Non-bankers now beat bankers in the battle to break into private equity

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A limited number of vacancies and high recruitment standards are thwarting the ambitions of bankers who want a career in private equity. Non-banking candidates from sought-after industries, however, have a better shot of landing a PE role.

"Firms are not expanding at same rate as 06/07 so they don't automatically hire two to three junior people a year from investment banking as they once did," says Andrew Oliver, managing director, Profile Search and Selection.

PE houses are typically poaching from each other because they want people who already have transaction experience and strong relationships with entrepreneurs. "All firms are more discerning and more selective. They only hire if there is a real track record," says Rafael Brana, associate, Bo Le Associates.

PE gets (even more) picky

Although junior investment bankers are sometimes an option for analyst and associate PE roles, VPs are unlikely to be considered. "More specific PE deal experience is expected of you at VP level, but without prior PE experience you might not be able to deliver to their expectations," says Oliver.

Commerce candidates beat bankers

PE equity firms are considering people with commercial backgrounds, especially if they are CFAs with excellent communication and analytical skills, says Eunice Ng, director, Avanza Consulting. "They often stand a better chance than most i-bankers because they know the industry so well and are therefore very credible with clients."

A version of this article first appeared on our Singapore website.