Conscious Uncoupling: exit strategies for private equity partners and directors

8 February 2022 | Gail McManus, Managing Director

cropped exit image

PER recently sponsored the latest in a series of HR webinars hosted by the BVCA focussed on exit strategies for senior private equity professionals. The discussion centered around how private equity partners and directors can best navigate career transitions, whether these be voluntary or not. PER’s founder Gail McManus shared her unique market insight, speaking alongside top lawyers CM Murray and HR professionals.

READ OUR Key take-homes from the panel discussion

Managing involuntary leavers

From the organisation’s perspective, managing an involuntary leaver scenario requires setting objectives for the departure and planning the desired outcomes for the individual, the organisation and the remaining team.

It’s important to have real, justifiable reasons for an involuntary exit, backed up by data.   Involving impartial decision-makers in the process can help ensure it is a sound decision.

Consider other potential issues that may arise from the exit, for example, knock-on effects with other team members and determine how you will manage these.  Clear, honest, respectful communication is key.  And for the leaver, find out what matters to them – sometimes small things can be important and ensure that the leaver believes they are being treated fairly.  They will communicate their perspective on how they have been treated to the people in their team.   

Sharing information with the wider organisation

When it comes to voluntary and involuntary leavers, focus messaging on the positive outcomes for the leaver and for the business.  Recognise the contribution of the leaver, keep all messaging positive.  Agree on what the messaging should be from both sides, and internally as well as externally.   Communicate quickly to quell rumours and the uncertainty that may arise in the wake of a leaver.  Make knock-on appointments/promotions quickly.  Decide if the leaver should stay in the workplace or be removed.  What is the right thing to do in the circumstances?  Articulate a clear plan for the management and reporting lines of the remaining team.    

Navigating your departure

It is essential that private equity professionals understand what makes somebody a ‘good leaver’ from the perspective of their employer and how important it is that their departure is positioned positively.  Make sure you know the terms of your contract, carried interest arrangements, loan documentation and so on.  Managing your departure well will have an important impact on remuneration, restrictions and the opportunities that you can leave with.  When you brush up on your contract, make sure you identify grey areas or negotiation points prior to resigning.  Be aware that you may be taking your employer by surprise and that you might not get the reaction that you were expecting.  Bring time into the discussion to allow everyone to regain their composure.  

Retaining talent

The panel stressed the importance of frequent, insightful communication. With the pandemic making working from home increasingly common, communication has posed something of a challenge.  Regular informal ‘check-ins’ and ‘catch-ups’ with the team can help to maintain lines of communication and enable dissatisfaction to be spotted.  Don’t assume you know the reasons why your people will stay or leave.   Ask questions, be flexible and fair, discuss career and compensation progression and understand what is important to each individual.

How can PER help?

PER has an impressive track record of supporting private equity professionals through career transition and extensive expertise in how navigating exits from both a firm and an individual’s point of view.   Get in touch with us to discuss exit strategies and navigating career transitions.

Missed the webinar?


About the author

Gail is the Managing Director and founder of PER, setting up the business in the late 1990s after a career in private equity at 3i.

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