Adding Value with Downtime

With Thanksgiving come and gone, and Christmas season around the corner, you guys, like me, may have experienced a couple slow days and may be subjected to some slow time during the latter half of December. Now, I like to pretend to be busy whilst browsing the internet as much as the next guy, but I feel that this presents a potential opportunity to differentiate ourselves and add value to the group while some of the other analysts are refreshing ESPN for the 10th time.

There are a few things that I've done or am planning to do with my downtime which I hope have and will help out the team - read past the break to check them out and share your tips.

Revisiting the Keystone Debate

With the elections over with and Obama firmly in his seat, a group of senators both Democrat and Republican have reminded the President of his decision to delay an important energy project - the Keystone XL pipeline. On Friday, the senators urged the President to quickly issue a permit for the northern leg of the pipeline that would have economic benefits to both the U.S. and Canada and would go a long way in assuring energy security for one of the world's largest consumers of oil.

Of course, environmentalists haven't forgotten about the pipeline either and have vowed to keep fighting its approval. Having been partially successful previously in moving the President to delay the project's approval, environmental groups will continue to voice their opinions in opposition. But at this stage, should this still even be a debate?

Exit Opportunities at Regional Offices

Though the standard path for the junior on Wall Street may be changing, many still dream of the presumed greener pastures of private equity or buyside. But for those of us in regional offices, the path might not be as clearly laid out.

The city where I work, Calgary, Alberta, is developing a strong financial career setting, but it still and likely will always lack a lot of private equity or buyside opportunities. So for those of us in the regional offices without a clear path to exit opportunities what are the alternatives? For those of you who have gone through this, what did you move to and how did you get there? For the other readers, what would you recommend?

Health & Fitness as an Analyst

As an analyst in investment banking or in other similar gigs, it can be difficult to adjust to the new lifestyle. What I found in college and what I'm seeing now with work is that when demands become too great the first thing that goes is the healthy lifestyle. Whether it's just going with pizza (even if it's thin multi-grain crust with vegetables) because you're getting laid out on some deal or skipping your workout for the fourth night in a row because you're so damn tired, it's easy to fall into an unhealthy lifestyle.

My experience so far hasn't been too bad as I've taken steps to try and prevent getting into the unhealthy rut rather than being reactive and trying to turn it around. What have your experiences been like? How do you guys stay healthy or, if you've fallen into the rut, how did you get there and how are you hoping to get back?

Foreign Takeovers by State-owned Enterprises

This past week, we saw the market impact of Investment Canada's decision to initially reject PETRONAS' (the Malaysian State-owned Enterprise) proposed takeover of Progress Energy Resources, a Canadian oil and gas company. In order to approve a takeover of a Canadian company, Investment Canada requires sufficient evidence of a 'net benefit' to Canada.

While this net benefit test is, at the moment, quite vague, the broader issue is the takeover of Canadian companies by SOEs with an even higher profile case in that of CNOOC/Nexen. Of course, this issue is not directly relevant to the U.S., but what are your thoughts on takeovers by SOEs in general? Should they be treated like any other corporation - ExxonMobil for example? And for my fellow Canucks out there, what are your thoughts on selling our resources to SOEs?

Surviving as the New Guy

Starting out new in anything can be difficult, be it a new team, school, group, etc. So in the seemingly ultra-conservative world of banking, it's no surprise that coming in as 'the new guy' can be... difficult.

This past year, I've gone through the experiences of being the new guy in a smaller group. Read on to hear about the ups and downs of my experience and jump in on the comments to share yours.