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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).


7:45 pm

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.


8:48 pm

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.


8:49 pm

Nope.

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.

...
.....
.......


10:01 pm

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…

Quote:

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 LBO 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.


10:45 pm

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 Excel 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.


11:30 pm

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.


12:20 am

Excel 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.


12:25 am

Quote:

From: Jon Vepee
To: Aaron Burr
Time: Wed 8/22/2012 12:25 AM
Subject: Timing

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.


1:05 am

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 private equity fund. He has pulled way too many all nighters – share your horror stories in the comments section or send them to [email protected]

10

Comments (44)

  • Dreamgazing's picture

    enlightening and interesting. thanks

    also , the 12:20-25 should be AMs. got me a little confused there

  • JimmyDnFFX's picture

    The only thing that would make this even more edgy would be the addition of a bad case of Montezuma's Revenge after eating Seamless.

    "Now go get your f'n shinebox!"

  • fearless's picture

    Holy sh*t. I don't know I didn't live life hard enough, but this is pretty edgy stuff.

  • ThatGuyBalls's picture

    Would just like to let you know that there are some programs that will allow you to pull data from PDF into excel. Formatting isn't in issue as you can align rows and columns before the conversion is done. The name of the program I use is called "PDF to Excel." Completely free and very effective. Could have had you home at 5am instead of 6am, good luck and hang tight.

  • In reply to Ron Paul
    Aaron Burr's picture

    Ron Paul wrote:
    at 3am you quit, bust your computer screen with a golf club, then go drinking right?

    Shall we make it a Choose Your Own Adventure two-parter?

  • In reply to ThatGuyBalls
    Going Concern's picture

    ThatGuyBalls wrote:
    Would just like to let you know that there are some programs that will allow you to pull data from PDF into excel. Formatting isn't in issue as you can align rows and columns before the conversion is done. The name of the program I use is called "PDF to Excel." Completely free and very effective. Could have had you home at 5am instead of 6am, good luck and hang tight.

    givin that banks are like droppin their bloombergs and gettin shiny new factsets and other such mickey mouse moves, really dont see too many places shelling out the big bucks for specialized soft-ware...

    plus i would be willing to bet most if not all of my bananas that none of these progs are 100% accurate so you're just generating more work for yourself

    the name of the game is...BRUTE FORCE

    “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths”

  • In reply to Going Concern
    ThatGuyBalls's picture

    Going Concern wrote:
    ThatGuyBalls wrote:
    Would just like to let you know that there are some programs that will allow you to pull data from PDF into excel. Formatting isn't in issue as you can align rows and columns before the conversion is done. The name of the program I use is called "PDF to Excel." Completely free and very effective. Could have had you home at 5am instead of 6am, good luck and hang tight.

    givin that banks are like droppin their bloombergs and gettin shiny new factsets and other such mickey mouse moves, really dont see too many places shelling out the big bucks for specialized soft-ware...

    plus i would be willing to bet most if not all of my bananas that none of these progs are 100% accurate so you're just generating more work for yourself

    the name of the game is...BRUTE FORCE

    As mentioned above the software is free. I am an SA at small boutique and have used it effectively without any error (dealing with some extremeky spotty documents). I am all about brute force, but I also like to work smart, not hard whenever possible.

  • In reply to ThatGuyBalls
    Going Concern's picture

    ThatGuyBalls wrote:
    Going Concern wrote:
    ThatGuyBalls wrote:
    Would just like to let you know that there are some programs that will allow you to pull data from PDF into excel. Formatting isn't in issue as you can align rows and columns before the conversion is done. The name of the program I use is called "PDF to Excel." Completely free and very effective. Could have had you home at 5am instead of 6am, good luck and hang tight.

    givin that banks are like droppin their bloombergs and gettin shiny new factsets and other such mickey mouse moves, really dont see too many places shelling out the big bucks for specialized soft-ware...

    plus i would be willing to bet most if not all of my bananas that none of these progs are 100% accurate so you're just generating more work for yourself

    the name of the game is...BRUTE FORCE

    As mentioned above the software is free. I am an SA at small boutique and have used it effectively without any error (dealing with some extremeky spotty documents). I am all about brute force, but I also like to work smart, not hard whenever possible.

    o yea, whats it called? anything free almost always has a catch

    “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths”

  • ThatGuyBalls's picture

    I believe it is simply called PDF to Excel... Not very clever.

  • In reply to pointassist300
    ThatGuyBalls's picture

    pointassist300 wrote:
    be careful with using free software at work. it only takes few lines of code to upload your data online somewhere and you wouldn't even notice.

    I recommend only using Download.com for free software.

  • In reply to Aaron Burr
    WallStreetOasis.com's picture

    Aaron Burr wrote:
    Ron Paul wrote:
    at 3am you quit, bust your computer screen with a golf club, then go drinking right?

    Shall we make it a Choose Your Own Adventure two-parter?

    i literally started convulsing half-way through this...memoriesssss

  • TheBigBambino's picture

    I love the part about finally getting the chance to make your own assumptions -- first time I was left to do this it was some scary stuff. 3 MD's were waiting on me to do a model, were all traveling and my associate was too busy to even look at it. I should add it was compounded by the fact that all the company's financials were real crappy and in an Asian currency too.

    You just do the best you can, make the model as easy to change around as possible and wait for revisions haha.

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • TheBigBambino's picture

    I knew reading this was bad luck - literally just got a fire drill e-mail 5 minutes ago....

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • In reply to TheBigBambino
    Going Concern's picture

    TheBigBambino wrote:
    I knew reading this was bad luck - literally just got a fire drill e-mail 5 minutes ago....

    hahahahahaha

    if you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity

    “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths”

  • In reply to Going Concern
    JimmyDnFFX's picture

    Going Concern wrote:
    TheBigBambino wrote:
    I knew reading this was bad luck - literally just got a fire drill e-mail 5 minutes ago....

    hahahahahaha

    if you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity

    Or as they say where I work..."No good deed goes unpunished."

    "Now go get your f'n shinebox!"

  • In reply to WallStreetOasis.com
    Stringer Bell's picture

    WallStreetOasis.com wrote:
    Aaron Burr wrote:
    Ron Paul wrote:
    at 3am you quit, bust your computer screen with a golf club, then go drinking right?

    Shall we make it a Choose Your Own Adventure two-parter?

    i literally started convulsing half-way through this...memoriesssss

    I once was so pissed at 4:15 AM, I took my 3rd monitor (cause I was baller like that) and busted it against the side of my cubicle as hard as I could. I was the only one on my side of the floor thank god. Went and grabbed one of the spring interns monitors, took the busted one down to the trash bin outside in my gym bag. Got back to work. True story.

  • In reply to Stringer Bell
    TheBigBambino's picture

    Stringer Bell wrote:
    TheBigBambino wrote:
    I knew reading this was bad luck - literally just got a fire drill e-mail 5 minutes ago....

    Hah, there are fire drills in VC land? Don't believe it.

    Not usually. However we do an annual portfolio review and exit analysis for our LP's each year. This is coming up soon for my team. However at 6pm last night one of the larger LP's in our fund asked to have it two weeks early. If pulling public comps, precedent transactions, updated cap tables, financial models and creating finalized exit analysis scenarios for the next 4 years for 14 private portfolio companies by this morning isn't a fire drill I don't know what is. I finished up at 5:30 this morning.

    The real kicker is I know the guys there won't even look at it until Monday...

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • Going Concern's picture

    we need this done for tomorrow. now don't spend all night on it or anything, work life balance is important. relax, enjoy the evening, go out, etc. just make sure this useless paperwork is on my desk first thing in the morning, so i can thumb flip through it a few weeks later when i get around to it.

    “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths”

  • In reply to TheBigBambino
    Stringer Bell's picture

    TheBigBambino wrote:
    Stringer Bell wrote:
    TheBigBambino wrote:
    I knew reading this was bad luck - literally just got a fire drill e-mail 5 minutes ago....

    Hah, there are fire drills in VC land? Don't believe it.

    Not usually. However we do an annual portfolio review and exit analysis for our LP's each year. This is coming up soon for my team. However at 6pm last night one of the larger LP's in our fund asked to have it two weeks early. If pulling public comps, precedent transactions, updated cap tables, financial models and creating finalized exit analysis scenarios for the next 4 years for 14 private portfolio companies by this morning isn't a fire drill I don't know what is. I finished up at 5:30 this morning.

    The real kicker is I know the guys there won't even look at it until Monday...

    Damn, shitty. My only interaction with VC's have only ever been at the sr. level. They always seem so laid back, not a care in the world, all about "connecting people" and helping grow / develop the beauty of entrepreneurship haha. They do their bitch work too so it seems. At least in oil & gas at the junior level they tell you day one "yeah, you're low fucker on the totem pole, we're most definitely going to fuck you hard up the ass here soon. Suggest a run to Costco and pick up and industrial pack of KY Jelly, maybe look into giving yourself and enema."

    Yeah they probably won't look at it, but their junior bitch monkey will get your shit sometime this afternoon at 5:30 PM and have to give them a full investment summary .ppt deck by Monday morning, which they in turn wont look at till Tuesday. #everyonegetsfucked

  • In reply to fearless
    donkeymoney's picture

    fearless wrote:
    Holy sh*t. I (..) know I didn't live life hard enough, but this is pretty edgy stuff.

    Funny, coming from a guy named, "fearless".

    -No comment-

  • In reply to TheBigBambino
    donkeymoney's picture

    TheBigBambino wrote:
    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

    First signature quote that I liked! Not ridiculously arrogant like most of them.

    -No comment-

  • In reply to ThatGuyBalls
    bankbank's picture

    ThatGuyBalls wrote:
    Going Concern wrote:
    ThatGuyBalls wrote:
    Would just like to let you know that there are some programs that will allow you to pull data from PDF into excel. Formatting isn't in issue as you can align rows and columns before the conversion is done. The name of the program I use is called "PDF to Excel." Completely free and very effective. Could have had you home at 5am instead of 6am, good luck and hang tight.

    givin that banks are like droppin their bloombergs and gettin shiny new factsets and other such mickey mouse moves, really dont see too many places shelling out the big bucks for specialized soft-ware...

    plus i would be willing to bet most if not all of my bananas that none of these progs are 100% accurate so you're just generating more work for yourself

    the name of the game is...BRUTE FORCE

    As mentioned above the software is free. I am an SA at small boutique and have used it effectively without any error (dealing with some extremeky spotty documents). I am all about brute force, but I also like to work smart, not hard whenever possible.

    cannot download/install software from internet at a legit bank. all that shiz is blocked. also, OP said PDF was secured, so PDF to excel might not work (secured PDF doesn't let you copy data from it). might need a separate program to "unlock" secured PDF (or there are some web based solutions depending on size of file), unless the software you mentioned is capable of removing PDF security (but program and website to unlock PDF also, likely, cannot be accessed/downloaded at big banks)

    thx

  • bankbank's picture

    Aaron Burr wrote:

    "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."

    "Need to incl IPO scenario – co is optimistic about public option."

    best part...

    also excel crash and profanity. did you then smack keyboard hard enough to bust the little legs off it (maybe some keys) and then swap it out with shitty associate and/or shitty intern/first year analyst that peaced from office at 8?

    these posts are awesome and so dead on.

  • In reply to ThatGuyBalls
    UFOinsider's picture

    ThatGuyBalls wrote:
    Would just like to let you know that there are some programs that will allow you to pull data from PDF into excel.

    Please enlighten me as to the best option!!!

    Get busy living

  • ky0ung's picture

    I am shocked at how poorly written those emails are

  • In reply to Stringer Bell
    TheBigBambino's picture

    Stringer Bell wrote:
    TheBigBambino wrote:
    Stringer Bell wrote:
    TheBigBambino wrote:
    I knew reading this was bad luck - literally just got a fire drill e-mail 5 minutes ago....

    Hah, there are fire drills in VC land? Don't believe it.

    Not usually. However we do an annual portfolio review and exit analysis for our LP's each year. This is coming up soon for my team. However at 6pm last night one of the larger LP's in our fund asked to have it two weeks early. If pulling public comps, precedent transactions, updated cap tables, financial models and creating finalized exit analysis scenarios for the next 4 years for 14 private portfolio companies by this morning isn't a fire drill I don't know what is. I finished up at 5:30 this morning.

    The real kicker is I know the guys there won't even look at it until Monday...

    Damn, shitty. My only interaction with VC's have only ever been at the sr. level. They always seem so laid back, not a care in the world, all about "connecting people" and helping grow / develop the beauty of entrepreneurship haha. They do their bitch work too so it seems. At least in oil & gas at the junior level they tell you day one "yeah, you're low fucker on the totem pole, we're most definitely going to fuck you hard up the ass here soon. Suggest a run to Costco and pick up and industrial pack of KY Jelly, maybe look into giving yourself and enema."

    Yeah they probably won't look at it, but their junior bitch monkey will get your shit sometime this afternoon at 5:30 PM and have to give them a full investment summary .ppt deck by Monday morning, which they in turn wont look at till Tuesday. #everyonegetsfucked

    Haha, yea my MD's are just as you described. They're brilliant and are the lifeblood of our relationships and transactions. However, they have also all switched to Mac's now that they have analysts and associates below them to do the grunt work, they maintain the network for our fund and IR for our LP's. If they feel they need to cater to one in particular though it can end up being pretty rough for the younger guys like me. But they paid their dues already, I'm paying mine now.

    Usually it's not that stressful for my team. However, if there is anyone you're gonna act like the sell side with it will be the individuals, funds, companies, ect. that give you tens and hundreds of millions of dollars for 5+ years.

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • mongoose's picture

    Burr,

    What happened to the Associate(s)? Your post makes me think that they're useless.

  • In reply to mongoose
    TheKid1's picture

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  • In reply to ky0ung
    Aaron Burr's picture
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    Aaron Burr's picture
  • PrinceWilson's picture

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