5/26/15

Mod Note (Andy): This post originally went up 2/10/13 and is a must read for all those starting their FT roles

I was writing an email to a fellow monkey who is about to start as a banking analyst in the summer. It's been a little over 5 yrs now since I was a wee young first-year analyst in restructuring for one of the Moelis/Houlihan/Evercore type firms (I call them the firms where most people will still say "What?" and sort of nod their heads when you tell them where you work - thanks for validating my 80 hour work week - anyways moving on).

I really like mentoring and sharing knowledge for future generations - a lot of people have helped me along the way, and still are, and I really like WSO in general - there are giant gold nuggets all over this site from which I have benefited so I thought it's high time to throw one back in the pit.

Here's what I wish I knew as a first year analyst:

1) Your performance from day 1 matters.

So, prepare as much as you can beforehand. Ask (politely) if your future colleagues can send you some pitches/other helpful materials and start working on your excel, formatting, attention to detail. Keep your Outlook box tidy and have a folder for every single deal - learn to back up your email box. Have a good system for knowing where each file is. Always carry a notebook and your HP12C, and learn to use that little calculator really really well. That thing can run a full DCF in seconds if you know what you are doing. Especially if you work in debt, know how to use the financial functions (I, PMT, PV, FV, n).

2) For your first 3 months you will be a burden

- just try to be a small burden. Don't spin your wheels, ever - Associates hate when their analyst is sitting there fumbling and stymied. Don't ask questions that you haven't at least tried to think through yourself - but once you've thought them through, don't be afraid to ask. Write down everything so you remember what you learned and don't have to ask again.

Get close with a good Associate/Sr. Analyst - tell them you just really want to do well and look to them for areas to improve BEFORE your midyear/full year reviews. Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

3) If you want to someday go to the buyside, think of that from day 1 as well.

Start talking now with people who are where you want to be in 2-5 years time. Figure out where past analysts have gone and how. You can jump after 1 year, 2 yrs, or later - but realize it might get tougher later on. You will need to teach yourself how to model quick and dirty - prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

4) Be thinking about whether you want to go to grad school, and where, and what experiences will help that cause.

Keep detailed records of the things you do - because you're about to do so many things, that you will inevitably forget some of the best ones. 2 yrs at a non-incredibly-amazing firm is not likely to get you into HSW, even with a good GMAT - a better track is to target 4-6 years of work experience and have a non-banking role in between - PE, work for a startup, go do microfinance in Tunisia, whatever you like really - just something to distinguish you from all the other bankers - HSW will have plenty of BB IBD kids from target schools to fill their class. If you know you want to go for an MBA eventually, think about taking the GMAT before you are working 80 hours a week. I think the GMAT takes about 2 months of good work for most really to maximize your score (this is another good WIWIK possibility).

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it

- errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

6) Spell Check

On that note, set the print area right away and always run a spell check (yes, Excel has spell check too!)

7) Master your macros

- if you have time or inclination before starting, maybe even take some Excel VBA classes online or something - if you are really good with Excel you will be a prized asset. Ask your future colleagues if there is a particular package they use and if they can send it, otherwise maybe use the WSP pack or any macro pack you can find. Remove your F1 key because it will only get in the way. People generally say don't touch your mouse - I mostly agree for Excel, but there are still the few odd things that are quicker with a mouse sometimes. Excel is another potential WIWIK topic.

8) What Headhunters want:

smart people, who can hold a good conversation, humble, good team players, sharp modeling, who can THINK LIKE INVESTORS - always be thinking like an investor - if you want to do PE/HF later on, this might be your single most important point. Many banking analysts go into PE/HF interviews and have never thought like an investor - they have no conviction in their ideas and their investment theses have little basis. Many BB kids think they are simply entitled to a HF/PE job. Don't be one of those. Do your work. And be a good person. Everyone will have decent technical skills, but if you can strike your headhunter as also being just a super nice and hardworking person, that counts big time.

9) If you want to practice for HFs, pick any public company that doesn't have nightmare financial statements

(i.e. don't pick a FIG unless that's your thing), download the latest K and Q, and give yourself 2 hours to make a working 3 statement model with a DCF and a quick LBO analysis. You should be able to get the 3 statement model with 5 yr projections and a balancing balance sheet in 1 hour or less, then do the DCF and LBO in the next half hour, and leave a half hour to check your work.

9b) Be a good person.

Don't be a finance 'dick.' Yes you work in investment banking and probably make good money doing it. No that doesn't automatically make you cool. You can be hugely successful and still be a nice guy and down to earth. Take note of the associates and VPs that you really like to work for, and aspire to someday be a person that you yourself would like to work for. Finance is full of jerks and egos - that makes people who are down to earth and really genuinely nice an asset. Find a style that works for you and is true to who you are - you'll have to be firm sometimes, but keep that blade sharp.

10) Adhere to the logic that you can't learn if you aren't listening, and you can't listen if you are talking.

Be a good listener. Some bankers and even some analysts are so garrulous that they miss key points, and their words just lose weight over time - they're so eager to say what they know that they just blurt out whatever they know on a subject. You want it so when you speak, people know you have listened, and you're saying something of value. Keep your cards close.

11) Perhaps the most important - figure out who on the Admin end really runs the show.

Admins are some of the most powerful people in terms of making your life better as an analyst. Treat your admins with respect and go out of your way to treat them well. Bring up some flowers every once in a while to brighten the reception desk. Pick up a few extra coffees when you run out, and take note which admins like which kinds of coffee. Being a banking admin can be really dreary work sometimes and those little things can brighten their day a lot.

12) Be neat about your reimbursements

- I probably lost hundreds to low thousands just by not being prompt/organized about receipts and the like. Get the best possible credit card plan you can find for travel and hotels.

13) Take care of your body

- watch the Thursday night cocktails and save it for Friday/Saturday. Oversleep one important call/meeting and you might never recover. Most analysts are vitamin deficient - take a good daily multivitamin and drink water, not red bull. Fish oil is good for keeping your skin/eyes/brain in good shape. Burt's Bees Serum for your face is a god-send - my girlfriend says it looks like I am glowing after I put it on.

14) If you do mess up badly at work

- learn from it and get over it. Don't beat yourself up too much. Other people might have a little giggle now and then about your f-up but believe me nobody is thinking about the f-up as much as you think they are. Consider how many of your brainwaves you spend in a typical day thinking about other people. Now get back to work.

15) Work-life Balance

Many bosses will preach a work-life balance and say things like "This can totally wait until Monday." But they will still be more impressed if you did it over the weekend and give it to them Monday morning. Figure out who those bosses are.

I think those are the main ones - I'll probably think of more here and there and I'm sure tons of other users have some great things to add. Any questions/thoughts let me know.

Cheers
frgna

Comments (156)

2/10/13

mo like 60.

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2/10/13

Fantastic thread and great advice for anyone about to go into an SA stint as well.

2/10/13

Great post. Thanks.

2/10/13

Wow, awesome post. Would love to see a WIWIK for Excel/modeling/etc.!

2/10/13

Great post, SB for ya

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

Best Response
2/11/13

No problem folks.

One thing I forgot to mention - live on your base, bank your bonus, at least for the first 3-5 yrs. After that you can put your saved bonuses into whatever - house, etc. But always try to live one or two rungs below your means. If you're thinking of grad school you'll thank yourself later. In finance, money=freedom, so don't build a lifestyle that will lock you into a job you don't love. The brand new BMW can wait until you are 26.

Also, unless you just have a really naturally good memory (some do), really make an effort to "study" key details about your engagements. Memorize all the coupon dates and maturities of the tranches of debt, know the capital structure cold, memorize historical revenue and EBITDA and capex etc. for the last few years. Know which comparables are the most comparable in your valuation by geography and revenue composition/size and business type.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

2/11/13

Great stuff. SB to you good sir.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

2/11/13

Great post. Thanks, if i had and SB's I would give you one.

2/11/13

This was a really really good post man. Wish I'd read something similar for S&T before I started working!

2/11/13

This is awesome! Thank you!

2/11/13

as someone starting ft this summer, I really appreciated this post - one of the best i've read on this site

2/11/13

great info, thanks for posting

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

PM me if you're traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016 (I live here) :-)

2/11/13

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

Gold - sounds dumb but its important

2/20/13

neilol:
5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

Gold - sounds dumb but its important

Great point, and I also find this works just as well when you covert the document to a pdf and check it in adobe.

5/24/13

Amphipathic:

neilol:

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

Gold - sounds dumb but its important

Great point, and I also find this works just as well when you covert the document to a pdf and check it in adobe.

Agreed. The higher resolution and enlargement really make things stand out.

2/11/13

Really appreciate this.

2/11/13

I'd add, few give a shit about a DCF. It's all about Comps.

2/12/13

ghandi:
elaborate on the Burt's Bees Serum

http://bit.ly/XvtXac :) It's these little drops, you put 4-5 drops in your palm and apply to your face. Helps with wrinkles, pale skin, baggy eyes, etc - really good stuff and lasts a long time.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

2/11/13

One of the best posts I've read.

2/11/13

great post!

2/11/13

Great post, thank you.

2/11/13

Great read!

2/11/13

Fabulous post!

2/12/13

Good advice. Now I just need the offer to put this into practice.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

2/12/13

Great post, thanks!
I particularly like the "don't be a dick" point.

2/12/13

Nicely done.

2/12/13

gold

ps: wtf is a wiwik?

2/12/13

Fundamentally Undervalued:
gold

ps: wtf is a wiwik?

It's a "What I Wish I Knew" - the WSO guys smartly retitled my original post :)

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

7/31/13

This is exactly the kind of thing that falls under #2 - think through things, and for something like this jfgi. And if you don't know what those acronyms mean... google it & open the first page. Recite Bart's mantra.

7/31/13

[double post]

2/12/13

frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

2/12/13

TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Would help if you could elaborate a bit on the mistakes but here are a few tips.

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

Second, have another peer analyst quickly look at it (esp one you know is really good at details). Always run the spell check and take note of your common errors. You can do a ctrl+f's and search for common errors. These are things like not being consistent in word lists (search for the word "and" or ", and" depending on your convention) and spacing after periods.

For an excel model, always look to your numbers and ask, does this make sense? I had an interest calc once where I was trying to do some fancy compounding and the number should have been like 3% of principal but it was more like 30%, and my associate caught it right away.

Steps for excel:
1) F2 through each formula and hardcode and make sure the formulas look consistent - often times people just copy and paste the wrong formula. Also see my trick below. Run a spell check.
2) Print it, and then go through it, left to right, top to bottom, and make sure all the numbers make visual sense. Senior bankers are really good at finding numbers that don't look right. Use your calculator to check things that might seem off.
3) Talk through the sheet to yourself once - try to pretend you are presenting it to your boss. Anticipate his questions and be ready to answer odd things.

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

2/12/13

frgna:

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.


GOLD

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

2/12/13

frgna:

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

This is best practice for anyone starting out, or really anyone period.

My strategy is to always write my e-mails with the e-mail addresses in the subject line instead of in the "To" line until I'm actually ready to send. This is especially important if you're using Excel and have CTRL+ENTER as a shortcut to send e-mails like I do (I think it's the default shortcut). I've forgotten to do this a few times and have sent half-complete e-mails by accident. It's never been anything that's been too embarrassing, but it still just looks sloppy. Gmail has the "Undo" function but Outlook doesn't have anything similar to my knowledge. If it does, please enlighten me.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

2/12/13

Otter.:
frgna:

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

This is best practice for anyone starting out, or really anyone period.

My strategy is to always write my e-mails with the e-mail addresses in the subject line instead of in the "To" line until I'm actually ready to send. This is especially important if you're using Excel and have CTRL+ENTER as a shortcut to send e-mails like I do (I think it's the default shortcut). I've forgotten to do this a few times and have sent half-complete e-mails by accident. It's never been anything that's been too embarrassing, but it still just looks sloppy. Gmail has the "Undo" function but Outlook doesn't have anything similar to my knowledge. If it does, please enlighten me.

You actually can (kind of) do this.

You can set up a rule in Outlook that delays the sending of all messages by a defined number of minutes (I've set mine as one). Do it in the Rules wizard.

Important to include an override though....I have an exception "if the body contains "FASTSEND" so that you can quickly send something to your boss if you're just firing off a quick piece of data.

2/12/13

Bismarck:
Otter.:
frgna:

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

This is best practice for anyone starting out, or really anyone period.

My strategy is to always write my e-mails with the e-mail addresses in the subject line instead of in the "To" line until I'm actually ready to send. This is especially important if you're using Excel and have CTRL+ENTER as a shortcut to send e-mails like I do (I think it's the default shortcut). I've forgotten to do this a few times and have sent half-complete e-mails by accident. It's never been anything that's been too embarrassing, but it still just looks sloppy. Gmail has the "Undo" function but Outlook doesn't have anything similar to my knowledge. If it does, please enlighten me.

You actually can (kind of) do this.

You can set up a rule in Outlook that delays the sending of all messages by a defined number of minutes (I've set mine as one). Do it in the Rules wizard.

Important to include an override though....I have an exception "if the body contains "FASTSEND" so that you can quickly send something to your boss if you're just firing off a quick piece of data.

Interesting. That seems like it would work but the amount of e-mails I need to respond to very quickly makes that almost more trouble than it's worth. But good to know it's an option - thanks man.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

9/1/13

Bismarck:

Otter.:
frgna:

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

This is best practice for anyone starting out, or really anyone period.

My strategy is to always write my e-mails with the e-mail addresses in the subject line instead of in the "To" line until I'm actually ready to send. This is especially important if you're using Excel and have CTRL+ENTER as a shortcut to send e-mails like I do (I think it's the default shortcut). I've forgotten to do this a few times and have sent half-complete e-mails by accident. It's never been anything that's been too embarrassing, but it still just looks sloppy. Gmail has the "Undo" function but Outlook doesn't have anything similar to my knowledge. If it does, please enlighten me.

You actually can (kind of) do this.

You can set up a rule in Outlook that delays the sending of all messages by a defined number of minutes (I've set mine as one). Do it in the Rules wizard.

Important to include an override though....I have an exception "if the body contains "FASTSEND" so that you can quickly send something to your boss if you're just firing off a quick piece of data.

I like this, but now my emails have fastsend in them...and it doesn't look good. Is there a way to do this so that outlook sees the word "fastsend" and deletes it before sending right away?

thanks

1/12/14

@Fundamentally Undervalued I think writing the word fastsend in white coloured text should help.
Your comment's almost 4 months old so probably you would've figured it out. Just trying to help.
Merry Christmas

12/26/13

You can just have an exception to override the delaying of messages if you marked it as high importance.

2/13/13

Otter.:
frgna:

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

This is best practice for anyone starting out, or really anyone period.

My strategy is to always write my e-mails with the e-mail addresses in the subject line instead of in the "To" line until I'm actually ready to send. This is especially important if you're using Excel and have CTRL+ENTER as a shortcut to send e-mails like I do (I think it's the default shortcut). I've forgotten to do this a few times and have sent half-complete e-mails by accident. It's never been anything that's been too embarrassing, but it still just looks sloppy. Gmail has the "Undo" function but Outlook doesn't have anything similar to my knowledge. If it does, please enlighten me.

There's a recall feature, but it only works if the recipient hasn't opened the email yet. If you inadvertently send out an email you want to recall, go to your sent items folder, open up the email in question (double click/enter on it so it opens in a separate window) and then ALT+H,A,T, press enter. However, best practice is to put the email address in last after you've proof read it, as you said.

2/12/13

frgna:
TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Would help if you could elaborate a bit on the mistakes but here are a few tips.

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

Second, have another peer analyst quickly look at it (esp one you know is really good at details). Always run the spell check and take note of your common errors. You can do a ctrl+f's and search for common errors. These are things like not being consistent in word lists (search for the word "and" or ", and" depending on your convention) and spacing after periods.

For an excel model, always look to your numbers and ask, does this make sense? I had an interest calc once where I was trying to do some fancy compounding and the number should have been like 3% of principal but it was more like 30%, and my associate caught it right away.

Steps for excel:
1) F2 through each formula and hardcode and make sure the formulas look consistent - often times people just copy and paste the wrong formula. Also see my trick below. Run a spell check.
2) Print it, and then go through it, left to right, top to bottom, and make sure all the numbers make visual sense. Senior bankers are really good at finding numbers that don't look right. Use your calculator to check things that might seem off.
3) Talk through the sheet to yourself once - try to pretend you are presenting it to your boss. Anticipate his questions and be ready to answer odd things.

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

This is what makes WSO such a tremendous resource. Thanks for the tips.

3/17/13

frgna:
TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Would help if you could elaborate a bit on the mistakes but here are a few tips.

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

Second, have another peer analyst quickly look at it (esp one you know is really good at details). Always run the spell check and take note of your common errors. You can do a ctrl+f's and search for common errors. These are things like not being consistent in word lists (search for the word "and" or ", and" depending on your convention) and spacing after periods.

For an excel model, always look to your numbers and ask, does this make sense? I had an interest calc once where I was trying to do some fancy compounding and the number should have been like 3% of principal but it was more like 30%, and my associate caught it right away.

Steps for excel:
1) F2 through each formula and hardcode and make sure the formulas look consistent - often times people just copy and paste the wrong formula. Also see my trick below. Run a spell check.
2) Print it, and then go through it, left to right, top to bottom, and make sure all the numbers make visual sense. Senior bankers are really good at finding numbers that don't look right. Use your calculator to check things that might seem off.
3) Talk through the sheet to yourself once - try to pretend you are presenting it to your boss. Anticipate his questions and be ready to answer odd things.

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

That is a golden excel tip. Any other gems?

5/24/13

frgna:

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

This is an amazing trick. Also, you can record a really simple macro do this for you and then you learn a little VBA too. 2 birds. 1 excel stone.

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

12/25/13

this is very helpful thanks!

1/6/14

Great excel tips, frgna. My daughter, who works in NYC for a cosmetics firm, needs the opposite. She needs to select unformatted non hardcodes, so she can change them into hardcodes. She works with big data downloads for CRM apps. Any help? Thanks!

2/15/13

TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Get another set of eyes on it. When you've been working on something long enough, you stop seeing the little errors.

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2/12/13

Great post frnga - really applicable to my workplace and good to keep a list like this to constantly remind yourself of things to work on.

One question, do you have any links or videos that go into more detail on this: 9) If you want to practice for HFs, pick any public company that doesn't have nightmare financial statements (i.e. don't pick a FIG unless that's your thing), download the latest K and Q, and give yourself 2 hours to make a working 3 statement model with a DCF and a quick LBO analysis. You should be able to get the 3 statement model with 5 yr projections and a balancing balance sheet in 1 hour or less, then do the DCF and LBO in the next half hour, and leave a half hour to check your work.

I need to work on this, a lot.

2/14/13

chrisjr:
Great post frnga - really applicable to my workplace and good to keep a list like this to constantly remind yourself of things to work on.

One question, do you have any links or videos that go into more detail on this: 9) If you want to practice for HFs, pick any public company that doesn't have nightmare financial statements (i.e. don't pick a FIG unless that's your thing), download the latest K and Q, and give yourself 2 hours to make a working 3 statement model with a DCF and a quick LBO analysis. You should be able to get the 3 statement model with 5 yr projections and a balancing balance sheet in 1 hour or less, then do the DCF and LBO in the next half hour, and leave a half hour to check your work.

I need to work on this, a lot.

Give it a shot, email it to me if/when you get stuck, and I'll let you know what I think of it. I'd basically just say for now, it takes a lot of practice and work. The first time might take you a whole day, or longer. But you'll get faster each time.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

2/12/13

frgna:
prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

Very interested. Great post.

5/24/13

HOVA:

frgna:

prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

Very interested. Great post.

Seconded. Could you post something to this effect, or comment if you already have?

Thanks for some great tips. I just saved and printed into a Word doc.

5/24/13

Plato:

HOVA:

frgna:
prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

Very interested. Great post.

Seconded. Could you post something to this effect, or comment if you already have?

Thanks for some great tips. I just saved and printed into a Word doc.

Will try to post something after CFA

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

5/24/13

frgna:

Plato:

HOVA:

frgna:
prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.
Very interested. Great post.

Seconded. Could you post something to this effect, or comment if you already have?
Thanks for some great tips. I just saved and printed into a Word doc.

Will try to post something after CFA

That would be really cool. Good luck on level II and let us know how it goes!

6/11/13

frgna:

Plato:

HOVA:

frgna:
prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.
Very interested. Great post.

Seconded. Could you post something to this effect, or comment if you already have?
Thanks for some great tips. I just saved and printed into a Word doc.

Will try to post something after CFA

Great post. Hope you rocked L2 and look forward to your next post on the buyside process.

5/25/13

HOVA:

frgna:

prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

Very interested. Great post.

Seconded. Great post, we all appreciate this

2/12/13

damn... thank you!

*googling up Burt's Bees Serum"

2/12/13

good stuff.....thanks for posting

We can't rely on anyone these days, we just have to do things ourselves don't we?

4/24/14

Good advice

"Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly"

2/12/13

Awesome post. very good read. was wondering if anyone could recommend some skills/knowledge to try and master before i begin my internship. What programs should i get familiar with? Concepts to know? I just want to make sure i dont go into my internship looking dumb.

2/12/13

Great post. It was extremely helpful.

2/13/13

Speaking of gold nuggets, this is a damn big one

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win" - Sun Tzu

2/13/13

I'd add, if you want to be useful from day 1, learn to spread comps perfectly. I'd pick a recent transaction in the space and then look for fairness materials in the proxy. Once you find some, spread the comp set as of that date and see if you can get the exact same numbers. The other benefit is you will understand common adjustments in this space (i.e. minority interest, EBITDA adjustments, perpetual restructuring charges, etc.) very well, which is a great asset if you are in a coverage group.

2/15/13

Awesome post, going to have to take that coffee to the admin tip and put it to use.

2/15/13

Gold.

2/16/13

Thank you really helpful

2/16/13

Thanks! Great help even for SA.

2/17/13

best post i've read on WSO, thank you.

time is the most precious commodity.

2/17/13

Great write up. +1 for you.

2/17/13

Great Work
- On the modelling front, become an expert at CapIQ. It should be able to instantly feed into your own Comp Table, and indicative CDF/LBO models. Will save you heaps of time
- Excel is about never using the mouse. It takes a bit to get through but once you know the hotkeys of pat your away
- Learn to use Document Locations on the network and email them as a hyperlink (You can set it up in excel and word in the quick access ribbon) . Document control is critical
- Personality is important. Actually talk to Associates, VPs and Directors. Take an interest in their football/basketball team, know what is going on around playoffs, transfers etc.. Small talk works - you want to be brought to meetings not treated just as a modelling monkey
- Originating ideas is important, read business news, know what action is taking place. If a big deal is announced look at deals which will spin of this - i.e. Buffet going for Heinz - will he be flicking smaller divisions out of this, how does the deal effect x customer, x supplier?

Houlihan is a sweat shop, hang in there. 80 hours is the standard. Everyone wants to quit after 6-8 weeks. Just get through it and get used to it!! You'll thank yourself at bonus time and later on...

You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake son.

2/18/13

SB piece right here.
Respect for you my man, respect.

Death is certain; Life aint.

2/18/13

I love the emphasis you place on being nice to people and treating them well, particularly the admins

2/19/13

Thank you! Great post useful for FT and SA!

2/19/13

Super useful.

"It doesn't matter where you are or where you came from: it's about where you're going."

2/19/13

Great post. Very interesting.

2/19/13

Thanks! Great help!

2/20/13

Nice :) true story

2/22/13

Bookmarked and +1'ed.

"Do not go gentle into that good night"

2/22/13

Is this getting towards a record of SBs?

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

2/22/13

Oreos:
Is this getting towards a record of SBs?

Never would have expected this much positive response - thanks for all the kind words folks!

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

3/5/13

Very awesome post. I'm not in banking, but this is great career advice for anyone.

3/12/13

One of the best posts I have seen on this forum. Thumbs up.

3/17/13

Great post, thanks. Bookmarked.

3/17/13

Great post, thanks for sharing.

5/23/13

Thanks for the post, really appreciate it!

5/24/13

Thanks for sharing! Great read.

5/24/13

This will be very helpful, thank you sir!

5/24/13

No problem guys, glad the response has been so positive - sorry I've been so absent on the boards lately, CFA 2 is taking priority in a big way

CivilServant - let me give some more thought to more excel tricks and I'll update sometime after June 1

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

5/24/13

awesome post. defintiely a good read

5/24/13

Really good post.

5/24/13

Awesome post! Thanks so much!!!

5/24/13

thanks - these were really helpful

5/24/13

Excellent, freaking excellent post...

The F5 > ALT+S OXGE is freakin amazing for the hardcore modelers out there... which I assume is or was EVERYONE on here....

5/24/13

Great post, thanks a bunch.

5/25/13

Great post. Would be good to have something similar for those looking to start as Associates

5/25/13

Great post thanks.

5/25/13

Thank you for this great post

5/25/13

Thanks a lot, excellent post.

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

5/25/13

Thanks! Great info.

6/5/13

This is a great post. I will definitely read this over from time to time.

6/13/13

Great post! Very helpful for a kid like me starting ft soon. This was exactly what I was looking for!

6/26/13

bookmarked, this is great! a deserving post for my last SB

7/31/13

How do you go from importing data from the latest 10-K and 3 10-Qs to making a working three statement model so quickly? Any tips? I don't think I would be confident in doing one under 2 hours and actually know why things are the way they are.

7/31/13

Great post, thank you! Now I need to work on that offer.

8/1/13

solid info, thanks for sharing

"He profits most who serves best"

"Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage"

*Mark 11:24

8/4/13

Great post! What kind of level of excel is needed?

8/7/13

Good stuff

8/20/13

Fantastic post

9/2/13

"Don't spin your wheels, ever - Associates hate when their analyst is sitting there fumbling and stymied. Don't ask questions that you haven't at least tried to think through yourself - but once you've thought them through, don't be afraid to ask."

This is gold advice. One of my pet annoyances is analysts and associates who just forward me e-mails with problems to solve, without having attempted to come up with a solution themselves. If they made an effort to think up their own solution, even if wrong, then:

- If they are wrong, they've at least attempted to think through the problem and will remember the right solution I give them much better, as they can understand where in the chain I went right when they went left and why. That narrows down for them where exactly in their approach they got it wrong, which is much more targeted education. If they just get the answer from me without thinking themselves or understanding how I got to that answer, they've learned very little.

- I'm a lot happier that they have given me a partial solution that I can work with, so I don't have to come up with a solution from scratch. I've got a lot of other stuff to do and get pretty pissed off when I have to put down whatever I'm doing and come up with a complete solution because someone can't think for themselves.

- I like to think that I learned not by getting the complete answer handed to me by seniors, but by reaching out laterally, thinking from first principles etc. I'd like juniors to try the same rather than just dumping problems on me. I have other shit to do and am not a happy man when I have to spend time fixing problems that I worked out myself how to solve 7-8 years ago.

- A junior who demonstrates independent thought = someone with potential.

A point I'd make about some junior bankers at the associate/low level VP stage - some specialise in being ring leader/switchboard operator type people, delegating heavily, forwarding e-mails to others to get stuff done etc.

If that person knows how to do the delegated stuff him/herself, I'm fine with that, as they can guide and filter the results.

However, you get some people who ONLY know how to delegate and can't do tasks themselves or filter problems. I give these people a task because I want THEM to do it, but then find they've delegated it down the line to an inexperienced junior or referred it to some external adviser because "it looks like a [legal/accounting/something else] issue", resulting in the external adviser blowing through their fee cap on out of scope work because the junior can't execute for shit. My shop has some associates who I suspect have only ever prepared pitchbooks and are masters of cut-and-paste, but have no decent execution abilities other than hitting forward in Outlook.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.

11/27/13

Hey peeps. How do I create a new topic in this forum.

12/25/13

Great post! Thank you.

12/25/13

this is very helpful thanks!

12/26/13

This is great to review as the new year approaches.

I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there.

12/28/13

Great post and thanks for all the advice!

12/29/13

Solid Post.

Money doesn't change people, it shows you who they really are.

1/3/14

Thanks for sharing

1/4/14

Great advice! thanks for sharing

"I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle." - Ayn Rand

1/6/14

Top post. Very helpful.

1/8/14

Great advice, thanks

1/10/14

@"frgna" - You planning on doing those WIWIK for excel and GMAT anytime soon? I'm sure they would be pure gold.

1/11/14

Great post... Thanks a lot OP!

3/19/14

awesome

3/25/14

As a soon-to-be fresh graduate, reading this post made me feel both challenged and intimidated at the same time.

Fingers crossed!

Fortes fortuna adiuvat.

4/12/14

Great post, thank you

9/28/14

Awesome post. Thanks!

10/28/14

great post!

1/12/15

Extremely good advice. Thank you very much

1/25/15

thank you so much for this!

2/27/15

I caught one very minor error in your 9b point. Should've been Know instead of No. Regardless, this was a great post and I greatly appreciate it.

5/26/15
vtu:

I caught one very minor error in your 9b point. Should've been Know instead of No. Regardless, this was a great post and I greatly appreciate it.

No, that was not an error. It was supposed to say no, as in "No, you are not right even though you are trying to sound smart."

2/27/15

Must read for 1st years.

5/27/15

Thank you for the tips, especially the Excel trick!

5/27/15

The reason a lot of the techies are treated like children is because those companies know how to pander towards the millenial mindset.....and quite frankly, a lot millenials are children in adult bodies.

5/28/15

15 also, be warned that many bosses will say they're pro-work/life balance, then give you a project at 5 and say it's due the next morning.

"There's nothing you can do if you're too scared to try." - Nickel Creek

5/28/15

Great post frnga... I'm adding to my 48 Laws of Investment Banking Power book I'm creating.

5/30/15

Great post!

LIVE THE IMPOSSIBLES

5/30/15

Thank you very much

6/1/15

thanks a lot, great advice

6/2/15
frgna:

7) Master your macros - if you have time or inclination before starting, maybe even take some Excel VBA classes online or something - if you are really good with Excel you will be a prized asset. Ask your future colleagues if there is a particular package they use and if they can send it, otherwise maybe use the WSP pack or any macro pack you can find. Remove your F1 key because it will only get in the way. People generally say don't touch your mouse - I mostly agree for Excel, but there are still the few odd things that are quicker with a mouse sometimes. Excel is another potential WIWIK topic.

I have some experience with macros but don't master it yet. What kind of macro programming are we talking about? Could you care to explain a litte bit, and maybe give some examples?

Great post. Thank you!

6/3/15

Damn.. where were you six years ago? I did the exact oposite of everything you mentioned. With that being said, I would write an identical post. Trust me, the BMW can wait...

7/23/15

super new here and would really appreciate the low down on all the abbreviated lingo

11/24/15

I know this is a very late reply ... but check it out: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary

This could be it, sweetheart.

8/2/15

Great thread, thanks!

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  11/18/15

this post is a god-send to me. just starting my degree in finance and am trying to absorb as much information as possible ahead of time. thank you!

12/10/15

This is one of those posts, that you have to print out and pin on your wall!

1/30/16

Fantastic Post.
Regards.

2/17/16

Great stuff, definitely food for thought. Cheers

2/17/16

13 sounds like Pat Bateman

2/19/16

Great post..thanks man

2/21/16

this is gold. thanks!

3/28/16

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

5/25/16
5/30/16
10/4/16
11/20/16
11/22/16
12/5/16

Adam Smith

12/7/16
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