by Brian DeChesare Comments (93)

Private Equity Case Studies in 3,017 Words

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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 how to tackle the case study – a critical part of most buy-side interviews.

Note that these “case studies” are completely different from the “case interviews” you get in management consulting (not that I would even waste space on consultants here, but just to clarify…).


Although I labeled these “private equity case studies” above, you’ll encounter them in almost every buy-side interview, from mega-funds to tiny 4-person firms to everything in between.

Not all hedge funds do them, but any fund that does some long-term investing (as opposed to effectively day-trading) will usually make you complete some type of case study as part of the interview process.

Sometimes they’re formal and sometimes they’re informal, but they’re always important – if you screw yours up, you probably won’t be moving onto the next round or getting an offer.


No matter your profile or previous background, you’ll encounter case studies if you’re trying to move into private equity (see: our private equity overview).

So even if you’re a consultant or you’re moving in from a different field altogether, you will still have to complete case studies.

No one ever says, “Oh, well you you didn’t do much modeling so we can just skip that part of the interview.”

Instead, they assume that you know how to do it and then weed out people who don’t.

Even if you are applying to PE firms straight out of undergrad, or you’re applying as an intern, you’re still likely to get case studies – multiple friends who did this had case studies pretty much everywhere.

The only exception here is senior-level hires – but then, if you’re reading this right now you’re probably not interviewing for Partner-level positions…


The case study is designed to answer 1 simple question: “Should we invest in this company?”

The firm could ask you to complete the case study in a couple different ways:

  1. Most Common: You get materials on the company they want you to analyze (financial statements, 5-10 page document describing it, maybe some outside research) and you have anywhere from a few days to a week to complete a short presentation.
  2. Part of the Interview: Some places will make the case study a part of the interview itself – they might give you basic information on the company and then give you 2-3 hours to do your work and present to them immediately afterward. More common at mega-funds.
  3. Just the LBO Model: This is less common, but they could also give you 30 minutes to create a “simple” LBO model of a company just to verify that you actually know how to do this.

This article will focus mostly on #1 and #2, since #3 is just a sub-set of those.

Hedge funds are less “formal” than PE firms if they ask you to do a case study at all, and in other fields like corporate development and venture capital you’ll either have more of an informal case study, or you won’t do one at all.

Case Study Ingredients

At the bare minimum, you’ll usually get some type of Word document describing the company in question (called an “Information Memorandum” (IM) or “Offering Memorandum” (OM) or “Executive Summary” in banker terminology).

It might be short (10 pages or less) or it might be quite long – dozens or even 100+ pages. If you’re analyzing a public company, they might just point you to the 10-K or 10-Q (annual report and quarterly report, respectively) instead.

It’s rare to get extremely detailed operating models because you don’t have time to go into pages of detail. Outside research is similarly rare.

The firm usually won’t give you guidance on how to value the company or how to build your models, but that’s for an entirely different reason: they want you to figure it out.

Structure: Simple FTW!

Simplicity is the most important word for your case study.

If they don’t give you a structure to adhere to, I would recommend the following:

  1. 1 Summary slide in the beginning.
  2. 2-3 Qualitative slides discussing the market, management, and anything unique to the deal.
  3. 3-4 Quantitative slides that go into the appropriate valuation, and what kind of returns the firm can expect.
  4. 1 Conclusion slide summing up everything and giving a yes/no investment decision.

Yes, for actual portfolio companies (in PE) and clients (in banking) your presentations and models will be more complex, but you do those over months and years.

Slide Structure

Have a maximum of 3 or 4 (large) bullet points on each slide – and if you’re showing graphs or the output of valuations or your LBO model, don’t squeeze 25 different things on one page. Keep it to a max of 3-4 different charts or graphs per slide (roughly 1 per quadrant) or it gets very confusing.

Rather than trying to fit a huge mass of text on each slide – as you might do in pitch books – you want to focus on the main points only because you’re going to present live to your interviewer(s) later on.

Put too much text in your presentation and the interviewers will focus on the text rather than what you’re saying.

Summary Slide

Do the following in 3-4 major bullets:

  • Do we invest in this company? Yes or no – no “maybes” or “conditional upon” statements – they want a decision one way or the other.
  • Support your decision with major points: Give 1-2 bullets to support your decision, focusing on the major items – not tiny details that don’t matter.
  • Hedge your decision by pointing out the key investment risk: No investment is perfect, and everything has risks associated with it – point out the major 1 or 2 risks that are apparent with your company right here.

This may sound stupid to you, but a Partner at a middle market PE firm once told me that over half the interviewees failed to make a decision one way or another in their case studies.

Here’s an example of what you might write in your summary slide if we were considering the buyout of Harrah’s casino chain back in 2006:

  • Harrah’s is a compelling investment that could generate a 5-year IRR of 15-20% with reasonable assumptions
  • Supported by strong market fundamentals, success in recent international expansion, and healthy cash flow
  • Current public market valuation under-values company by approximately 10%, creating solid investment opportunity
  • Key investment risk is strength of US economy and risk of consumer spending falling

Yes, I realize this deal was a great example of an investment gone horribly wrong once the casino industry imploded, but these points are for illustrative purposes.

Qualitative Slides

These slides are highly dependent on the company you’re analyzing – at a minimum, though, you need to think about the following:

  • Market: Is this an industry that’s growing? Will it grow more quickly/slowly in future years? Do you see positive or negative trends due to technology / regulations / competitors? Where does this company stand next to the competition?
  • Competition: How does this company fare against its competitors? Does it have some type of unique advantage that others can’t replicate? What about the barriers to entry?
  • Growth Opportunities: How quickly can the company grow in the future? Is there any “low hanging fruit” or room to easily win more customers / revenue in the future? Do you expect it to grow faster or slower than the market as a whole?
  • Risks: Every investment carries with it risks – are the key risks here related to the market, or the economy as a whole? To the competition? To government regulations? And is there any way of mitigating these risks?
  • Other: If there’s anything especially notable about the management team, the products/services or other items unique to the deal, you can mention them as well – but stay away from saying, “The CEO is great!” because you have no way of knowing that.

Focus on the first 4 items because those are the main ones that impact your investment decision.

Quantitative Slides

These slides should address valuation and expected returns.

The biggest mistake you can make is going into an unnecessary level of detail by doing any of the following:

  1. Spending hours and hours searching for EBITDA add-backs and adjustments for each company in their filings.
  2. Spending hours debating which pub comps and transaction comps you should be using.
  3. Creating a detailed LBO model that handles 500 different cases and also adjusts perfectly for items that no one cares about.

No one is going to look at how you came up with these numbers, so keep it simple and use Capital IQ (or whatever information service you use) to gather the data automatically.

A sample structure for this section might look like:

  • Valuation Overview: How much is this company worth, and what methodologies are you basing it on? This is where your “football field” chart goes.
  • Valuation Detail: Here you can show the pub comps and transaction comps you picked, along with your DCF output. Depending on the company and situation, you may be using different or additional methodologies as well – this is most common for real estate, energy, and financial services.
  • LBO Model Output: Don’t go into a ton of detail here – just show your assumptions and the output of the model under a range of sensitivities (even though this is a simplified model, it’s still important to show sensitivity tables on the IRR and it takes 2 seconds to add).

Depending on how much output you have, these sections could comprise anywhere between 3 and 4 slides. Resist the temptation to write 20 slide chock-full of numbers – this isn’t banking.


Do a simple Capital IQ search for companies in the same industry with revenue or market caps in the same range, and if you know anyone at the relevant industry group at your firm, request that information from them.

If you’re not in banking and/or you don’t have Capital IQ access, this section will be more difficult to complete – try to get a friend who has access to send you login information, or get the information directly from friends with access.

And if you absolutely can’t get access or you are under extreme time pressure (it’s an “on the spot” case study), you can skip parts of this and just show a DCF (or DDM if it’s a financial company, etc.) to support your valuation.

You definitely need to give some indication of value here – but if you don’t have or can’t get access to all the information you need, focus on what you can do (e.g. DCF in place of public/transaction comps).

LBO Models

Forget about all the complex LBO models you’ve built: you want to make this as simple as possible. I’ve already written at length about what a PE interview LBO model needs to include in the article on private equity interviews, but just to recap some of that here:

  1. Assumptions – Purchase/Exit EBITDA multiples, leverage, growth, and profitability.
  2. Sources & Uses – How much debt / equity you’re using, and then how much of that is being spent on acquiring the company vs. transaction fees / paying off debt.
  3. Simple Income Statement / Cash Flow Statement / Debt Schedule – The Balance Sheet is not necessary if you think about it, so I would only include it if they specifically ask for it, or you need it because of an unusual investment scenario. Excluding the Balance Sheet saves you time without detracting much from your model.
  4. Returns & Sensitivities – Do a simple IRR calculation and show IRR over a range of purchase/exit multiples and your other assumptions.

Forget about multiple tranches of debt, PIK, PP&E schedules, asset write-ups, book/cash tax reconciliations, management option pools, and focus on the bare minimum.

You may have to stray from this if your company has NOLs (Net Operating Losses) and anything unusual that needs to be taken into account (Noncontrolling Interests, investments recorded under the equity method of accounting, pending divestitures etc.) but you should still focus on what you need rather than what looks cool.

The LBO modeling course in Breaking Into Wall Street covers the type of model that you could use for PE interviews.

Conclusions Slide

This should not be much different from your Summary Slide in the beginning – just re-state what you had there in different words, and perhaps add more detail.

Instead of just making a yes/no investment decision, for example, you can also specify here at what price level you’d invest, either in dollars per share (public companies) or as a lump sum (private companies / divestitures).

You may also want to go into more detail on what can be done to mitigate the risks you brought up here or on the Intro slide.


Reading all this, you might be wondering, “But wait – how do I actually make an investment decision?”

And that tells you exactly why investors don’t have it easy: it’s never a clear-cut decision. But remember that your actual yes/no decision doesn’t really matter that much – what matter is how you back it up and support it with your work.

Making investment decision goes way beyond the scope of this article, but here are a few guidelines:

  • The numbers matter, but mostly for initially testing whether or not something could work – if a company is already over-valued by 50%, for example, chances are it will be a bad investment. If your LBO model never shows the IRR going above 10% even with crazily optimistic assumptions, it’s also a bad idea.
  • Your decision should ultimately come down to qualitative factors, with the valuation and returns you calculated to be used as support.

Your support shouldn’t be “We should invest in this company because it’s under-valued by 10%.”

You want to say, “We should invest in this company because it’s set to grow faster than the overall market, it’s light-years ahead of its competition, and on top of all that we could get a 20% IRR even with very conservative assumptions.”

So, What Matters?

Anyone reviewing your case study will be most concerned with your thought process – unlike banking, formatting and small details don’t matter much.

Your communication skills are more important than your knowledge of finance for these case study exercises – if you can’t explain your points simply and reach a solid conclusion, you won’t get an offer.

So don’t get preoccupied with minutiae – focus on your investment thesis and the major reasons you’re recommending or not recommending an investment.

Factors Outside the Slides

Your presentation style, the number of people watching, and how much time you’re given can also come into play, but it’s very difficult to generalize here because each firm does it differently.

You might present to just 1 interviewer, or it might be to all Partners at the firm – in which case you better know your stuff.

A lot of this comes down to public speaking, which again is beyond the scope of this article – but here are a few guidelines I’ve followed when giving speeches and making presentations:

  • Have some notes with you, but don’t write down word-for-word what you’re going to say.
  • Speak twice as slowly as you normally would and look at different people in your “audience” every few seconds (only applicable if you are presenting to multiple people, of course).
  • Always practice beforehand, even if you only have 15 minutes – just practice running through it in front of the mirror and going through all your points, without reading anything word-for-word.

How Much It Matters

The case study certainly weighs in heavily, though it’s not the only factor in private equity interviews – top firms usually have many, many rounds of interviews, and even smaller and middle-market firms can take weeks or months to make a decision, simply because they can afford to be very selective about who they hire.

I would compare a case study in private equity interviews to technical questions in investment banking interviews: doing a poor job can kill your chances, but being a superstar won’t necessarily help you. Case studies are more of a way to weed out people than anything else.

As with any other type of interview, your success comes down to “fit” questions and your “story” after you’ve cleared the technical hurdles – if everyone likes you and is confident you’d do well, you have a good shot at getting an offer.

Also note that while private equity interviews are very competitive, you would be mistaken to overestimate the competition.

Most candidates have terrible “stories” and also have no idea why they actually want to do anything in life – from getting into investment banking or consulting to moving into private equity.

The last thing a PE firm wants to see is yet another person who’s trying to get in because they heard it was cool, because all their friends were doing it, or because they want to make a lot of money and have no idea how else to do it.

So if you make sure your “story” is solid, come across as a likable person, and do your case study reasonably well, you stand a good shot at getting an offer no matter how “competitive” it is.

No, I Don’t Have Any Sample Case Studies and I Don’t Have a Guide (Yet)

Before anyone asks: no, I don’t have any sample case studies because I lost all my documents from banking.

If you want to “practice,” I would suggest getting a CIM or OM on a company you don’t know well and running through the exercise above – or just pick a random public company and go through their filings.

I receive many questions on a PE interview guide, but again I don’t have anything at the moment – PE interviews are less about specific technical questions (except at mega-funds) and more about your deal / client experience and the case study. If I were to create such a guide, it would be mostly example-based and next year is the earliest it would be out.

But hey, until then you have this article and everything else here on private equity interviews, private equity resumes, and how to get a private equity job in the first place.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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Read below or Add a comment

  1. Hi Brian. I have a 3 hour case study followed by a 30 minute debrief with a Canadian pension fund for Investment Analyst in Private Capital. It is a position for recent graduates. Could you tell me what to expect? Do you think I’ll be expected to know how to create an LBO model?

    1. It will probably be a 3-statement model or LBO model, which is really just a 3-statement model with a debt schedule and returns calculations added. Probably fairly structured with instructions for the assumptions if it’s a 3-hour case study.

  2. Hey Brian – thanks for this. This helps a lot.

    I have a second round case study at a PE firm. I get 2 hours for the case study but dont have details beyond that. 2 hours seems to short to put a presentation together, I was thinking it’d mostly likely be a LBO model where I get it partially completed and I need to finish it or I get some basic information and need to make an investment recommendation? Am I missing anything there?

    1. Yes, it will probably be a partially completed LBO model or another relatively simple LBO model if you have to do it from scratch. Unlikely to include a full investment recommendation, but maybe a few questions or just a “yes/no and justify” question.

  3. Brian,

    I know it’s not common in Case Studies, but could you explain the concept of management option pools and how they work?


    1. Options pools are granted to management to incentivize them to perform well. Usually, management receives a small percentage of the company’s equity at the equity purchase price in the deal (~5% maybe), and then if the exit equity value exceeds that entry equity value, management can exercise their options to receive cash proceeds corresponding to the same small percentage of the company’s exit equity value.

      What makes it tricky is that you also have to factor in the amount management pays to exercise their options, which will effectively increase the exit equity value (since it boosts the company’s Total Assets and shareholders are responsible). So it’s not exactly X% of the Exit Equity Value that goes to management.

  4. Avatar
    Abhishek Agarwal

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us all this while.
    I would be grateful if you could pls suggest where can i get some case studies alogn with with solutions/excel models for PE case study rounds (LBO models).
    Would be very very helpful if you could pls suggest.
    Thanks a lot

    1. We have examples in our courses (mainly the Interview Guide for shorter/more time-pressured examples). A few are available on this site if you do a search.

  5. Hey Brian,

    Great stuff as always. In a situation where a PE firm (firm is in its first fund, former KKR VP is leading the recruiting process) gives you a case study to be done over a weekend, would you do a full blown DCF along with the comps and pre-acqs?

    A DCF doesn’t much make sense to me because it will typically give a higher valuation than an LBO, but do firms typically want to see this? I liked how you used the comps and pre-aqs since it was straight forward and let the focus be on other more important areas.

    Also, given that there is more time than an in-person test, would you do more than just a base case and 1 downside case? Again, to me an upside case doesn’t seem necessary since you’re more worried about what could go wrong rather than what could go even better.

    I am thinking most of the time should be spent on the analysis of the number/speaking about the deal but want to make sure the valuation side doesn’t fall short of expectations.


    1. Simplify… some valuation is good but you don’t need to go in-depth for a short, time-pressured case study. An upside case could still be useful if the numbers are so-so in the Base Case. Also, this article is really old and not that good and needs to be updated… please see the more recent coverage of PE recruiting and case studies (and the Dell example etc.).

  6. Hi Brian, this is a great article, thanks a lot!

    I have an upcoming 3rd Round at a European PE Firm (invests in EV £200m-£1.5bn). I will be given 4 hours to look through a CIM, produce a Valuation + Presentation about whether to invest in the company…

    In terms of valuation, should I only build an LBO? Or should I be building a DCF as well?

    Also, what layout would you suggest for the powerpoint presentation? (i saw your 20pg template – but this is obviously too detailed to recreate in 4 hours)

    1. Both

      Just use a 5 or 10-page template and simplify

  7. This is a very helpful article. Thank you. I have a 3rd round PE interview next week with a modeling test and writing sample. Can I expect to be able to use any outside resources? Do you think they will give me a template or will I be working from scratch? I was told the interview will be 3-4 hours and I need to bring a laptop.

    1. Usually, you are not allowed to use outside resources. 3-4 hour tests typically give you a template to complete, but if not, just simplify and skip the formatting.

  8. Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for info about tyis
    suibject for ages and yours iis the best I’ve found outt till now.

    But, what about the conclusion? Are you positive in regards to the source?

    1. ???? What is your question?

  9. Hey thanks for posting this article, it has guided me in the right direction! I have a 2nd round middle market PE interview coming up very soon. Its going to deal with portfolio allocation, so I really won’t get any LBO type questions. My background is in consulting and I mentioned in round 1 with the MD of the group that my modeling skills are not super, but I can put something together. He told me there will be a case on allocation and to brush up on my statistics.

    I’m really not sure what to do here. I have been watching videos on modeling variance, co variance, efficient frontier, beta, etc. Can you give me some advice to help me to stop freaking out. I want to have a good shot at this position. Its a beast of a second round 5.5 hours…

    1. Sorry, I’m not really sure as we don’t cover portfolio allocation. I would look at the videos in the Bionic Turtle YouTube channel and see if they help.

  10. ” If I were to create such a guide, it would be mostly example-based and next year is the earliest it would be out.”

    Sorry, as this article is not dated, may I know when was this written in and when is the PE guide coming out? Thanks!

    1. This article was written a long time ago, but there is a small chance that we may still release a PE guide next year (2015). I say “small” because 90% of the guide is already covered by our modeling courses, bonus case studies, and IB interview guide…. so I don’t feel it would be particularly useful.

  11. Is it likely that we will encounter a case study question in an undergraduate application process? For example, in a BlackRock Alternatives interview?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think this may come up because case studies are applicable to IBs, PE and HFs.

  12. Avatar
    (Im)patient one

    Hey M&I,

    I’m currently working in transaction advisory in one of the Big4s in India and recently got a call from a direct secondary fund in Hong Kong for an Analyst role. Two questions primarily:

    1. I’m at a loss to understand the timelines. After a first round telephonic in the second week of Feb they said they’re gonna send a case study over the weekend and then there’ll be partner round(s). It’s been six weekends and every couple of weeks I do follow up over mail / call. Last time the guy mentioned that he is being a little lax and will surely have it sent the following weekend. And two weekends have passed after that.

    Is this normal turnaround time for a small boutique – ~ $500m – 6-7 member team? I feel there is a line between showing interest and following-up and annoying, which I certainly don’t want to.

    2. Are direct secondaries on a more or less equal footing to a regular PE fund, since the investment process / the work is pretty much the same (as opposed to say fund-of-funds)?

    Would appreciate your thoughts. And great articles as usual. Have helped a lot truly.

    Best wishes!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your support!
      1. Yes it happens more often than you think especially because it is a boutique and they (1) may not have the resources to interview/sort out the hiring process during this time, (2) may have temporarily put hiring on hold, (3) have been too busy to focus on the hiring process, (4) one member didn’t communicate to the team regarding your application/contact. While it is reasonable to assume that the boutique may have lost interest in your application for whatever reason I suggested earlier (hiring needs, staff turnover, etc), I would suggest you to follow up with the firm again if you haven’t already done so last week to show your interest in the firm to avoid miscommunication/assumptions on your end.
      2. I’d agree with you though it also depends on the fund.

    2. Hi Patient One,

      I am Big 4 transaction (Lead advisory) team guy with 5 M&A deals experience and other transaction/strategy projects experience from India. I am trying to get in PE in next 2-4 months. I wish to connect with you to know about your story and any geography specific tips to get into PE.

      @M&I team
      I understand the this post is quite old, hence can you assist me in connecting with him via his contacts details.

  13. Hi M&I Brian!

    Thanks for the great post. I’ve got a marathon day of PE interviews approaching and it’s for secondaries.
    The case study is only 1 hour long. What do you think I should focus on in my preparation & what kind of formulas/equations should I cover (secondaries direct investing but also fund of funds- so basically picking managers). I have been in direct investing so I have no clue how different this will look?!
    Please help! :) K

    1. I would take a look at the articles on PE funds of funds on the site – there’s a description of case studies there:

  14. Hi M&I Brian!

    Thanks for the great post. I’ve got a marathon day of PE interviews approaching and it’s for secondaries.
    The case study is only 1 hour long. What do you think I should focus on in my preparation & what kind of formulas/equations should I cover (secondaries direct investing but also fund of funds- so basically picking managers). I have been in direct investing so I have no clue how different this will look?!
    Please help!
    :) k

  15. Dear M&I

    I have a presentation/case study for my Equity Research interview on thu. I however only get 45 min of prep time to prepare the presentation. I was wondering what are the most crucial points that I have to look out for


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1) Read up on the markets and be able to talk about a recent trend.
      2) In preparation for the interview, I’d suggest you to pick a stock you would buy and be able to talk in-depth about it (make a pitch with prep time of 45 minutes). Pls address why you like it and why you think the stock will appreciate (in terms of its valuation, position in industry, industry growth, company specific growth, etc)
      3) Outside of the case study, be able to talk about why you want ER and how you can add value (i.e. your passion in picking stocks, your view on the markets, your view on various investment philosophies, which sector you are more interested and why, and how your analytical and sales skills can add value)

  16. Avatar


    I am in my sophomore year of high school ( year 10 in Australia) and want to get into investment banking. I have started networking but I’m wondering if you could give me an overview of all the technical questions, pitching, case study etc information you would be expected to know for a summer internship. I am really interested, I just want an idea of where I should focus my interest.

  17. Many thanks M&I, great article!

    I have a PE specific question (about Blackstone), where I throught that you might know more about.

    Typically if you move over to PE after your 2-year BB analyst stint, youn would become a pre-MBA associate (at least at the likes of KKR, Carlyle, Apax). So the typcial career path would like like the following (pls correct me if I am wrong)

    2 years IBD –> 2 years Pre-MBA Associate at PE firm –> MBA –> Associate at PE firm

    However, for Blackstone, I know they have a 3-4 year Analyst program, but hire IBD Analysts as laterals as well. What title/position would those guys then get? 2nd/3rd year Analyst? Pre-MBA Associate?

    Pure BX track:
    3-4 years PE analyst –> MBA –> Associate

    IBD to BX track
    2 years IBD –> 2nd/3rd year PE analyst (?) –> MBA –> Associate

    Thus, is the 2nd/3rd year BX PE Analyst comparable (both pay, responsibilities etc.) to a pre-MBA Associate at other funds?

    Many thanks for your thoughts

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think readers who have worked at Blackstone may be better suited to answer your question. I’d say similar but there would def be differences

  18. This may be a silly question but if you are given a case study on the spot (in a private equity interview), are you allowed to use a calculator? Should you just assume no? Also, are there some standard assumptions to make that will make the mental math easier? For example, calculating returns on LBO.


    1. You can usually use a calculator if it’s a more involved case study, but you should be able to approximate returns in your head based on the rules of thumb (e.g. if you know 3-year and 5-year IRRs for doubling and tripling your money).

  19. Hi,

    I realize this post is for PE, but if an IB would require a short case study presentation of any deal of our own choice, what type of deal would you recommend choosing? (eg. made by the IB) And what other recommendations would you make on how to go about it?

    Thanks you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on your region. I’d choose a deal you’re interested in and can talk about eloquently. I don’t think there’s a set formula

      Recommendations – depends on the deal

  20. But is it even worth to work as an assistant financial controller if your long term goal is to be an investor? I guess my question is , how probable is it to go from middle to front office in PE? In the BB i would be joining the IBD department in M&A, ECM or leveraged finance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It is probable, you’ll have to network intensively and demonstrate your knowledge in investing (for PE front office role). It would be ideal if you could actually source investments too

  21. Hey Brian ,

    Thanks for the great information posted on this site. Helped me out a lot!
    I m currently in a dillema and thought your experience could help me out.
    My situation: Graduate from LSE looking to work in Finance . I haven’t been networking enough and have applied online for IB jobs( i know, i know :)) Have been invited for an assessment centre for a Bulge Bracket firm last friday , and still waiting for their response. My long term goal is to work in PE. Have rceived an offer to intern for a 1 year in a PE in Paris but as an assisstant Financial controller. Some people told me that I will learn a lot and could possibly land a intern position as an investor afterwards while other say it is worthless for me if I want to be a professional Investor later on. what do you think? I also imagine that I should accept the Bulge Bracket offer over the PE internship offer ? Thank you very much

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on what you will be doing at the BB. You haven’t rec’d the offer from the BB yet have you? If you haven’t, I’d hold on to the PE offer for now – you can tell them that you need some more time before you respond.

  22. SO, I am doing a Private Equity LBO case study and I do have access to capital IQ.

    I’m trying to figure out how to pick an appropriate purchase multiple for our company. What I’ve been told is that I should look for other similar LBOs in the industry and see what purchase multiples they have used.

    Unfortunately I have had an extremely hard time finding that information. How can I find the EBITDA multiples that were used in other LBOs???

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Capital IQ shd do the job. Perhaps you cld try Dealogic & Factset? Don’t have access to those databases myself so can’t help you out. Your contacts in PE could also pull up some data for you too

  23. yet another truly great post…

    I have on the analysis one will present in the Qualitative Slides (Market, Competition, Growth Opportunities, Risks, Mgmt, …): on what will you base your analysis during a case study? I mean, you don’t have access to i-net to search the net for competitors, market-trends, … do you?, and I’m guessing most of this qualitative stuff will not deductable from the info memorandum or the 10-K, right? Should you “just” make some (realistic) assumptions and stick with them along your presentation, or is there another way how to tackle this?

    Many thanks for your reply and for the great post!

    1. Look at equity research… TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, etc. provide reports for free. Or just luck at industry publications. Sometimes PE firms also give you information

      1. Avatar
        Michael Yang


        I was trying to find some equity research reports for a particular firm that I am analysing for a case study. Can you recommend some sources where equity research reports are available for free?

        Thank you for your time!!

        1. Avatar
          Michael Yang

          Thank you

        2. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I’d suggest you to find out an equity research analyst’s name, and then search his/her name + keywords such as “report” online. Some reports, which maybe dated, may come up.

  24. Thank you for the incredibly helpful post.

    Should I be looking at this differently if I’m doing the case study for a hedge fund? I know that not showing the LBO component is a no-brainer, but I’m not 100% sure if the flow / focus of the presentation should be any different.

    1. Not really, for HFs the structure can be similar. And you might even make an argument for including the LBO depending on the type of fund it is. But in general they will focus more on valuation and whether or not it’s a good long/short idea depending on the numbers.

  25. Hi Brian,

    First of all thank you so much for all those EXTREMELY helpful emails you have been sending out !!

    I have a few questions,

    From what I have read here, it seems very likely that PE firms love to recruit from IBD analyst right? since the work is very similar. But I also heard that PE actually loves to recruit wealth management people than IBD? Because wealth management is harder to get in than IBD, that’s why a lot of people are trying to get in IBD than wealth management? Because I am working for a wealth management firm right now, so I have this teeny tiny hope that the above might be true…..

    Also, from what I have read here, it seams impossible for an undergraduate student, who has no experience in IBD, will get a PE offer, right?

    Thanks !!

    1. Um no, wealth management is easier to get into than IB. PE firms recruit maybe like 0.000000000000001% from wealth management because there is 0 skill set overlap.

  26. Hello Brian,

    I have an interview next week and will also have a case study. Specifically, I need to dissect and analyze an asset(whether that be equities, bonds, currencies, derivatives…). I am wondering what to expect to answer this kind of type interviews and how to prepare.

    Thanks so much and a great weekend.

    1. It’s very similar to what is shown here… is it a good investment? Why or why not? What are the key positives and negatives, and how can you overcome the negatives? And then show some numbers to back up your calculations. I am not an expert on bonds/currencies/derivatives so don’t know the specific math you would use there, but the basic idea is the same as in the tutorial above.

  27. Hi.. I am currently working in a PE FoF in india. what are the chances of moving in PE side in a location like singapore??

    1. It’s usually difficult to move from a FoF to normal PE, so chances are not great.

  28. Hello,

    I have a mega-fund interview next week and was wondering if you could send me some examples of LBO modeling – coming from consulting background o not much of luck to LBO modeling.


    1. If you look on the BIWS course listing page ( there are a few example models in the sample free videos

  29. Hello
    I am facing a case study very soon.
    I want to thank you for your 3017 words. Very informative
    But allow me to ask you the difference between a “Executive Summary” slide at the beginning of the presentation and an “investment decision” slide at the end.
    I really dont understand how to make a clear cut between them in terms of the context of those slides

    1. Include more detail and specifics on numbers – returns, investment ranges, etc. in the final slide… its just like writing a paper and the Introduction / Conclusion being similar

  30. Hi,

    This article is extremely helpful as I am having a case interview next week. I’m still not in banking yet, but I’m interviewing for my school’s finance case team.

    Anyway, I haven’t actually seen a real LBO myself, and was wondering if you could send me some for practice.


  31. Avatar
    L Bo Room

    The lifestyle on the buyside (specifically PE vs. IB) is generally better because of the type of work required and the absence of facetime hours. Bankers are constantly on call and must be responsive to their clients. PE guys must be responsive to the deliverables required by the particular part of the deal cycle (and of course to their LPs).

    My experience has been PE work is done on a deliverables basis (update models, draft presentations, etc) vs. IB is done a pure volume of hours basis as bankers have a lot of downtime while waiting for comments from VPs/MDs and clients.

    Buyside work is generally more intellectually stimulating, complex and diverse.

    1. It also depends what kind of firm you’re at… go to KKR or Blackstone and you’ll be pulling banker hours all over again.

      There’s some truth to PE work being “better” but I think it’s a stretch to call anything in finance “intellectually stimulating” – once you’ve done a few deals, the learning curve flattens out and it becomes routine.

  32. Hi,

    I spent 6 months in an internship at the Italian office of a bulge bracket bank;even though they would, they weren’t able to make me an offer for a full-time position, because of the well-known market conditions.
    My staffer told me I was an overperformer, and all the people I worked with had a very well opinion of me; for this reason he told me they will act as “sponsors” with the companies I will apply to.

    – What can I expect from this “sponsorship”? How shall I leverage it?
    – Considered that my GPA is a lot below average, will this fact penalize my applications to investment banks/PE?
    – Do banks/PE funds see an internship in Italy as less prestigious than one in the UK/US? How difficult is to obtain a Visa status to work in the US?
    – How many (approx) analysts does Blackstone hire in its M&A advisory group? And in its PE business?
    – What about GS merchant banking/PE? Do you think it’s more difficult to join this division than the IBD?

    1. 1. I would just ask her directly: “Can you refer me to anyone you know who might be hiring?” Be very direct and ask for specific referrals and figure out which groups/banks he/she knows well.

      2. Yes, but solid work experience can make up for this.

      3. Yes, they do view at as less prestigious. Obtaining US Visa status is very, very difficult without sponsorship – the country’s immigration policies are not very friendly.

      4. I don’t know offhand – probably less than 10 each year in each.

      5. It’s probably easier than IBD, but not by much.

  33. Hey, I have a friend who used to be in private equity and this is his story. He worked in Mumbai as a Private Equity associate and was doing very well in the good old days. He moved up the ranks until he was making the investment decisions. However, the market soon went in a downward spiral and he felt more pressured than ever to make good investments. However, one of his deals went wrong. Fortunately, the firm decided to give him a second chance but he screwed that up as well. And because the world of private equity is so small, everyone heard about his bad reputation and now that field is completely closed off because no one is willing to hire him. Is it very easy to screw up as badly as he did and is it common? Personally, I have plans to stay in private equity for as long as I can. Do you think this is feasible or will I just eventually end up like him?

    1. Interesting question – it’s very possible and that is a big risk even in banking if you happen to screw up. I wouldn’t say the chances are “good” but you could easily get locked out of any of these fields if you mess up – the higher the potential reward, the higher the risk.

      1. Once associates reach the partner level, do the hours become a lot better and do they travel a lot? How many years will it take an associate to get to the partner level. If the hours don’t get better, what are common exit oppurtunities for them so that they can have a better work-life balance? (besides starting their own fund)

        1. Partners generally still work at least 60 hours a week and travel often to check on investments, etc.

          Usually takes 5-10 years to get there depending on the fund and whether or not they promote directly.

          Honestly if you want a work-life balance, you can’t be in any type of front-office finance role – you’re always going to have more work than life. I imagine if you got bored you could just move to a normal company though.

          Keep in mind, though, that even at normal companies as you move up the ladder the hours get longer.

          The ultimate solution, of course, being to start a website for teaching people about finance so you don’t have to do that much work and can do everything remotely. :)

          1. Avatar

            hahaha love the last line

  34. Avatar
    IB wanna B

    Hey so I’ve never actually worked in IB or PE, but I’ve heard that once you switch into the buy-side your life improves dramatically. Gorgeous women will rip your suit off of you as you walk down the streets, super models will ask for you number at every corner,and cab drivers will treat you like a king. So how do you handle it all?

    Also, how come Morgan Stanley didn’t do as well as JPM and Goldman?


    1. I’m assuming that’s a joke. You work 100 hours per week at the top funds, and it’s no better than banking. At some smaller firms you might be better off than in banking, but no one even knows what private equity is in the outside world so models certainly don’t care about it.

      I never read the news (waste of time) so I haven’t read anything about earnings, but I’m assuming MS simply took less risk than JPM / Goldman and therefore did not profit as much.

      1. Let’s be realistic here. There are a lot of hot models in NYC. These girls want guys of high status, wealth, etc. They know they can find them in the meatpacking district clubs like Marquee, Cain, and Bungalow 8. Being a banker or PE/HF guy can put you in the running for these girls, assuming you’re decently good looking already.

        I feel like I’ll be able to pull some if I’m a banker next year, with the few nights I’m actually able to go out.

        1. Well, keep us updated on how it goes.

          I have a feeling the “models” will probably want 35-year old MDs with $10 million in the bank as opposed to a 22-year old recent graduate, but hey you never know.

      2. Avatar
        1-year analyst

        But then what’s the point of switching into PE?
        Where can we get our models?

        1. I have tons of models, just let me know whether you prefer LBO, merger, valuation, etc.

          1. interesting thread, have a few PE case studies from my school days somewhere around. would be interested to look at your models, particularly mergers and acquisition, valuation is of course also interesting.
            you can find me on linkedin
            michael iliste v roop

          2. Hi M&I,

            Your site really has offered me a lot of useful information. Am just trying to get started on PE and already one firm was interested in offering me an internship. Problem is my modelling background is on very shaky ground. If you wouldn’t mind could you forward LBO models.

            Thank you.

          3. Feel free to check out some of the samples on BIWS.

          4. Hi all,

            I’d like to know if any of you guys has feasibility analysis case studies for land development, mixed use or home building or condominium development.

            I have to meet with a developer in the near year and prove through a case study that I have the skills to do the financial analyst job posting.


          5. Hi all,

            I’d like to know if any of you guys has feasibility analysis case studies for land development, mixed use, home building, or condominium development?

            I have to meet with a developer in the near year (2016) and prove through a case study that I have the skills to do the financial analyst job posting.


        2. Avatar
          1-year analyst

          I would prefer the “models” referred to by IB-Wanna-B and Intern…

  35. hey,

    A question a bit off topic but recently when Morgan Stanley released its quarterly earnings, their CFO gave an interview and pointed out that the traders didn’t take as much risk as the traders did in Goldman Sachs. Why do you think this was the case? What did goldman spot that morgan didn’t? I’m a bit perplexed that Morgan Stanley didn’t match Goldman’s earnings. Care to explain? Thanks.

    1. They simply chose to be more cautious than GS because they were afraid of another financial meltdown similar to Sep. 2008 – whereas Goldman reasoned that things were improving and they could take more risk now, especially with TARP being repaid and all.

  36. Great Article! Case studies are all we do in my private equity class. Our professor grades us similarly to how the interviewers might, he doesn’t care what our opinion is (yes, no, or maybe) all he wants us to have is a solid reasoning behind our opinion.

    I have a bunch of my case studies from Harvard Business School, they are they best because they give you all the information you need to form an opinion, but don’t give you the answer so you can figure it out by yourself.

    I don’t think I can post them here due to copyright reasons. You can buy them online from the Harvard publishing website (I think they are $7 a case).

    1. Thanks for the tip. Yeah, the HBS ones are good though I think they’re a bit different from the ones you typically get in PE interviews, probably the closest you can get without being in the industry though.

    2. Great resource! Thanks a bunch!

    3. can you please provide the case study name or link to HBS, i will download from there.


      1. Honestly I don’t think HBS has “case studies” in the sense of what was discussed here – the closest you can find are discussions of actual PE deals, which are not bad to review but not really the same… example right here:

  37. Great Post As Always! Very Informative.

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