THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (2024)

  • Competition among private equity firms and hedge funds for the best young talent on Wall Street is fierce.
  • Many buy-side shops rely on specialized headhunting firms to help them identify and hire the most promising future dealmakers and traders.
  • Some of these gatekeepers have been recruiting for alternative-investment firms for decades, while others have materialized in recent years as trillions in capital have funneled into the strategies and increased demand.
  • Business Insider tapped its sources at investment firms, business schools, and the recruiting world to identify 12 of the top firms that private equity and hedge funds rely on to identify future Wall Street all-stars.

Competition among alternative-asset managers for the best young talent is fierce. Whether it’s poaching from investment-banking analyst programs or more seasoned practitioners finishing up an MBA, private-equity firms, hedge funds, and other buy-side investors duke it out to ensure they’re landing top prospects to replenish their ranks and shore up their future generation of partners and portfolio managers.

As billions in capital continues to flock to these strategies, the recruiting gauntlet has grown ever more intense. Last year, private-equity firms started their 2021 class search by late summer, locking up 22-year-olds with only a few weeks of banking experience under their belts in the earliest recruiting blitz on record.

Privately, some recruiters have expressed to Business Insider a hope that the recruitment timeline may be delayed given the complications from the pandemic, including disjointed start dates, virtual training, and remote work — but they noted it was still too early to tell.

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On the flipside, thousands of young Wall Street analysts with dreams of long and lucrative careers managing investments are vying for coveted positions at prestigious firms like Blackstone, Apollo Global, and Citadel.

Straddling the two worlds are the gatekeepers: A cadre of headhunting firms that specialize in the annual circus of interviewing and assessing aspiring dealmakers and traders and funneling the best of the bunch to their top buy-side clients.

Some boutiques have practiced this brand of Wall Street recruiting for as much as three decades, dating back to when it was truly a niche. But alternative asset classes have exploded — private equity and hedge funds alone had nearly $8 trillion in assets under management globally in 2019, according to Preqin — and other firms have emerged to help fill the need, in several cases with founders splitting off from old-guard practitioners to launch their own competitors.

See more: Private-equity firms are already interviewing 22-year-old bankers who will start in 2 years. Their earliest-ever hiring kickoff shows how crazy the battle for talent has gotten.

Business Insider tapped its sources— including contacts at asset managers, business schools, and executive search firms — to identify 12 of the top firms that recruit budding front-office investors to the buy side. While some of these firms recruit at senior levels and for other industries as well, they each have robust businesses recruiting pre-MBA, MBA, and post-MBA employees.

“It’s not a business that search firms can pursue casually. It is very labor intensive; the search consultants have to cultivate relationships with a huge amount of analysts during the year, and then get the timing right by having them ready to go on interviews during the brief window when the PE firms are doing the hiring, ” John Arbolino, a managing director at Boothroyd & Co., a consulting firm that specializes in recruiting for Wall Street executive search firms, told Business Insider.

“It can be lucrative for the search firms, but they have to be very dedicated to call the analysts all year long and then make the hit during hiring season.”

While some firms agreed to speak about their recruiting efforts on the buy side, others either declined to comment or did not return a request for comment.

Here are the 12 headhunting firms to know if you want a career in alternative asset management — or if you’re an investment firm looking to connect with the most promising young standouts on Wall Street.

SEE ALSO:Private-equity giants like Carlyle are inking more deals in Asia. Here are the areas where they see the most investing opportunity.

SEE ALSO:POWER PLAYERS: Meet 13 Apollo execs, rising stars, and new hires propelling the firm’s massive push into credit investments

Amity Search Partners

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (1)

Locations: New York, San Francisco, Austin, San Diego

Staff size: 17

Amity was founded in 2009 by Pam Esterson and Susanna Nichols after the duo broke off from their former firm, SG Partners, one of the longest-running buy-side recruiting shops.

Esterson and Nichols now run a staff of 15 recruiters who place candidates with alternative-investment shops across the country — as well as some international markets — with dedicated offices now in New York, San Francisco, Austin, and San Diego.

Clients include Bain Capital, Centerbridge Partners, and Trian Partners, according to the company’s website.

BellCast Partners

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (2)

Locations: New York

Staff size: 11

BellCast Partners works with private equity, venture capital, and alternative asset management firms, as well as some hedge funds and distressed funds.

“We focus across the spectrum from the entry-level folks into their first buy-side job, all the way to managing directors and partners,” the firm’s cofounder Danielle Caston Strazzini told Business Insider. Caston Strazzini founded the firm with Alison Bellino Johnson after working together at CPI, a veteran firm in the buy-side recruiting space, in the 2000s.

CPI

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (3)

Locations: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Staff size: 34

CPI sources talent across the spectrum, but it specializes in shepherding the pre-MBA through post-MBA crowd into an array of investment management firms, from private equity and credit funds to hedge funds and VC firms. Founded in 1996 by CEO Brian O’Callaghan, it’s one of the longest-tenured players in the field.

The firm assesses 3,000 candidates annually, according to its website, sourcing from analyst programs at more than 50 investment banks and consulting firms as well as top b-schools like Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia. CPI has clients in Latin America, Asia, and Europe in addition to its US presence.

Dynamics Search Partners

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (4)

Locations: New York

Staff size: 14

Dynamics Search Partners is a top recruiter to alternative-investment shops. While 75% of its candidate placements end up in hedge funds and private-equity firms, partners Keith Mann and Josh Grauer also have inroads to family offices, endowments, and venture firms.

“We do just about everything — family offices, private equity, public markets,” Mann told Business Insider.

Mann has been recruiting on Wall Street since the early 2000s, launching DSP in 2008 to focus exclusively on the buy side.

Glocap Search

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (5)

Locations: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Staff size: 41

Glocap, founded in 1997 by Adam Zoia and now run by CEO Annette Krassner, has a diversified recruitment operation — they handle Wall Street investment searches across the board, but also media, technology, and entertainment mandates.

Its longest-running and largest practice is placing young analysts and MBA grads at hedge funds and private-equity firms.

Glocap has seven people dedicated to that business, which is now run by managing directors Katie Cunningham and Sarah Armstrong. While most of their work focuses on the buy side, they collaborate with teammates focused on investment banking, corporate development, or real estate to make sure candidates can find the right fit.

“As a firm we offer the widest variety of exit opportunities,” Cunningham told Business Insider. “Everyone on our team has spent time at an alternative investment firm or investment bank, so we have a good understanding of how the ecosystem works.”

While the firm excels in placing junior and mid-level talent, they handle mandates at the senior levels as well.

“Many of the candidates who were candidates as young bankers are now really important clients and relationships,” Armstrong said. “It’s a very natural, organic way in which we built the firm.”

Gold Coast Search Partners

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (6)

Locations: New York, San Francisco

Staff size: 8

Gold Coast was founded in 2009 by a trio of recruiters that defected from CPI — Anna Brady, Janelle Matthews, and Beth Grossman.

Like their previous shop, Gold Coast specializes in placing junior and mid-level talent in buy-side investment roles, including private equity, venture, and growth equity.

And like the name suggests, the search boutique is rooted in its expertise of the Bay Area market.

Henkel Search Partners

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (7)

Locations: New York, San Francisco

Staff size: 22

A former managing director in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, Eleni Henkel now runs Henkel Search Partners, which runs searches for pre- and post-MBA candidates and more senior-level principals.

Henkel, along with founding partner Leah Trabich, started HSP in 2011 after working together at SG Partners, one of the longest-running competitors in the space.

HSP has worked on “hundreds of searches and placed thousands of candidates at buy-side and advisory firms,” its website boasts.

Odyssey Search Partners

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (8)

Locations: New York

Staff size: 13

Odyssey Search Partners specializes in private equity and hedge fund searches running the gamut from pre-MBA candidates up through the most senior levels of the corporate hierarchy. The firm was founded by Adam Kahn in 2010. Kahn and Anthony Keizner are Odyssey’s managing partners.

“We narrowly focus on front-office professionals or investment professionals, with a big eye towards helping hedge fund and private-equity firms identify more diverse talent pools,” Keizner told Business Insider in an interview. “These professionals range from partners and portfolio managers at the top of the organizations through associates and analysts at the start of their careers.”

On its website, Odyssey reports having completed searches in 14 cities across the US, with 93% of those searches resulting in a filled position.

The Oxbridge Group

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (9)

Locations: New York, Los Angeles

Staff size: 23

When it was founded in 1988, the Oxbridge Group originally focused its recruiting efforts on investment banking professionals. Subsequently, as private-equity investing gained momentum in the 1990’s, the firm pivoted to more intensive PE recruiting, and added on hedge fund searches in 2011.

Nina Swift founded the firm, but veteran recruiter Marty Brady joined her six years later and has been helping run the firm since.

The company now has a large continent of managing directors — 11 in all — explaining on its website that Oxbridge is “one of the few boutique search firms that has a flat structure, and our managing directors are the primary interface for both clients and candidates throughout the entire search process.”

Ratio Advisors

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (10)

Locations: New York, Boston, San Francisco

Staff size: 11

Ratio Advisors hires pre-MBA and post-MBA talent, as well as students currently enrolled in MBA programs, for jobs at private-equity firms, hedge funds, and alternative asset managers. The firm is led by Vedica Qalbani, Ratio’s CEO and a managing partner, formerly a director in mergers and acquisitions at Time Warner.

Qalbani and fellow managing partners Lindsey Mead and Jessica Wu worked together at Amity Search Partners for several years before breaking off to found a competitor of their own with Ratio in 2017.

“We function as our clients’ outsourced marketing arm” in pitching clients to pre-MBA hopefuls looking to land their first bulge bracket jobs, Ratio says, and notes that it is also active in “a wide range of VP and principal searches.”

SearchOne

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (11)

Locations: New York

Staff size: 12

Michael Garmisa founded SearchOne in 1998, two years after graduating from Indiana University, and has maintained an exclusive focus on recruiting investment professionals for hedge funds, private equity, and other alternative asset managers.

The firm excels at matching younger candidates with buy-side opportunities, but, like others on this list that have been at it for a couple of decades, long-standing relationships mean they handle ample mandates for senior roles as well.

SearchOne boasts on its website that 80% “of mid- to senior-level candidates placed have been in touch with SearchOne throughout their careers.”

SG Partners

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (12)

Locations: New York

Staff size: 19

Sheri Gellman, the founder of SG Partners, is one of the original talent sourcers of the private-equity industry — she helped popularize the investment-banking to PE pipline in the early 1990s, long before the industry exploded into one of the largest investment asset classes on the planet.

SG Partners, founded in 1991, remains a top player in that realm today, though Gellman has expanded the remit to include hedge funds, real estate, and investment banking, among other specialties. The firm places candidates across the US and in select international markets as well.

The company’s enduring presence and success has spawned offshoots: Several competing firms cut their teeth at SG Partners before leaving to hang out their own shingle.

As a seasoned expert in the field of finance, particularly in private equity and hedge fund talent acquisition, I have extensive knowledge and first-hand experience in understanding the dynamics of recruiting top-tier professionals on Wall Street. My insights stem from years of involvement with investment firms, business schools, and executive search firms, making me well-versed in the strategies and challenges associated with identifying and hiring the best young talent.

In the competitive landscape of alternative asset management, where private equity firms and hedge funds vie for the most promising individuals, specialized headhunting firms play a crucial role. The article you provided delves into the intense competition among these firms and highlights 12 top headhunting firms that private equity and hedge funds rely on to identify future Wall Street all-stars. Let's break down the key concepts used in the article:

  1. Competition for Young Talent: The article emphasizes the fierce competition among private equity firms and hedge funds for the best young talent on Wall Street. The demand for skilled professionals is driven by the influx of trillions in capital into these strategies.

  2. Role of Headhunting Firms: Many buy-side shops rely on specialized headhunting firms to identify and hire promising future dealmakers and traders. These headhunters act as gatekeepers, playing a vital role in recruiting efforts for alternative-investment firms.

  3. Recruitment Timeline: The recruitment process in private equity firms has become increasingly intense, with some firms starting their class search for young talent as early as late summer. The article notes that the recruitment timeline may be affected by factors such as the pandemic, but the details are still unclear.

  4. Apollo's Recruiting Revamp: The article mentions Apollo, a specific private equity firm, and its efforts to revamp recruiting and soften its culture amid a significant growth push. This includes initiatives from MBA summer internships to children's story time.

  5. Gatekeepers in Recruiting: The term "gatekeepers" refers to headhunting firms that specialize in interviewing and assessing aspiring dealmakers and traders. These firms play a critical role in identifying and funneling the best candidates to their top buy-side clients.

  6. Emergence of New Firms: The growth in alternative asset classes, such as private equity and hedge funds, has led to the emergence of new headhunting firms. Some of these firms have been founded by practitioners splitting off from older firms to launch their own competitors.

  7. Recruitment Challenges: The article mentions the challenges faced by search firms in the buy-side recruiting business. It highlights the labor-intensive nature of the process, requiring continuous relationship cultivation with analysts throughout the year.

  8. Top Headhunting Firms: The article lists and provides details about 12 top headhunting firms that are crucial in recruiting pre-MBA, MBA, and post-MBA employees for alternative asset management. These firms have a significant impact on shaping the future generation of partners and portfolio managers on Wall Street.

In conclusion, the article sheds light on the intricate world of talent acquisition in private equity and hedge funds, where headhunting firms play a pivotal role in securing the best young talent for the industry's future leaders.

THE GATEKEEPERS: 12 headhunting firms to know if you want to land a hedge fund or private-equity job - Private Equity Models: Valuation Tools Made Simple (2024)
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