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Private Equity & The Buy-Side

While M&I was originally dedicated to investment banking, we started covering private equity from very early on as well – so there are dozens of articles and interviews related to PE here.

The finance industry will never recover its former “glory,” most likely, but at least if you get into private equity you can still laugh at poor bankers shoving their pitch books at you.

Get everything from how to break in, to interview tips and case study templates, and even information on different groups and regions below.

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Investment Banking Exit Opportunities: The Myth of the Buy-Side Job

What’s the easiest way to distinguish an American investment banker from a European one? You might point to one of the following: The European banker probably speaks 4-5 languages; the American one knows only English and 5-10 words of Spanish. The European banker is still having nightmares about assessment centers and logical tests, while the […]
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How to Walk Through Your Resume in Buy-Side Interviews

What’s the most common mistake in any interview? Not being able to explain why you are interviewing at the company. There’s an obsession with technical questions, but a near-universal ignorance of how to answer the first question in any interview: “Tell me about yourself.” Even though I’m prone to killing people and eating their bodies […]
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How to Make Investment Recommendations in Private Equity Interviews and Case Studies in 4 Simple Steps

Is there a “deal-breaker” question? A single question so important that an incorrect answer would sink your chances in interviews? You bet. One example is your “story” – what you say when someone asks you to walk through your resume/CV or to introduce yourself. Make a poor first impression in the first 2-3 minutes, and […]
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What’s in a Real Estate Private Equity Case Study? Part 3: A Pre-Sold Condo Development in São Paulo

Would you like to move to Brazil? The beaches have tempted me before, but I’ve had some reservations about moving there… though I do want to visit at some point. But some of those reservations went away when I saw the sketches for V:House, a high-end luxury residence under development in São Paulo: I liked […]
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What’s in a Real Estate Private Equity Case Study? Part 2: A Value-Added Office Case Study

A few months ago, I posed a simple question here: “Can you find anything online?” And then I explained why it’s still hard to find information on some topics, like real estate private equity case studies, even today. Nothing much has changed in the past few months, so today I wanted to share another REPE […]
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Sovereign Wealth Funds in Australia: The Best Way to Break into Finance off the Beaten Path?

What do you do when you don’t fit in? For example, what if you have so much work experience that you really don’t want to start out as a first-year analyst at a bank? Or what if you want to work in finance, but you don’t want to “pay your dues” in investment banking at […]
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What’s in a Real Estate Private Equity Case Study?

Can you find anything online? With many subjects, the answer is “yes” or “almost.” But it’s still quite difficult to find information on certain topics, one of which is real estate private equity. You can find academic research, textbooks, and whitepapers from professors, but what about actual examples of RE PE case studies you could […]
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How to Get Into Private Equity in Russia, and What to Do Next

Out of all the country-specific articles I’ve published, the one that generated the most controversy – by far – was the one on investment banking in Russia. No one could agree on the salaries and bonuses paid by different banks, whether or not you need to know the language, or even how much vodka you […]
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Why Do Private Equity Firms Recruit Young Bankers in a Frenzy Each Year? And What Should You Do About It?

“You HAVE to accept the offer,” she shouted on the phone. “But why? I’m not sure I even want to do private equity in the long-term,” I replied. This was a guaranteed way to get a headhunter pissed off at you: go through multiple rounds of recruiting, get everyone at the firm to like you, […]
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What’s in a Growth Equity Case Study?

The exit. Greener pastures. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Why else would you suffer through investment banking? This ancient post from Leveraged Sellout sums up how most bankers used to think about exit opportunities: “Before I became so fervent about Private Equity, I thoroughly considered all my other career options: […]
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Oil & Gas Project Finance in Singapore: All the Upside of Asia, with None of the Risk?

A power plant. A toll road. A new oil field that may or may not survive a military coup or a government collapse… …and a bank contemplating which one it should lend to. That’s a good way to describe Project Finance in Asia: lots of opportunity, if you don’t mind the occasional hiccup along the […]
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How to Overcome a Rescinded Job Offer and Break Into Real Estate Private Equity Anyway

You’ve been recruiting for months and months… And nothing has worked out so far. But then 1 month before graduation, an investment banking job opens up… You go through several rounds of interviews… And you win the offer right as you’re graduating. Then, 4 days before you start working, you fail your background check, the […]
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Agricultural Finance: The Hottest and Most Overlooked Asset Class in the World?

When you hear the words “agricultural finance,” your first thought might be: “Who cares? I don’t want to be a farmer!” I had the same reaction when a reader contacted me about this one. But as I started to learn more about it, I got really interested: It’s possible to earn 20% IRRs without leverage… […]
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The Top 5 Mistakes You’re Making in Buy-Side Interviews, and How to Fix Them and Win Offers

An island. Your own beach in Thailand. “Working on the buy-side.” We tend to focus on the end result rather than the process to get there. At least, that’s my theory behind the sheer quantity of bad answers I’ve heard in private equity, hedge fund, and other buy-side mock interviews over the past year. Your thought process, […]
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Private Equity in India: The Most Exciting Emerging Market to Invest In?

Hope. The foundation of venture capital. And in some regions, private equity is more like venture capital: raise money from other people, put it into a bunch of companies that have no proven track record of financial results, and then… hope one of them takes over the world. In other places, it’s less about finding […]
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Investment Banking and Private Equity in Mainland China: Land of the Surefire 100% IRR?

We’ve covered a surprising amount on finance in mainland China over the years, from foreigners getting into the industry against all odds to foreigners getting forced out of the industry, to undergraduates randomly getting month-long internships… But one common scenario is missing: what it’s like to grow up in China, work at a local Chinese […]
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Project Finance Jobs: Leveraged Finance Meets Special Purpose Vehicles and Granular Modeling?

Project Finance might just be the longest-running, most-requested topic that we still haven’t covered even after 5+ years of writing about different types of finance firms. But that ends today. There’s a ton of confusion over what you actually do in Project Finance, how it’s different from private equity / Leveraged Finance / Debt Capital Markets […]
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Frontier Markets Private Equity: The Upstart That Displaced Emerging Markets PE with One Swift Knockout Punch?

It used to be that emerging markets – mostly the BRIC countries – would race ahead of developed countries and attract investors in droves. But most of these “predictions” were based on China’s GDP growing at over 10% for 100 years, which is about as reliable as the revenue growth assumptions you see in most […]
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How to Break Into Investment Banking and Private Equity in Singapore

Most of the time it is really, really, really hard to break into emerging markets if you’re a foreigner with no experience in the country and no language skills. But there are a few exceptions, such as Mexico, India (sometimes), and yes: Singapore. Singapore itself is not an “emerging market,” but when you work there […]
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Your Own Private Equity Case Study Interview Template (The Dell LBO, Part 5 – Case Study Presentation)

Today, we’re going to (finally) wrap up that Dell LBO case study that began months ago. But more importantly, I’m also going to give you a private equity case study interview presentation template you can copy, paste, and re-use. You’re also going to learn why you cannot believe much of what the mainstream media says […]
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Infrastructure Investing On the Job: Private Equity Lite, or Modeling Like a Mega-Fund?

Last time around, we dove into what “infrastructure investing” (AKA infrastructure private equity) actually means and how one reader jumped across multiple continents to get into the industry. We pick up today with Part 2 and do a deep dive into what you do on the job, a day in the life at an infrastructure […]
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Private Equity Funds of Funds, On the Job: PE Pay and Prestige with Half the Hours?

Last time around, we went through Part 1 of the confusion around PE funds of funds: what they actually do, what the work consists of, and how the recruiting process and case studies in interviews work. Our interview picks up today with Part 2, where we delve into the industry landscape, what you do on […]
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Infrastructure Investing: What It Is and How to Break In

If there’s one long-running unfulfilled request on this site, it’s coverage of Project Finance. I have gotten about 100+ requests to feature it, and I’ve even had numerous interviewees sign up and volunteer to speak about it… and then drop out at the last minute. The bad news is that this is still not that […]
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Private Equity Funds of Funds: “PE Lite” or Equally Attractive Finance Job?

Few jobs cause as much confusion as those with “finance” or “fund” or “equity” somewhere in their titles. We’ve already looked at the fun distinction between FIG vs. Financial Sponsors vs. DCM vs. Leveraged Finance in previous articles, so today we’ll turn our attention to the 2nd most confusing topic: what you do at a fund […]
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From Big 4 Accounting to Private Equity at a Canadian Pension Fund: A One-Way Ticket to Earning More and Becoming a Deal-Maker?

A few of the previous interviews/articles I’ve done on Canada have attracted… a bit of controversy. By “a bit,” I mean, of course, “lots of violent and hateful comments threatening myself and/or the interviewee.” So the logical thing is to try it one more time. This one’s a bit different from previous interviews, though, because […]
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Private Equity on TV vs. Real Life: The Infographic

One of the first questions we got on Cost of Capital was how “realistic” it was. Do Associates really get abused that much and suffer through so much crap, even in private equity? Do characters like David, Byron, Todd and Leonard truly exist in real life? Rather than answering all of those with text (the boring method), […]
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Private Equity 101: The Infographic

One of the goals with Cost of Capital is to make the world of private equity and finance in general more accessible to you (the same applies to the rest of this site). We’ve gotten a number of questions on what exactly each character does, who’s “above” who, and what’s driving each person in the series. Explaining it in […]
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Private Equity Strategies 101: What’s the Fastest Way to a Billion Dollars?

Ever heard about seed capital? Early-stage VC? Late-stage VC? Growth equity? Middle-market buyouts? Mega buyouts? Distressed? Mezzanine funds? Real estate funds? Infrastructure funds? Fund of funds? Yup, the names do get confusing. And so does deciding which of these PE strategies will earn you the most money. Truth be told, directly investing in PE might […]
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Leveraged Aircraft Leasing: The Best Way to Break Into Finance as an Engineer?

I have a confession to make: years ago when we first started doing interviews on this site, I never once thought about asking for a volunteer to cover “aircraft leasing.” Or, for that matter, Saudi Arabia, Nordic Renewables, and a whole bunch of other topics. But I’m glad that so many readers stepped forward and […]
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On the Job in the Nordic Renewable Energy Investment Industry: The Coolest Place Ever to Work?

So, you graduated a few years ago and bumped around within different positions in finance… You aimed for investment banking and M&A roles, but kept coming up empty-handed due to the economy, the dismal state of hiring, and other applicants with more work experience. You made it through a few rounds of interviews and came […]
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How to Break Into Private Equity – Straight from a 17-Year Veteran of the Industry

“Yup, everyone at business school still wants to do PE – even after the financial crisis, recession, and everything that followed.” I was speaking with an MBA admissions consultant a few months ago, and she mentioned this point as if it were a surprise (that’s only true if you haven’t been reading this site…). We’ve […]
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How to Defy the Odds and Break Into Private Equity in China as a Foreigner – Even as Everyone Else is Getting Deported

All the hype over emerging markets sounds great… …until you sit back and realize something: you don’t have a shot at breaking in, at least if you’re a foreigner with no connection to the region. And it’s especially bad in China, where, according to a previous interviewee and plenty of commenters, it’s nearly impossible to […]
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Private Equity in Latin America: How to Break in as a Foreigner without Speaking a Word of Spanish

Ah, to start from scratch. Just move to an exotic country, start a new life, and launch your new career… simple, right? But then you think about it for a second and realize: You don’t know anyone there. You don’t speak the language. You already have a good job in your home country. And the […]
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Private Equity in Emerging Markets: The Fastest Way to 26%+ Returns Even as the Rest of the World is Dying?

Pop quiz: how could you have achieved a 26% return in 2010 or an 11% annualized return over the past 10 years, from 2000 – 2010? By investing in PE & VC in emerging markets! Sure, you could have made a lot more or a lot less, but those are the pooled end-to-end returns according […]
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Breaking Into Investment Funds in Eastern Europe: How to Get Screwed on Your Bonus and Then Leave for Ethical Reasons

Nicolas is the founder of 300 Finance Gurus and has advised more than 100 clients on their cover letters and resumes. He also provides strategies on networking, LinkedIn and interview preparation for clients in Investment Banking, Corporate Finance and Private Equity (full bio at the bottom of this article.) Ah, Eastern Europe. Just hearing about […]
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Mezzanine Investing: Private Equity ‘Lite’ or More Action for Less Stress?

Nothing is as simple as it first seems – that applies to many pieces of the great jigsaw puzzle that makes up the financial world, and equity and debt are no exceptions. They’re at opposite ends of the spectrum, and in between lies an entire world where ingenious financiers and lawyers have developed all sorts […]
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So, Why Do You Make Millions of Dollars in Private Equity – And Will It Last?

Ah, private equity: the promised land. Glamor, seven-figure pay, and even the occasional sadistic Partner who makes you cold-call companies all day. We’ve covered recruiting, why you’d actually want to go into PE, and even how to tackle case studies… But why do you actually make so much money in private equity? What makes it […]
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From Cold Call to Closed Deal: How a Private Equity Investment Comes Together, Part 3 – The Dotted Line

“She thinks $60 million is a discounted price? Can someone shoot her with an animal tranquilizer gun until she snaps out of it?” John says, looking around in disbelief at all the other Partners. David turns to you and his eyes light up as a new idea percolates to the top of his head, and […]
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From Cold Call to Closed Deal: How a Private Equity Investment Comes Together, Part 2 – The Deal?

“No, no, and no again,” shouts John, the Founding Partner. “This is a crap deal in a tiny market with a Founder who wants to leave in 12 months? She stays, or we don’t even take another look at this. This business is worth $0 without her.” David jumps in before you can say anything. […]
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From Cold Call to Closed Deal: How a Private Equity Investment Comes Together, Part 1 – The Idea

Your office door creaks open, and you close your YouTube window in a knee-jerk response. David – the Partner you work with most closely – walks in and glances from side to side, pretending not to notice you at first. This must be something important if he hasn’t started talking yet. You tap away on […]
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Why You Can’t Break Into Private Equity as a Foreigner in China

Despite my repeated warnings that emerging markets don’t care about you – only people who know the language, have connections, and are qualified to work there – this question won’t go away: “I really want to work in China! How can I break into finance there? I’ve studied Mandarin for 5 years and I can […]
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Why Private Equity?

So you’ve made it through your first 6 months in banking alive. Your waist is bigger from all those tiramisu desserts, but luckily your bank account has gotten even fatter than your stomach. And your bank account is set to get even fatter in the future – if you can successfully break into private equity. […]
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Private Equity vs. Venture Capital

This question came up in the recent series on venture capital: just how are PE and VC different? Technically, venture capital is just a subset of private equity. They both invest in companies, they both recruit former bankers, and they both make money from investments rather than advisory fees. But if you take a look […]
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What to Expect In Your Private Equity Internship in China: Deals, Culture, Pay, and How You Break In

I’m not sure if I’ve gotten more questions about the Middle East or China, but they’re both up there on the “hot markets in finance everyone wants to get into” list. While everyone knows about Hong Kong, information on mainland China is much harder to find since US and European banks have less of a […]
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How to Break Into Private Equity Right Out of Undergraduate with No Investment Banking or Private Equity Internships

NOTE: Before you get your hopes up from this story, realize that it was written in 2010 and describes events that took place in 2009-2010 (a LONG time ago). Today, this same type of move would be almost impossible because you now need a sequence of internships to win a role in investment banking or […]
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Why You Can’t Get an Investment Banking or Private Equity Job via Recruiters – And What to Do About It

While most of the interviews on this site have been with job seekers or with current investment bankers, today we’re going to change things up and speak with an investment banking and private equity recruiter who works at a well-known recruiting firm. You’re about to learn some little-known, highly valuable, and controversial information about the […]
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Should You Start Out In Private Equity or at a Hedge Fund Rather Than In Investment Banking?

“I read your articles on the myth of the buy-side job and why finance doesn’t guarantee you $10 million and your own beach in Thailand. But I still want to do finance – I just don’t want to do investment banking. I’m an Economics major, I have a 3.7 GPA and I have no industry […]
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Copy This Investment Banker Resume Template to Get Into KKR (Or At Least, Something Almost as Good)

We’re going to continue our series on investment banking resume templates and go through how you should write about investment banking experience in this article. You can actually use a similar template for anything in finance, whether you worked on the sell-side or buy-side. But you can’t use it for everything. Who Should Use This […]
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Private Equity Case Studies in 3,017 Words

Since I was getting approximately 53 emails per day about this one, I decided to make it easier and just tell you everything you need to know about private equity case studies. Lots of people are going through private equity recruiting this time of year, so let’s take a look at what to expect and […]
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How to Get a Private Equity Job in 2,550 Words

“How can we fight this fight with the brightest and best educated rushing off and working night and day to do private equity deals and derivatives trading?” -Ben Stein, Looking for the Will Beyond the Battlefield Derivatives trading… maybe not so much anymore. But PE continues to be a big draw, pulling in bankers like […]
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Finding The Time To Interview (How Many Trips To The Doctor Can You Have In One Week?)

“The difficulty is in coming up with a credible excuse or rather, a set of excuses, when you need to do follow on interviews in a short period of time.  Let’s face it, three doctors’ appointments, two visits to the dentist and a broken boiler, fridge and blocked sink in the course of the two […]
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How to Ace Your Private Equity Interviews

“Dear Andrew, Thank you very much for your recent application to the Texas-Pacific Group. Your resume and glowing recommendation from your MD were both somewhat impressive. We applaud your efforts to transition from Banking into Private Equity, it is definitely the right move right now. We were considering extending you an offer, actually, but upon […]
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Private Equity Resumes

NOTE: While this article is still relevant and has great information, if you’re interested in private equity resumes you should review the following template and video tutorial to see exactly how to write one: Investment Banker Resume Template “I really enjoy it,” he says, folding his arms and lying back in his chair with a […]
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