July 25, 2024

KT Business

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Private-Equity Firms Start Recruiting, Catching Bankers Off Guard

3 min read

In a surprise move that sent shockwaves throughout the junior Wall Street community on Monday, a series of leading private-equity firms kicked off recruiting for lucrative positions that won’t start for two more years.

The intense rite of passage known as “on-cycle recruiting” left some junior investment bankers scrambling to get in on a flurry of hastily arranged interviews. It marked buy-side recruiting’s earliest start date on record. The cycle had shifted progressively earlier in recent years.

More than half a dozen industry sources confirmed to Business Insider that associate recruiting started on Monday evening.

Two of the largest firms interviewing candidates Monday were Apollo Global Management and KKR, several of the people confirmed to BI, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. (Their identities are known to BI.) Four people said that Clayton, Dubilier & Rice also participated in interviews.

Spokespeople for some of the firms involved in recruiting either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment, sent outside normal business hours Monday evening.

Most first-year investment-banking analysts won’t officially start their banking roles until July. The early recruiting timeline has left most candidates with no real-life deal experience to speak of, let alone workplace experience to point to, beyond their past summer internships.

It was unclear whether firms had already extended offers to successful candidates.

Recruits who hadn’t moved into new apartments yet

Historically, a small handful of PE firms trigger on-cycle recruiting each year when they begin interviewing incoming or current junior investment bankers for employment two years down the line.

Then many others follow suit, kicking off an industrywide stampede to lay claim to entry-level talent. The coveted jobs come with the allure of prestige and enticing compensation packages. Last year, some candidates scored offers that surpassed $300,000 in all-in comp (including base salary and bonus), BI previously reported.

The interview process for buy-side associates is a stressful sprint. Two years ago, for example, BI reported that candidates were concocting excuses to leave their investment-banking desks, with some in interviews until 2 a.m.

This year, two sources said that the unexpected start meant that some incoming junior bankers were outside New York City. Some soon-to-be bankers, they added, haven’t even moved into their New York City apartments yet.

One person with intimate knowledge of the recruiting process said other firms that had yet to conduct their own interviews would likely refuse to start recruiting so early.

A timeline for when the remaining firms might ultimately forge ahead was unclear. Last year’s on-cycle kickoff — which was nearly a month later, in late July — similarly moved the needle earlier than ever, inching it up from the previous timeline of Labor Day or early autumn. Most first-year investment-banking analysts had barely started their jobs. Some skipped training sessions and off-site work events to prepare for PE interviews. One junior banker was so turned off by the chaos that he abandoned the prospect of a career in PE altogether.

“Honestly, it has been making me think that private equity, especially, is just such an abusive industry,” this person said last year. “It’s not worth it. It’s not worth my life.”

Do you work in investment banking or private equity? Contact these reporters to share your experience during this year’s private-equity recruiting cycle. Emmalyse Brownstein can be reached via email at [email protected] or the encrypted app Signal at 305-857-5516. Reed Alexander can be reached via email at [email protected] or SMS/the encrypted app Signal at 561-247-5758.

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