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Private Equity Career: Work-life Balance, Hours, Roles, And More  

The goal of many professionals is to attain an equilibrium between work and personal life. Work-life balance is equated to contentment and satisfaction in both private life and career.

But certain professions demand higher time commitments that make it all that more difficult to achieve work life balance. The private equity sector happens to be one of those professions. Life in private equity has a tremendous number of benefits, but there are trade-offs that need to be made in order to be successful in this highly competitive career.

Are Private Equity Workers Happy?

For the most part, private equity workers are happy. There is a lot of money to be made in private equity. While money doesn’t directly buy happiness, the financial security that money provides can’t be denied.

In turn, financial security allows a person to sleep well at night, provide for family members, enjoy discriminate spending, and ensure a sound retirement as long as a person plans accordingly.

Of course, happiness is transitory. The happiness that private equity workers feel isn’t always evident. In times of high stress, or when work pulls them away from home, away from loved ones, it’s unlikely that a private equity worker will be overjoyed.

Challenges of Private Equity Workers

As mentioned, there are trade-offs for all the benefits of working in private equity. These challenges can be quite serious, and not everyone is cut out for the high levels of stress that working in private equity can bring. There is a tremendous pressure to perform, and that pressure tends to be relentless.

In private equity, you’re only as good as your last successful deal. You need to prove yourself over and over and over. This kind of pressure tends to make it hard to leave work behind and be present in your personal life.

Private Equity Work Hours

The work hours in the private equity field tend to start around 60 hours a week. The fund definitely makes a difference.

There is a range of 60 to 70 hours per week. Smaller funds will often be at the smaller end of the range and giant funds at the larger end.

Additionally, the workload is greatly influenced by the deals. You will work through the night on Monday if there are certain kinds of meetings, but if there are no urgent deadlines pending, you can get out of there before nine at night.

Of course, if you’re just starting out in private equity, you’ll have to work harder to prove yourself, but your weekends might be free. You can anticipate long hours in any support role at the analyst and associate levels; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. wouldn’t be considered oppressive.

On the other hand, you can have your weekends and vacation time to yourself unless there is a major event coming up. To that end, you will be required to be present while the dealmakers are in the middle of a crucial negotiation with a significant publicly traded firm at 10:30 on a Saturday night in some cases.

It’s possible to work from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in some senior jobs, but you’ll also notice that the boundaries between work and your personal life become much more hazy. While nighttime conference calls and the occasional late-night panic email will eat into what you formerly may have considered your private life, some of your meals will be spent working. In addition, travel will increase significantly, irrespective of your function.

Do You Travel A Lot In Private Equity?

Another common challenge of being a private equity worker is the traveling. In this profession, you frequently need to fly to business locations for research, meet and greets, meetings, and more.

Traveling at this kind of pace can be quite exhausting. Although you may be visiting exotic locales, there is often little time to enjoy the sights.

These occasions are certainly not viable for family members to join you on “weekends in Paris,” either. It’s business 24/7 when you’re traveling for work, with very little down time.

Does Private Equity Have Good Work Life Balance?

Private equity work life balance may be very hard to achieve, especially when you’re just starting out in this career. It would seem that making a lot of money would offset any issues regarding a good work life balance.

The size of the private equity fund has a direct impact on what kinds of salaries are offered. Salaries can be extremely attractive in the higher echelons of private equity, and much less so in the middle market.

However, many private equity workers simply don’t have the time to spend buying little luxuries, including vacation packages for themselves and their family members. In the world of private equity, workers are cash rich and time poor.

It takes someone who is an expert time juggler to reach a satisfying work life equilibrium. That kind of balancing act isn’t possible for everyone, especially for those in entry-level positions in private equity firms.

Therefore, it is challenging to find the ideal work life balance. The lines between work and private life are fluid in the private equity field.

Dinners out often mean dinners with clients, and those may be the only dinner out that you and your partner have time for. For many people, working long hours is not a problem; the issue is more with how it is handled.

There are private equity professionals who can fulfill deadlines, spend time with their partners and children and cook and clean. Others can only manage to be the breadwinner, but they end up being absentee parents and spouses.

When it comes to understanding the possibilities of private equity work life balance, it’s best to be practical and honest with yourself. Actually, to try and achieve a balance between work life and personal life while building a career in private equity can feel like an added burden.

Not only do you have to perform at work, topping every last deal you made, but you also have to be the ideal juggler of work and family life. In many ways, it’s best to approach it in a linear fashion.

Try to draw a line between work ending and home life beginning, but let the line be fluid. In other words, don’t expect that the line always sits at six o’clock. Instead, the line starts when you arrive at home, or at work.

Private Equity Vs. Investment Banking Work Life Balance

A very similar profession to private equity is investment banking.

Investment banking is a separate division of a financial institution that provides capital and underwriting services for mergers and acquisitions deals for corporations, government entities and other kinds of institutions.

Investment banks act as a connector between corporations and certain types of investors who have significant capital to invest. Primarily, investment bankers work on the sell-side of a transaction, because they offer qualified investors vetted commercial interests.

As far as work life balance goes, investment banking profession may offer even less flexibility. During the initial several years of their careers, both investment bankers and private equity workers are heavily focused on financial modeling, company research and valuation, and report and presentation preparation.

However, as they advance up the corporate ladder to senior positions (Vice President, Director), they are more likely to be involved in project management and execution activities, such as pitching deals to potential clients, negotiating deals, and cultivating relationships to win clients.

This is the point where the two professions diverge in terms of time commitments.

Working weekends is pretty normal as an investment banking analyst, and you may anticipate working 80 to over 100 hours per week, depending on the firm. Your typical day will likely start around 9:30 am and go well past midnight.

Throughout the day, you will be expected to keep up with requests from clients, coworkers, and senior bankers by updating models, creating presentations, taking care of correspondence, and more.

It is not surprising that junior investment banking analysts’ work life balance suffers significantly as a result of these long hours; many of them report feeling mentally and physically exhausted, and their relationships with friends and families suffer as a result, despite earning a high investment banking salary.

Private equity work life balance is a little bit more attainable than it might be with investment bankers. Again, it is affected by where you work, what kind of personal life you need or expect, and what position you hold in terms of executive level.

At the end of the day, you need to decide how important private equity work life balance is to you and your loved ones, and how the scale tilts between compensation, job fulfillment and personal satisfaction.

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