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TBT: Originally posted on September, 2012

Props to bankerella for an insightful post delving into the mind of the newly-minted first-year investment banking associate. The only thing it was missing was a blanket apology for all of the seasoned analysts who, for the next few months, have to put up with the insufferable "value add" of their MBAed colleagues.

Analysts, if there's anyone you shouldn't be afraid of, it's a bumbling first-year associate fresh out of b-school. Remember, you already do all the work around here - make it clear that until they find their footing, you will be running the show.

When speaking to a new associate:

The MD likes the comps in this exact format, with these metrics."
Do not attempt to "add value" by "adding work.
---
"I've double checked the numbers, but will wait for you to sign off before printing and sending."
I did not check these numbers at all. Please do your job and check them.

---

"I find it 'helps' to pop out the F1 key."
Are you a fucking idiot?
---
"Usually, the MD doesn't check his email after 9 pm. We should just send to him first thing tomorrow."
Please don't try to be a hero. The MD will not look at this until next week.
---
"I'll take the model and comps, you can do the bullets - I'm sure you'd be faster at that anyway."

Save me time by taking over the text you were going to make changes to anyway, and I'll save you the embarrassment of asking me to help you balance a basic LBO model."
---
"This is quick and dirty, but should be directionally helpful."
This is completely made up. It's going to be up to you to bullshit your way through the explanation.
---
"Have a quick question. Just called your cell - I'm at my desk."
Calling you on your empty offer to 'let you know if you have any questions or run into any problems.' If and when you actually call back, I plan to befuddle you with an obscure pension accounting question.
---
"This is going to take me awhile to get to, I am jammed on a few other things right now."
Quit trying to rogue staff me.
---
"Happy to help."
You could have taken 5 minutes out of your brickbreaker session to look that up yourself.
---
"I'll be done in 15."
I finished this three days ago, and have been sitting on it since.
---
"Sorry for the delay."
Fuck you.
---


When speaking to your MD about the new associate

"The associate is new to the team, and is still getting up to speed on this."
The new associate is useless.
---
"It's good to have another person to pitch in on this."
The new associate is needlessly creating work in an attempt to impress you. Please, I beg you, stop the madness.
---
"We work together well as a team."
The new associate is getting crushed on a different deal, so s/he hasn't had time to create work on this deal.
---
"I think I can handle this on my own - no need to get associate staffing."
If you tell me I am getting staffed with a new associate, I will promptly go back to the bullpen and light myself on fire.
---

Aaron Burr is a retired investment banking analyst and currently works as an associate at a private equity fund. He salutes all non-useless first-year IB associates - let him know if you do too in the comments section or at [email protected]

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Comments (28)

  • rufiolove's picture

    Don't worry Aaron, I provided the experienced analyst views in that thread.

  • PuppyBackedSecurities's picture

    So true. This is priceless.

  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    I love that hes called a retired analyst when it sounds like hes just made the move to PE.

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • bankerella's picture

    Spot on. Love it.

  • Stringer Bell's picture

    This is so true. In my experience I've found the guys you really see this "shit eating MBA grin" attitude from are guys who were engineers in their past life(s). In their head(s) they're automatically smarter than all the analysts because "while you were doing some shitty comp's, I was working on a jet engine tuhuh,"...good for you, let me do my comps you go read Popular Mechanics and jerk off to googling "interesting facts about wood" or some shit.

    Other than that, I would venture to say 80-90% of the new associates I've worked with have been smart people, open to learn (even from experienced analysts) and most importantly humble about their experience versus yours. In these cases, I've done my best to help them out without patronizing them or making them look bad in front of the senior guys. They're the ones that are signing up for the long haul in IB.

  • In reply to Stringer Bell
    rufiolove's picture

    Stringer Bell:
    This is so true. In my experience I've found the guys you really see this "shit eating MBA grin" attitude from are guys who were engineers in their past life(s). In their head(s) they're automatically smarter than all the analysts because "while you were doing some shitty comp's, I was working on a jet engine tuhuh,"...good for you, let me do my comps you go read Popular Mechanics and jerk off to googling "interesting facts about wood" or some shit.

    Other than that, I would venture to say 80-90% of the new associates I've worked with have been smart people, open to learn (even from experienced analysts) and most importantly humble about their experience versus yours. In these cases, I've done my best to help them out without patronizing them or making them look bad in front of the senior guys. They're the ones that are signing up for the long haul in IB.

    That's a good point Stringer. Some of the B School Associates get it, and I have no problem with them. It's the ones who use stupid jargon and act like they are above doing anything that I have an issue with.

  • In reply to Stringer Bell
    trailmix8's picture

    Stringer Bell:
    This is so true. In my experience I've found the guys you really see this "shit eating MBA grin" attitude from are guys who were engineers in their past life(s). In their head(s) they're automatically smarter than all the analysts because "while you were doing some shitty comp's, I was working on a jet engine tuhuh,"...good for you, let me do my comps you go read Popular Mechanics and jerk off to googling "interesting facts about wood" or some shit.

    Other than that, I would venture to say 80-90% of the new associates I've worked with have been smart people, open to learn (even from experienced analysts) and most importantly humble about their experience versus yours. In these cases, I've done my best to help them out without patronizing them or making them look bad in front of the senior guys. They're the ones that are signing up for the long haul in IB.

    SB, perhaps you can give some tips to those that are currently at B-Schools and want to avoid being "that" associate?

    I think if I went into banking without prior relevant experience as an Associate. I would try to treat it the same way a military officer would defer to an experienced NCO; even though a younger officer outranks the NCO in the chain of command, a good officer will always listen and learn from the experienced NCO because he is better at the job itself. This would be the approach I would take until I could get up to speed (which I imagine would take at least a year, at least to get on the same level as a good analyst).

    Trying to pretend to add value at the expense of a younger colleague (who is supposed to be a teammate right??) is pretty spineless in my opinion.

  • In reply to rufiolove
    Aaron Burr's picture

    rufiolove:
    Don't worry Aaron, I provided the experienced analyst views in that thread.

    Actually saw this after I had written mine up - your reply was 100% postworthy in its own right.

  • In reply to trailmix8
    SECfinance's picture

    trailmix8:
    Stringer Bell:
    This is so true. In my experience I've found the guys you really see this "shit eating MBA grin" attitude from are guys who were engineers in their past life(s). In their head(s) they're automatically smarter than all the analysts because "while you were doing some shitty comp's, I was working on a jet engine tuhuh,"...good for you, let me do my comps you go read Popular Mechanics and jerk off to googling "interesting facts about wood" or some shit.

    Other than that, I would venture to say 80-90% of the new associates I've worked with have been smart people, open to learn (even from experienced analysts) and most importantly humble about their experience versus yours. In these cases, I've done my best to help them out without patronizing them or making them look bad in front of the senior guys. They're the ones that are signing up for the long haul in IB.

    SB, perhaps you can give some tips to those that are currently at B-Schools and want to avoid being "that" associate?

    I think if I went into banking without prior relevant experience as an Associate. I would try to treat it the same way a military officer would defer to an experienced NCO; even though a younger officer outranks the NCO in the chain of command, a good officer will always listen and learn from the experienced NCO because he is better at the job itself. This would be the approach I would take until I could get up to speed (which I imagine would take at least a year, at least to get on the same level as a good analyst).

    Trying to pretend to add value at the expense of a younger colleague (who is supposed to be a teammate right??) is pretty spineless in my opinion.

    That's the correct way to think about it.

    MM IB -> Corporate Development

  • WhiteHat's picture

    I need more SBs to throw at this post

  • newfirstyear's picture

    Our staffer was one of my best friends, every time I got a staffing, I'd proceed directly to his office where I would tell him which associate I wanted. The best part was when the new associates started, I'd always choose them and call them into his office. Then when they saw that I basically picked them, they were fine with letting me run the show. :D

  • In reply to trailmix8
    PossumBelly's picture

    trailmix8:
    SB, perhaps you can give some tips to those that are currently at B-Schools and want to avoid being "that" associate?

    I think you're assessment is correct. When I was a summer associate, I was fully aware of my clueless-ness and approached the analysts with deference.They were a great resource and were always happy to help me. I was just sure to approach them with respect to what else they had on their plate...also helps to be self-deprecating. I think some associates think "showing leadership" means being a dick to those underneath you..but you can be confident in front of your superiors (and acknowledge those who helped you) AND humble to your (technical) "subordinates" without coming off as weak. And since the analysts don't hate you they help to make sure your work product is sound. Everyone wins.

    Probably also gets exacerbated coming in full-time...people think "ah i've finally made it..no longer a summer...time to show them I'm the real deal". And they proceed to act like a managing associate.

    Don't think this is unique to banking, though. The guy who is a douche in post-mba banking would have been a douche anywhere.

  • In reply to newfirstyear
    WallStreetOasis.com's picture

    newfirstyear:
    Our staffer was one of my best friends, every time I got a staffing, I'd proceed directly to his office where I would tell him which associate I wanted. The best part was when the new associates started, I'd always choose them and call them into his office. Then when they saw that I basically picked them, they were fine with letting me run the show. :D

    ...my only question, is how is a Managing Analyst like this not a Certified User yet? :D

    ...and what level was you staffer? VP? well done.

  • av8ter's picture

    trailmix8 --- this is the EXACT EXACT analogy I had in my head regarding the situation. Boom.

  • Girl Banker's picture

    That was my problem. I didn't give tactful grey comments/answers to my Associates, I spat it to them in black and white. Great post though!

    Founder of GirlBankerDotCom, Author of To Become an Investment Banker

  • In reply to WallStreetOasis.com
    newfirstyear's picture

    WallStreetOasis.com:
    newfirstyear:
    Our staffer was one of my best friends, every time I got a staffing, I'd proceed directly to his office where I would tell him which associate I wanted. The best part was when the new associates started, I'd always choose them and call them into his office. Then when they saw that I basically picked them, they were fine with letting me run the show. :D

    ...my only question, is how is a Managing Analyst like this not a Certified User yet? :D

    ...and what level was you staffer? VP? well done.

    Staffer was a director...how do I become certified?

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    If you're a halfway decent 2nd/3rd year analyst, its actually pretty easy (and quite fun) to bitch slap MBA associates around. You know the business better than them, you know the organization better than them, and you have a reputation with senior bankers, which they do not. If they're smart they'll try not to lock horns with you in the early days.

    The Post-MBA investment banking associate is a particularly feeble minded creature that has (often for the first time ever) obtained self-respect, professional credibility and confidence through a piece of paper with a crest on it. If they weren't such insufferable douche nozzles, it wouldn't be so satisfying to watch them slowly realize that their MBA is only a semblance, the essence of which does not exist and they're still the same people they were before b-school.

    Moral of the story for associates:
    (1) Be honest to the world (i.e., be yourself): no one gives a shit that you're an X MBA, that's par for the course here
    (2) Be honest to yourself: you're an investment banker, tell your mom and feel good about it; and then quickly realize that all that means is that you're a slightly more than mediocrely paid shit eater. MBA's tend to be particularly in love with themselves for becoming a banker. The ones do are well-adjusted quickly realize the reality of the situation. The ones who don't will put on the same charade for themselves that they put up to their non-banker friends when trying to impress upon them their investment banker baddassness.

  • Skinnayyy's picture

    Question to all of you 2nd and 3rd year analysts!

    Let's say I'm not quite sure how to do something since I'm an MBA associate and don't know anything.

    Would you rather me ask you for help once finding out I don't know how to do it so it can get done faster, or would you rather me try and figure it out myself, butcher, then as for help on how to do it right?

    make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier

  • In reply to Marcus_Halberstram
    ModusOperandi's picture

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  • Going Concern's picture

    “The new day brings new hope. The lives we’ve led. The lives we’ve yet to lead. A new day. New ideas. A new you.”

  • PeteMullersKeyboard's picture

    "When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

  • In reply to Stringer Bell
    skw910824's picture

    Everyone has a plan until he got punched in the mouth.

  • VCPEORIB's picture

    It's all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation. -Gordon Gekko