Nightmare for junior corporate financiers with private equity aspirations: banks are identifying and pre-emptively sacking them

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Monstrous apparition

Monstrous apparition as banks check up on PE applicants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s one thing worse than being an analyst or 1st year associate spending your every waking hour on pitchbooks, and that’s being an analyst or associate spending your every waking hour on pitchbooks whilst trying to time for interviewing with private equity funds.

Recruiters working with private equity funds in London say there’s a lot of interviewing and window shopping taking place, but far less in the way of hiring. This is problematic, given private equity funds’ interview process is onerous and takes a lot of analysts’ time.

“It’s a nightmare for applicants,” says James Heath at recruitment firm Greenwich Partners. “They will often be required to leave the office for 3-4 hours at a time, for multiple rounds of applications. There will be detailed case studies and presentations, some of which may need to be prepared at home. At the moment, it’s very hard for an analyst or associate to leave the office at all – even at the weekend.”

The problem is being made worse by the fact that banks are allegedly checking up on people who’ve been offered jobs by PE funds, and getting rid of them before bonus time. Goldman Sachs is the main culprit here: Dealbreaker reported earlier this week that it’s unearthed four analysts with PE offers in the US and pre-emptively dismissed them.

“Senior people are calling up funds to ask if analysts have received offers from them. A bunch have been cut so far,” it claimed.

Headhunters say they’re unaware of anything similar happening outside the US. However, they say that junior M&A bankers are increasingly struggling to keep demanding private equity interview processes hidden from current employers. Given that many PE funds appear to be interviewing and interviewing and interviewing and not actually hiring, there’s a clear risk of alienating the bank that employs you now without arriving at a real alternative.

Under no circumstances, however, should a second year analyst or first year associate with PE aspirations think about resigning and devoting him/herself to a full time private equity job search.

If you do that, Heath says funds won’t touch you: they’re only interested in people currently employed, ideally by bulge bracket banks, with excellent academics and preferably several (fluent) European languages. They’re not interested in people who are out of the market – even voluntarily. “I receive around 200 applications a week from people who are unemployed and want to work in private equity,” says Heath, quietly.