2022 Private Equity Headhunter Coverage: Understanding the Gatekeepers

2022 Private Equity Headhunter Coverage: Understanding the Gatekeepers

Private Equity Headhunter Coverage

Chances are, if you worked hard to get a job in investment banking, one of the reasons you did so was to get access to the wide variety of exit options. The most popular exit option (by far) for investment banking analysts is private equity. 

There are many pros and cons of moving to private equity, and many differences in the private equity recruiting process versus the investment banking recruiting process. One of the most important differences is the role of headhunters - since most buy-side firms don't have large internal recruiting teams, they rely on headhunters to screen candidates and run their recruiting processes. We'd estimate that 90+% of private equity associates landed their job through a headhunter. Yes, if you're good at networking you can land interview spots directly, but the vast majority of firms participate in the on-cycle recruiting process which is run by the headhunters. 

 

 

People often ask if you need to reach out to the headhunters. In most cases, if you're working at a reputable firm, they will find you. It is their full time job to keep track of each firm's analyst class and they have databases full of candidate information. In the rare event they don't reach out to you first, or if you're at a smaller firm, you can always proactively reach out to them and they'll likely be happy to meet you. 

So if you want to get a job in private equity, you're going to have to get familiar with the headhunters. However, the headhunters are NOT your friends. Any meeting you take with a headhunter is effectively an interview - they will grill you on your background, your deal experience, and what kind of funds you're interested in. Their motivation is to place as many candidates as possible so they can get their commissions. Their incentives are different from yours. You need to have a strategy when dealing with them.

For example, let's say one headhunter covers a tech-focused buyout fund, another covers a megafund with a generalist program, and you're interested in both. If you don't know which headhunter covers which fund, you're not going to know how to tailor your answer for what kind of opportunities you're interested in, which means you likely won't get the interviews you want. But if most headhunters hide their client lists and only reveal them after you've had a meeting with them, how are you supposed to know their clients ahead of time?

That's where this article comes in. Below are the actual client lists for each of the major headhunters in the private equity recruiting process, updated as of the most recent on-cycle recruiting process. Note that we've excluded some of the smaller/irrelevant names, and included notable hedge funds and crossover funds. 

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Henkel Search Partners

In our experience, Henkel (HSP) had the most impressive client list and was very pleasant to work with. They cover many of the largest and most prestigious firms, and you should definitely make an effort to get along with them.

  • AEA
  • Anchorage
  • Ares Direct Lending
  • Audax
  • BC Partners
  • BDT
  • Blackrock Infrastructure
  • Blackstone (Energy)
  • Carlyle (NY, DC, Menlo offices)
  • CD&R
  • I Squared Capital
  • KKR (all groups across all offices)
  • Roark Capital
  • Silver Point
  • Tiger Global
  • TPG (Growth/Rise)
  • Veritas
  • Vista
  • Warburg Pincus

CPI

CPI is another top headhunter with great clients. Note that they'll probably ask you paper LBO questions or give you a small case study in your intro meeting with them, which no other headhunter does from our knowledge. 

  • Advent
  • American Securities
  • Ares
  • Berkshire Partners
  • Cerberus
  • CVC (Capital and Growth)
  • EQT
  • GIC
  • Hellman & Friedman
  • Insight Partners
  • Madison Dearborn
  • Metalmark Capital
  • New Mountain Capital
  • Oak Hill
  • Onex
  • Providence Equity
  • Silver Lake
  • Stone Point
  • Sycamore
  • TA Associates
  • Thomas H. Lee
  • Trilantic
  • Vistria
  • Welsh Carson

Ratio Advisors

If you're interested in tech and VC/growth investing, you need to speak with Ratio. Very impressive roster of top VC and growth firms, and some heavy-hitting buyout names. 

  • Abry Partners
  • Apollo (incl. NR and Hybrid Value)
  • Atairos
  • Bessemer
  • CapitalG
  • Charlesbank
  • Centana Growth Partners
  • Cove Hill
  • Francisco Partners
  • General Atlantic
  • Golden Gate Capital
  • JMI Equity
  • Lindsay Goldberg
  • Meritech Capital
  • Parthenon Capital
  • Providence Strategic Growth
  • Redpoint Ventures
  • Ribbit Capital
  • Riverside Partners
  • Searchlight Capital
  • Silversmith Capital
  • Spark Capital
  • Stellex Capital Management
  • Thrive Capital
  • TPG Real Estate
  • True Wind

Amity Search Partners

Amity has some decent clients and a lot of smaller names that we've excluded. Pleasant people to work with.

  • ADIA
  • Altimeter
  • Ardian
  • Artemis Capital
  • Bain Capital (incl. Tech Opps)
  • Centerbridge
  • Clearlake
  • Clearview Capital
  • Founders Circle Capital
  • Founders Fund
  • HarbourVest Partners
  • HIG
  • HPS Investment Partners
  • Incline Equity Partners
  • Kohlberg & Company
  • Pritzker Private Capital
  • Temasek
  • TowerBrook
  • Vestar

Dynamics Search Partners

We unfortunately don't have their full client list, but DSP covers a lot of top names both in buyout and HF clients.

  • Apax Partners
  • Citadel
  • Coatue
  • Farallon
  • GI Partners
  • GTCR
  • Leonard Green
  • Maverick Capital

Gold Coast Search Partners

Despite their name, they don't just cover west coast clients. Nice to work with and great coverage across tech.

  • Accel
  • Arcline
  • Evergreen Coast Capital
  • ICONIQ Growth
  • Patient Square Capital
  • TPG Capital
  • Thoma Bravo (all funds)
  • Serent Capital
  • Sumeru Equity Partners

CarterPierce

A little more under-the-radar, but they're very good to work with and have poached some good clients from other firms.  

  • Accel-KKR
  • Aurora Capital
  • Freeman Spogli
  • Marlin Equity Partners
  • Oaktree
  • Odyssey Investment Partners
  • Platinum Equity
  • Spectrum Equity
  • Valor Equity Partners

Bellcast Partners

Mainly MM names. They are personal and collaborative, and the intro meeting was less interview-like than other HH meetings.

  • Bain Capital Double Impact
  • Harvest Partners
  • HGGC
  • Siris Capital

SG Partners

Their main legacy client is Blackstone, but besides that their coverage is sparse.

  • Blackstone
  • Crestview
  • DigitalBridge

Oxbridge

Interesting mix of clients, ranging from MM buyout to Coatue. Intro meeting was friendly and collaborative.

  • Carlyle (Real Estate, LA)
  • Coatue
  • Clarion Capital
  • Corsair Capital
  • Fifth Wall
  • Genstar
  • Gryphon Investors
  • Great Hill Partners
  • The Jordan Company
  • Norwest Venture Partners
  • Oaktree
  • Vector Capital

 

 

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