Some stereotypes get to be stereotypes because they are primarily true. That finance professionals, particularly those from certain firms or certain schools, are arrogant is, at least in my experience, true. I swore to myself when I took this job that I wouldn't go down the road of superiority in this way. I promised that I would try to maintain perspective. Dedicated myself to keep an open mind. That lofty ideal lasted about 4 months.
This job breeds contempt. Oh I love it so.
The thing about buyouts, as in sales and trading, is that your value
is extracted at the expense of someone else. Every time we buy a
company we are in effect saying, "we paid less for this then we can get
for it, and we can run this better than you ever could." The
difference is that in sales in trading you are saying this to some
anonymous other trader with a thick skin and the protection of an
anonymous terminal screen between you.
The due diligence process supports this turn of the psyche. Due diligence primarily orbits around the concept that there is something wrong and that the current management is either unaware of it (in which case our business acumen is superior) or actively concealing it (in which case we are ethically superior). Often, however, our suspicions are correct. That's not to say we don't create our own problems or make different mistakes in the company once we get our hands on it.
As for investigation? We spend our diligence time finding faults, highlighting them and exaggerating their impact and effect. We are the arbiters of failure. Soon it becomes easy to find fault in everything.
So much gamesmanship surrounds the process, in fact, that you grow used to thinking of other parties in the transaction as the dupes and victims of the "negotiating strategy" and "diligence tactics" you deploy.
You develop similar ideas about the employees in your portfolio firms. (At least the ones still left after the firings you oversaw).
God forbid you went to an ivy league. -cough- Then you start to think the same thing about your peers in other PE firms.
Really, I think this kind of bitching is just a response to the pressures of the job. It is a lot of really hard work. Small things, like dry-cleaning- which drives me batty- get under your skin. Near perfection is your metric for everything. You are hyper-sensitive to any, even slight, waste of time. (That's just a consequence of living in New York City).
You start to use phrases like "We can put a man on the fucking moon but no one in your marketing department can do a price elasticity regression?" with the portfolio companies. You respond to the growing loathing the employees have for you with "I am here to get this business back on track, not to win a popularity contest." Of course, these things are true. You aren't in a popularity contest. (Or you are losing it very badly). We can put a man on the moon. No one in the marketing department can do any kind of regression at all. The new associate who just joined is lazy and can't be counted on to put the firm first and, goddamnit, there is just no place to get my best suit dry-cleaned.