Most people who go into banking nowadays don't intend to stay forever. - As one first year Goldman Sachs analyst told Wall Street Oasis, "The only benefits of working at GS are the exit opportunities." Some of the most appealing of all the exit opportunities involve private equity, where the pay is even more generous than in banking and is taxed very leniently if you're senior enough to receive carried interest.
But if private equity is your aim, why bother with banking at all? Like Blackstone, more and more private equity funds run their own graduate recruitment programs. If you can get a place on one (if - Blackstone has 25,000 applications for 100 roles), you can sidestep 100-hour weeks in investment banking altogether.
The experience of one 27 year-old private equity associate in London shows what can be achieved if you don't use banking as a stepping stone. Daniel Bulkin graduated from the London School of Economics (LSE) with a first class degree in management in 2017. He immediately landed a graduate position at Terra Firma - the private equity fund run by the eccentric British ex-punk and ex-Goldman banker Guy Hands, beating off an estimated 1,000 other applicants who applied for the role.
After two years working for Hands, where he was the top-ranked analyst two years running and passed CFA Level I and Level II in two consecutive sittings, Bulkin joined H.I.G. Capital in London in 2019 as the youngest investment associate.
Aged just 27, he therefore already has four years private equity investing experience and has acted as a board observer for portfolio companies like FoodFolk (McDonalds Nordics), HCS, and Welcome Hotels.
Bulkin declined to comment for this article, but peers suggested he might provide a vision of an alternative financial services career for students unsure whether they want to go into banking at all.
As we've mentioned, however, getting a graduate placement at a private equity fund isn't easy. Here too, Bulkin offers some pointers on how to stand out: alongside his first class degree from a top university, his CV included a summer internship in M&A at JPMorgan and a spring internship at Deutsche Bank. He was scholarship-funded at the LSE, was elected student representative three years in a row, and co-founded the LSE Business and Finance Society, which has 4,000 members.
Let Bulkin be your benchmark.
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