing.

congrats bro, that's awesome, did you finish your two years or were able to jump ship early?
May 31, 2011 - 10:08am

Thanks Mezz; Benevolent, I am finishing up my second year, got the offer in mid-April. Depending on what you want to do, a lot of the smaller growth equity/late-stage venture firms recruit January and forward for the coming summer (so I spent a lot of time interviewing with the aforementioned group between January and mid-April).

May 31, 2011 - 9:11pm

i can echo compbankers comment. work typically 8am to 6pm unless closing on a deal. weekend work is very rare and the good part is is that there's a high degree of visibility. you'll generally know when you have to come in on a sat. its not like your vp or md is gonna pop over at 445pm on friday and ask for some bs analysis that'll take all weekend.

Jun 2, 2011 - 9:34am

well shop where i work (large cap) tends to participate in a lot of auction processes, and on these timing always tight and weekend is more or less just another day. Pretty rare anyone asks me to come in on a w-e explicitely, but basically to get work done i need to. though it's rare i pull all nighters (because of more predictability/ ability to organize my own work).

this year where we've been super busy i've prolly worked 50-60% of weekend days, but there have been times also when things were slow where i've hardly worked w-e at all.. the issue is less with w-e than with vacations i find. Given i always have at least 2-3 projects going on, true downtime doesn't exist really, and ability to see ahead when i can get away without impact on the rest of the team is very very difficult.

Jun 10, 2011 - 9:43am

won't it depend on how fast you get your work done? say you want to go the extra mile and/or work a bit slowly and/or are a perfectionist with OCD - would the nature of the work cause someone like that to stay later?

From my experience work tends to be based on loose deadlines, 'let's try and get this done by end of the week' therefore depending on your work speed you might work different hours to get it done on time. Another factor in hours is that you can sometimes work long hours when there isnt a huge amount to do, when you are waiting for a report that someone else is completing and particularly when you are working with people based in different timezones.
Jun 10, 2011 - 10:38am

I work with MM PE firms all day long. I've never gotten an email from them on a weekend. Not to say they arent loosely working on things, but in general, MM PE work with private companies that arent open on weekends either, so unless a special weekend meeting they usually dont actually work a full weekend day like you are thinking.

I am speaking about higher ups though..VP and above. I do think analysts get staffed to finish up models and research type projects on weekends though. My buddy is an analyst in a MM PE group, often works a few hours on weekends but just as often travels for pleasure and has no weekend work.

We've got half a million shares in the bag!
Jun 13, 2011 - 2:04pm

associate at megafund here, relatively rarely work weekends, only if something needs to get concluded over the weekend to respond to a process or something like that on monday. usually we wrap up internal documents for investment review by Friday, which is mostly a function of VP/principal discipline. There are the occasional horror stories / rough managers but i think they're exceptional at the firm.

from what i understand this kind of work/life balance is relatively rare in our check-size group however.

Jul 25, 2011 - 6:02pm

I hate to burst everyone's bubble here, but I think the portrait of MM PE lifestyle being painted here is a bit too rosy. I spent two years at a highly regarded MM shop that is also considered one of the "better" places to work from a lifestyle perspective. Yes, I worked considerably less than friends in banking. But did I leave the office before 7 pm every day? No. Did I ever have to work on weekends? Yes. Not every weekend, but definitely a bunch of them. Did I ever have to cancel plans because of work? Yes. Rare to cancel weekend plans (you usually have at least some visibility), but also almost impossible to make plans during the week. Could I take vacations? Yes, my firm was very good about that. Did I ever have to cancel a vacation? No, but occasionally had to work while on vacation.

I would say a typical week was something like this:
Mon-Thursday: Get in at 9 am, leave by 9:30/10 pm if I was "average" busy; leave by 11/midnight if I was "above average" busy, and leave by 2 am if I was swamped. On rare occassions if things were super light, you might get out by 7:30/8 (but I would say this happened no more than 5% of the time).
Friday: Work 9 am, leave by 6:30/7 pm
Saturday: No work generally
Sunday: Varies. Half of Sundays I probably had off. Remaining days were split between working the most of the day vs. working just a few hours.

All in, that gets you to roughly 65 hours per week on average, with the distribution being somewhere from 55-75.

One big problem, I think, is that you never feel like you are "done" with work. During the week, you basically leave when you are too mentally exhausted to do any more and don't have a specific deadline for the next morning. When you're on a live deal, you will have way more to do than you have time for. When you add on portfolio responsibilities, you're pretty swamped. Even if deal flow is slow, you'll spend time chasing down random investment ideas/themes that MDs ask you about and catching up on all of the portfolio stuff that you have neglected while crunching on deal stuff. If your goal is to meet expectations, you'll work 60-65 hours per week. If you want to be the class rockstar and overdeliver on everything, I would plan on working more like 75-80.

The other thing to consider is that the hours in PE are more intense. I worked in consulting before and can confirm that a 65 hour week in PE is MUCH more intense/mentally taxing than consulting (can't speak to banking personally, but I've heard a similar sentiment from friends who did banking-PE). People you work with very sharp (even if you're coming from a top firm, you'll realize that the variation across in caliber people is lower in PE bcause they are drawing from the top of the pool of IB/MC analysts, and then from the cream of the pre-MBA associate crop at the post-MBA level). Every time you go into a meeting and present work, you will be asked 10 questions that you probably didn't think about, which makes even routine tasks (build a 8-slide overview loop on a company) stressful. People expect you to function at a very high level constantly and there is no tolerance for delays/mistakes even when you're asked to produce things on extremely tight deadlines.

So overall, it is a much better lifestyle than 90 hrs a week of banking. And the work is definitely interesting. But it is no cakewalk from a lifestyle perspective either. Just know what you're getting into.

Jul 25, 2011 - 6:30pm
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