9/11/14

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 aaron.burr.cap@gmail.com

Comments (57)

9/6/12

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

9/6/12
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.

9/6/12

So true. This is priceless.

9/6/12

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

9/6/12

Spot on. Love it.

9/6/12

great stuff, thanks Aaron

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

Best Response
9/6/12

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.

Ace all your PE interview questions with the WSO Private Equity Prep Pack: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/private-equit...

9/6/12
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.

9/6/12
Stringer Bell:

let me do my comps you go read Popular Mechanics and jerk off to googling "interesting facts about wood" or some shit.

Ahah I love this

9/6/12
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.

9/6/12
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 -> TMT Corporate Development

9/6/12
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.

9/12/14

Gold. I have known some of the associates are arrogant like they know everything and you don't, but at the end of day, you cannot count on them for nothing.

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

9/6/12

Gold

9/6/12

I need more SBs to throw at this post

9/6/12

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

9/7/12
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.

9/7/12
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?

9/7/12
newfirstyear:
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?

need to select your current industry and status under your account and then send a blank work email to ivy@wallstreetoasis.com. or you can send a non-work email -- either way, we'll have to do a review of your account. The more SBs you get and the more you help, the better the chances.

Click here for more details: Certified Users.

9/7/12

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

9/7/12

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

9/11/14

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.

9/11/14

Marcus_Halberstram:

(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.

Impressing non-bankers: Half of my parents' friends think I'm a teller at a bank. The other half thinks my title is "private equity research associate" and ask me for stock advice everytime I visit home lawlz

9/11/14

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

9/11/14

God I love this post (even though I never actually did investment banking).

I miss @"Aaron Burr"

9/11/14

This should just always be stuck to the front. Excellent post.

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

9/12/14

This is awesome some many MBA's that need to slow their role

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

9/13/14

Find the director/MD who started as an analyst. Can't tell you how many times I looked them in the eye while the MBA associate walks through the theoretical underpinnings of WACC... they know. THEY KNOW.

9/13/14

Gather up all the other analysts under him, walk up to the VP as a collective and repeat what you just typed.

9/13/14

Anyone agree with that? I am quite nervous that I will look like a complainer and that it could hurt my rep. I already fear that working with him will reflect poorly on me in terms of the work product we put out, but I don't also want to look difficult to work with by complaining. I am looking for as much advice as possible, particularly from fellow bankers.

9/13/14

bump

9/13/14

bump

9/13/14

Maybe you can try a "show, not tell" approach...try gradually showing your VP or senior managers that your associate is how he is without saying it directly. For instance, if you have some project you're working on that you have to show to your VP, you could show all the work you did and mention that your associate "unfortunately couldn't contribute much cuz he had to go home at 9"... This way, you aren't going over his head or looking like a complainer, but still getting your point across. HTH

9/13/14

Snazzy, that seems worse than direct whining to me.
I don't have enough experience to give you meaningful advice...but here is my take anyways. Feedback from associates is the most important part of your performance evaluation. If the associate gives the VP sub par work, he gets in trouble. He can try blaming you once or twice, but ultimately it's his head. If you do great work for your other associates and they consistently give good feedback, the VPs and directors will figure out what's going on very quickly.
Furthermore, if he is this moronic, his superiors will notice his incompetance despite his bullshit skills.

Keep grinding it out. People will notice your hard work and his slacking.

9/13/14

My two cents is also along the lines of "hold your tongue and hope for a break;" the mucky-mucks will once in a while (or often, depending on the mucky muck) take their Associate with them to a meeting as the ass-coverage. If you notice this one never seeing a single meeting, that'll mean his incompetence may very well have been noticed. The VP might not let YOU know that he notices, but you'd better believe he notices when it's his rear on the line in front of someone or going to the Director/MD

9/13/14

Do the work.

9/13/14
taylorman_23:

Do the work.

I second that...

It sucks, but you need to just do it..

9/13/14
you-down-with-SEC:
taylorman_23:

Do the work.

I second that...

It sucks, but you need to just do it..

What? No! Tell him to go fuck himself and throw a fucking stapler at his head.

no seriously, just do it.

Alternatively, say you're busy on a few other things and are going to be in meetings, away from your desk, etc. Get him do it. Its risky but if you're feeling ballsy, pull that off. Oh, if you know the other guys in your group, just badmouth him so that no one else will want to work with him. I've done that in the past although people in my group liked me.

The world has changed. And we must change with it.

I'm making it up as I go along.

9/13/14

He's just trying to be anticipatory, you just happen to be the monkey that has to do the heavy lifting. Don't worry, it will probably get better. If he's a good associate, he will eventually get a feel for what the MD is looking for and what he wants, before he says he wants it, and then your work wont be for naught.

If he still doesn't come around go into the woods and find some poison sumac, dry it out, and replace the tobacco in his cigarettes with the dried leaves. When he smokes them, the air sacs in his lungs will swell and his lungs will fill with fluid. He'll probably die.

9/13/14
Marcus_Halberstram:

He's just trying to be anticipatory, you just happen to be the monkey that has to do the heavy lifting. Don't worry, it will probably get better. If he's a good associate, he will eventually get a feel for what the MD is looking for and what he wants, before he says he wants it, and then your work wont be for naught.

If he still doesn't come around go into the woods and find some poison sumac, dry it out, and replace the tobacco in his cigarettes with the dried leaves. When he smokes them, the air sacs in his lungs will swell and his lungs will fill with fluid. He'll probably die.

remind me never to get on your bad side.

The world has changed. And we must change with it.

I'm making it up as I go along.

9/13/14

One of the best things you can do as an analyst is make your superiors look good to their superiors.

--
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9/13/14

I am sorry for being a total noob, but is it not acceptable in i-banking to approach VP or MD directly and explaining the whole situation? At least that's what people do in most of other industries and that's what I've done couple of times at couple of different jobs.

9/13/14
PussInBoots:

I am sorry for being a total noob, but is it not acceptable in i-banking to approach VP or MD directly and explaining the whole situation? At least that's what people do in most of other industries and that's what I've done couple of times at couple of different jobs.

yeah, just call up the associates mother and explain the problem.

9/13/14

advising to "just do the work" and or make your superiors look good is not helpful. it only encourages the inefficiency that plagues every ibanking job. And dont tell me thats just part of the game. because now more than ever the game is changing and you need to have the confidence to constructively go to your associate (especially since they are new) and respectfully explain to them the better wayto get things done. it doesnt help anyone to do more than necessary, because this often leads to mistakes. plus, associates all over the street are more worried about getting fired than anyone else (maybe vps are in more precarious a position) so theyre gonna fight at all costs.

dont be afraid-you are young and there is more to life than your job. especially these days when youre not pulling in huge paychecks.

in all, too many analysts, simply put, are cowards. they are afraid of their bosses and this fear gets in the way of producing good work efficiently.

9/13/14

Agreed but getting a little tired of explaining to him that it doesn't make sense to do certain things. He should know this without someone having to tell him. Ahhh I hate associates!

9/13/14

This is personality/relationship management.

Give him a small bit of advice (not too major) - something that's simple and won't hurt his ego.

Ask him for a bit of advice (can be major) - something that'll boost his ego.

Go through with this a few times, and give and take more important/major advice. If you go through with blasting him with a load of info, it can turn awkward or just ugly.

Damn, I feel like a psychiatrist. Anyway, this didn't come out of the blue. This was from a sales training program from one of my internships. Sounds like bullshit, but it worked sometimes on clients.

9/13/14

Poison his coffee

9/13/14

how much political capital do you have at your place? your response will depend on this...

sounds like you have been there longer though and would probably have a better relationship with the VP or MD?

9/13/14

Interesting. I'm sure it's pretty frustrating when he's asking for additional analysis that probably has no worth at all, but as long as it isn't keeping you in the office all night and you're not super-busy with other stuff, I don't really see the harm in humouring him. The associate's main job is designing the pitch (I know, I know...), and I think he's just trying to cover his bases so he doesn't get chewed out by his VP/MD/whoever.

I'm sure it's tempting to go to your MD and confirm with him that he doesn't want those particular slides each time, but I'm not sure it'd do you any good in the long run.

9/13/14

There's not much point in anybody commenting as nobody knows the relationship between you and him. The fact that he is "new" suggests you have been around longer, so if you are a 2nd or 3rd year analyst I think it'd be perfectly acceptable to somehow subtly raise the issue or provide input, ie give your own opinion on what is and isn't needed. It's not the military, you can question orders to some extent from the rang directly above you when they don't make sense.

9/13/14
Oconnor:

There's not much point in anybody commenting as nobody knows the relationship between you and him. The fact that he is "new" suggests you have been around longer, so if you are a 2nd or 3rd year analyst I think it'd be perfectly acceptable to somehow subtly raise the issue or provide input, ie give your own opinion on what is and isn't needed. It's not the military, you can question orders to some extent from the rang directly above you when they don't make sense.

Definitely agree with this. I work at a bank with a fairly flat structure and analysts' opinions are weighed equally as associates sometimes. I prefer to think of analysts and associates as equal members on a team.

9/13/14
Oconnor:

There's not much point in anybody commenting as nobody knows the relationship between you and him. The fact that he is "new" suggests you have been around longer, so if you are a 2nd or 3rd year analyst I think it'd be perfectly acceptable to somehow subtly raise the issue or provide input, ie give your own opinion on what is and isn't needed. It's not the military, you can question orders to some extent from the rang directly above you when they don't make sense.

Definitely will raise the issue with a Director or someone with some authority within the next few weeks. Im in a small office so definitely have an opportunity to bring it up. My only fear is that I don't come off as a complainer but I will take the chance. Funny thing is this associate replaced another who notoriously had the same issue which led to them leaving. Ah well.

Thanks everyone for the guidance.

9/13/14
9/13/14
9/13/14
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