mod note: see part 2 here
Since I’ve been writing for WSO, my most popular posts have been about banking experiences. The All Nighter is perhaps one of the most quintessential experiences of investment banking. While I agree with bankerella in that you can assuage some of the pain of working through an all-nighter with attitude adjustments generally involving ‘sucking it up,’ for most of us, there’s something about that very raw blend of stress and fatigue that just won’t go quietly. And so every year, generations of junior investment bankers – some of the most elaborate whiners on the planet – pass on their legendary tales of brutal nights spent at the office. Relive the horror of yesteryear (or yesterday).
Not a bad Wednesday night. You got in a little late, you had a productive day finishing up a heavy turn on a massive Strategic Alternatives deck for a client. You sent the last draft to your VP a moment ago, and he responded immediately that he’d look at the turn tomorrow. We’re in great shape, the meeting isn’t till next Monday and we’ve got the rest of this week to turn through the document with the MD on the pitch. You’re further comforted by the fact that he’s already seen one draft. You decide to stick around for another hour or so to catch up on some personal stuff and snag a free cab ride to dinner on the LES.
You’re cheerfully doing a little tidying up before you leave to head out to dinner with the girl you’ve just started seeing, when you hear a familiar beep.
Your skin crawls a bit, but you immediately shake it off – probably a stupid firmwide market update, or one of your idiot college friends who mistakenly looped in your work email on a long chain.
It’s not a firmwide blast.
It’s not a fantasy football league invitation.
It’s a message from your VP.
And the subject line says Fire Drill.
The last hour has been a blur – a frantic flurry of emails zipping around. Tuesday’s pitch was moved up to tomorrow morning, since the CEO and CFO of the company you’re pitching will be in New York for another meeting and it’s more convenient to meet them then, in your offices. Plus, this way, your MD can go on vacation a few days earlier. Makes sense for everyone, right?
Well, not really. But still, it wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t a few new developments…
From: Jon Vepee
To: Aaron Burr
Time: Tue 8/21/2012 8:48 PM
Subject: Fire Drill
Aaron, pls see below. Fire drill. Bluestar mgmt coming in tmrw morning, need to update deck asap. I will send comments on last draft soon, but pls start working on below Embdee requests. Need to add sections to book. Call me w questions. Thx
From: Joe Embdee
To: Jon Veepee
Time: Tue 8/21/2012 7:45 PM
Subject: Fw: Fw: Bluestar materials
Pitch moved to tomorrow. Need to incl IPO scenario – co is optimistic about public option. Pls also add loan/pik bonds financing scenario to analysis. Co also sent me new model attached. Pls update projections, add following analyses and send me latest deck. Thx
From: Frank Bluestar, CEO
To: Joe Embdee
Time: Tue 8/21/2012 4:45 PM
Subject: Fw: Bluestar materials
Joe, good catching up over the phone today. Glad you can accommodate our schedule and do the meeting in NY tomorrow. Attached are our latest projections. We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts. While we’re not that jazzed at the thought of being a public company, you’re right in that it probably makes sense to at least look at the analysis.
After spending five minutes wavering between extreme self-pity and pure, unadulterated hatred for your MD and VP, who were kind enough to give you a minus-4 hour heads-up regarding the impending fire drill, you opened the attachment containing the company’s new model. It’s likely that every number in the deck will now have to change.
The attachment was in pdf. That was the first bad sign. For some god-awful reason, the good folks at Bluestar decided that sending the bankers the model was just too easy. Adding insult to injury, the attachment was a secured pdf, which meant you could not copy-paste any of the numbers. So you spent about an hour typing everything in, then the next hour tying all the numbers up to avoid rounding errors and fixing typos. This is what you went to college for.
Time to start building in new model functionality into your model.
Your VP sends his markup on the draft you sent earlier in the evening. He’s a thorough guy, and he usually checks most of the numbers, so you’re happy to read that most of his changes thus far are formatting-related.
The only problem is, you’ve just loaded new projections into the model – and all of the numbers are about to change. You kick yourself for forgetting to remind the VP to hold off on looking at any numbers-related pages (basically, the whole deck).
You email him back, letting him know you’ve started on building in a proper IPO analysis and reminding him that due to the new projection set, most of the forward numbers will be changing.
crashes while you’re saving, and you lose 20 minutes of work. You scream horrible obscenities. The cleaning lady scurries to the other side of the floor.
From: Jon Vepee
To: Aaron Burr
Time: Wed 8/22/2012 12:25
How’s it coming - ETA? Embdee emailing me
You consider responding something along the lines of “how the fuck do you think it’s coming” – but decide against it and opt for the no-respond. Now that it’s past midnight, suddenly everyone above the analyst level is laser-focused on timing and efficiency. Funny how that works.
After cranking through the additional analysis, you send the latest draft to your VP. You feel so-so about it. Obviously, you didn’t have time to check any of the numbers, and nobody gave you any real guidance regarding assumptions for the new scenarios, so you just went with what you thought was reasonable. You always bitch about being relegated to processing and never being asked to provide your own input, and now that you’ve been forced to come up with your own assumptions on the fly, you realize it’s not as fun as you’d imagined.
Starving, you dial up some Seamless and wait for your VP to respond. You’re 4 Red Bulls deep and this night’s just getting started.
To be continued...
Aaron Burr is a retired investment banking analyst and currently works as an associate at a fund. He has pulled way too many all nighters – share your in the comments section or send them to [email protected]