Breaking Into Wall Street – Sample Story Template – From ib to pe

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Breaking Into Wall Street – Sample Story Template – From IB to PE

You can use this template if you’re an Analyst or Associate in the front office of an investment bank looking to break into private equity. In case you’re confused, here’s what that means:

  • You have been working full-time in investment banking and will be there for 1-2 years before moving into PE (recruiting often takes place long in advance).

  • You are not planning to go back to school (Master’s program, MBA, etc.) in the near future, and therefore you must use networking and recruiters to break into PE.

The biggest differences with this template: 1) You can shorten “The Beginning” since you have more experience. 2) You need to focus more on why private equity. Many candidates have horrible reasons for wanting to do PE – you need to avoid all those and give good ones instead.

Bad reasons to say you want to do private equity:

  • Anything about the hours / pay / controlling companies (please…).

  • Saying you want to do more “meaningful” work or something similar.

  • Citing any other negative about IB – always focus on the positives in interviews.

Better reasons to say you want to do private equity:

  • You want to work with companies over the long-term and/or help with acquisition or expansion opportunities.

  • You want more exposure to the operational side.

  • You want to be a professional investor in the future and want to learn the deal and investment process inside and out.
  • You’re passionate about finding and investing in great companies (more applicable at growth equity firms and smaller funds).

The 5 most important points of your “story” are as follows:

  • The Beginning: Educational Background + Banking Experience

  • Private Equity “Spark”: Deal You Worked On or Partners You Met

  • Growing Interest: Conversations with PE Professionals

  • Why You’re Here: Your Background + Private Equity = Success

  • The Future: Become an Investor

You do not want to copy or memorize this template 100% word-for-word – use it as inspiration, but you need to change it around to match your own background.

Interviewer: Why don’t you start by walking me through your resume?
Interviewee: Sure. So I went to [School Name] for [Undergraduate / Master’s / MBA], majored in [Major Name], and joined [Investment Bank Name] after graduation because they had a [Explain why you joined the bank and group – Industry Focus? People? Positive internship?].
While at [Investment Bank Name], I’ve worked on [Number] deals ranging from [Deal type e.g. buy-side, sell-side M&A, private placements, equity and debt offerings, LBOs] and I learned all about valuation as well as [Skills Related to Banking – Teamwork, Analytical, Attention to Detail, Leadership, etc.], plus how deals work in-depth.

I was one of the top rated analysts this year [If true – otherwise just say “positive reviews”], and I really enjoyed my time in banking. But at the same time, I also realized that I wanted to work on longer-term projects and become an investor rather than an advisor.

On one deal in particular, we [Describe – e.g. Selling a company, taking it public, etc. and maybe touch on any modeling / due diligence work you did] and I thought there were some great opportunities to work with the management team and continue growing the business via [Acquisitions / Geographic Expansion / Other] – but since it was a short-term engagement, we didn’t have the chance to do that.
But it really piqued my interest in becoming an investor, and I started meeting with and speaking to more Partners and other professionals in private equity. From talking to them about the deals they worked on, I realized that they were very close to their portfolio companies’ management teams, and could take much longer-term views. I became very interested in private equity and started networking with a lot of people in the industry as a result.
After completing my time at [Investment Bank Name], I’m really looking forward to moving into private equity and working with companies over the long-term and learning the investment process inside and out [If the PE firm specializes in a certain investment style or industry, you can also mention it here].
I’m here today because I want to combine the skills I’ve gained in investment banking – modeling, valuation, and due diligence – with what you do in private equity and work with companies over the long-term, adding more value and helping to grow their businesses.

I’m excited about becoming a professional investor in the future, and joining your firm and getting the opportunity to start contributing to deals and portfolio company operations positions me very well for that path.

Anything that requires your input is in bold. You can – and should – change around the specific wording and expand on some of the points within, but always stick to 2-3 minutes max for your “story.” In fact, shorter is better – 60 seconds is great if you can condense it down to that.

You always want to hit on the 5 key points – The Beginning, Your PE “Spark,” Your Growing Interest, Why You’re Here, and the Future – but beyond that, your focus depends on your background. If you’ve worked in a particular industry, such as technology, consumer/retail, or energy, and the PE firm happens to focus on that, leverage your experience for all it’s worth.
One of the key objections that private equity interviewers often have is whether or not you can “hit the ground running” and start adding value immediately. That’s why this interviewee “sells” his abilities upfront by explicitly mentioning the specific deal he worked on, and then mentioning modeling, valuation, and due diligence once again near the end.

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