From Goldman Sachs to private equity to hedge funds to start-ups
Alexis Augier has done it all. Since graduating from Spanish business school in Esade in 2016, he's been an analyst at Goldman Sachs' investment bank, a private equity associate at KKR, an 'investment professional' at hedge fund Elliott Asset Management, and founded a successful start-up.
If you're at the very start of your finance career, Augier, therefore, has a perspective on how to proceed. Unsurprisingly, maybe, he implies that his approach is a good one.
Starting out in banking when you leave university is wise because it sets you up, says Augier: “Banking gives you solid technical foundations that are transferable to most roles in finance. It is unlikely you really know what you want to do when you come out of university, so building a foundational skillset should be the priority.”
But don't stay too long. Augier himself had only been at Goldman Sachs for a few months when KKR came knocking. "I had a great experience at Goldman Sachs but when you are approached by KKR you at least take the interview," he says. "I was lucky enough to get hired and I spent four years there investing across a range of asset classes, from private equity to structured and distressed credit.”
Going from banking to private equity makes sense, because it's only when you work in private equity that you really learn how to become a "fundamental investor," says Augier. Private equity is about, "business fundamentals and evaluating the upside potential" he adds. For this reason, the first few years in private equity after banking can be "very intense." In banking, you may learn, "the foundations of financial modelling, presentations, and transaction execution, but you have never been in an investment committee discussion,” says. Don't expect the workload to drop off in PE.
Once you've mastered fundamental investing during your private equity period, it's time to move on again, to a hedge fund. Augier did this after four years at KKR. At Elliott, he invested across activism, event-driven equities and credit. This required the addition of further skillsets. "In credit you need a strong emphasis on downside protection, structuring, and potential legal issues. It is more technical,” Augier says. Hedge fund investing is possibly the most interesting of the lot, he adds - you get exposure to different styles of investing there and are able to act much more opportunistically.
Finally, after 18 months at Elliott, Augier escaped to found his own company - Vega- a wealth management platform designed to service all the colleagues he met on his travels. “We’re targeting the new generation of high-net-worth individuals in finance and technology," he explains. Vega is, "for people at VP level and above who recognize the mismatch between the basic investment products they have access to on a personal basis and the high degree of financial sophistication they are used to on their jobs.”
As is often the case with people who start their own companies, Augier says he's now working harder than ever. As well as honing his work ethic and teaching him about investing, his sojourns in banking, private equity and hedge funds gave him some helpful contacts. “A lot of my former colleagues have invested. We’re backed by three VC firms, Citi and by 60 angel investors, including senior people from KKR, Permira and Blackstone,” he adds.
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