Meet the private equity fund that likes to hire 'seasoned' bankers

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If you want to leave banking for private equity, you usually need to go young. Our research suggests that most people make the move within 24 to 36 months of starting in banking. Some move even earlier - take Nik Okri, the former Goldman leveraged finance analyst who joined Summit Partners after only a year at GS. Others, however, only move to PE when their finance careers are 'mature.'

If you're an investment banker looking to make a late move into private equity, you might want to look up HarbourVest Partners, a Boston-based private equity fund with global offices, including in London, Toronto, Hong Kong. In October, HarbourVest hired in Simon Jennings, the former global head of private equity at HSBC. With 30 years' experience in finance, Jennings is the diametric opposite of the young banker leaping to PE, and he's not HarbourVest's only more established hire.

This month, HarbourVest also recruited Gonçalo Faria Ferreira from Goldman Sachs. A former Goldman executive director,  Faria Ferreira spent five years in banking before joining HarbourVest as an associate in its London office.

Earlier this year, HarbourVest hired Jan De Wolff, a former TMT M&A banker from Houlihan Lokey. De Wolff spent two years' at Houlihan, a year at Ondra Partners, a year at Greenhill and three years in strategy consulting at Booz & Co. Last year, it hired in Gokhan Kara, another banker who'd spent six and a half years at GS.

HarbourVest isn't new to London - it was first incorporated in the UK in 1990. Nor is it exactly expanding: the UK's Financial Conduct Authority Register suggests it has 26 registered people in London, down from a peak of 28 in March 2017. But it is hiring and when it hires, it's clearly partial to bankers with some experience.

It's not alone. In October, mid-market PE firm Inflexion hired in Simon Tilley, a former managing director at DC Partners. Tilley joined as a partner, which is almost unheard of. It undoubtedly helped that he was head of financial sponsors at DC and undoubtedly new the fund already.

Charlie Hunt, principal consultant at search firm Private Equity Recruitment, says this is the often the easiest way to move into private equity when you've been in banking for a while. "Senior bankers often know people in the funds they're moving to," says Hunt. "Private equity funds are very conservative - they either like to hire a junior and train them up, or to hire someone senior who they know already."

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Photo credit: Salt and Pepper Shakers by Joe King is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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