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For all of you folks out here either currently in banking or were at some point in the past, I am just curious to hear what was the harshest feedback you remember getting as a 1st year, and how did you cope with that?

I got very negative feedback recently - industry knowledge weak vs. peers, relatively slow in doing work quickly, attention to detail, and soft skills need to improve (office appearance needs to be improve - always looking tired) . I was also told that I am very a motivated guy with a great attitude and always willing to put in the commitment. It's a little bit demoralizing atleast to me when someone bashes out at you and thinks you are stupid - even though you are coming from an environment where you have been cherished as a smart guy.

I would be very curious to know how other of you ex or current investment bankers have had to deal with harsh feedback and if I may ask that what exactly were you told?

thanks guys.

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Comments (27)

  • CompBanker's picture

    You've got to learn not to let negative feedback get to you. I was not the most knowledgeable analyst in my class. It took a tremendous amount of effort for me to get up to speed. I made plenty of dumb mistakes. I had a situation where my associate flipped out and swore at me in front of other folks. None of this was fun.

    However, I worked really diligently. I learned quickly and didn't make the same mistake twice. I went the extra mile and did what it took to make up for any errors I made. People recognized this and I was awarded, both with a larger bonus and recommendations that ultimately landed me a job in PE.

    This is your first job out of college, you're expected to make mistakes. You're expected to make a lot of them. Don't let them pull you down as it will only serve to demoralize you. Some of your peers may have big grins on their faces; they may appear to be better than you, but they aren't. They are screwing up just like you, but they aren't going to tell you about it. The best thing you can do is keep a positive attitude because as soon as you start believing you aren't good enough, everyone else will think so as well. You were hired because you aren't competent enough to do the job ... so keep at it. If you're past your first review, you're already past the hardest part!

    CompBanker

  • APAE's picture

    Take heart. Remember that perception is half the battle, which seems to be exemplified with the majority of the development feedback you said you received.

    Always looking tired -- people view this as defeatist. No one wants to be surrounded by people who bring their own energy level lower. Be cheerful, upbeat, always encouraging or responsive.

    Attention to detail -- taking a few extra moments to make sure your emails have no grammatical errors, your decks are always crisp, and you have done every single turn correctly will give people the impression you are fastidious, meticulous, and sharp. You may have damaged your personal brand a little by doing enough to get this feedback already, but recognize that it's fixable. You just have to get your reputation to swing back the other way, then it's all good.

    Industry knowledge -- you can't be expected to know everything all the time, but at least appear interested and engaged all the time. Take a notepad and pen to meetings; always be writing things down. Ask engaged questions when given the opportunity; someone senior might not always have the opportunity to share with you, but people notice when you demonstrate an open, inquisitive, interested demeanor.

    Slow work pace -- don't be afraid to push back with your workload. Perhaps you're taking on too much; if people are always looking to add new things and your pipeline is jammed, don't be afraid to share what deadlines you have and explain your bandwidth concern. Be tactical about it, there won't always be times you can avoid receiving a new assignment, but it's better to be known for crushing the work you receive than always being eager to take on new work. No one will remember how many projects you handled simultaneously, but everyone remembers if someone consistently puts out quality, mistake-free work product.

    You have won half the battle; your feedback stated that you are committed, motivated, and keep a positive attitude. Keep that up, and just figure out how to apply those traits to these soft-skill challenges you now face. I really wish you the best, keep your chin up and remember that no one is perfect. Hundreds of other analysts have gone and are going through what you are now. Remember also the recency bias, it's never too late to turn things around because our human psyche is naturally wired to place more weight on recent events. Your managers will respond warmly to improved behavior and not hold things in the past against you. Stay positive.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

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  • Going Concern's picture

    I would say take all the feedback you get with a grain of salt, both bad and good. Just keep doing your best and then get the hell out of there.

  • above_and_beyond's picture

    If someone gave me a feedback like "you're looking too tired", I would get up and shit him on his desk. It's not that people are in the office late at night because they prefer grinding soul crushing hours to getting a full night's sleep.

  • PTS's picture

    As far as the industry knowledge goes, find primers and ER reports and other random white papers and read them at the gym/subway/wherever else you have time to get through a few pages. You will pick things up so quickly.

  • Bernanke23's picture

    Would echo others comments not to take reviews personally.

    You have to remember that you're in a super competitive industry to begin with. Add in the fact that banks are looking to reduce costs and you have a situation where they don't want to pay everyone top bucket (not that they ever did but its definitely exacerbated now) so any "issue" or thing you do that is perceived to be even slightly " wrong" will weigh heavily in your review

    Try not to let it get to you / adversely impact your confidence. Just keep working, learning and most importantly: start thinking about exit ops

    Would also echo the advice others gave re: working on attention to detail and building up industry knowledge but some of this comes with time and experience (especially the latter)

    Hang in there

  • triplectz's picture

    Got bitched out over the phone several times during the first couple of weeks of my SA by an analyst I was working with. He'd yell, tell me I wouldn't get a return offer if I kept fucking up, that sorta thing. Spent most of the summer in a state of almost complete terror and paranoia, which kinda fucked me over health-wise, and I don't think my work quality changed much. Ended up getting a return, and totally solid reviews at the end.

    Sometimes people just need to shit on you because they're having a bad day.

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  • EtherBinge's picture

    I've read about IB extensively on here, but damn, you guys make it sound really bad.

    Any major things you messed up on that warranted these reactions from associates/VPs? (e.g. I'm not talking about a missing comma in a Powerpoint slide)

  • leveredarb's picture

    Realise the guy giving you a feedback is a complete fucktard (otherwise he wouldn't still be in banking in a senior role) and just ignore it. Judgements of bankers of someones intelligence is like a squirrel trying to judge einsteins intellect. Also looking tired is a good thing

  • Sid1990's picture

    thanks guys for the encouraging advice - it is very supportive and I highly appreciate it!!

    this is just on a side note. i am a smoker as well, and smoke half a pack a day while at work. For those of you who smoke, or have worked with smokers in the past, do such analysts seem to be less efficient relative to peers because they are taking 8-10 minute breaks every 2 hours? I would love to get some views on this. Since I am a smoker, I think I would offer a biased view when I state that my productivity is not affected due to such a short duration of break, but I think there might be intangible factors to consider like lapse of work attention when going out for a cig and other reasons that I can't think of at the moment. what do you guys think? i am thinking of cutting down on cigs now.

  • Magilla's picture

    Live up to your expectations my friend... When you receive criticism you should do exactly what they expect you to do: drop your pants and fling your feces everywhere while screaming and shouting. Yup. You are welcome.

    That was sound advice, right?

  • kyleyboy's picture

    Stay positive man. Literally every single thing you said is something you can improve with practice. Except maybe looking tired, that just happens. My dad always told me the that the reason he was such a successful doctor is not because he was any smarter or more capable of doing the things but it's because he wanted it so badly. He believes in the 10thousand hour rule and he put in a shit ton of time reading up stuff on anatomy and anything related to medicine. From this hard work he went very far. This is the same with anything else in life

    You can do the same.
    Just learn from mistakes and hit the ground running.

    This is all easy for me to say because I'm not in the situation and life is a lot more complicated than this but I thought I'd share and hopefully help you with it.

  • In reply to EtherBinge
    CHItizen's picture

    EtherBinge:
    I've read about IB extensively on here, but damn, you guys make it sound really bad.

    Any major things you messed up on that warranted these reactions from associates/VPs? (e.g. I'm not talking about a missing comma in a Powerpoint slide)

    One time as a SA I was working on a cross industry deck (i.e. healthcare collaborating with the consumer team or something along those lines... you can feel the winds of the of a storm brewing already...). A director dropped off a turn that totally reorganized the shell we had put together and said he'd put that together with all the senior guys, so I turned it. I assumed that everybody was in on the loop, but nopeee, he'd either never cleared it with the other group or the other group's senior guys did not inform their junior guys (to be fair, in retrospect, I now know to do this, but to be fair to myself, no one tells this an SA how to communicate by the first month on the job). Within an hour there were dozens of emails flying around between the junior teams on both groups freaking out about why the the deck had changed... I cleared everything up with both teams, and then got yelled at and told that I need to learn to communicate (read: overcommunicate). So that was when I learned as an SA to cc everyone and update everyone (up to VP) with everything I do, with regard to stuff that goes out to clients.

    To finish up the story from above, when we went over the deck with the senior teams, I don't think they even noticed that anything changed. The pitch went fine.

  • In reply to Sid1990
    triplectz's picture

    Sid1990:
    thanks guys for the encouraging advice - it is very supportive and I highly appreciate it!!

    this is just on a side note. i am a smoker as well, and smoke half a pack a day while at work. For those of you who smoke, or have worked with smokers in the past, do such analysts seem to be less efficient relative to peers because they are taking 8-10 minute breaks every 2 hours? I would love to get some views on this. Since I am a smoker, I think I would offer a biased view when I state that my productivity is not affected due to such a short duration of break, but I think there might be intangible factors to consider like lapse of work attention when going out for a cig and other reasons that I can't think of at the moment. what do you guys think? i am thinking of cutting down on cigs now.

    Not a smoker, and I wouldn't care, but I know people who bitched about it every time the summer associate stepped outside to smoke. He didn't get a return offer. So yeah, it might make you look bad. But you said they didn't have a problem with your work ethic, more your industry knowledge.

  • In reply to Sid1990
    SirTradesaLot's picture

    Sid1990:
    thanks guys for the encouraging advice - it is very supportive and I highly appreciate it!!

    this is just on a side note. i am a smoker as well, and smoke half a pack a day while at work. For those of you who smoke, or have worked with smokers in the past, do such analysts seem to be less efficient relative to peers because they are taking 8-10 minute breaks every 2 hours? I would love to get some views on this. Since I am a smoker, I think I would offer a biased view when I state that my productivity is not affected due to such a short duration of break, but I think there might be intangible factors to consider like lapse of work attention when going out for a cig and other reasons that I can't think of at the moment. what do you guys think? i am thinking of cutting down on cigs now.


    Very possible that this irritates someone you work with. Quit if you can or do something else where you don't have to leave the office so often (e-cigs, dipping, whatever).

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

    MY BLOG

  • In reply to Sid1990
    CHItizen's picture

    Sid1990:
    thanks guys for the encouraging advice - it is very supportive and I highly appreciate it!!

    this is just on a side note. i am a smoker as well, and smoke half a pack a day while at work. For those of you who smoke, or have worked with smokers in the past, do such analysts seem to be less efficient relative to peers because they are taking 8-10 minute breaks every 2 hours? I would love to get some views on this. Since I am a smoker, I think I would offer a biased view when I state that my productivity is not affected due to such a short duration of break, but I think there might be intangible factors to consider like lapse of work attention when going out for a cig and other reasons that I can't think of at the moment. what do you guys think? i am thinking of cutting down on cigs now.

    I know a lot of guys who dip. I don't do either, so I can't speak for whether one can substitute for the other, but if for nothing else, I'd cut back on smoking for my health (not that dipping is necessarily any healthier.)

  • Sid1990's picture

    yes that was i have been thinking. its either irritiating ppl or making me slow at work when my attentions drifts away. its definitely worth reconsidering now.

  • EtherBinge's picture

    Reconsidering? More like actually doing.

    I suggest you drastically cut back on stogs. Yes, we all enjoy them, but from what I've seen in a corporate workplace, it's not something you want (e.g. a stigma).

  • daffyduck1998's picture

    Had a superior chew me out because I brought a full watermelon to my desk for lunch.

  • In reply to daffyduck1998
    Cruncharoo's picture

    daffyduck1998:
    Had a superior chew me out because I brought a full watermelon to my desk for lunch.

    I laughed way too hard at this.

    This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..

  • grosse's picture

    I was told my writing (sell side memos) was sub-par and I was really insulted. I always thought of myself as a very good writer. The truth was that I wasn't a good business writer and while it killed me to follow a basic formula for my sentences, it was the right change to make.

    As for your negative feedback, are they right?

    Knowledge weak - that's objective. You can fix.
    Work slow - unless they have a great mis-perception as to your workload, maybe you spend too much time on WSO / taking smoking breaks.
    Soft skills - that's also objective. You need to fix.

  • In reply to grosse
    Going Concern's picture

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  • In reply to grosse
    snakeplissken's picture

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

  • In reply to daffyduck1998
    WalMartShopper's picture

    If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

  • orangejulius's picture