Working in PE is hell on earth

The insane stress of missing one small detail and causing a deal to fall apart, the dread of defending another deal to the IC, the politics, preparing agendas, taking notes, getting that intralinks notification that the data room just opened at 7pm on a saturday, staying up until 4am creating models 10x more complex than could be possibly necessary, working 100 hours a week for weeks on end with no acknowledgement, competing with a bunch of type A sycophantic humorless freaks for brownie points, completely thankless, soulless work, wasting the best years of your life enriching people wealthier than you ever will be given the glory days of this industry are a decade plus behind us.  oh the prestige of being a private equity financier

Comments (116)

Most Helpful
  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Dec 5, 2021 - 7:43pm

because I, like everyone else in this industry, have no clue who i am and what i want, and i'm too addicted to the lifestyle to get off without a plan

Dec 8, 2021 - 12:02pm

Thank you for saying what we're all thinking being in similar situations.

Contra omnes dissident
Dec 10, 2021 - 1:37pm

Brother if I were you, I'd keep banking those checks until you have a nut big enough to travel the world for a year. I suggest Mexico, it's not as dangerous as the media makes it seem (except for some rural areas, which you shouldn't be in anyways) and the USD goes a looooooong way to cover living expenses.

Dec 21, 2021 - 10:31am

This is depressing. 

I want to go into the medical field one day but also have time to pursue hobbies. Stuck in the buy-side like you and have the exact same thoughts.

Depressing. I hope the system fails.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Dec 5, 2021 - 7:49pm

one of the worst parts is the realization that you're working for partners who never went through what you're going through.  there were no cell phones, barely any email, and excel hardly existed when they were your age.  now they email you from their hamptons home "would be interesting to see a scenario where..."

  • Associate 2 in RE - Other
Dec 5, 2021 - 10:34pm

I've been thinking about this a lot, and you hit the nail on the head. The MDs have no sympathy for the analysts/associates because they never had it this bad. The VPs have no sympathy because they want us to suffer like they did. Everyone thinks every task takes a quarter of the time it actually does, and all they can muster is a half-assed "Thanks for all the hard work, etc. etc." IF THAT.

I'm in REPE, so I know our experiences may differ, but I've been burning the candle on both ends and running out of runway, too. My firm pays above market, yet I'm realizing that the sacrifices I've had to make are not worth it. I'm taking steps to leave before my body forces me to leave.

  • Intern in IB - Restr
Dec 6, 2021 - 11:02pm

They prolly all in the Hamptons bragging bout what they made! Fuck you and your Hampton house! I'll fuck your Hampton spouse! Come on her Hampton blouse and in her Hampton mouth!

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Dec 5, 2021 - 7:51pm

x2 pretty sure everyone in this industry has a screw loose. You know how every firm has that one really cool down to earth MD everyone likes. Know what I'm talking about? It's because the rest are actual psychos. But I'm addicted to spending money so hear I am in a self loathing Catch 22.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Dec 5, 2021 - 9:16pm

Question I have is whether this is an industry norm or fund dependent, as Ive heard some MMs have insane, toxic cultures and heard some bigger funds have a better cultures (albeit with still long hours ). 

Dec 6, 2021 - 10:34am

A MF is going to be banking 2.0; more stressful than banking and as many hours. MM is all over the place. It's impossible to make a correlation. Some funds are chill while others are not. In general though, chill funds are much fewer than stressful ones.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 5, 2021 - 9:28pm

And this is why I'll happily stay for now in IB in my "low tier" bank that has apparently "shit dealflow" and "exits" according to this forum. It's still banking at the end of the day but at least I get to keep my sanity and free weekends.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 8, 2021 - 3:41am

I am in the exact same position man and I am absolutely loving life --- zero stress, practically live on the golf course and paid the same as people doing 100 hour weeks. I have to pinch myself sometimes 

  • Works at Other
Jan 8, 2022 - 4:55am

It can work both ways in a shit dealflow team. You can get that. Or you can get one where:

1. They keep "pitching" to the point it's probably client harassment and by pitches I mean, make you scramble 50 to 60+ pages and massage the league table data - if anything making it more obvious that we haven't closed a deal in years

2. Very heavy top + one senior freaking out every week about being (rightfully) fired and making you run "urgent" screens on companies he's never met before to put in his pipeline. Just strip profiles of these 200-300 tiny ass private companies, thanks. Oh and I know they don't speak english and probably don't even have a website, but can you get revenue numbers and breakdown and maybe EBITDA and NPAT margin as well? Don't stay up late, thx.

3. VP throwing fits that you can't get private transaction information that he can't get anyone in his network to tell him either, completely ignoring the fact that if you could, he would be working for you.

Welcome to Southeast Asia sh*t IB!

  • 6
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 5, 2021 - 9:33pm

Your point on sycophantic humorless two-faced bitches just hit me in the right spot. Oh baby, yeah, right there. 

I sincerely believe everyone in this industry, except those who just somehow love bitch work at least for your first 6 years, will someday come to a crossroad: do you have the gut to actually pursue something you are passionate about, even if it's definitely less money at the beginning, or continue to be locked in golden handcuffs? I'm not saying this from a holier-than-thou PoV, as I'm in banking because I think it's a good way to make some $, and do some shit. Well well, movies are movies after all. There are not many wolfs on the street.

Dec 6, 2021 - 1:00pm

Anonymous Monkey

Your point on sycophantic humorless two-faced bitches just hit me in the right spot. Oh baby, yeah, right there. 

I sincerely believe everyone in this industry, except those who just somehow love bitch work at least for your first 6 years, will someday come to a crossroad: do you have the gut to actually pursue something you are passionate about, even if it's definitely less money at the beginning, or continue to be locked in golden handcuffs? I'm not saying this from a holier-than-thou PoV, as I'm in banking because I think it's a good way to make some $, and do some shit. Well well, movies are movies after all. There are not many wolfs on the street.

Well said! He who dares has an higher chance of winning the game.

SafariJoe, wins again!
Jan 1, 2022 - 6:12pm

Love this. 🙌👏👏

How many Desk Monkeys will walk into the fire of uncertainty to claim what is thiers??

Entrepreneurship isn't for the faint hearted. To many people want to be liked.

Sadly the heavy hitters can give a fuck about being liked. Including myself.

It takes big brass balls to go make shit happen. Just do it.

I have.

Appreciate your response and authenticity.💯

  • Intern in ER
Dec 5, 2021 - 10:03pm

As an associate at a small LMM firm in a LCOL city I find my experience has been night and day compared to your comment. Really cool seniors who value WLB/family (which that culture trickles down to me), reasonable hours at 50-60 hour a week outside of deals sprints. Downside of that is I'm probably not working at a firm that is known at all in the industry and the compensation track gets a discount compared to MM/MF counterparts, also deal flow is probably not as intense to getting slightly less reps overall than I would at a busy shop.

Overall a sacrifice I'm willing to make as I learned pretty early on in banking that I don't give a shit about pulling in 70-80+ hours consistently for the money/prestige if that means sacrificing so many aspects of my personal life. Also when the lifestyle at your firm is so much better you can actually consider the long-term possibility of this career instead of just looking at it as another means to an end. I'd highly recommend looking down-market if you're willing to make those sacrifices for yourself for what is a much more sustainable lifestyle. 

  • Associate 3 in PE - Growth
Dec 7, 2021 - 10:14am

I'm in LMM in a higher COL city and started at $225K and have scaled up meaningfully from there. I enjoy my job and will last longer in this industry than 95% of people at MF, so in some ways my long term earning potential is just as high since I won't burn out. It exists, just have to find it

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 6, 2021 - 12:53pm

FUCK this shit, I don't give a shit anymore. Fuck IB. Going back to enjoying my life. Not going to continue sacrificing the rest of my college just to join all the struck up finance bros.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 7, 2021 - 9:25am

I'm a shell of the person I was before this semester. I have gained 10-15 pounds, destroyed my sleep schedule, destroyed my mental and physical health, destroyed multiple personal friendships because I was so busy, hung around the finance bros for so long it made me into an stuck-up finance ass-hat that looks down on some many people, been watching way too much porn, and failed my first ever examI have a superday today but honestly, I barely prepared. I instead spent The Weeknd not giving a fuck, drinking with the boys and had a girl sleepover (first time in forever) . I already have a big 4 offer. Done sacrificing for this IB position that is just gonna have me work even longer hours and make me hate my life more. I spent so much time trying to get a IB offer to please my "finance bros" friends. But all they ever talk about is finance BS and have me feel like complete shut because I haven't gotten an IB offer. Made me into an arrogant asshat and started to look down on my roommates that have been there since day one, since they do not work as hard as me. I don't care anymore.

Dec 6, 2021 - 1:08pm

I would just find a good paying firm that doesn't treat you poorly.

I work endless hours at times and some weeks it's 50-60. I stopped going to prestige firms due to this and could careless at this point in my life. Many firms will pay a good 6 figure comp and the intense "prestigious" firms will still be there if you choose to leave for a year or two.

I left PE to work a PE portco ironically and it's been wayyyy better.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Dec 6, 2021 - 1:31pm

Interesting. What sort of responsability do do you have there? What sort of portco and what is your comp like?

Dec 6, 2021 - 5:19pm

CORRECTION: working in PE as an associate is Hell on Earth

Life is more than dollars
  • 2
  • VP in PE - LBOs
Dec 6, 2021 - 8:20pm

If we don't own up to our own decisions, good or bad, then what are we good for?

Dec 7, 2021 - 3:04am

No idea what you mean by its hell, I'm a 42 year old MD at Apollo working 90 hour weeks with 3 kids and a divorced wife, but its all worth it when I get to tell you unprestigious shitbirds on this forum how prestigious my job is.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 7, 2021 - 4:21am

Convinced everyone in high finance are over dramatic pansies. Jesus Christ. 

If you hate the job so much, leave and do something else. It's just a job. If you don't hate enough to quit then stay and continue milking more money out of the economy than most working people can. Don't just complain and do nothing.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Dec 7, 2021 - 11:15am

Entrepreneurship is one of many answers - the glory of creation, and of willing an idea into existence through blood sweat and tears, is close to unmatched. 

Dec 7, 2021 - 2:10pm

Everyday I read stories like this and thank my lucky stars that I chose to pursue software development where one can make 200k+ at 22 yrs old working 30 hours a week and jerking off for the rest of the week

Jan 13, 2022 - 1:34pm

Better believe it. Both Google and Facebook are paying over 200k total compensation for new grads, and Amazon/Microsoft pretty close to that. HFT's pay even more, think 300-500k. No one wants to admit it because well, why would you want to dilute the market and increase competition for yourself? 

So your welcome for admitting the truth. SWE is in the golden age right now. Btw I'm not even factoring possible stock appreciation. 

Dec 10, 2021 - 12:34pm

Somewhere in Africa right as you're reading this a 6 year old kid is mining lithium to profit the Chinese government under the watchful eye of a 12 year old with an AK from the next village over, which happens to be the same village the government official who signed the contract with the Chinese is from. 

Dec 10, 2021 - 1:32pm

Plenty of other opportunities out there. Have you seen the crazy rounds that VC-backed startups are raising? Guess where they are spending a lot of that $$$... Yes it will be a pay cut but the gap is closing + equity upside (also downside). FWIW, engineers and product folks really aren't that far behind PE associate comp (if they're even behind, check out the stupid comp figures being posted on Blind) and I promise you hours are much better. Really, we all should have gotten CS degrees and gone into tech.

If you do want to stay in finance, maybe think about family office/allocators/secondaries. Pay cut, more boring work, but I don't think any LPs are working 100 hour weeks.

  • 3
Dec 15, 2021 - 10:33am

It's a fair point but having solid technical coding/CS skills is not for everyone. I tried it and was a below average student in a few classes I took to experiment if I liked coding in college. Hated it and I was terrible at it. Very different type of thinking to be good at it. A shit ton of tech/engineering talent to compete against for those top paying jobs. It's more about raw talent than the prestige of their previous jobs/schools.

Dec 16, 2021 - 1:05am

IDK who threw MS at you, it's a fair point. But product roles are not that far behind SWE in comp and don't require the technical skillset. 

Dec 11, 2021 - 10:29pm

Hey man - Really sorry to hear about your experience. Luckily, this is still a really attractive job market for finance, so lateraling so definitely an option. If helpful, my friends/colleagues have used a platform called officehours, and they've all had great success with it. Best of luck!

Dec 14, 2021 - 10:47pm

sheesh bro you sound super unhappy

this is no way to go through life

why not just get a job in corp dev, or strategic finance, take the salary/bonus pay cut (but also... if it's a younger high growth tech company, get some of dat equity upside), and work half the hours on far more interesting work in a much chiller environment? girls / normies will still see you as a high finance guy (if that's something you care about) and you'll actually get to have a life. seems like a no brainer for you. finding a job won't be hard - there are a shit ton of tech companies, corporate vcs, corp dev teams, strategic finance teams, etc, that would love to hire a buyout PE guy. 

life's too short to be unhappy. 

Dec 15, 2021 - 1:20pm

remote will vary by industry and company size. i'd say as a general rule of thumb, software is going to be more remote friendly than deeptech/hardware, and smaller companies are going to be more remote friendly than larger companies. 

Dec 16, 2021 - 3:47pm

Totally agree man but it's a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people who have worked their ass off just to get to that PE seat - it almost feels like you're "throwing something away" right? Also, pay cut is tough to swallow on a mental level - obviously nobody actually churns through their TC as a PE Associate but it's the concept of the high pay that sticks in our minds.

I'm saying this as a burnt Associate who's staying for now due to the highly flawed reasons above, but really want to leave. Would guess that most of us have never taken the time, even from a young age, to explore our passions and instead have had a gunner mentality for as long as we remember, distorting the perception of what happiness actually is.

Dec 25, 2021 - 8:56am

Corp Dev at some places isn't even much a paycut. 

Dec 23, 2021 - 3:16am

Sounds like someone should make a career change. If you don't feel like your adding to the mission or simply want to be there l? Or maybe your not leading your team as a productive happy Kick Ass as a Team Member? Leave.Being miserable is not healthy. I promise tying yourself to a Job that makes you feel imprisoned is a great way to sabotage your future. Don't take my word for it, I'm just a Entrepreneur who is a Investment (GP) Partner that is not making any excuses. Plus I've been a Self Employed business owner for 20years.

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Dec 25, 2021 - 2:39am

I'm just semi-drunk post Christmas Eve dinner but honestly stfu. Seriously. You're what I hate about this industry. Do you think everyone is just like you and does this job despite having no passion for it? This is the only sector I know of with so many people who absolutely hate their job but would rather keep doing it and bitching about it rather than being a man/woman and actually doing what you want in life.

This is capitalism, you're free to decide what you do in life. There's plenty of people like me who actually mostly enjoy what they do in PE. Go find something that you care about rather than trashing the careers that aren't for you.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Dec 27, 2021 - 11:52am

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Dec 28, 2021 - 4:27pm

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  • Prospect in HF - Other
Dec 28, 2021 - 4:52pm

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