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!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

8. Diet Coke

8. Diet Coke

Investment bankers love caffeine, or at least force themselves to drink it to stay awake. While some rely on coffee or red bull, the casual caffeine fan grabs a cold, hard diet coke. I on the other hand, am a real man (or don’t work as hard?) and require no caffeine. I probably should, since instead of being that hyper analyst who is always hyper and smiling and wanting to help, I’m the bitter shit writing a blog to state his real feelings about the industry.

What I find so amusing about the diet coke fad is that the word diet makes people think it’s not such a bad thing. I admit, it’s not as bad for you as regular coke, but if you drink 3 a day you’re still dying your teeth a nice brown color and damaging something inside of you. If you really want to be healthy, try getting a few more hours of sleep, working out, and just chugging water so that you can’t fall asleep at work because you always have to pee. Works for me.

Plus, here’s the kicker about drinking diet coke, you look like a friggin’ pansy. Man up, drink a real coke. Chug a red bull. Do a line…wait, don’t do the last one. But seriously, drinking 3 diet cokes a day may show coworkers that you’re getting crushed and working long hours, but it also shows them that working long hours causes your testicles to shrink. Or even make a simple substitution for Coke Zero. Anything to lose the word “diet” in front of the name of what you drink. I know many of us don’t feel the need to prove our alpha male status, but if you work in a dog eat dog industry where people are losing their jobs left and right, do you really want to be the guy that is viewed as anything less than a hardcore investment banker. When the higher ups choose between you and someone else for who to fire, if he has red bulls lined around his desk and you have diet cokes with sliced limes sitting around, take a wild guess who is getting canned.

Friday, May 2, 2008

7. Late Nights

7. Late Nights

Nothing shows your worth as a banker like pulling an all-nighter. Investment banking may be the only job where you are made to feel guilty if you leave after less than 12 hours. When I interviewed for an analyst investment banking position I was told to expect 100 hour work weeks, which means late nights and weekends. My roommate has the record in my apartment for work over 120 hours in a week. You are probably thinking, “Are there even that many hours in a week?” This is 3 weeks worth of work for most people, but my roommate managed these hours in a measly seven hours. Piece of cake. At least that’s what he’s supposed to say among his coworkers, because complaining about hours in investment banking is a sign of weakness.

What was my roommate’s prize for working over 120 hours in a week? Working 100 hours the next week. Higher ups will tell you a number of things when the going gets tough:

“You should be grateful with the number of people who want your job and are losing theirs.”

While this is very true and I am very happy to have a job that pays me well, it still doesn’t make me any less sleep deprived. I bet those people would be bitching just as much if they were in my position, and would become just as bitter.

“I’ll remember this come bonus time.”

Sure you will. A number of people fill out evaluations and the odds of one remembering that I busted my balls a few weeks for him months ago and having this play a large role in my bonus is slim. What else do you have for me?

And one that is more from my mom than higher ups:
“You knew what you were getting into when you signed up.”

This is the point I don’t really have a comeback for because it is more than the truth. When I went into interviews I said I knew that 100-hour weeks were a part of the job and I was prepared for it. Hell, I’ve never been one to sleep much anyways. This is an example of people talking out of their ass. Sure I said this, as did hundreds of other kids in interviews, but I had no clue what I meant to work a 100 hour week. I’d never done it before, and 100 was just a number when I was going through interviews.

Anyways, investment bankers see no problem in keeping analysts there late and see it as a rite of passage. One of my bosses who has been in the business a while still works more hours than analysts during some weeks. He may actually be a machine, the results are still out on that one. I once got an email at 1am from one of my bosses with comments on a presentation I had worked on for him, asking me if I could make the changes and leave a copy on his chair. Obviously I want to say no, I’m going to work out and sleep, but I have to write the typical response, “Will do, thanks.” (Gun to head)

To make things worse for myself I feel the need to workout almost every day so I joined a 24/7 gym so that I could workout after work. So far the latest I’ve begun a workout is 2am, ending after 3am. The good thing about the workouts is that I can brag about them at work and gain great respect amongst my peers for having the work ethic to be in the office until 1, go to the gym, and then still be in at 1. King of the castle, king of the castle.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

6. Associates

6. Associates

The role of the associate is to get to manage their analysts and organize the presentations. Some associates are able to help an analyst with the model, do part of the presentation and impart knowledge on aspects of the industry of which they are more knowledgeable. Most associates, especially first years with no investment banking experience, simply micro-manage analysts and are basically editors, finding a misspelled word here and a wrong number there.

These associates feel that since they graduated business school and make double the money of analysts, that they are thus double as smart. They are very wrong. These associates have no modeling experience, and unless they find the time out of their micro-managing day, they never really will. So instead they rely on the analyst to do the tough digging and thought, and then they just check to make sure formulas are right and that the numbers can be found in company financials. Bravo associate, way to add some value. I could do this same job of editing, but can you do my job of creating the model? I’d say the odds are about as small as that thing attached below your waist.

Many of these half-wit associates came for other unfulfilling professions where they were underpaid and underappreciated. Then they went to business school and found this great job in investment banking and were no longer the lowest man on the totem pole. They like to remind themselves of this by ordering analysts to do stuff and taking credit for analysts work when speaking with higher-ups. First year analysts went to equivalent or better undergraduate schools, and were smart enough to get an investment banking job, yet associates assume we are unable to understand things as well as them. Preposterous I say. First year analysts also start a couple months before first year associates so have a head start on these fresh out of “b-school” associates.

Some associates are beloved by analysts because they know what they’re doing, appreciate what an analyst does, respect an analyst’s time, and help get the work done if they are more knowledgeable of a certain part. They are not the associates who leave for two hours mid-afternoon thus throwing the analyst under the bus when a higher up asks where the presentation or model is. To future associates who want a guide of how to join the bottom-tier of the associate pool, I leave you with the following guide sent to me:

1.) Never give me work in the morning. Always wait until 7:00PM (especially on Friday's) and then bring it to me. The first ten hours of my day really do need to be spent mentally preparing myself for your fly-by.

2.) If it's really a "rush" job, run over to my cube and interrupt me every 10 minutes to inquire how it's going. That helps.

3.) Always leave without telling anyone where you're going. It gives me a chance to be creative when someone asks were you are.

4.) If you give me more than one job to do, don't tell me which is the priority. Let me guess.

5.) Do your best to keep me as late as possible. I like the office and really never have anywhere to go or anything to do. Plus, the phone ring here has become a lullaby to me and I can't sleep without it.

6.) If a job I do pleases you, take the credit and keep my work a secret. Leaks like that could really cost me.

7.) If you don't like my work, tell everyone and make sure they know you had nothing to do with it. I'm a popular guy and I like my name and reputation butchered in conversation.

8.) If you have special instructions for a job, don't write them down.

In fact, save them until the job is almost done so that I can redo the work and have twice the fun.

9.) Never introduce me to people you're with. When you refer to them later, my shrewd deductions will surely identify them.

10.) Be nice to me only when the job I'm doing for you could really change your life.

11.) Tell me all your little problems. No one else has any and it's nice to know someone is less fortunate.

12.) If you need work done on the weekend, please call before 8:00AM...especially when you know I went out the night before. I hate oversleeping and love pounding headaches.

13.) When I ask questions, please remember to frown and look down upon me. I need to be reminded of my lack of experience.

14.) Furthermore, please make sure to reference the MBA program that you graduated from in every conversation we have, regardless of the topic.

I sometimes forget how much knowledge you've acquired over the past two years during case discussions. Your knowledge of "The Four P's" will undoubtedly win us a refi mandate from this small, mid-stream chemicals company.

15.) Allow me to travel only when you need pitch books carried for you.

With as much time as I spend in the office, I don't get enough weight training.

16.) Never let me know when you are coming in on the weekend to check my work. I like to be in a full state of alert, ready for your appearance at any time during the whole weekend.

17.) If I've been working diligently on a deal for the last week, please remember that I enjoy being out of the loop when it moves to the next stage. Too much information may overwhelm my limited brain capacity.

18.) If you haven't been involved or interested in something until someone above you realizes that it's important, please take command, and take credit for it. I do not like taking on large amounts of responsibility.

19.) Please bring me documents to convert into .pdf's rather than doing so yourself. This is a complicated process, and you are too valuable to lose while I am expendable.

20.) Don't drop off documents at the Press Center. Bring them to me to take there for you and don't explain your changes. I enjoy deciphering hieroglyphics in my free time. In fact, I earned an A- in Classic Civilizations during my Sophomore year of college. Looking at cave drawings has increased my appetite for this kind of thing.

21.) Never complete projects early. Changing everything at the last minute makes the job more stimulating.

22.) Don't send me changes to documents marked clearly. Instead, keep me on the phone for two hours when you're out of the office. I need to work on my communication skills.

23.) Make sure a Vice President or above does not speak with me directly. I am not mature enough to communicate with them.

24.) Please don't ask me to be creative. I thrive on processing work, especially cutting and pasting. Alt-e-s-v, baby. Bet you didn't know about that nifty little trick, did you?!?