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I'll beginning working as a FT analyst next year, and want to know what separates the top-tier analysts from the average analyst.

Who were the top analysts in your group, and how did they differentiate themselves? Did they simple never screw up the work and always get the little details right? Did they have great relationships with their bosses and co-workers? Did they log more hours than anyone else? Were they crazy modelers with phenomenal excel skills?

I am interested in hearing anecdotes or advice from those with full-time experience.

1

Comments (13)

  • TheNightMan's picture

    Being a top ranked analyst comes down to three things (and trust me, its not always based on your abilities):

    1) Getting your stuff done right and on time
    2) Having a good attitude and not pushing back
    3) Being pro-active (to at least give the impression that you are contribution to the team). What I mean by this is, if a company you are covering releases earnings, you send a summary of the release around to the team, etc.

    You have a lot of smart people who can do #1 easily, but get so frustrated with the job that they refuse to do #2 and #3. That's what separates the "top tier" analysts from the rest.

    Your ranking will consist of a # and a letter. 1A, 2A, 3B, etc. I forget which is which, but one represents your abilities (#1 on the list above) and the other represents contribution to the team (#2 and #3 on the list above). You will have a lot of smart kids you will get rankins like 1C -- they get their work done right and its reliable, but they have a bad attitude/pushback/take no iniative.

  • jimbrowngoU's picture

    From my experience, the best analysts are the guys who catch on quickly and are able to grasp the "bigger picture" concept. I mean "catch on quickly" in a very broad sense -- it certainly applies to modeling and becoming efficient around Excel/Powerpoint, but those are pretty indirect -- they just help you become more efficient and produce a higher quality of work. What I really mean is getting a sense of what those above you are looking for, how they want things done, etc. All MDs/VPs/Associates have their nuances and like things done a certain way, and generally, when most of them ask for A, they're going to follow that up by asking for B. The sooner you can realize this and can provide them with what they are looking for in the manner they are looking for it, and the sooner you understand what is coming next, the better off you'll be. Those above you will appreciate it when you do things the way they want them done, in an efficient manner, the first time, without having to ask for you to re-turn it -- especially if they have asked you to do it this way numerous times. A kid in my group, after 8 months, still hasn't realized this, and I can't tell you how annoyed our MDs get when he gives it to them the wrong way -- waste of time for the MDs, waste of time for the analyst.

    The "bigger picture" concept is something that is really difficult to grasp during your first six months, and it's something that generally sets you apart late in your first year and in your second year. During the first six-to-nine months, most analysts are buried so far down the learning curve that the most important thing for them to do is learn the "technicals" -- Excel and Powerpoint shortcuts, understanding the structure of filings, understanding transaction timelines, understanding the financial statements, etc. This is EXTREMELY important, and most of the bankers above you understand that for those six months, most of your time is going to be spent trekking up the very steep learning curve. But as painful as that curve can be, you eventually get to the top and there are one of two ways to go: (1) you plateau, put in no extra effort, and spend far fewer hours in the office (which sounds great, but becomes BRUTAL because it's the same thing over and over) -- in this case, your work becomes "better" by nature of doing it over and over, but that's natural), or (2) you create another learning curve for yourself and try to get the "bigger picture." This is also a broad phrase, but digging into a specific industry or a specific company, understanding the strategic direction of a client and "why" now is the right time to pursue a specific transaction are important topics that can set you apart from other analysts. It takes a bit more time, but it can be interesting and help break up the monotony of running DCF analysis through the same damn template or spreading comps day after day after day... And your bosses will really appreciate the extra effort and your ability to contribute valuable information. Really, this is where you become more than just a "number-crunching monkey" and you can set yourself apart.

    Attention to detail is also key, but that's something you either get or you don't. I hope my boss isn't reading this, but I can tell you I absolutely do not triple-check my work, and I haven't one time since I started banking. I generally like to give my work a quick check through before handing it off to my boss, but I use attention to detail WHILE working as opposed to rushing through my work, finishing, then thoroughly double- or triple-checking my work. I know people who go both ways, and I can tell you that I make far fewer mistakes than those who go as fast as possible and try to employ attention to detail through their thorough checking.

    Probably missed a few things, but I think the first two points are absolutely critical to becoming a top analyst, and point three is something that is critical to ensure you aren't absolutely terrible.

  • lorican's picture

    Instead of starting another thread:

    What gets you sacked within your first year? I know stuff like failing exams/training programme. But after your 4-6 week training, what can get you fired? Is it making loads of mistakes, having bad attitude, etc...

    __________
    Just my 2c.

  • In reply to lorican
    TheNightMan's picture

    lorican wrote:
    Instead of starting another thread:

    What gets you sacked within your first year? I know stuff like failing exams/training programme. But after your 4-6 week training, what can get you fired? Is it making loads of mistakes, having bad attitude, etc...

    From my 2 years in banking, I've noticed that it is actually fairly hard to get fired as an analyst (i dont know how much this has changed since Lehman's collapse and with the flood of available talent in the marketplace now). Groups are always running lean, and to lose an asset they spent money and time on is not their top choice. Most kids who have that bad attitude, etc will end up just quitting anyway. Even with some major mistakes, the analyst is given a lot of leeway. You'd have to be really incompetent, lazy, bad attitude, etc to get the axe -- but that is just from my experience. My group hadn't fired any analysts for as long as it has been around (I'm excluding the layoffs, which seemed to disproportionally hit the analysts).

  • iv4me's picture

    Some great responses. Thank you very much. Would love to hear more.

  • In reply to jimbrowngoU
    2226416's picture

    jimbrowngoU wrote:
    From my experience, the best analysts are the guys who catch on quickly and are able to grasp the "bigger picture" concept. I mean "catch on quickly" in a very broad sense -- it certainly applies to modeling and becoming efficient around Excel/Powerpoint, but those are pretty indirect -- they just help you become more efficient and produce a higher quality of work. What I really mean is getting a sense of what those above you are looking for, how they want things done, etc. All MDs/VPs/Associates have their nuances and like things done a certain way, and generally, when most of them ask for A, they're going to follow that up by asking for B. The sooner you can realize this and can provide them with what they are looking for in the manner they are looking for it, and the sooner you understand what is coming next, the better off you'll be. Those above you will appreciate it when you do things the way they want them done, in an efficient manner, the first time, without having to ask for you to re-turn it -- especially if they have asked you to do it this way numerous times. A kid in my group, after 8 months, still hasn't realized this, and I can't tell you how annoyed our MDs get when he gives it to them the wrong way -- waste of time for the MDs, waste of time for the analyst.

    The "bigger picture" concept is something that is really difficult to grasp during your first six months, and it's something that generally sets you apart late in your first year and in your second year. During the first six-to-nine months, most analysts are buried so far down the learning curve that the most important thing for them to do is learn the "technicals" -- Excel and Powerpoint shortcuts, understanding the structure of filings, understanding transaction timelines, understanding the financial statements, etc. This is EXTREMELY important, and most of the bankers above you understand that for those six months, most of your time is going to be spent trekking up the very steep learning curve. But as painful as that curve can be, you eventually get to the top and there are one of two ways to go: (1) you plateau, put in no extra effort, and spend far fewer hours in the office (which sounds great, but becomes BRUTAL because it's the same thing over and over) -- in this case, your work becomes "better" by nature of doing it over and over, but that's natural), or (2) you create another learning curve for yourself and try to get the "bigger picture." This is also a broad phrase, but digging into a specific industry or a specific company, understanding the strategic direction of a client and "why" now is the right time to pursue a specific transaction are important topics that can set you apart from other analysts. It takes a bit more time, but it can be interesting and help break up the monotony of running DCF analysis through the same damn template or spreading comps day after day after day... And your bosses will really appreciate the extra effort and your ability to contribute valuable information. Really, this is where you become more than just a "number-crunching monkey" and you can set yourself apart.

    Attention to detail is also key, but that's something you either get or you don't. I hope my boss isn't reading this, but I can tell you I absolutely do not triple-check my work, and I haven't one time since I started banking. I generally like to give my work a quick check through before handing it off to my boss, but I use attention to detail WHILE working as opposed to rushing through my work, finishing, then thoroughly double- or triple-checking my work. I know people who go both ways, and I can tell you that I make far fewer mistakes than those who go as fast as possible and try to employ attention to detail through their thorough checking.

    Probably missed a few things, but I think the first two points are absolutely critical to becoming a top analyst, and point three is something that is critical to ensure you aren't absolutely terrible.

    Great post. Have a silver banana.

  • go.finance's picture

    @jimbrowngoU - Thanks a lot!

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    In banking its all about the client; as an analyst, your client is your direct superior. Thats who you are servicing [insert gay joke here]. So the best way to be a good analyst is to make sure your direct superior has more time to do what he gets paid more than you to do.

    a) You do this by being VERY organized and proactive and anticipating what his/her questions/concerns are and already have them addressed. If they need something (a document, a number, a credit term) it should always be at your fingertips.
    b) The second way you do this is by making sure the quality of your work is always top notch and makes your superior look very good. Think for yourself and ask yourself "does this make sense?" if it doesn't try to clarify. You should be doing whatever they need done in addition to trying to compliment what their work... which isn't easy to do at a junior level.

  • lullaby0001's picture

    Bump, lots of great response.
    I also find out that consistent good quality of work + quick learning + an eye on bigger picture + expecting next step of your senior and client is very crucial to set you apart from your peers. It takes loads of efforts but also make your long hours in office more joyful than just sitting there crunching numbers.

    Apart from all this, communication skill is also the killing bit, personaly view.

  • In reply to Marcus_Halberstram
    CompBanker's picture

    Marcus_Halberstram wrote:
    In banking its all about the client; as an analyst, your client is your direct superior. Thats who you are servicing [insert gay joke here]. So the best way to be a good analyst is to make sure your direct superior has more time to do what he gets paid more than you to do.

    a) You do this by being VERY organized and proactive and anticipating what his/her questions/concerns are and already have them addressed. If they need something (a document, a number, a credit term) it should always be at your fingertips.
    b) The second way you do this is by making sure the quality of your work is always top notch and makes your superior look very good. Think for yourself and ask yourself "does this make sense?" if it doesn't try to clarify. You should be doing whatever they need done in addition to trying to compliment what their work... which isn't easy to do at a junior level.


    I disagree. As an analyst, all you care about is your associate and other team members. They are the ones that determine your bonus, they are the ones that act as references for you when you're seeking a new job (in most cases), and they are also the ones who determine if you're eligible for a 3rd year / promotion. If it is between making your client happy and making your boss happy, I would always choose the boss. I understand that the idea of client services is that you "always do what the client wants," but office politics dictate that you need to make your boss happy first.

    Note: Sometimes the best way to make your boss happy is to service the client, but if you have to make a choice, choose the home team.

    CompBanker

  • lullaby0001's picture

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  • In reply to lullaby0001
    CompBanker's picture

    CompBanker

  • Oreos's picture

    .