Monday, September 29, 2008

45. Recession

45. Recession

The past few months have been the equivalent of someone taking a nine-iron and taking swings at your head. Occasionally the club hits its mark and knocks your lights out, and the other times it missed and you throw the middle finger up at the swinger…who precedes to clock you the next time. Lehman? Buh-bye. Bear? Adios. WaMu? Mooove on out. And the list goes on. If you are one of the “lucky” analysts who has kept your job in i-banking, bravo! Despite the hellish hours being spent pitching companies on the idea of IPOs in this shit market, at least you’re still bringing in the big money. And for those of you left to suffer in the worst job market in decades, at least you don’t have to spend all of your waking hours going down on your 20 and 30-something year old associates. You can never try to find your passion, that job you always wanted, rather than the job you only learned about sophomore year in college when you realized that girls dig a guy with cash.

The one thing we can all agree on is this market royally sucks. That bonus from a month ago that you decided to put in stocks because the market had bottomed out? Yeah that’s probably dropped about 20%. Not looking so hot anymore. Plenty of people will tell you, “You’re young, in 5 years when the market is back to normal you’ll be making money.” Thanks for the advice numbnuts, but if I had hid that money under my pillow like any sane person I would still have the same amount of money, and not ¾ of it.

To continue the random tangents of this blog, I’d like to point out to everyone that it doesn’t matter if you’re an i-banker, mortgage broker, gas attendant or bum on the street, everyone has to take some blame for this shitshow. When everything was going well over the past few years, we were all profiting and no one was complaining. Joe NoMoney who couldn’t afford a home suddenly had a nice 3-bedroom in Connecticut that he was able to pay the mortgage for because he could just keep refinancing as his home went up in value. Sure you can blame the bank who decided to not check Joe’s credit history or anything and just give him an adjustable rate mortgage, but at the same time Joe should’ve thought to himself that eventually he’d have to PAY the mortgage payments. You could also blame the investment banks, the Government, and everyone’s favorite couple: Fannie and Freddie. Back in 1999 they decided they’d help out the common folk and buy up this Subprime mortgages ignoring what could happen if housing prices stopped rising, because why would that ever happen…

Link to article about Fannie and Freddie in 1999:

Hilarious explanation of the Subprime crisis:

So while most Americans blame the government for not bailing out the banks right now and have tighter regulation, I say to hell with everyone. These are the same people who during the boom times feel the government should stay out of everyone’s business and let free market principal’s rule. Well if you want the government to let the market figure itself out in the good times, then you must suffer the bad times when people get too loose in their actions and forget about moral hazard. I know it’s awful and I wish the government would come in with the quick fix, but a lot of these companies deserve to fail for giving mortgages to people with no money and who produced no documents. Every sector suffers because of the decisions of the financial sector to produce these risky mortgages that were so profitable for a time. It’s an awful thing, but if we do not want to all suffer like this we’d have to give up the free rein we’ve had for so long and give in to some government regulation. I am all for the regulation, but I just hate that once things get going well again, people will brush off the government and begin begging the government to take off the restraints and let the market roar once again with morals pushed aside.

Good luck to everyone during this tough times.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

44. Procrastination

44. Procrastination

Investment banking analysts may be at the office 24/7, but that doesn’t mean we are working the whole time. While there may be enough to do so, even us elite minds cannot concentrate for 15 minutes straight unless one of our bosses is standing right behind us….shit, sorry sir, back to work…Anyways, like everyone we have the need for speed (the drug not velocity) and also the need to procrastinate, which is why I am typing this entry right now. I have discussed a few ways that analysts procrastinate in other entries of this blog, including Brickbreaker and reading blogs, but these are only the tip of the iceberg my friend. If one wants to become a true analyst master of looking like you are working while you are actually perusing job sites, there are a few things to know, and a few better procrastination tools.

The first thing to know is “Alt + tab.” The combination of this simple keystroke combination, and an open excel model that someone else built in 2002, will make it easy to hide the movie you are watching when an associate or MD walks by your desk. Wouldn’t want them to see you watching “Mamma Mia!” on or, when you are supposed to be building an LBO model for some pitchbook. For any halfwit analyst, using “Alt+tab” becomes a natural instinct whenever you hear footsteps or sense the presence of someone else.

Another brilliant procrastination tool was sent to me a while back that is a few games put into excel. These games includes mini golf and Pac Man (the game with the yellow guy, not the football player who makes it rain in strip clubs), and are simply the full games but pasted into an excel files. This allows you to use “Alt+tab’s” cousin “Ctrl + tab.” Using this nifty shortcut you can easily move to another spreadsheet you have open, so your associate will not have to wonder what your open Internet explorer window is that is hidden.

While I’m the kind of guy that procrastinates with the basic reads, including,, and the intellectual, some people aspire for better sites and procrastination activities. Some analysts like to read about themselves so they turn to blogs written by other analysts or During layoffs and bonus time, Dealbreaker gives little updates called “Bonus Watch 2008” or “Layoff Watch 2008” where analysts can read about what bonuses are given at different banks and what level people are being canned at other banks and their own. If you are an ambitious analyst you can pull a great prank by emailing Dealbreaker and telling them that you heard that half of the analysts in your group are being fired, or that bonuses for analysts at your bank will be half of what they were last year. This will likely cause your fellow analysts to shit the bed and maybe even quit out of misery, which moves you up the bonus ladder. Very niiiiiiice!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

43. Brickbreaker

43. Brickbreaker

In the past cell phone users have been consumed with great games such as Snake, which could keep us occupied for 15-30 minutes while we waited for someone or took a subway somewhere. As times changed and RIM brought us the Crackberry, so too have the games we played changed. Blackberry brought us the game of all games, Brickbreaker. As most of you know, Brickbreaker is basically a new version of the great arcade game, Arkanoid. You fire little bullets at bricks trying to beat different levels and it seems so fascinating while you do it.

The great thing about Brickbreaker is that it gives every analyst an activity for the 15-30 minutes he spends on the toilet every day pretending to have serious stomach malfunctions. My roommate can attest to how time seems to fly by when playing Brickbreaker as he takes the Browns to the Super Bowl, drops the kids off at the pool, or drops bricks. What used to be a 5 minute trip to the john before returning to purgatory at your desk, now is an enjoyable 20 minutes spent blowing shit up thanks to that devil of a blackberry we all have to hold.

I had a fellow analyst in my group who got to 100,000 points on Brickbreaker, which is an amazing accomplish since I have only gotten to 20,000 once before crapping the bed (yes, the pooping theme continues. Analysts are mature creatures). Well when he got to 100,000 points he still had 100 lives remaining and was literally bored of the game because it was too easy for him. After spending a minute calling him a loser and crying because he is that much better than me, I asked him what he would do next. Turns out he was so bored by the easiness of the game that he didn’t even feel like playing anymore. The problem is, this is a kid who is a part of the frequent flyer/crapper club and needed some activity while releasing the hounds. Without this little game to occupy his time in the loo (yeah I went British on you), his mind would be stuck on thinking about how much he hates his job. HELP! What can he do?

I see only one fix. I call on the makers of Oregon Trail to make a game for Blackberries. Not only is this one of the greatest games ever, but it also is pretty darn time consuming. Some other great features that make it the perfect game for analysts is the fact that you can name the characters with the names of those friends of yours that you have not seen in months, and feel like you are right there with them. That is until you cut their rations and they die of cholera, but that’s life… Oregon Trail also gives analysts the ability to use a gun to kill food, which allows us to take out our frustrations on an animal even dumber than an associate. Lastly, Oregon Trail has so many different levels and people that you can be, that the game will never lose its luster. So my fellow analysts, I urge you to join my petition to get this game for the Blackberry, or if it exists, post the link on the comment board. We all thank you in advance, and good luck with the dysentery and caulking that wagon and floating.

Monday, June 23, 2008

42. Mondays

42. Mondays

You’re probably thinking this one is pretty generic and “doesn’t everyone hate Mondays?” Well, you may be right, I may be crazy, but no one hates them as much as an investment banking analyst.

The average twenty-three year old not far out of college works a 9-6 job and can enjoy his nights and weekends. The reason Average Joe hates Mondays so much? Because he just had an amazing Friday night – Sunday night of freedom doing things he loves, and now he is back in a cubicle staring at his Dell.

The reason Dbag I. Banker, IV hates his job? Because he just spent all weekend at work despite the fact that his girlfriend was in town visiting for the first time in 6 months, and now he is at work on a Monday knowing there is no real sleep in sight for at least another 4 days.

I had the luxury of watching Office Space the other night for the hundredth time, which is why this entry sprung to mind. Don’t you just wish you could be like Peter in Office Space when Lundberg tells him to “Um, yeaaaaa, I'm gonna need you to come in on Saturday. And yeaaa, Sunday too”? (Watch from the 4:15 mark to like 6:00 in my opinion). Instead of obeying, just sleep in on Saturday and zone out, fish and enjoy spending time with Jennifer Aniston. Sounds like the perfect weekend to me. Peter basically ruined work ethic for people like me because he made me realize that I do so much useless crap that I just don’t enjoy. I may not fill out a TPS report, but there’s plenty of other mindless procedures. In Office Space, Peter is able to just say “F it” to his job and yet get a promotion through his brutal honesty. Maybe I should try that….

Oh, and for those of you who haven’t seen Office Space, what the hell are you doing with your life? One of the funniest movies of the past decade. Quit watching porn, and rent this from Netflix or Blockbuster, ASAP. It won’t make your life any better, but it will definitely make you laugh at your job and say “Oh, I’ve been there.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

41. Quitting

41. Quitting

The only thing better than being an investment banking analyst? Being an ex-investment banking analyst. It’s the day every analyst dreams of, when he can throw his blackberry against the wall and say, “Peace, I’m out.” This day may not come until two years after you start if you stick to the plan, or even three years if you were not good enough to land a hedge fund or private equity gig. For those more ambitious analysts, or ones who f*ckin’ hate the job, “F you, I quit” day may come much sooner.

The true baller leaves before the first year bonus is even received because of sheer hatred of the job or a better gig. These analysts are usually hated by the firms for not living up to their end of the bargain, but at the same time loved by the firms because they mean less little mooches wasting money on SeamlessWeb, taxis, black cars, and reaping a decent bonus and salary. Making some analysts so miserable that they quit, equals not having to layoff any analysts and being able to continue to say, “Despite our $80 billion loss this quarter, things will not get any worse… at least until we announce next quarter’s results.” The reasons for an analyst to quit pre-bonus are far shorter than post-bonus.

To leave pre-bonus you might hate the job so much you’re willing to leave without a job lined up and will scrub toilets for $10 an hour just to get out of the hell hole. Another reason might be that you found a job at a hedge fund or PE shop, and they want you ASAP for a sizeable signing bonus. Or maybe you miss the days of smashing beer cans against your head and want to return to college for some type of graduate study. The possibilities are endless for leaving pre-bonus, but the analyst usually has a nice gig lined up or truly hates life in investment banking, take your pick.

Far more analysts up to quit the day after bonus day in July or August. This is a terrific “F you” to the firm since you are taking the money and running. These analysts have far more reasons for leaving. After getting a nice sum of money, some opt to do some good in the world by traveling to a third-world country to volunteer or joining a microfinance organization. Others take the bonus money, then take a nice signing bonus from a hedge fund or PE firm and start making even more money. These are the all-star analysts who are money hungry and willing to sell one of their kidneys to make a nickel. These analysts may hate investment banking just as much as the pre-bonus quitters, but they are either smart enough or fortunate enough to be able to wait until after the bonus. Or they just have smaller cahones and are willing to take the pounding in the behind.

For you analysts out there considering taking the plunge and quitting before your two years are up, I applaud you for your year of service and wish you the best in your more enjoyable future ventures. For you analysts who hate the analyst job as much as the next guy but are sticking it out, I urge you to reconsider and search for your passion (and for a job that offers more free time). And finally, for you analysts who enjoy the role and can’t wait for your third year and future roles, what are you smoking and where can I get some of that sh*t?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

40. Models and Bottles

40. Models and Bottles

When my brother asked what I do as an investment banking analyst, my answer to him was simple: “Models and bottles, baby.” He laughed, but soon stopped, as he realized I was not kidding. We do financial models, not fashion models unfortunately, during the day, and drink bottles at clubs at night. Following the common Ivy League mantra of “Work hard, play hard,” investment bankers like to burn the candle on both ends. Need proof? YouTube videos never lie:

Doesn’t sound like too rough of a life, does it? Working hard, but being able to afford convertibles and bottles and hundred dollar drinks at the top clubs in NYC, like the guy in the video. And he’s only an i-banking analyst! What more can one person accomplish upon becoming an associate, and even higher up? Own a club?

While this may sounds like a great life, the truth is that it’s all a lie. Well, at least mostly a lie. There’ absolutely no chance at fashion models, since no one that good looking would work at an investment banker. Yes, I do financial models during the day, but that is only if I’m on an interesting deal. For the most part I do monotonous work in Excel and PowerPoint. As for the bottles part, it’s more like bottles of 3-buck Chuck for me and Red Bull for others. While it is true that some 2nd and 3rd year may get bottles at clubs, there is no way in hell they can afford to do that at the trendy clubs every Thursday-Saturday and buy bottles. And, while the video shows the Analyst in a convertible, I’d say the odds of an analyst being able to afford a nice car to drive and park it in NYC are about as slim as my odds of taking Kimbo Slice in a street fight.

In conclusion, while it makes for a more interesting answer than the real investment banking job description, “models and bottles” is a bit of a stretch. While I love to make it rain like Pacman Jones, it’s just not possible every night. Once a week, maybe.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

39. Comps

39. Comps

Comparable companies analysis is so popular in investment banking that, like Madonna, it simply goes by one name, “comps.” Investment bankers love to look at comps to see how companies in are doing against their competitors. Most presentations will include a page showing the stock price, market cap, and some other financial metrics for the client’s comp set. Some higher ups will opt to include to a simple Excel table with the companies and metrics, but other bosses want to show their creativity with a pretty visual showing where the comps rank against each other in various metrics.

When a higher up want to see the comps for a company he will ask an analyst to “spread the comps.” Usually I opt to reply by telling my boss to spread his butt cheeks and stick the comps up there. I’m guessing he would enjoy that experience if the comp set were big enough... Setting up a comps page in a presentation can be an easy exercise if the group has a file that is updated quarterly for the financials of a bunch of companies in the industry. This will make things easier because it means all I have to do is format a page, which is what an analyst does best. I like to think of myself as a glorified assistant who is the master of the Microsoft suite of products.

During a meeting, a comps page is usually not a huge page of interest, since it is just a whole bunch of numbers and will not convince a company to do a deal or raise capital. However, this comps page can be the most scrutinized by the associate and MD because they want each number to be correct and make sure every company they are interested in is shown. When the boss decides to start adding companies, new metrics, and wants the financials updated for the most recent quarter despite the group file not having been updated yet, this easy comps task but an arduous affair. Digging through 10-Ks, 10-Qs, earnings releases and financial supplements to find company data is about as fun as a trip to the dentist’s office (for the non-masochists out there). After finding all this data, putting it into Excel, and formatting the page as the higher up wants it, the fun still does not end! You may be asking “How much more fun can one analyst have in the job?!?!” Well, my friend, in comes the high-rolling, life-loving, jacka$$ associate who wants to check every single number and make sure the analyst is there to walk him through it all. So, not only did I get to find all the numbers once and note where I got them, but also I have the pleasure of teaching my dimwitted, feeble-minded associate how to read a note in Excel and open PDF files. Hoorayyyyy banking!

Monday, June 16, 2008

38. Training

38. Training

After a year’s worth of service to the investment banking gods, it comes time to teach a new set of fresh minds what it will take to survive the gauntlet I call work. HR and group heads assume that since we completed training only a year ago we know what would be best to teach the new first year analysts. So, they ask/tell us that we will be leading training and that it will “be a great experience” to share our vast ocean of knowledge. Translation: You know how to use Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, so teach the new set of monkeys what they need to know about these programs. Oh my, what an honor, yes I would love the chance to begin sucking the life out of these new analysts.

The real reason the banks are asking analysts to help out with training so much? Another chance to cut costs, of course. Instead of paying companies that specialize in training analysts and have years of experience in the field, I have a better idea! Let’s take a group of twenty-somethings who we are already paying to be analysts, and just have them teach the new analysts to do exactly what they do. No matter if these analysts suck at what they do and will be teaching incorrect methods and shortcuts, as long as we can spend no additional money. Brilliant! Little do they know that analysts don’t want to teach the boring methods and techniques the trainers use, and instead would rather crack jokes that are finance-related. Obviously the new analysts need to hear that “Chuck Norris doesn't buy gold to hedge against inflation. Gold buys Chuck Norris to hedge against inflation.” Also, “Chuck Norris doesn't target inflation. He roundhouse-kicks it until it begs for mercy.” If I had been taught these lessons a year ago, top bucket would have been a walk in the park.

At least the investment banks give analysts an incentive to put maximum effort into the training program. Oh wait….really?....they don’t give analysts any less work or some time of added bonus for volunteering to help?....Wow, that’s just wrong. I’d love to stay and tell you more about FactSet, but I just remembered I’m not paid to be a trainer. It’ll really suck when an MD asks you to do that comp set and you have no clue what that means. I guess the bank should’ve sucked it up and paid some real trainers. Investment banks used to argue over who provided the best training on the street. Now they compete to see who can get the most out of their analysts with the least costs. Social events during training? Hip clubs used to be in, but this year it is all about ice cream socials and scavenger hunts. So much more fun and “New York.” Excuse me while I go teach some new paper pushers how to kiss ass effectively.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

37. Sunset

37. Sunset

For some, the sunset is a beautiful vista that is a great backdrop for a romantic moment. Many people go for a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge to take in the amazing view while the sunsets. That’s all nice and sweet, but some of us don’t enjoy watching The Notebook and crying ourselves to sleep. For those of us that eat raw meat off the bone and use machetes to shave, the red of the sunset is a sign of the blood of our clients that we need to sew up. During these dismal times companies feel the need to shore up their balance sheet by raising a lot of money, and since we know M&A and IPOs are few and far between, we are right there for these companies filling their capital needs. It’s kind of like a fat kid with chocolate. You know you should cut the kid off and tell him more chocolate won’t help his obesity, but you make money when more fatties buy the chocolates. So keep us those bloated balance sheets so I can keep getting a bonus.

Most people are off work by the time the sunsets, but for investment bankers the sunset is when we get to the serious work. Investment bankers put on great performances during meetings and tell a convincing story, but once the sky gets dark, like Dracula, these bloodsuckers begin thinking up the next way to get paid. If every kid stayed away from sweets and brushed his/her teeth, dentists would have no jobs. Same thing goes for investment banks, if we only advised companies to invest in very safe assets and only do a deal if it was bulletproof, how would we keep up our growth? The world isn’t all sunshine and gumballs, and we let clients know that while the sunset may more a beautiful point in their day today, tomorrow the sun could set on their company’s bright and shiny future. So don’t let the sun go down on you because ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, only darkness every day. Raise capital and make acquisitions to avoid being a part of an Elton John or Bill Withers song.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

36. Sports

36. Sports

I have always been a big sports fan but considered it useless knowledge for the most part. I would talk sports with friends and family, but figured watching sports would have no effect on my ability to blend in at an investment bank. Financial modeling skills and industry know-how may help get you middle bucket, but to hit a home run it helps to be able to make small talk with the bigwigs of the company. Politics? Big no-no in office conversations. Religion? STEER CLEAR! Sports? Who doesn’t want to talk about the games that they missed due to work, but saw the highlights of on Sportscenter? A lot of investment bankers were former college athletes, or at least former normal guys who liked to watch the big horse race or catch a baseball game on a weekend. They always talk about teamwork and ability to work under pressure as key elements to being an investment banking analyst, so it’s no surprise that athletes tend to grace the i-bank hallways.

I realized the importance of sports knowledge for the job from two incidents my roommates had at work. My first roommate was on an internal call last year when two of his coworkers began discussing how Barry Bonds was great for a while but now was getting old and worse. Being that it was during his first two weeks, when the call ended my roommate went over to his boss and asked what “barry bonds” were and what kind of interest and maturity schedules they held. His boss laughed, wondered if my roommate was serious, and then told him Barry Bonds was a baseball player. Then, he fired my roommate…just kidding, but the story itself is true. The second instance was not quite as embarrassing. Turns out my roommate’s boss was talking to him about how much Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi was sucking this season and my roommate responded saying, “I guess they shouldn’t have traded Don Mattingly.” For those non-sports fans out there, study up, because Don Mattingly retired about a decade ago, about the same time my roommate stopped trading baseball playing cards and being cool basically.

While sports knowledge is not a necessity, it is damn near close. If you went to Georgetown, you better know they didn’t make it past the Sweet 16 last year because Roy Hibbert is a stiff. If asked to join your group’s fantasy football league, don’t crack a joke telling your coworker to get a life. He’s obviously much cooler than you because he’s the league commissioner. Instead, simply ask a guy friend with some cahones to help you out, and get ready for the draft. I’m not telling you to study the baseball almanac, but simply knowing the big name players to come from your school, how the teams in your area are doing and knowing the rules of the game will help you fit in better around the office.

Sports knowledge is not my problem, so instead I study up for the rare situations I could find myself in. If I wind up in a conversation with non-sports fan coworkers discussing the new Sex and the City movie, you know I’ll be ready to discuss how it got terrible reviews and is not as good as the show, but that it was really nice to see all of the girls together again. Have I seen it? No, but I’m not going to let them box me out of the conversation. And nor should you during a sports talk. So use this as your playbook and make you homepage.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

35. Starbucks

35. Starbucks

Investment banks and Starbucks go together like Barry Bonds and steroids. The former relies on the latter to be great. Bonds was a top player before steroids but after he started juicing in the 90s he started hitting home runs at a record rate and eventually broke the record for single-season and all-time home runs. Investment banks would do a fine job without the goods from Starbucks but earnings would be down more and most bankers would pass out on the jobs. Starbucks helps juice the i-bankers up to work long hours and be happy doing monotonous work.

Starbucks is not only the place where bankers get their caffeine kicks, but it also serves as a common meeting place to get out of the office. It’s the perfect excuse because no boss will deny his analysts the chance to get some caffeine so they can stay awake all night. Starbucks has become a staple in our society, serving as the place to casually meet someone and chat. In the eyes of a lonely investment banking guy, it may serve as a place to have a pseudo-date. In the eyes of the girl it may just be seen as two friends catching up, but we won’t count her opinion.

Starbucks cups litter the offices of investment banks and serve as trophies of our hard work. Lucites may show the deals we have done, but Starbucks leftovers show the hours we put in even for the pitches and internal meetings. They say, “Behind every great man, there’s a great woman.” Well, below or next to every investment bank is a Starbucks. Separately they are top of the heap, but together they become truly great.

34. Pandora

34. Pandora

Although it has been around at least three years (when I found it), a different investment banker will claim to have found this wonderful website once a month. allows you to make music stations that will play music from your favorite artists and artists that the program thinks are similar to the artist you like. Pretty nifty program for someone who likes hearing new music from artists they may not know, and for the occasional cheap investment banker who doesn’t want to pay for an ipod or to download legal music.

When an investment banker is “jamming” on work late at night, it can be helpful to have some music playing to jam while you “jam” (and maybe even eat some jam too...awful joke). Anyways, Pandora is a favorite of investment bankers because you can create multiple channels and don’t have to get bored by the same ol’ music on your ipod. What’s so amazing is that despite everyone liking the program and it being around for years, people still discover it today and think they have found a hidden treasure. This person, usually an associate obviously, will come over to an analyst claiming to have found the greatest thing since sliced bread only to be told that the website has been around for years. This leads to tears followed by me being given another few hours of boring work. But at least I made him feel like shit for a few minutes, I’ll take that to the grave!

I recommend you all try out the website, use it enough to realize that after a few customizations you channel will play the same 20 or so songs, then be prepared to snicker at the next person who brings it up. Amateurs.

Monday, June 9, 2008

33. Hierarchy

33. Hierarchy

Investment banks have the ultimate hierarchical structure where employees know the rungs of the ladder they have to climb. If you join as an analyst you can expect 3 years in that role, another 3 years as an associate, a few years as a Vice President (or the equivalent depending on the bank), then another rung before reaching the ultimate sanctuary of Managing Director-hood. This seems like a nice, simple set of steps, but in order to succeed in this game of investment banking you must survive the gauntlet of down markets and layoffs. Oh yeah, and you also must be sure to be halfway-decent at what you do because there’s no room for someone who sucks (unless he or she is an associate)

For analysts, the hierarchy in banking provides some pros and cons. The advantages from this structure include the ability to know the path your life can take if you work hard, and know your potential earnings. The analyst can see that all the crap work he does has a light at the end of the tunnel, even if that light will cause him to look 60 by the time he’s 40 and never have a nice family life. But what’s important is that green light the analyst can see (incase you’re a bit slow, the light is green because green is the color of MONEY). The other positive that comes from the investment banking hierarchy is that it means less pressure on the analyst. Boss, there’s a mistake in the presentation? Oh, I guess the associate should have checked that closer. While every analyst should check his work and take pride in his ability to not need an associate, in those rare slipups, it is nice to be able to shuffle some of that blame off to your richer, older, and “wiser” associate.

The main negative of the investment banking hierarchy is the layers of bosses. Instead of just one boss that I respect and view as knowledgeable, I also have a middle manager (AKA associate) that I don’t always respect and think of as less knowledgeable than myself (associate). As an investment banking analyst I have so many bosses. There are the managing directors and others who have been in banking for many years and can drop knowledge on me at any moment. They also draw up the presentations and know what they want to say in the meetings with clients. Beneath these veterans are the rookies in the game who seem to think they are veterans. First-year associates with no investment banking experience want to show analysts that they are older and wiser (false), while showing the higher ups that they can one day join the upper echelon of the firm. The problem is, I now have to act like the associate is my boss, and so if I am on a call with the associate and a higher up, I have to dumb myself down so that I do not throw my associate “under the bus.” I have been on a call where the higher up got tired of the associate not picking up a simple concept and called me out asking if I understand and can just do it, and I said “yes” because he is my boss in the overall scheme of things. The problem with this is that I work more directly with the associate daily, so he will now take pride in screwing me over and giving me even more useless work all so he can concentrate on reading and being able to appear smarter than me next time. Stupid system.

Overall, I’d say the system is a mess thanks to first-year associates trying to impress at all moments and wield their power, when in reality they do not know the concepts or computer tricks and would be lost without analysts. Overpaid and under worked I say. Pay me the same amount as them and I’d at least earn it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

32. Trash Talking

32. Trash Talking

The second associate X leaves our bullpen one of my cubemates immediately throws a pen where X was standing and curses him out as if he was still there. Of course my fellow analyst is not stupid enough to talk back to the associate and tell him that he is a useless lowlife. Instead he opts for the safer route of talking sh*t once the associate leaves the area and letting all of us know how dumb and demeaning the X is towards him.

While in sports athletes like Chad Johnson and Sam Cassell will talk trash to your face in the middle of the game, investment bankers are not quite as tough. At every level of the food chain, bankers know better than to talk trash directly to the people above them. Yes, this may be true in every workplace, but investment banks fill themselves with employees who finished at the top of their class in school so think they are smarter and more deserving than the next guy. The egos are huge, the testosterone is at Barry Bonds level, and the trash talking in prevalent in whispers. You can cut the tension with a knife!

With a job like investment banking where more than 50% of the compensation is from the bonus, employees rely on getting good reviews from their bosses and peers. That means taking it in the rear from your bosses and always seeming like you’re working hard and happy to be doing so. The truth is, once the boss turns his head you are flicking him off and mocking his voice to your confidants in your group. Not the ideal environment but investment banking is a dog-eat-dog world where a lot of money hungry people are fighting for an even smaller pie of bonuses. While you are talking smack about your boss or peers, they are probably doing the same thing about you, except their word actually means something. Gotta love a true hierarchy….

Friday, June 6, 2008

31. Summer

31. Summer

Warm weather, Hamptons, sun, beaches, bonuses, interns, vacation and girls in skimpy clothing. All things that come to the mind of a young investment banking analyst when the calendar hits June. Oh yes, we may be saying goodbye to those wonderful second year analysts who taught us first year analysts so much, but at the same time we are bringing in a fresh crop of young minds that we can make do our dirty work. I can now pass on my knowledge of modeling, PowerPoint, Excel, moving my mouse to make it seem like I’m working and avoiding staffings.

The workload drops a bit during the summer thanks to bosses taking summer vacations with their families. This marks the first time they have seen their families on a weekday since Labor Day. We are taught to pretend that we are doing important things so that interns can feel like they are really accomplishing stuff, when truthfully they are doing meaningless tasks that will be scrutinized but never used. A lot of the work during the summer is teaching interns, assisting with the training of interns and future analysts, and coming up with a list of the girls who turned me down over the years and shoving my top tier bonus in their face. I’m Rick James b*tch!!

The easy days of summer mean finding some time to do things you wouldn’t normally be able to do during a workday. Last summer I found the time to go to a Red Sox-Yankees game during the day while my some of my coworkers went to a taping of the Letterman show. Sure, there are still some pitches and deals going on, but people lose their SAD disorder and the mood turns brighter. Most of the people are still d-bags, but at least they are happier d-bags now who will be less likely to screw your weekend if it could mean them missing their trip to the Hamptons.

My advice to you, plan for the best, but be prepared for the worst. And if someone tries to screw you over for the weekend, just remind him that the money to pay for your cancelled trip comes directly out of his bonus. That’ll get’em every time.

Summer, summer, summertime.
Time to sit back and unwind.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

30. 3rd Year

30. 3rd Year

As an investment banking analyst I signed a 2 year contract. I am able to break the contract before the time is up, and as a few of my friends have come to learn, the firm is able to terminate the contract early as well. So, what to do after your two years in banking are up (if you are not laid off before)? The opportunities are endless. The classic routes are hedge funds and Private Equity. These paths are both the roads more traveled, and allow analysts to continue on the paths of finance and “get rich quick.” Another route involves staying with your investment banking firm in some capacity, whether it be to continue as a whipping boy, or move to some other, less painful for your rear, position within the firm. And, if you want to go nuts, you can do something completely different than these three paths, but that would imply some extra effort and veering from the set paths, so let’s play it safe.

The craze about a third year begins in January of the first year of being an analyst. It is completely crazy and as they like to say, “it happens earlier every year.” Well this year, after the New Year struck we were off to the races. Unlike years past where everyone was putting on the PE or hedge fund hat, people have legitimately been considering staying put. If you are an analyst at a bulge bracket bank, it is definitely the safest place to be, and if you are one of the ones laid off you get a pretty sweet severance package of a few months salary and a bonus. Not too shabby, especially if you can manage to find a new job within a few months time. There are also those who consider a third year somewhere at the bank because they may have not been a true, hardcore investment banker, but instead wallowed their days away in capital markets, sales & trading, or a smaller, less baller firm. The headhunters don’t actually knock down the doors for these folks, so they are “lucky” enough to be able to learn more about the wonderful world of investment banking. Woo hoo!

As the end of the first year for some analysts approaches, and the exit door for some second year analysts draws near, we all converse about what each other’s plan is for the third year. It’s the hot gossip on the street and will change the marketplace for the coming year. If more analysts stay put, investment banks can hire less in the coming year and continue their cost cutting affair. This will mean a shortage of talent for the hedge funds and PE shops, but who really cares since half of them will go under in this bear market anyways. The real warriors of this game are the ones who step out of the box and shoot for the stars. Just because you went to an ivy league school, got to choose between consulting and i-banking, and can now choose between hedge funds, private equity, and more i-banking, does not mean you have to continue to follow this path. Break the mold! There is more out there, it just requires some effort. These high paying, high hour jobs come calling for the top students because they know these kids are smart and willing to put in the hours. But what if we are smart enough to know that we can earn a little less money for a lot less hours, thus increasing our happiness and maybe only slightly decreasing our pay per hour? Sounds like a great deal to me! So be a rebel and go for the gold (Yes the Olympics are coming up).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

29. Charity

29. Charity

Investment bankers tend to make more money than the average cat. Most people in their first year out of college will barely scrape by and are paying off their college loans at the same time. Investment banking analysts on the other hand can afford to live in a nice doorman building and frequent high class establishments list 230 5th and Scores (a nice family entertainment center…). As you move up the food chain of an investment bank the money becomes very ridiculous and you wonder what a single person at the age of 32 who has done i-banking for 10 years does with all the money he makes. The answer? Hookers. But seriously, it is very unclear, since getting people to give to charity can be like pulling teeth.

As an investment banking analyst, I realize I don’t need all the money I make and can give money to my friends looking to save the world in Africa, or to a charity for kids in need. Once you are out in the business world for a few years and join as an associate it seems that connection fades a bit. With job security very unclear in the current marketplace, especially at the associate and other junior levels, it makes sense to be careful with your money and not “make it rain” every night you go out. But can these people making hundreds of thousands of dollars not manage their expenses well enough to save some money to give to charities run through their company? It only makes sense to give to company sponsored charities during the very few times a year you are asked since you never know who finds out if you gave. Also, these people should be giving since there are great causes and these people make HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! Just doesn’t make sense when first year analysts are more charitable than first year associates. Maybe we’re just better people?

Investment bankers love to make money but become Ebenezer Scrooge when you ask them for a dime. Puh-puh-puh-please mista, spare me a quarter. I’m not trying to parade around as some saint who gives money to every charity and everyone who asks, but I also know that there are times when it’s the right thing and smart thing to do. Do you really want to be the cheapskate in the office who stiffs some little kids with cancer so you can buy a new 10k watch? Show a little heart.

Monday, June 2, 2008

28. Advice

28. Advice

As investment bankers grow in age and title they seem to become sages. They like to impart the great knowledge they have garnered over their fine careers to those beginning in the investment banking world. Every young person seeks the advice of his (or her, but it’s a pain to always write “his or her,” sorry) elders on what to do with life, how to make a good impression, what the right career path is, and anything else that a young person worries about when he starts out in the workplace. All this advice is nice and good, but there is no set path. Sure, it’s great to hear someone older saying you took a great job and it will open many doors, but it is very dependent on the individual. No one can guide you, you just have to take the journey like everyone else and try to avoid too big of bumps in the road. Still, it is always interesting to hear what your elders have done and it allows you to learn from others mistakes and try to avoid similar mistakes.

While the advice of elders is usually sought after and more general life path questions from young people, senior investment bankers take their own path in the advice giving game. Investment bankers, whether they be senior Managing Directors or even just at the associate level, will give analysts advice as well, but most of the time it will be without the young analyst seeking out the advice. That is because the advice of these i-bankers is not real advice, it is more like “you should do things this way or else you will get a lower bonus and not succeed.” They are trying to mold analysts a certain way so that we did not try to be our own person and maintain our personality. Rather, they want you to be like a certain second-year analyst who got the top bonus last year because that analyst is willing to burn himself out to be at the beck and call of his bosses. No thank you, I’d rather be who I am and work as hard as I can at my job, without selling my soul “to the man” and spending my days kissing the behinds of my bosses.

Other times the advice will be like, “Remember to always double-check your work” or “you should really do comps manually for the learning experience.” In the first case, the associate would be giving this “advice” (or “common knowledge”) so that he can have less work to do. He’s not saying this as some wise words that the analyst doesn’t already know, he’s saying this because what he really means is, “I don’t want to have to check over you work closely, so you check it over instead while I go to the gym.” The second little piece of advice in the first sentence could be from any level boss, but once again would likely be from an associate. The analyst will be told it is to be sure that we get the most precise and correct numbers. Which is mostly true, but the real reason is because someone maybe him do it as an analyst so he wants to make you feel the same pain. Nifty concept, eh? The numbers may differ by a tenth, which may make a difference in an M&A situation, but when these comps are just going into a pitch and will not be examined closely, or really at all, by a client, does one million dollars out a few billion really matter? Pocket change my friend.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

27. Blogs

27. Blogs

Despite our busy schedules and long hours, investment bankers are willing to dedicate time to read others’ blogs. When life gets you down, not that I am down by any means, a funny blog can really make your day. Whether it is or Leveraged Sellout (or this blog), my fellow investment bankers and I love to hear about the twisted lives of others in banking or finance. Even if I haven’t had the exact experience, I can relate to it usually. And even if I can’t relate to it, I can steal the story and pass it off as my own (not on this blog though, I do NOT support plagiarism).

The reason i-bankers love reading these sites is that they tend to sound so ridiculous, but still sound pretty real. The leveraged sellout guy will talk about all sorts of parties and experiences, and it may sound crazy to most, but I know there’s people I work with who have those same stories and secrets in their back pockets. Whether they promote clubs in their free time or help run real estate companies, investment banking analysts tend to have some pretty interesting stories that “stay in the vault.” I stick to simply working, working out, and sleeping. Not quite as exciting, but I’ve kept my eyes and ears open enough to take in the craziness around me. So watch out, because you never know who’s watching or listening and will blog about your wild times. You may read about yourself here….

Happy blogs? Bankers don’t like them, can’t relate to them. Bitter blogs? Bankers know where the person is coming from and feel their pain. Many investment banking analysts will be happy on the outside and cheerfully accept another boring, “time sensitive” pitch book, but on the inside will be cursing out their lazy associates and mind-changing bosses. It happens to all of the analysts, even those who deny it day in and day out. Sit down with an analyst over a few drinks, and by beer number 4 (because bankers develop low tolerances) the analyst will be telling you all about the a-holes and d-bags he works with and how if he ran the show everything would be more efficient and business would be roaring. So for both the bitter-denying and truly bitter analysts, blogs are their safe haven where they can read about their pain in the open and know that they are not alone. (Cut to Celine Dion singing “All by myself”….)

Friday, May 30, 2008

26. Facebook

26. Facebook

As an investment banking analyst it is often times very difficult to stay in touch with your friends. You may live within 10 blocks of your good friends but still not see them because of the hours and your lack of willingness to move when you have free time. Thank god for Facebook. Thanks to this great website, investment banking analyst can see their friends all the time! Hell, I can even poke my best friend to remind him I’m thinking of him. And if I’m really crazy, I can let everyone that I’m alive and post a message on someone’s wall to say hello, since just emailing or calling is just out of style these days.

Some investment banks allow Facebook to be used at work, while some want to restrict their analysts from any relationships with the outside world so they block the website. For the analysts who can use Facebook at work, this provides not only a great procrastination tool, but also a way to become friends with your coworkers. And by “friends” I mean friends on Facebook since every analyst has walked by his or her boss’s office and seen him on Facebook checking out his buddy’s new photos. The first time I saw my boss on Facebook I thought it was hilarious since I figured people in their mid-30s wouldn’t be joining a site that wasn’t started until they were way out of college. But then I came to realize that they too have been stuck in the office 100 hours a week so they need Facebook to stay in touch with their wives and kids…

The best Facebook experience was when I was working with one of my bosses on a deal for a client who was being a real pain. We were at our respective desks at around 10pm on a Friday night when a message from him pops up on my screen. A link to Facebook is in the message which makes me chuckle. Then I open the link to find a photo of our client who had been emailing us on a beach in a man-thong. A sight for sore eyes, but a great bonding experience with my boss. It’s not every day you get to see the true stalker within your boss.

I agree that my generation is more awkward in social situations (at least I am) due to the fact that we grew up chatting on AOL and living in a Facebook world. But, what we lack in one-on-one conversation skills, we make up for in our ability to never to navigate the Facebook interface in milliseconds and poke 20 people in 10 seconds. It may seem like a useless skill now, but in a world that is becoming more and more ruled by the internet and virtual communications, I say my generation is well prepared to rule the world. Go poke yourself!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

25. Interns

25. Interns

It’s summer time and you know what that means? Great weather, analyst bonuses, sunburns, and, best of all, interns. Ah yes, investment banking interns, the newest low man on the totem pole. No longer are the first year analysts the ones given the mind-numbing tasks like making company profiles or finding the names of the CEOs for the top 100 companies. Nope, no longer will the first year analyst be staying at work until 3am to wait for books to be printed. The interns are here! The interns are here!

These college juniors are willing to work their little butts off for 10 weeks to join the elite class of investment bankers. They all know that interviewing for jobs in the fall is an arduous, time-consuming task, so they would rather lockup a job after the summer. During these times when even first year analysts are being fired, interns surely know how difficult it is to score a sweet gig like being an investment banker. Need someone to hand deliver a presentation to Long Island? Intern boy is your man. Second year analysts are either physically gone or gone in spirit come summer time so there is plenty of work to be had by these interns. It might not be the most exciting work, but if they pretend to enjoy it and try to learn from the wise first year analysts they may find themselves a nice gift under their Christmas tree at the end of their internships.

I avoided this daunted task of being an investment banking intern for fear of hating the job so much and settling for some low paying job. This led to a brutal senior fall interviewing with 50 different firms and kissing a$$ every day for two months just to land a job. My advice is help the analysts with their work and try to soak up some knowledge while doing quite a bit of mindless work. The key is to not get taken advantage of, but at the same time don’t refuse to do something because you think it is beneath you. You may have gone to Wharton and know how to do a financial model like the back of your hand, but being an intern is like being in the minors or being a bench warmer. You have to earn your spot in the big leagues, so be patient and do what you can to position yourself for a top review and a job offer. Good luck young grasshoppers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

24. Junk Food

24. Junk Food

Investment bankers are always at their computers just hammering away at work and trying to get things done quickly. Sometimes hunger comes calling and you can’t leave your desk at the moment. Or maybe you just had a meal an hour ago so just need some snack to hold you over. No matter what the exact reason is, investment bankers always like to keep some snacks around their desk (or go mooch off an analyst). Some people opt for some healthy snacks like wheat thins or apples, while others go for the M&Ms or greasy chips.

I know that when I sit in my chair for 14 hours a day doing nothing but playing on my computer, the last thing I want to do is put more crappy food in my stomach. I need food that can give me some energy, and not make me feel like an unhealthy shlub while I try to get my work done. Not everyone thinks like me though. Actually, most people think the opposite way. If you are going to sit around and be miserable doing work, you want some food that will make you happy like chocolate and greasy food.

“Comfort food” as they call it in the South may keep these bankers happy in the short term, but as their asses grow bigger than their chairs they probably won’t be as happy. Investment bankers will eat this tasty food then continue to sit in their chairs staring at the computer screen for another few hours, before going to bed and starting it all again the next day. What’s funny is that the people who eat this crap food are the ones who work out the least and need more caffeine because they are not putting the right food in their body as energy. Instead they’re eating the food that will just sit in their stomach, weighing their ass down in the chair to leave a larger imprint. Wise move my friend.

Here’s my suggestion. Hide all that junk food in your desk and put mousetraps around it. Then, next time your thick fingers reach for that crap you will get a little shot of pain and think twice about junk food. You will also think twice about setting up mousetraps in your apartment when you realize how painful they are. Animal cruelty is just wrong my friend. So have some Jamba Juice, try an apple, and meet your new friend the treadmill (or elliptical). Good luck to you investment banker.

Monday, May 26, 2008

23. Lying

23. Lying

“Hey Billy, can you help me out with this presentation? It will only be a couple of slides and should only take a few hours?”
“Yeah, sure. I’d be happy to help.”

Fast forward to Saturday night at 8pm:
“Billy, are you done with the 5th round of edits yet? How is page 45 looking? Did you do that model of that small Tanzanian company with no financials I asked you about? I think that would really make this book complete. We can just meet tomorrow at 8am if that works for you?”
“Yeah, sounds great. I think that’s a terrific idea. Who wouldn’t want to by a small Tanzanian company during volatile markets? See you then! Who needs a weekend?!?”

A little extreme but you get the idea. Higher ups love to throw the bait out there telling an analyst that it won’t be much work, and then once they have us hooked, they decide to torture us. I’d rather they tell me the truth and I be miserable to start out, than being lied to. But this lying is part of the game. Just like an analyst may tell the staffer he is busier than he is, higher ups lie to try to get analysts to accept their staffings and start off in a good mood. That’s when they stick the pole right up your….

The lying doesn’t just occur when it comes to avoiding or giving work, but it occurs in every day interactions around the office.
“Hey Jim, how’s your day going?”
“Great, how about you?”
“Great, thanks. Enjoy your weekend.”
“Always do.”

“Hey a-hole, I hope you’re more miserable than I am.”
“That I am. I may take the window exit instead of the elevator. You?”
“Getting hit by a bus may be less painful than this. Hope I see you in the office this weekend since I’ll be here.”
“Yup, screw yourself. See you here d-bag.”

Sound a bit crazy and bitter? Well it is. Like everywhere else, people say “Hey, how are you?” in the hallways, and everyone responds with a “Good” or “Fine.” Ever heard anyone say “I’m tired and miserable, you?” It just doesn’t happen. Investment bankers expect each other to lie when asked how they are doing or how much work they have. It’s like some sort of hidden code. Why tell the truth? That’s so 1990s and un-banker.

I do not condone this lying but it just starts consuming you in this job. I can’t just break down and share my feelings with everyone. Need to keep my armor on and show them I can take the pain. Thank you sir may I have another! Just call me Maximus.

Friday, May 23, 2008

22. Bonuses

22. Bonuses

As an investment banking analyst I am paid a salary that I can live on and not feel like I have to penny pinch. Many people my age don’t earn this much, but many people my age don’t work as many hours. Paralegals get paid time and a half for working after a certain time. Investment bankers on the other hand get a bonus that in a good year is over half of their compensation. The bonus is not guaranteed, but has grown significantly over the past 5 years, and many have come to expect the trend to continue. While this is probably a pipe dream given the bad condition of the markets, many analysts spend beyond their base salary in anticipation of the bonus. Not wise since even analysts can be laid off during the worst of times.

The bonus paid every summer to investment banking analysts isn’t just about the money. It’s about where you rank. All throughout our lives we have been ranked by GPA and usually knew where we stood up against our peers. The SATs gave another numerical way to separate high school students. This trend continues as an investment banking analyst in that analysts in a group are ranked against each other by the higher ups of the group, and these ranks will determine who gets the top “bucket” bonus and who gets the bottom tier. Well, the problem with this ranking system is that there is no way for our bosses to judge us based on some simple number, such as GPA. And, if we are in a large group, we may not even work with the same bosses, so when it comes time to rank us, they are basing the rankings on subjective views of different people. The bosses with more time or have formed a better relationship with an analyst, can mean the difference between top bucket and bottom bucket.

For analysts, bonuses are a huge deal because it means our bank accounts spike up from hovering above $0. Bonuses are the talk of the Street throughout the year and as spring turns into summer, the rumors start flying around. “I heard bonuses are being cut from 80k to 40k.” “Bill always leaves first, he better not get a higher bonus than me.” What started as a teamwork situation with all of the analysts wanting to help each other out, turns into a dog-eat-dog world where each analyst is just looking to show his/her own goods. The difference between $50,000 and $60,000 is huge for someone who doesn’t even have $10,000 in his bank account. The sad part is, no matter which size bonus I get, it will still be much more than I had. So why break my back to fight for a few more dollars, when I’d much rather work fewer hours and lead a happier, healthier life style than always be in the office after midnight. So enjoy your extra money bonus money Analyst X, while I sleep with your girlfriend who said you wouldn’t be back for another few hours…

Thursday, May 22, 2008

21. Leaving Your Mark

21. Leaving Your Mark

Whenever someone puts a document on an investment banker’s desk to be reviewed, the i-banker is required to make at least one edit on the page. It can be as simple as crossing off a comma, or as scrupulous as going through the document with a fine-toothed comb and basically reworking the whole thing. This “rule” mainly applies to associates whose job it is to check over an analyst’s work.

An associate could be MIA during my meticulous preparation of a presentation over the course of a few days. He may not even have a clue what materials I put together if he missed the initial meeting with the higher up. But when it comes time for the presentation to be shown to the higher up for a review, the associate will show up out of thin air, red pen and calculator in hand. Before I can print the final copy and show our boss, the associate will make a few useless edits like using a synonym of a word or throwing in an extra adjective. Then when we go to review the presentation with our boss the associate will be quick to mention that he only took a quick look at the presentation (AKA, he is not responsible for any mistakes I made), but that he made some changes and added a few things he thought were missing. Sneaky little bastards.

What a dog does with his pee, associates do with red pens. Marking your territory is a key element of investment banking and associates are quick to act to show their value. Sure, associate X may not have seen the document for more than five minutes, but there is no way he is going to let an analyst take credit for days of work, when X can share the credit while doing no work. Gotta avoid the firing squad at banks somehow I guess.

As an analyst, I’ve come to expect this treatment and will try to avoid the last second pee marking at all costs. When the associate stops by to ask when we are meeting our boss, I will calmly tell him the meeting has been pushed back. Then, when I noticed the associate has stepped away from his desk for a bit I will go to our boss’s office and review the document, being sure to tell him that the associate has been tied up so I decided to complete the presentation solo. Point me. Then, when the associate later asks me when the review session has been pushed back to, I will tell him our boss came by and grabbed me while the associate was away. Smooth, I know. Works like a charm.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

20. Team Building

20. Team Building

When I was applying for investment banking jobs one of the main characteristics banks were looking for was the ability to work well in a team. Sure, they also wanted smart, independent and hard working individuals, but they really emphasized teamwork. I was not on a team sport in college which I felt would hurt my chances, but alas I prevailed and made it into the world of investment banking.

Once I started working as an analyst I realized that when they meant teamwork, what they really meant was the 12th man on the Cavs whose role is basically to be pushed around by Lebron James. Sure, Lebron will tell you the deaf 12th man is an important part of the team, but they would be perfectly fine without him, it’d just be one less guy to pound on in practice. An investment banking analyst is like that 12th man in that while I am told that I’m a vital member of the team, I know that I am there to pound out the boring, monotonous work and just do as I am told. Sure, like the 12th man, I may be needed at some point to do some actual hard work, but for the most part I’m simply a paper pusher.

How does this relate to the topic team building you may be asking yourself (or you’re already closing the browser)? Well, investment banks want to make everyone feel like they are important even if they are not, so the banks hold events to socialize. Certain groups may go to a happy hour, go bowling together, go to a baseball game, or simply sit around in the office with some chips and beer. No matter the activity, the purpose is to get to a more personal level with coworkers and feel like we are one big, happy family. Banks try to hide the fact that they are working our bright, young minds into a comatose state, by occasionally appeasing us with some free beer and games. First they turn our minds into mush by abusing us, then when they know we have the brain of a 16 year old again, they throw free beer at us and we start jumping through hoops again like the smart puppies we are. How I thought of these analogies, I have no clue. It’s late, so lay off me.

P.S. Speaking of team building, check out Will Ferrell’s “Green Team” on, hilarious! GREEN TEAM!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

19. Blackberries

19. Blackberries

Blackberries, AKA Crackberries, are both a favorite and least favorite of investment bankers. It all depends on whom you ask.

Ask a Managing Director or some other bigwig and he will tell you that Blackberries are a great device because they allow you to be connected at all times. Even when he is out of the office the managing director can still respond to important emails, stay connected to the Internet, and badger his analyst over work he wants done ASAP. The bigwigs will praise RIM for inventing this magnificent technology and thank JPMorgan CitiGold for implementing these devices in the workplace for every investment banker. Yippee!

Ask an analyst such as myself and you will get a different answer. The blackberry is simply a leash that means I’m always on call. You’re heading to Tanzania to go hiking for a week? Great, bring your Blackberry incase we need you to do work. Oh and don’t worry, your Blackberry will have service in the rainforest. Thanks Blackberry! Why would I want to get away from the office and not feel like I’m still connected? And the bonus is, that we are given one of the original models that are about 6’2”, 180 lbs. Comfortable to wear on one’s hip and very stylish. 10:00pm on a Saturday night, at the bar downing number five on the night when the Tasmanian devil starts vibrating in my back pocket. Could anything really be that important on a late Saturday night? It’s not like I’m a doctor and am needed for a rare surgery that only I know how to do. Call me crazy, but I’m guessing we could wait until the morning and no one will die.

While the work Blackberry may be the worst thing since the square wheel, I am not hating on the personal Blackberry. These bad boys are a great way to stay in touch with friends and loved ones on your personal email while at work. Procrastination here I come! They’re also a great way to look at sites that the company restricts at work…. Very niiiiiiice!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

18. Headhunters

18. Headhunters

Every year the animals begin hunting their prey earlier. This year, as a New Years present, the headhunters (or “Executive Search firms”) begin the first week of 2008 calling first year analysts and trying to them from their horrible place in the world to the fairy land of Hedge Funds and Private Equity firms. Think of going from Atlantic City to Las Vegas. Actually, those are both fun. Think of going from maximum-security prison to minimum-security prison. Headhunters want to convince me that they are only here to help me and really care where I wind up. Truthfully, they get paid as long as the firm likes me, so they can care less if I am happy. What about me?!?

These vultures attack by air, sea, and land (or phone and email). They called wanting to setup meetings right away so that I can get ahead of the process. In reality, they want to get to me first so that incase I’m a top candidate (which I am) and am interested in these jobs (which I’m not), they will be able to bring me around to all the firms and get paid off of me. Yes, it’s a great opportunity for me to meet top firms and land a great job that pays well, but don’t pretend like you care about my well-being. The headhunters try to charm me with their young, blond headhunters who will try to convince me that they will do what it takes to help me. I feel like I’m living in a land of multiple pimps who all want to prostitute me out. I would look good in a skimpy outfit but that’s besides the point….

After a while it started being fun. See the headhunters send out mass emails to all of the analysts they have met with, but sometimes they want to act like it is personal and throw in my name and a “thought this might interest you Jimmy.” The funny thing is, they once sent me a job for a place I had worked at and told them I hated. Caught in your web of lies headhunters!

I met with a dozen headhunters, gave them the story they wanted to hear about how I like my job but think I would love the opportunity to work at a PE shop or hedge fund. I have been investing since I was in the womb and have beaten the markets 30 times, once with 10 lives remaining. They ate it up like chocolate cake (the moist cakey type with frosting) and poof, my inbox has been filled for months with job opportunities all over the country. I try to not pickup the phone, or return their emails or calls, but they are persistent little creatures. I guess I should be happy with all of the attention they gave me. It’s not every day that beautiful women in New York City call and email me begging to talk or meet me. NBD

Thursday, May 15, 2008

17. Recruiting

17. Recruiting

I remember back in my college days, bread only cost a nickel and the beer flowed like water. There’s nothing investment bankers like more than reminiscing about college, back when we were happy and out drinking until 3am instead of doing financial models all night. Since we work seven days a week usually it is tough to make it back to college to relive our glory days. One perk of working in a big investment bank is that the banks need to recruit the next batch of eager, bright young minds to beat down into a tired, sorry state. In order to connect with the college students, investment banks send analysts and higher ups up to the schools to recruit and to interview students for internships and full-time jobs. And in a good market we would even hire some of these people! Instead, we just interview to show them we are still around and one day will hire again.

In the fall when they needed people to go up and talk to students about life as an investment banking analyst, I was the first one to email back and volunteer my services. Fiiiine, I’ll schlep all the way to my alma mater and talk to kids for two hours about a job I’d only been doing for a month. I’m sure I could provide a lot of insight. The real perk of recruiting is getting to go back to school and see old friends and enjoy the nightlife again. Yeah, I may have worn a suit, had students kissing my ass thinking I could get them jobs, and got beers before beautiful girls, but otherwise it was just like being back there as a student….

While in college I may have been a dork who worked my ass off to land a top investment banking job, now I am a hot shot making more money than the hunks in college, and can afford a date better than the local pizza shop. Oh, life in the fast lane has its perks…. In reality, the girls now look at me like I’m some 30 year old who is way past his prime and a sleezeball for hanging out in college frats. Oh well. Even though I can drink even less than I could a year ago, at least I’m not one of the college seniors still fighting for a job and going out into a more unstable workforce. I plan to wear my investment banking analyst job as a badge of pride as I recruit and will continue to try to woo more students to work with me (and do my work). You can take the kid out of college, but you can’t take college pride out of me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

16. Thank You

16. Thank you

Boss: “Joe, I need you to get started on this model over the weekend and if you’re free Saturday night, complete this pitchbook so I can look at it Sunday morning then you can make corrections all day Sunday.”
Joe: “Will do. Thanks.”

Thanks? Yeah, I didn’t really want to have any free time this weekend after working my ass off during the week, so thanks! For some reason, analysts feel the need to close out everything they say to higher ups by saying thank you, or thanks. If I just tell my boss that I’ll do something or simply send a short email with no clear ending, it seems like I’m being rude. I’m just an analyst, I should be thankful for all the work I can get because now is my time to learn the business. It’s not my time to enjoy my life, meet new people in a new city, or sleep. That’s for later in life. After I retire.

There’s nothing worse than being told that I should just be thankful for having this experience. Lots of people would die to have this job and make the same kind of money. My “friend” told me this is like the movie Devil Wears Prada, in that the lead girl is told so many people would love to have her job and that it will open a million doors for her. All she has to do is sacrifice part of her 20s and risk losing her friends and loved ones. On the one hand I am very thankful for the job that pays me well, opens door and looks good on a resume, but I am not thankful for the boring, tedious, time-consuming work that seems to appear Friday at 5pm. “Thank you so much sir for putting me on a wild goose chase to find numbers in companies’ financials that only exist for the one company you used as an example. I could have been hanging out with my friend who is visiting for the first time in a year, but thanks for the experience!”

It’s hilarious because every time a fellow analyst is given a lot of boring, time consuming work to do he or she will say thank you on the phone or in an email, then immediately bitch to the rest of us about how pissed he or she is. This reaction is inevitable. It’s not that we are not hard working. Most of us went to top colleges, finished at the top of our class, and are very driven individuals. We have just had our steering wheel taken away from us and are now being driven into the ground by older people trying to save their own jobs. In a way I am thankful that it has made me realize how much I like driving myself and should consider starting my own business. As much as I love thanking some 30 year old who just graduated business school and majored in micro-managing 23 year olds, I’d much rather not get paid half of this b-school fool, and instead try my hand in the business world. Hooters restaurants for each type of food anyone? Who wouldn’t pick Chinese Hooters where you get the same crap Chinese as Peking Duck restaurant except there are scantily clad waitresses and sports on some HDTVs. Who wants to invest?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

15. Microsoft Excel

15. Microsoft Excel

If this list were in any type of order, Microsoft Excel would probably be at the top. This brainchild of Bill Gates allows investment bankers to do things our parents could have only imagined. This program allows us to value companies using all types of inputs, assumptions and formulas. Back in the old days, bankers had to do this on pen and paper, and most valuations were just like Ebay auctions with bidders using their gut to value the company. And if you decided you wanted to change one little number in the 1,000 rows of data? Well, basically you were screwed. But with handy Excel, once you have the setup in place you can make small changes and everything flows through. It’s simply amazing. Microsoft Excel allows me to do anything my bosses’ hearts desire. Want to see an accretion/dilution analysis by 9am tomorrow morning? No problem. Excel and I will get to work! It truly is amazing to think how things used to be done.

Just because it CAN be done, does not mean I want to do it though. Life must have been great for analysts back in the good old days because there were so many things that could simply not be done. There was no excel and no macros. I couldn’t just go to the SEC website and pull companies 10Ks and 10Qs. I wasn’t able to get a consensus view by analysts on how much company X was going to earn per diluted share in 2010. Unless of course I called each analyst and begged for them to tell me their thoughts. Most of these things were just unheard of. While it’s amazing how the world has changed and how many analyses can now be done, that doesn’t mean we need to do them all. Most CEOs will not even look at half the stuff we present, so why even do it. Excel allows us to go the extra mile, so we push ourselves and go two.

The other things investment bankers love about excel are macros and shortcuts. Where would my life be without you Alt+E+S+T? (Allows you to paste the format from one cell to another). These little shortcuts allow investment bankers to make our worksheets look proper and save us a great deal of time. Macros do the same thing, allowing investment bankers to at a firm all make tables and charts that will look the same so our presentations don’t look different every time. This uniformity lets us to show our clients a clean presentation and analysis. During training, the programs like Training the Street even have contests to see how quickly investment banking analysts can format in Excel using all the shortcuts we have been taught. The sad thing is, they brainwash us to the point where we think it’s cool and really want to be the fastest. Who wants to play the guitar or go for a run outside, when you can be the fastest Excel formatter in the land? It’s like the investment banking wild wild west. Noose anyone? The programs keep a scoreboard from all the banks and lead us in cheers for our top competitors. The fastest formatter can wear this title like a badge of honor and even put this accolade on the good ol’ resume.

Excel can make or break an analyst’s career. Become good at Excel and you will prosper in life. Fail to grasp the complexities of this mystical program? You will be doomed to fail. Don’t let Excel break your will young grasshopper.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

14. Lucites

14. Lucites

Some of you may be wondering what a Lucite even is, let alone why investment bankers like them so much. Well they’re little expensive toys that celebrate the multi-billion dollar deals we get done. Companies like The Award Group make these stupid little toys that help us remind our clients how great of a job we did for them and why they should continue giving us millions of dollars. Say you help Burger King do an IPO and raise $5 billion dollars. What better way to keep you on their mind than to give them a burger made of glass with your name next to theirs. And we as bankers keep these things above our desks like trophies to remind all of our coworkers of our success and why we deserve a higher bonus then them. Pompous? Lil’ bit.

During cost cutting times you’d think that we would just get rid of this act of wasting money on overpriced little toys, but these companies make sure to hound us and convince us that they are necessary. They set up little lunches or offer us tickets to events, figuring that they can take advantage of our love of free stuff and convince us that we need these “deal toys.” I refuse to eat during these lunches figuring that they are trying to drug me into believing them. You will not get to me Award Group! They also give us free golf putter sets and even put our business cards in pieces of glass to have our first Lucite. Wow, I feel special, I have my business card in a piece of fake glass! (I have one, it’s friggin’ sweet)

Here’s an idea, how about instead of wasting money on these self-congratulatory toys, we just saved the money. Maybe then we would have more money to pay employees and not lay as many people off. Or, better yet, if we felt like giving away money, we could give it to a charity or some other socially conscious organization. When I was younger I always loved receiving trophies for sports. They even gave trophies if your team finished in last place, because it made you feel good about yourself and that you were doing a good job. Well, guess what? Investment bankers should not need trophies for their every accomplishment. Isn’t the bonus enough of a trophy? Why is it that we as investment bankers need these ego boosts? They even brainwash young investment bankers like myself to think Lucites are the greatest things since sliced bread. “Analyst, if you work on this project 24/7 you’ll get a Lucite!” The firm will make millions from my hard work but I will see no part of this money, but I willllllll get a stupid piece of glass. YAAAY!

Friday, May 9, 2008

13. Gossip

13. Gossip

During my first few weeks of work someone left a People magazine in my bullpen and every time a higher up came in he would open the magazine. He would laugh it off saying “Who brought a People magazine, newbie?” The funny thing is, that despite him trying to make fun of me, he would continue to read the magazine. I always saw my mom read People and I would peruse it occasionally to get my fill of gossip, but I knew it was a faux paux to be caught reading that “trash” in public, especially if you are a guy. Yet these big dogs who make seven-figure salaries would hang in my bullpen for 10 minutes to get caught up with the life of Lindsay Lohan.

While none are admitting to watching Gossip Girl and E!, no one is afraid to admit to reading the banker equivalent, Dealbreaker. Whether it’s news of the latest merger or the latest bank to layoff 10% of its workforce, i-bankers will email links back and forth. “Oooooo, Lehman is cutting 1,000 investment bankers, are we next?” “You think they might start firing analysts?” “Which associate is the next to go?” The gossip is non-stop.

When someone quits or gets fired the whispers begin. “Why do you think he was fired” “Do you know why she quit?” I think everyone wants to know for two reasons. In the case of firings, people want to know what they have to avoid doing in order to not be the next to see the door. In the case of people quitting, people want to know what else is out there and see if maybe they should leave as well. “He got that job? I’m so much more qualified.” Often people gossip out of jealousy. Talking is their way of venting their frustration, and i-bankers have a lot of frustration.

I used my banker money to see the Broadway show Avenue Q and there was a song that perfectly described i-bankers love of gossip. The word “schadenfreude” means to take pleasure in another person’s pain. Perfect for miserable bankers who are angry at the world because they are stuck in the office 24/7 and have shitty social lives, love lives, and basically lives in general minus the whole wealth aspect. When i-bankers hear about firings they immediately get nervous and pray it’s not them. As the firings occur they will act like they knew all along it wasn’t them, but still nervously ask around about who was canned. Then they will talk about that person’s faults and discuss their various shortcomings.

I personally think i-bankers are soft in their gossiping. A real man will read Page Six as well so they have bar conversation as well. Who the hell cares if Jimmy Cayne was out playing Bridge while Bear was going down? What I really want to know is which celebrity got a DUI and if I’m going to see Eli Manning at Nobu this weekend.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

12. Reply-all

12. Reply-all

Right next to the “reply” button on every email you receive is a similar looking button, “reply-all.” “Reply-all” is very useful when you are emailing back and forth with a group of four friends or planning a meeting among several coworkers. Despite its useful intent, “reply-all” is a dangerous button for a couple reasons.

Working in a big investment bank, there are many mass emails sent to everyone in the first worldwide or other large groups of employees. You might want to respond to the sender to make fun of him if he is a friend of yours. Or you might be responding because you have an answer for the person’s question. Both can fit in the “whoops” category if you only meant to reply to the original sender, not the whole list.

In one case, if the sender is a friend of yours you might respond something like “Bite me!” to try and mess with your buddy. Normally this would be pretty slick, but you accidentally went for the the “reply-all” button. Yeaaaa, not a smart move! You just let the CEO and 20,000 other people know that you are too stupid to check twice before you send an email and that you have the maturity of a 12-year old boy. You might want to pack your bags now because odds are you have overstayed your welcome at this job.

The other “whoops” case can occur when a coworker emails out to say he will be resigning and going on to another opportunity and you make the mistake of replying to everyone saying, “I think you picked a good time to leave. This job can break a man’s will and the firm is heading to shit.” Probablyyyyyy not a smart idea. Glad you think that Ted, maybe you would be better served working elsewhere then? Buh-bye safe job. I bet your wife won’t mind that six-figure salary leaving the household because you decided to speak your mind. Carpe diem!

The “Funny Guy”

Usually someone tries to be funny and “reply-all” when the email list is only analysts or some other group that does not include higher ups. Unless he or she really has some big cahones. Come Friday, analysts are actually in a good mood because it’s almost drinking time, so they get back into the college mindset and are ready to attack anyone who sends a silly mass email. An example of this situation is that there is an email out to all of the analysts asking if anyone wants free Miley Cyrus concert tickets. Someone decides that instead of just saying yes to the sender, to reply to all recipients saying “OMG YES!!!! Hannah Montana!!!” (I had to use google to know the Miley Cyrus-Hannanh Montana connection....) This is basically a layup for the class clown to go to work, it’s just a question of which depressed analyst takes the bait and what route he goes for. The quick reply is to say “Thanks Roger Clemens, how about you go for someone your own age?” But that would just be classeless…The more normal response would be to send a reply-all photo from Miley Cyrus’ new half-nude poses or a simple “LOL LYLAS No one cares! I heard Backstreet’s back too.”

The makers of Microsoft Outlook should move the “reply-all” button far from the “reply” button so people stop making this mistake. If they were not so close people could use it when they mean to, but wouldn’t make the mistake of wasting everyone else’s time. While it’s nice to be able to laugh every once in a while when someone slips up and sends “Bite me” to the whole firm, most of the time I’d rather people just not embarrass themselves and fill my inbox with useless babble. Your move Microsoft.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

11. Free Stuff

11. Free Stuff

“Free bagels and muffins leftover from the meeting are on my desk if anyone wants.” This begins the running of the investment bankers. As soon as an assistant sends out an email indicating there is free food, everyone stops what they’re doing and runs like there’s no tomorrow. Yes, we may make at least six-figures, but nothing gets our motors going like free stuff. To get my own bagel would mean I would have to take ten minutes out of my busy day and spend $2 of my own hard-earned money. Now that’s just a ridiculous idea. Insteadddd, I could walk two seconds from my desk when this free food appears every few weeks and not have to move my fat ass to the elevator and pay for food. Amazing, I know.

Need to get analysts and associates to go to an optional meeting about a data provider? I know just the ticket to get them there, free pizza or a free giveaway. We once had one outside vendor even offer up free food AND the chance to win a free ipod. Big turnout that day!

During analyst training they give away free stuff like rubix cubes, ping pong balls and office basketball sets. One group of presenters decided that instead of putting items on each person’s desk, it would be high comedy to put all the stuff at the front of the room and see what a group of 23 year olds will do for free shit that they don’t need and will probably never use. Ok, ready? GO! Mayhem ensued and I witnessed people struggling for air to get that basketball set (maybe because I had one of them in chokehold? It was my basketball set, ass).

I love free giveaways and always attend the free lunches even though I don’t really want free pizza, just because I want to save money. A penny saved is a penny earned. And New York City is an expensive city! Even today I got a free “Speed Racer” keychain being handed out on the street. Obviously I don’t need it and have never been a “Speed Racer” fan but I just couldn’t say no when the opportunity to get something with paying presented itself. And they say there’s no free lunch? Har har har!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

10. Catchphrases, Part 2

10. Catchphrases, Part 2


Definition: How much time you have to work on projects you are not already on

Associate, use it in a sentence: Wish I could help but I’m at like 120% of capacity and am just on too many live deals right now.

Analyst, use it in a sentence: Well I slept from 3-6am last night and will probably do the same tonight so I guess I have 3/24 of capacity left if you have more work that needs to be done.

Comment: When an associate says he is at 120% of capacity that usually means that he got in at 9:30am, was able to go to the gym and a quick meal at some point during the day for 2 hours, and left after 10pm. Damn, you are a trooper! For an analyst, capacity is really a sliding scale. Do you put yourself against your fellow analysts or do you put yourself against hours of sleep? If the rest of the analysts are not very busy and leaving before 9pm when you are staying until 2am then you can rightfully say that are at 100% capacity and can’t take on more work. Whereas if you are staying until 2am, but so is everybody else, then looks like you have some capacity! It’s all relative and I prefer to have relatively more capacity to enjoy my life and exercise.

To “Jam” or “Crank”

Definition: To work very hard

Associate, use it in a sentence: I know you’re jammed up on other stuff, but the higher ups asked us to do this analysis of company X. I’m cranking on this model for a live deal that we need to get out in the next hour, so if you could just do it that’d be great.

Analyst, use it in a sentence: Hey, can’t help right now, I’m jamming on this analysis that needs to be sent out to a bunch of head honchos in two hours. I can crank on that assignment when I’m done.

Comment: While many people associate “jamming” with basketball, and “cranking” with Soulja Boy, investment bankers live in their own world. Whereas capacity is more of a relative term, an analyst is “cranking” whenever he or she needs to finish something up in a short amount of time to avoid getting asked “Why the F are you not done yet? I told you an hour ago we needed this analysis! It’s not that friggin’ hard. Jeeez!” While it can be enjoyable to be yelled at and really gets the adrenaline pumping, I usually like to avoid it at all costs for fear of taking 10 years off of my life span. For those people who are faint of heart, this job may not be for you. In order to crank that Soulja Boy on weekends, I am usually jamming on work during the week since my associate is busy reading up on the business and trying to educate himself to be able to kiss ass better.

Monday, May 5, 2008

9. Catchphrases, Part 1

Catchphrases, Part 1

“Gin you up” or “Gin’d up”

Definition: Give you craploads of work to do in a short amount of time.

Associate, use it in a sentence: “Tim, I know your busy and I don’t want to gin you up, BUT, do you think you can update these pages for me in the next hour? We really need them. Thanks.”

Analyst, use it in a sentence: “Wish I could help you, but I’m all gin’d up. Oh, I can’t say that or I won’t be seeing a bonus? Alright, yeah, definitely I’d love to help. Thanks!”

Comment: This phrase is great because it is used by associates and other higher ups usually to ask how much work an analyst has, and is almost always followed by a request to do more work. Why even ask me if I’m “ginned up”? Just give me the god damn work and stay the hell away for me. Thanks!

“Throw under the bus”

Definition: To rat someone else out or someone else a scapegoat.

Associate, use it in a sentence: “Hey analyst, sorry for throwing you under the bus in that meeting but you should have double-checked your numbers beforehand. Sure, that’s my job in all of this, but when it comes down to it, you were the one who did it.”

Analyst, use it in a sentence: “Hey fellow analyst, you forgot to update the numbers in the model. The VP asked why they weren’t updated, so I just told him I must have forgotten to print the latest version. Didn’t want to throw you under the bus for something we can update in a second.”

Comment: This phrase has become commonplace in the U.S. in the past year from its usage in the sports and political spheres. In the steroid controversy, you have players and trainers throwing each other under the bus to deflect blame from themselves. In politics, aides may be fired for making comments that reflect candidates’ views, but the candidates cannot be connected to the comments. In investment banking, we learn from day one that it is an unspoken rule to not throw another analyst under the bus. If an associate asks where a fellow analyst is, I will say “I think he went to get a drink” instead of telling the truth the analyst went to a Yankees game or to an interview. Associates know this rule as well, but in a tough market where associates are the ones being fired, these scumbags don’t seem to mind going against the grain. If it means saving his own ass, an associate will always choose to throw an analyst under the bus. The job of the associate in most cases is just to be an editor of analysts’ work, yet when something is messed up in the numbers, an associate will not hesitate to heap the blame on the measly analyst. Thanks d-bag!