• Sharebar

mod (Andy) note: make sure to check out fellow writer Aaron Burr's response in "How to deal with THAT associate"

September: the time of the year when hundreds of newly-minted MBAs are unleashed upon their new groups.

To those highly-educated individuals who are about to take their rightful place at the helm of the global economy: we here at WSO salute you. The learning curve is steep and your associate class is probably full of people from the same school who look, talk, and think like you do, but if you master the following key phrases, they will help you stand out from even the toughest and most prestigious competition.

When speaking to your analyst:

“The VP/director wants me to add some bullet points on the rationale for the synergies; why don’t you take a first crack at that?” Do my job, please.

“Have these numbers been scrubbed?” Have you done my job yet?

“You need to scrub these numbers better.” You need to do a better job of doing my job.

“This is no big deal; don’t let it take you all night.” I want you to think I’m a nice chill guy, but I still want it perfect and I want it now.

“Just throw something together fast and get some rough numbers on paper for now; we can sharpen our pencils on this later.” And later: “This isn’t right. The right way to do this would be X, Y, and Z.” In other words: Throw together a fast simple analysis for me right now, but the moment you turn it in I’m going to forget I told you it could be fast and simple and will instead chew you out for not doing a full methodical analysis.

“This took you all night? What were you doing? What about this took you so long? You should have called me before you let this take you all night.” Your all-nighter was your fault and if you were a halfway decent analyst you’d have found a way to get everything done and be well-rested and ready to roll today.

If actually called at 1 AM: “Sounds like you know what needs to be done; let me know if I can help with anything.” I didn’t mean you should actually call me before you let it take you all night. I’m sleeping. Get our work done and leave me alone.

“When will it be done? Can I tell the VP/director that we’ll have it for him by the time he leaves? Am I going to have to push back on him and tell him we’ll send it over later tonight?” Hurry the fuck up because I’m scared of pushing back on my boss.

“What can I do to help you finish this faster?” What can I do to help you finish this faster, aside from anything involving the model, the comps, the charts... you know what, I’m just gonna go to the gym, will you be done in an hour?

When speaking to your bosses:

“I haven’t heard anything from the analyst yet; I’ll go see if I can get an ETA.” I don’t really do anything around here aside from being a channel of communication between you and the unshaven, red-eyed 23-year-old that actually does the work.

“We’ll have it for you by the time you leave the office.” Actually, there’s no way it’ll be done by then and we will ultimately have to send it over in a black car and stay up until it gets to you in Westchester County, which will be roughly 12:30 AM. But I’m too much of a pussy to say that to your face right now, even though it would help you plan your evening and keep you from getting too pissed off at me later.

“The analyst must have overlooked that.” “The analyst’s model must be throwing out bad numbers.” I’m going to distract you from the fact that I didn’t do my job by blaming the analyst for not doing both of our jobs well enough.

“I take full responsibility for that mistake; I will scrub the analyst’s numbers better in the future.” I have the balls to take responsibility for the analyst’s mistakes... as long as I can still make it clear that it’s the analyst’s fault.

“I’m sorry that [X piece of shitty work] made it to you without being scrubbed by me first.” I want to make it very clear that I had nothing to do with the turd that just somehow landed on your desk. I blinked and it was just there. Not my fault.

“I found a mistake in the analyst’s model, so it will be another hour before the changes are finished.” Look, I found a way to prove I add value AND throw the analyst under the bus AND push back on your timeline, all in the same sentence. Now I’m gonna go spend an hour on ESPN as a reward for a job well done.

Comments (23)

  • Press0's picture

    Great post. Very true.

    And for associates who actually do this, remember that everything eventually comes around, especially since most 2nd years leave banking and have no problem telling all your seniors about how bad of an associate you are once they have that buyside offer in their hand.

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    Funny post.

    Do the PowerPoint presentations ever get used in actual client meetings or are they just 'leave-behinds'? That would probably irritate me beyond belief. If I was an analyst spending 80 hours a week updating a presentation that nobody even looked at.

    adapt or die wrote:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

  • Going Concern's picture

    i'm not sure why you all think this is a joke. the spoils go the victors. do you have any idea just how much effort those mba applications take? the analyst can barely tie his shoes and i went out there in the world and secured a prestigious m7 diploma. i deserve to be on espn.

    "It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment. When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again"

  • In reply to Going Concern
    BlackHat's picture

    Going Concern wrote:
    i'm not sure why you all think this is a joke. the spoils go the victors. do you have any idea just how much effort those mba applications take? the analyst can barely tie his shoes and i went out there in the world and secured a prestigious m7 diploma. i deserve to be on espn.

    Still waiting for girls + prestige over here...

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • In reply to BlackHat
    DonVon's picture

    BlackHat wrote:
    Going Concern wrote:
    i'm not sure why you all think this is a joke. the spoils go the victors. do you have any idea just how much effort those mba applications take? the analyst can barely tie his shoes and i went out there in the world and secured a prestigious m7 diploma. i deserve to be on espn.

    Still waiting for girls + prestige over here...


    I'm not a girl, but we can pretend and I'll hang out with you BlackHat.

    "An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."
    - Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Check out my blog!

  • In reply to SirTradesaLot
    bankerella's picture

    SirTradesaLot wrote:
    Funny post.

    Do the PowerPoint presentations ever get used in actual client meetings or are they just 'leave-behinds'? That would probably irritate me beyond belief. If I was an analyst spending 80 hours a week updating a presentation that nobody even looked at.

    Once, early in my tenure as an analyst, my favorite associate and I were staffed on a pitch because the MD had heard that some client wanted to sell its widget division.

    So we go and spend nine straight days on widgets. Two all-nighters learning about widgets and fixing/massaging the widget comp set. A week of long conference calls with the firm's widget experts. We authored dozens of pages of fictitious rationale as to why they should sell the widget division (strenuously avoiding the fact that it was a moronic pitch since widgets were their most profitable product). I blow off an important doctor's appointment and an opportunity to go back to campus and recruit (i.e., a rare opportunity to sleep and maybe have a meal in an actual restaurant).

    So, 80 pages, hundreds of man-hours (at least a hundred of which were mine). The MD was a perfectionist so every pixel on every page was perfect and aligned just so. The charts were fucking beautiful, constructed by (my) hand at 4+ hours a pop because Excel didn't do as much sexy stuff back then.

    The VP comes back from the meeting and, in a shocking and utterly stupid show of honesty, says this: "Hey guys, thanks for all your work. Weird thing happened. Just as we sat down, the client said that he asked for the meeting because he wanted to sell the dingbat division in order to invest more in the widget division. So, the pitchbooks stayed in my bag the whole meeting and we just winged it, but it was pretty obvious we hadn't done our homework on dingbats so it's probably a no-go. Guess that's how the cookie crumbles, haha. Uh, thanks for your help anyway, sorry it didn't work out!"

    Fucking brutal. I wanted to barf all over that douchebag's shoes. Why the fuck didn't he just give the regular post-meeting thank you and leave it at that?

    Long story short: if you're an analyst, you cannot afford to know or care what happens to the book after it leaves your hands. They can wipe their asses with it for all you should care. You're a factory. Your job is to ship product.

    If you're a VP or above, regardless of what happens in the meeting, your post-meeting email should read, "Meeting went great, thanks for your help." Unless you want to be a douchebag, you should never allude to the fact that the blood, sweat and tears spent by the junior bankers is frequently wasted because senior bankers can't get their shit together and be more invested in the process.

  • In reply to BTbanker
    BlackHat's picture

    BTbanker wrote:
    Analyst: Should I use Excel?
    Associate: Yes, I want all of my analysts to excel.
    Analyst: Or should I use PowerPoint?
    Associate: Yes, use that power.

    Just ballpark it.

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • BTbanker's picture

    Let’s circling the wagons and open the kimono, so we can avoid boiling the ocean. We are going to be out of pocket soon if we don’t stick to the boiler plate, hunker down, and develop some strategic moves going forward. Let’s think outside the box here and touch base after we’ve added a bit of color. Shed light on the misinformed and make sure the verbiage and language are superb. Don’t stay up all night working on this. You have better things to do with your time, but this is all for good measure.

  • In reply to BlackHat
    GS's picture

    BlackHat wrote:
    Going Concern wrote:
    i'm not sure why you all think this is a joke. the spoils go the victors. do you have any idea just how much effort those mba applications take? the analyst can barely tie his shoes and i went out there in the world and secured a prestigious m7 diploma. i deserve to be on espn.

    Still waiting for girls + prestige over here...

    I think you can get golddiggers and prestige if you went to HBS. I'd never bet against the superficiality of young women. Plus , I assume anyone that interested can also work on his personality and present himself somewhat coherently and confidently.

  • rufiolove's picture

    What actually happens...

    bankerella wrote:
    To those highly-educated individuals who are about to take their rightful place as the most clueless and least value adding member of your respective group: we here at WSO salute you. The learning curve is steep, but don't worry you have an analyst to explain everything for you and do all the actual work. Besides your associate class is probably full of people from the same school who look, talk, and think like you do, but if you master the following key phrases, you can be sure that your analyst will obviously know you are a douchebag and will certainly be better at fucking with you than you are at fucking with them. When speaking to your analyst:

    “The VP/director wants me to add some bullet points on the rationale for the synergies; why don’t you take a first crack at that?” Analyst hears: My associate is a pretentious dick who thinks he's above writing text that was specifically assigned to him by the MD. Not to worry, I will just type a quick diatribe about unicorns and how if the MD has seen one, he's probably never been laid

    “Have these numbers been scrubbed?” Analyst hears: Hey I'm lazy and don't want to think about whether the EBITDA margins are trending the right way. Answer: "Sure brah... totally scrubbed."

    “You need to scrub these numbers better.” Analyst hears: Nice job fucker, you clearly didn't scrub those numbers like I asked you to. Response: "Sorry brah, really jammed up on this overnight memo... just didn't have any bandwidth, I can get to it tomorrow morning tho."

    “This is no big deal; don’t let it take you all night.” Analyst hears: This associate must think I'm an idiot even though I've been doing this longer than he has. Answer: "No worries, I'll take a stab at it." ... and not a single fuck is given that night...

    “Just throw something together fast and get some rough numbers on paper for now; we can sharpen our pencils on this later.” Analyst hears: This... verbatim... and then ponders what kind of pretentious prick would actually use the phrase "we can sharpen our pencils on this later" thinking it was actually an effective form of communication and realizes oh... they're a "B School Associate"... makes sense... An "A-to-A Associate would never pull that shit... The issuance of fucks remains at zero. And later: “This isn’t right. The right way to do this would be X, Y, and Z.” Analyst hears: I am blaming you for something that couldn't possibly have been done correctly given the timeframe, and "I'm going to give a condescending lecture because I went to B School and I know more than you. Answer: "Sorry bro, didn't have time to vet the numbers, could you please show me the appropriate methodology... oh how insightful, it seems that b school was a transformational experience and easily the best 2 party years of your life, beyond the fact that you totally know your shit cold... I am SO JEALOUS"

    “This took you all night? What were you doing? What about this took you so long? You should have called me before you let this take you all night.” Analyst hears: There is no way in shit my Associate could have ever done this any faster because watching him work in excel is like watching Danica Patrick attempt to win a NASCAR race

    If actually called at 1 AM: “Sounds like you know what needs to be done; let me know if I can help with anything.”Analyst hears: I am clearly not going to help out because I'm at home watching Glee reruns with my girlfriend

    “When will it be done? Can I tell the VP/director that we’ll have it for him by the time he leaves? Am I going to have to push back on him and tell him we’ll send it over later tonight?” Analyst hears: Even though I constantly talk about how transformational my experience at Harvard was, I’m still a scared little bitch who won't push back on unreasonable requests... but the ladies love me when I drop the... H BOMB

    “What can I do to help you finish this faster?” Analyst hears: I'm going to pretend I want to help out but I'm desperately hoping this kid doesn't ask me to do anything apart from condescend or talk about how much confidence I have now that I have chugged beers, been to Park City, and nonchalantly whispered Veritas into the ears of ugly Wellesley undergrads I took to Grendel's. Response: "Uh, yeah you could update the transaction comps on page 26, that would totally help me out brah, thanks."

    When speaking to your bosses:

    “I haven’t heard anything from the analyst yet; I’ll go see if I can get an ETA.” I don’t really do anything around here...let me find the unshaven, red-eyed 23-year-old that actually does the work.

    “We’ll have it for you by the time you leave the office.” The analyst is going to stay up until it gets to you in Westchester County, which will be roughly 12:30 AM. But I’m too much of a pussy to say that to your face right now, even though I'm supposed to have this new found confidence now that my life has been transformed.

    “The analyst must have overlooked that.” “The analyst’s model must be throwing out bad numbers.” I am a pathetic sycophant whom no one should respect because an analyst's work is my work, and if I haven't checked it, it's no one's fault but my own.

    “I take full responsibility for that mistake; I will scrub the analyst’s numbers better in the future.” I am taking responsibility for the mistake as I should, but still trying to subtly throw my analyst under the bus.

    “I’m sorry that [X piece of shitty work] made it to you without being scrubbed by me first.” I didn't do my job, but it's the analyst's fault for taking initiative and sending to you directly, knowing that cutting my non-value added comments might bank him an extra 2 hours of sleep.

    “I found a mistake in the analyst’s model, so it will be another hour before the changes are finished.” Look, I found a way to prove I add value AND throw the analyst under the bus AND push back on your timeline, all in the same sentence. Now I’m gonna go spend an hour on ESPN as a reward for a job well done. - I have nothing to add, this was perfect...

  • Girl Banker's picture

    Founder of GirlBankerDotCom, Author of To Become an Investment Banker