by: Kay Francoeur
At ECA, when our clients want to hire a corp dev or M&A role, there are a few go-to traits and backgrounds that we have top of mind for finding perfect candidates. Unsurprisingly, most M&A roles are going to require stellar financial modelling skills. Clients are also going to expect quality candidates to have extensive experience in due diligence, transaction execution, and PMI. The emphasis on and depth of exposure to each of these areas will vary slightly depending on the specific needs of the firm.
There are two main career paths that we look to in order to find the best folks for these positions: consulting and investment banking.
The most common path is through investment banking. Investment bankers are well-versed in financial analysis and have experiences working on M&A, capital raises, and other transactions, and strong networks of contacts in the investment community that may aid the deals process. When investment bankers are hired for corp dev and M&A roles in PE, they shift from primarily working on the sell-side to the buy-side. Instead of packaging companies up and selling them to PE, they apply their skillsets to diligencing and buying these companies for PE. The impact of investment bankers is likely to be felt in the earlier stages of the deals process.
Consultants form another fantastic candidate pool for these types of roles. The key difference is while consultants are very smart, driven, and strategic, and often have deep exposure to a wide range of industries, they tend to be lighter on the financial modelling side than investment bankers. But the broader toolkit that consultants bring, which they may have honed during engagements with their firm’s transaction advisory service, can add a lot of value to the latter stages of the deals process. This is especially true concerning the integration piece, an essential determinant of whether an acquisition will succeed.
If our client is looking for a more strategic M&A person, they’re likely to want a candidate from a top consulting firm – some tend to be slightly more impressed by people from the Tier 1 MBB firms, though this differs a lot depending on the client. For some specific M&A roles, often those that spike more on the PMI side of things, clients will prefer candidates with a Big 4 background.
A background in either investment banking or consulting puts a candidate on a great path to succeed in corp dev and M&A roles within private equity. Given that there’s a very competitive environment for these in-demand roles, it’s well worth taking a few active steps to make sure your profile stands out. We recommend optimizing your LinkedIn profile and, once you’ve connected with a recruiter, tailoring your resume to the specific role in question.
For more information on trends on corp dev and M&A roles in PE and how to stand out as a candidate, check out our video on the subject here.
Kay Francoeur is a Project Manager at ECA Partners. She can be reached at [email protected]