How to exit J.P. Morgan in your mid-30s with style. Why you don’t want to work in private equity

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There are several important life events which interfere with your ability to extricate yourself from a banking career. The first is the achievement of a large mortgage. The second is the acquisition of a trophy spouse. The third is the birth of a child. We can’t speak for the first two, but 33 year-old Abhishek Mistry just quit J.P. Morgan despite number three. And that’s quite unusual.

Even more unusually, Mistry wasn’t pushed. Bloomberg points out that he was on top of his game: he’d just been celebrated for belonging to one of Wall Street’s top teams of mortgage bond analysts by Institutional Investor. Nor is he leaving to ‘follow his passion’ in a Fintech start-up, or to lead an ill thought-through ‘expansive and independent life’ outside banking. Instead, Mistry is leaving to devote himself to a business he’d established whilst working in finance: Mixcity Inc., which creates software for DJs.

What can you learn from his example? Leave while you’re ahead. Always have a side project. Don’t stick around when the mojo has gone (“People, in general, are less motivated,” said Mistry of finance in general). And don’t let parenthood tie you down. “Now’s the time that I can start something,” said Mistry. “A few years from now it would be a lot harder to quit the job that I had.”

Separately, maybe you don’t want to work in private equity after all. Not only is the industry stupidly difficult to get into, but once you do you’ll be stuck unless you’re prepared to leave a lot of money on the table.

Take Alex King, a former partner at London-based private equity firm HG Capital. King is reportedly taking HG Capital to court in an attempt to recover the carried interest he’s owed after resigning. King’s lawyers argue that he quit HG and lost the unspecified amount of carried interest after experiencing a ‘“negative and/or hostile attitude” from the fund’s managing partner. HG said it simply cut King’s carried interest as it didn’t need to incentivize him and his investments had performed badly. Either way, King has seemingly lost a lot: he was due to get 5.5% of the profits in the £950m HG 5 buyout fund; now he’s due to get 1.5%.

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