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Big4 Strategy -> Private Equity?

#1 Big4 Strategy -> Private Equity?
27/06/2012 10:56


Hi all,

I'm a Manager within the strategy group of a Big 4 firm, with 4-5 years experience in the M&A / Due Diligence side of strategy consulting.

My experience is predominately pre-deal (due diligence, synergy valuation, target screening), although I've done a couple of longer merger integration engagements (so have a bit of experience in the operational side, post-merger).

I'm considering my options at this point and wondering if Private Equity is an open avenue? I'm thinking more about mid-cap than huge (e.g. not the KKR, Bain Caps of the world) in an effort to be a little less of a small cog in a big wheel, and see a few deals through end-to-end.

Most job adverts to PE seem to be looking for 3rd-4th year investment bankers - is there a place for ex-Strategy consultants in anyone's experience here? Would a strategy consultant be competing for the same PE roles vs. bankers, or do PE firms generally have a more suitable position (e.g. with less of a pure financial focus)?

All help appreciated.

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#2 RE: Big4 Strategy -> Private Equity?
27/06/2012 11:49

marsday to Rothco (#1)

Yes there is a place for ex strategy consultants - in fact this is one of the accepted routes into PE. But to qualify this a little, most funds have been under water for some time, and with little realistic prospect of returning to their watermark soon, so principals have been moving out of the industry and being replaced with junior hires - analyst, perhaps 1st year associate levels. This is because much of the work would revolve around valuations or DD and it wouldnt make sense to get expensive VPs in to do this work. Conversely where strat consultants move across they like them a bit more senior. You may find at 4 years experience you are at the tail end of their expectations for a move from strategy.

It would be worthwhile applying to some funds and take it from there - the process in PE can be time consuming, but hiring is on the uptick. Try to focus on funds with an interest in areas you have already worked for (industry), and dont worry about competing with bankers - despite all the bluster many of them are sticking where they are with all the uncertainty and with the demands of less people doing more work most wont be able to invest the time in demanding PE selection processes.

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#3 RE: Big4 Strategy -> Private Equity?
02/07/2012 19:12

Rothco to marsday (#2)

marsday - Thanks for the reply.

I'll make a few quiet enquiries, but as you say perhaps it's better to hold on in there for a bit longer - I'd rather not drop back to producing valuation models from scratch myself (although my inner geek still loves that stuff!)

Valid point re: industry skills - due to doing so much M&A-related work I haven't got too much focus in any one particular industry. I guess holding out a bit longer would enable that development further.

Would be interested to know if there were particular PE firms that like consultants more than others (for example, I know Bain Cap is relatively open to consultants, given its heritage)


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#4 RE: Big4 Strategy -> Private Equity?
04/07/2012 10:04

marsday to Rothco (#3)

broadly speaking all PE firms tend to be open to consultants moving across. One of the advantages is getting VP level experience without the price tag. There is a definate advantage having broader diagnostic skills in house to balance out the leveraged experience - particular in the buy em cheap turn em round shops.

The obstacle is really that PE isnt like MC - its very fragmented as an industry, and smaller firms come and go, often run by some ecclectic (if not downright eccentric) individuals.

Any PE will have a particular interest - so best place to start is read some of the press and identify some of the places you would like to start, take it from there. Marex Spectron are apparently making noises about extensive hiring (whether that translates into activity is another matter) - or how about working for Tony Blaire at Firerush (assuming you have an interest in introducing arab sovreign funds to potential investments in Europe)?

Dont worry about getting a strong alignment to one industry - a keen interest in say high tech or pharma is far more important than extensive experience in it.

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