CFA, MBA, Masters, CAIA or ACA: What do private equity firms want?

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Private equity firms like to hire winners. They want the elite investment bankers and graduates who can demonstrate the sort of qualities that will set them apart from the 300 other applicants.

This also means getting a top class degree from the ‘right’ – read top – university. But an undergraduate degree is one thing. How will professional qualifications and masters degrees help your chances?

The biggest boon to a private equity job application, perhaps surprisingly, is a Masters in Finance degree. Our figures, based on the 1.6m people in the eFinancialCareers CV database, suggest that 27% of private equity professionals possess a Masters degree, compared to 23% with an MBA – the more traditional method of getting a private equity job.

“Masters in Finance degrees are increasingly important for securing an investment or reporting job in private equity,” says Gail McManus, managing director of Private Equity Recruitment. “MBAs are still important for associate level hires, but they need to be combined with experience – whether that’s PE or investment banking.”

Once again, the CFA also ranks relatively highly in the alternative investment sector. 22% of hedge fund professionals on our database have studied the CFA, and this figure is 18% in private equity.

“A lot of limited partner private equity firms will hire undergraduates and then put them through the CFA,” says McManus. “It’s rare for direct investment firms to do the same. However, we also see a lot of junior investment bankers with CFA level one, as it shows both technical knowledge and evidence of commitment.”

McManus adds that UK mid-market private equity firms also tend to favour those with an ACA accounting qualification – who often come from the Big Four – largely because senior partners at these firms also possess the qualification. However, our data suggests that just 2% of private equity professionals have an ACA.


Photo: Getty Images

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