A battle is raging on Wall Street as never before, with powerful factions scrambling for control of a precious resource.
On one side are the giant investment banks, with names like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Lined up against them, but also warring among themselves, are the giants of private equity — Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Apollo Global Management and the Blackstone Group, to name just three. And the private-equity firms just happen to be the banks' clients.
The prize they are fighting for is young talent.
This summer, dozens of junior bankers in their early to mid-20s will start jobs in private equity after spending their first two years out of college working at investment banks. Private-equity firms use billions of dollars of cash and plenty of debt to buy entire companies. They are seen by many young strivers as the next rung on an elite career ladder, promising higher status and more pay — around $300,000 a year, including salary and bonus, roughly double what a second-year banker might earn at Goldman.
But for junior bankers, who are known as analysts, securing such a job means stepping into the middle of a Wall Street struggle that has intensified since the financial crisis.
The whirlwind process of interviews, which this year started in February, far earlier than many in private equity had expected, requires analysts to sneak around and often miss work. It bears little resemblance to the orderly on-campus career fairs they attended in college.
"It is not a normal search process — that, certifiably, everyone would agree with," said Adam Zoia, the chief executive of Glocap Search, one of the recruiting companies involved.
Kira Yugay, 29, who worked at the Greenbriar Equity Group, a private-equity firm, after three years at Citigroup, said: "You may be called into an interview two days in advance, a day in advance or an hour in advance. And you have to be there."