Monkey Business: A Monkey's Review

Wondering where WSO's simian theme comes from? Look no further.

If you ask any business school student or young analyst to name one book that got them excited about finance or investment banking, this would probably be it. And for good reason; it's extremely readable and features characters who find themselves in the same position as many of us on this site are, or would like to be.

John Rolfe and Peter Troob are summer analysts who receive the coveted full-time offers from DLJ. The book is full of fascinating and often humorous observations about the inner workings of the industry. What's it like pulling an all-nighter on a pitch-book, running a DCF, going to the printer, trying to keep sane in the insane asylum? It's all here.

What tends to be underreported about "Monkey Business" is its life lessons. Most people who have read it remember the hilarious tales of fellow analysts passing out during the meetings with senior management, Troob's weeklong flight all over Europe on a total of 6 hours of sleep (for the week), and of course, the holiday party/boozefest (I gotta admit, that last one still has me laughing).

The problem is, a lot of people tend to remember the book more as this Wall Street romp, and forget that there is a story involved, and a rather depressing one at that. It's no secret that the two main characters eventually become so disillusioned and fed up with investment banking that they quit.

It's about having your conceptions about the real world shattered, or as the writers would put it, getting bitch-slapped by reality.

That's really what "Monkey Business" is about; it's just been overshadowed by the laughs. It takes a while for the life lessons of the book to sink in. It may get you excited about banking, but it could just as easily have the opposite effect. The writers might call that "waking up."

Later editions of "Monkey Business" have a timely "where are they now?" section on the crisis, and shows where they, their friends, and the firm have wound up since then.

Since this is probably WSO's most widely-read book, I open the floor for everyone to name their favorite part of this wonderful read. Or maybe you think I'm wrong? You don't have to take my word for it.

Read up, monkeys--the first time for the laughs, the second time (and all the times after that) for your career decisions.

In addition, may I offer my nomination for the WSO official theme song:

Monkey's Review 1: Barbarians At the Gate
Monkey's Review 2: The Financier
Monkey's Review 3: Decision Points
Monkey's Review 4: Debunkery
Monkey's Review 5: When Genius Failed
Monkey's Review 6: Monkey Business
Monkey's Review 7: Death Of The Banker
Monkey's Review 8: A Journey
Monkey's Review 9: Damn It Feels Good To Be A Banker
Monkey's Review 10: The Quants
Monkey's Review 11: All About Hedge Funds
Monkey's Review 12: The Unlikely Disciple
Monkey's Review 13: Adventure Capitalist
Monkey's Review 14: The Hedge Fund Book
Monkey's Review 15: Investing In Hedge Fund of Funds
Monkey's Review 16: Hilarity Ensues
Monkey's Review 17: The Prince
Monkey's Review 18: Markets Never Forget (But People Do)
Monkey's Review 19: The Money Culture

Comments (42)

Jul 29, 2011
In The Flesh:

John Rolfe and Peter Troob are summer analysts..

Stopped reading after this error.

Sorry

Jul 29, 2011
Oreos:
In The Flesh:

John Rolfe and Peter Troob are summer analysts..

Stopped reading after this error.

Sorry

Shouldn't have stopped reading then. They start as summer analysts (junior associates) and accept full time offers, which is when the story really takes off.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jul 29, 2011
In The Flesh:
Oreos:
In The Flesh:

John Rolfe and Peter Troob are summer analysts..

Stopped reading after this error.

Sorry

Shouldn't have stopped reading then. They start as summer analysts (junior associates) and accept full time offers, which is when the story really takes off.

Summer associates

Jul 29, 2011

haha i wanted to say the same

Jul 29, 2011

"I just peed underneath the table" was my favorite part.

Guess I gotta read again for some of these life lessons

Jul 29, 2011
FlySoHigh:

"I just peed underneath the table" was my favorite part.

Guess I gotta read again for some of these life lessons

Honestly I wouldn't. It's depressing. But if you rely on a theme which is touched upon earlier in the book -people's ability to divest themselves from past pain infavour of the present, but usually net negative, gain - you'll be fine. Just remember the fun stuff.

Jul 29, 2011

What are the authors up to nowadays?

Jul 29, 2011
ThaVanBurenBoyz:

What are the authors up to nowadays?

Running their own small HF's, I believe

Jul 29, 2011

I read this book right after finals this last semester.. definitely a welcome read after spending days on end inside textbooks.

As someone from a target that wanted to land an SA position at an IB this summer.. I was let down when I found myself by spring break without an offer. Instead of going to Mexico with 10 of my closest friends, I spent my week at home networking and getting in touch with every one-off contact I had in the industry. A few weeks later, I ended up receiving an offer to work for my school's endowment company... I took it. Reading Monkey Business really made me appreciate the series of events that I went through.

Reading of Rolfe and Troobie's experience at DLJ was extremely entertaining, and I'm sure that I've missed out on some memorable times. Who knows where I'll end up FT and maybe I'll end up sacrificing a few years of my life formatting pitchbooks after midnight, but reading MB makes me appreciate the freedom I have here to play golf after work.

In the war against you and the other qualified candidates out there, the best arsenal is to prove that you have outdone yourself.

    • 1
Jul 29, 2011

I think this song would be good too. It has a rocking keyboard solo starting at 4:25. But yours sounds very 80's if that's what we're going for.

Shock the Money seems too cruel, but it's a good song regardless.

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Jul 29, 2011
MMBinNC:

I think this song would be good too. It has a rocking keyboard solo starting at 4:25. But yours sounds very 80's if that's what we're going for.

Shock the Money seems too cruel, but it's a good song regardless.

No reason there can't be an official playlist. Very good track; will definitely have to check out this band. Shock the Monkey is an excellent choice--nothing cruel about it!

Other contenders could be the Stones' "Monkey Man" and Jethro Tull's "Bungle In the Jungle."

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jul 29, 2011

My favorite part is when Troob claims to have [put ear plugs up his noes to annoy the VP from goldman for being short with him while on a lay over in Europe. "What a bitch."]

Aug 1, 2011

Where can I read/buy this book/reviews? None of the links are working for me...

Aug 1, 2011

I have a scanned PDF version of the book. Its quality sucks big time, but readable. PM me your e-mail address.

Snootchie Bootchies

Aug 26, 2011

Great book, question though.

It says that they are part of the Merchant bank in the chapter where they get offered full time jobs at DLJ. But the work they describe seems like pure investment banking. Can anyone clarify?

Aug 26, 2011
bdiddy:

Great book, question though.

It says that they are part of the Merchant bank in the chapter where they get offered full time jobs at DLJ. But the work they describe seems like pure investment banking. Can anyone clarify?

No, they say they are in IB, but the merchant banking group was the most prestigious in the firm.

Sep 1, 2011
SHORTmyCDO:
bdiddy:

Great book, question though.

It says that they are part of the Merchant bank in the chapter where they get offered full time jobs at DLJ. But the work they describe seems like pure investment banking. Can anyone clarify?

No, they say they are in IB, but the merchant banking group was the most prestigious in the firm.

Quote from page 81:

"You have the right stuff," Star went on. "You're our kind of guy. You're the man. You'll work in Merchant banking, and do deals, and get levered, and make money."

page 83:

"We had a conversation in July and talking abou doing IPOs and doing deals in the Merchant Bank".

this is where my confusion is stemming from.

Sep 1, 2011

I read this recently. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that quote from Page 81 was what they recruiter was telling the guys(troob and other dude). Merchant banking at DLJ was supposedly the most prestigious and he was"promising" them they'll work in merchant banking. But they didn't.

My memory could be off. Was reading this on the train before/after work.

Jan 16, 2012

My favorite part is where he jerks off in his office and realizes every one in the city is watching him.

Nice widespread reference - seen them a few times but I hear they aren't going to be touring anymore.

Jan 16, 2012

Double post

May 3, 2012

Maybe it was different in the old days, but I don't like how the book completely ignores analysts completely (maybe to mirror banking itself), but it acts like associates are the ones building the models and doing all the leg work which is complete bs. Associates don't do jack shit but ask you for source docs and try to pretend they know what they are doing when really they know less than the analyst

    • 1
Jun 14, 2012

Favorite part is when one of them shits in the hotel room during his interview for GS.

Jun 25, 2013

do you have a link to an online version of the book?

Aug 22, 2015

anyone with a soft copy of this book? will be great if you can share. thanks!

Sep 27, 2015

Just get the dammn book on kindle or something. It's cheap and really worth the read.

Sep 27, 2015

You mean jerking off at your desk and pissing under the table 5 feet away from your MD?

You know you've been working too hard when you stop dreaming about bottles of champagne and hordes of naked women, and start dreaming about conditional formatting and circular references.

Sep 27, 2015

lol

Sep 27, 2015

I'd love to hear more on this. Do most junior bankers encounter this lifestyle, or have times changed? I'm assuming it must be different at every bank, but the culture described in this book seems to be a little extreme.

Sep 27, 2015

It's still up or out just like it's always been.

Sep 27, 2015

^

Good book.

Sep 27, 2015
Raptor.45:

It's still up or out just like it's always been.

Could you elaborate a bit? The whole point of the book, at least from what I could see, was that IB traps an associate/analyst/junior banker in his position. How does one move into the senior banking roles?

THE PsYcHoLoGy:

This book made me opt for F500 over IB. I decided to accept a SA position with a huge global conglomerate (GE/SII, P&G) rather than pursue a summer IB stent. This led to the realization that F500 could not offer me the challenge, excitement, interest, and culture that suited me. This led to my FT search coming from a state school to be rather difficult with no experience. You can do a summer IB SA and do virtually any entry level finance job, but the corollary does not hold.

It all worked out in the end as I will be starting with my top (realistic) pick for FT this summer. They are not BB, but it is a great firm and I couldn't pass up M&A.

This book truly made me going from wanting to be a "die hard banker" to saying "Hell No!". I had to really uncover who I was at the core in order to decide which path to take. I'm an honest and jolly guy, but I am a fierce competitor who will chase the best opportunity in a decision matrix; especially when not going for it could be one of those life regrets. I don't live my life in a manner to which I will have regrets.

Banking is honestly nuts (especially at BB), but the opportunities and experience are paramount. Let the initial shock of the book cool down for a week or two, then do some deep thinking into your goals in life and how to achieve them with the greatest voracity. I say go for a summer analyst position in banking, then go from there. The most valuable asset is information, and you need it to make an informed decision either way.

Best of luck!

I appreciate the advice. I actually wasn't entirely shocked from the book seeing as I've read similar info on this forum, but I did find it very intriguing. I look forward to participating in such a stimulating, intense environment should I choose to pursue IB during/after college.

Sep 27, 2015

This book made me opt for F500 over IB. I decided to accept a SA position with a huge global conglomerate (GE/SII, P&G) rather than pursue a summer IB stent. This led to the realization that F500 could not offer me the challenge, excitement, interest, and culture that suited me. This led to my FT search coming from a state school to be rather difficult with no experience. You can do a summer IB SA and do virtually any entry level finance job, but the corollary does not hold.

It all worked out in the end as I will be starting with my top (realistic) pick for FT this summer. They are not BB, but it is a great firm and I couldn't pass up M&A.

This book truly made me going from wanting to be a "die hard banker" to saying "Hell No!". I had to really uncover who I was at the core in order to decide which path to take. I'm an honest and jolly guy, but I am a fierce competitor who will chase the best opportunity in a decision matrix; especially when not going for it could be one of those life regrets. I don't live my life in a manner to which I will have regrets.

Banking is honestly nuts (especially at BB), but the opportunities and experience are paramount. Let the initial shock of the book cool down for a week or two, then do some deep thinking into your goals in life and how to achieve them with the greatest voracity. I say go for a summer analyst position in banking, then go from there. The most valuable asset is information, and you need it to make an informed decision either way.

Best of luck!

    • 1
Sep 27, 2015

they pussied out.

i started banking as sweet-dispositioned young melvin, with a spring in my step and a song in my heart. i left as melvvvar, fully motorized godless psychopath.

    • 1
Sep 27, 2015
melvvvar:

they pussied out.

i started banking as sweet-dispositioned young melvin, with a spring in my step and a song in my heart. i left as melvvvar, fully motorized godless psychopath.

I'm getting two messages here - 1) they would've kept moving up if they'd stuck with it like you did and 2) that, because of sticking with it, you turned into a godless psychopath. Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but from what you're saying it sounds like pussying out for a hedge fund gig is favorable to becoming a godless psychopath?

If you don't mind my asking, how far up are you/were you in IB?

Sep 27, 2015

book is entertaining at best far from reality. don't read too much into it.

Sep 27, 2015
Comment

'We're bigger than U.S. Steel"

Sep 27, 2015