Your route to a career in private equity finance

28 September 2017 | Harry Gwynne, Consultant, Head of Finance & Tax

For newly qualified accountants who have just completed their training contract in audit, assurance or fund administration, deciding on your next career move is an important step.

Private Equity continues to be the poster child for the financial services industry. With their well-appointed offices and well-heeled partners, it is easy to see why.

But what opportunities are there for a newly qualified accountant looking to make the move in-house, in private equity? It’s a well-trodden path, with a steady stream of accountants moving into private equity as a fund or management accountant.

The fund accountant role is specific to asset management and offers a strong career path in the alternative investment industry.  It is likely that you will need some exposure to funds before moving in-house, possibly from private equity audit or fund administration.

Management accounting is more flexible, although prior financial services experience is advantageous.

To move into investment accounting the stars need to align. These are aspirational roles due to the analytical and commercial content, and funds tend to be able to pick and choose the best people in the market at any one time.                         

From these roles the career path can lead to a financial controller position where you'd typically cover both fund and management accounting, potentially taking accountability for tax as well. 

At the top of the financial management pyramid is CFO or Finance Director.   In larger funds this role will cover finance with some exposure to investments from a due diligence and structuring perspective. The smaller the fund, the more tasks you are expected to handle. This could include Finance, Operations, Compliance, Legal, HR, IT as well as greater exposure to tax structuring and fundraising. It is also possible that you will need to create models and processes in excel in the absence of an external system.

In order to be able to make the most of these opportunities, it’s important to try to gain as much exposure as possible to all parts of the organisation and make yourself an invaluable asset to a fund.  With private equity CFOs typically taking home between £200-300,000 or more a year alongside long-term incentives, which for the top 10% can be in the millions, there is plenty of financial reward.

If you are a qualified accountant looking to move into private equity finance, take a look at our featured jobs or get in touch. I’d love to discuss opportunities with you.

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About the author

Harry specialises in finance and tax mandates across the private equity and venture capital space, leading a team that focuses solely in this area.

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