Continuing with yesterday’s look at private equity jobs, today I thought we’d take a brief look at the private equity senior associate position. Click here if you missed our earlier look at the Private Equity Associate Position.
A private equity senior associate is an employee at a private equity firm responsible for managing parts of a deal including negotiations and executing the deal, as well as helping with managing the portfolio company once the deal is completed. Unlike junior associates or analysts, a senior associate has more input on the process of a private equity investment and will likely be one of the top people involved on a deal. For more private equity career training, see our private equity training program.
Private Equity Senior Associate Career Path
What separates a senior associate from a junior associate is often education and experience. A junior associate may have only a couple of years of experience in finance and lack an MBA. A senior associate at a private equity firm, on the other hand, will have usually at least five years of work experience with at least some of those years spent in private equity and the rest in a related field like investment banking.
As far as education, most senior associates have an MBA or equivalent post-graduate degree. These recent MBA-graduates often come from the highest-ranked business schools like Wharton or Harvard Business School. While it is not a requirement to have graduated from one of the top-tier schools, private equity firms tend to recruit from these schools because of the program’s rigorous coursework and selective screening process.
A senior associate at a private equity firm can expect to be one of the top people working on a deal usually under the executive team. The senior associate might be responsible for a team or analysts or junior associates and thus have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills and make the case for promotion to a more senior management position within the firm. Senior associates have a hand in negotiating terms of a deal and overseeing the execution of the deal. As state previously, a senior associate might take up a role within a portfolio company, ensuring that the private equity investment achieves a high return for the fund.
Private Equity Senior Associate Compensation
Compensation for private equity senior associates of course varies by firm and by the value assigned to each individual by the private equity employer. Still, there are general levels in private equity senior associate pay and at middle market and non-top tier private equity firms, senior associates often fetch over $100,000 to $150,000 which is a pretty good salary for a recent MBA grad. However, at the top “megafunds” a senior associate could earn as much as $300,000-$500,000 in total compensation when the carry is factored in but these are at the top funds.
As you can see, pay varies by fund and size of the team, but senior associates can expect to make six figures and senior associates are usually rewarded with a percentage of the carry which can be a substantial incentive at high-performing private equity funds. One of the reasons that private equity continues to attract the best business professionals is that it can pay exceptionally well, often more than investment banks are willing to offer and in firm competition with hedge funds.
Private Equity Senior Associate Job Market Today
With many private equity professionals coming straight out of business schools, networking at school and meeting with recruiters become very important for navigating your way into a career in private equity. Many business schools have private equity networking groups and will have other opportunities for senior associate hopefuls to meet with private equity recruiters and professionals.
Today’s job market is becoming ever more competitive as the applicant pool swells with former investment bankers and other financial professionals who have been laid off or simply quit the shaky banking sector. This makes private equity career training even more important to a candidate’s chances of success in the private equity industry–you can learn more about our training program here.
I hope you’ve gained a better understanding of the private equity senior associate job and the role at a private equity firm. For more information, including interviews with private equity professionals, videos and more on a private equity career, visit the Certified Private Equity Professional designation.
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