The 7 "Good" Work Habits of Bad Analysts

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bankerella - Certified Professional
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Throwback Thursday: This was originally posted July 2012

This is all representative of commonsense (but ultimately bad) advice I got during undergrad and followed blindly during internships. I sorted it all out by the end of my analyst program, but this was frequently accompanied by discomfort, late nights, and general suck.

You might disagree with my stance here. In fact, if you do, feel free to tell me in the comments. I'd very much like to hear that there are workplaces where the following work habits are rewarded rather than punished.

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

2: Never turn down a project.

Good general principle, but don't be dumb about it. It's nice to accept projects and workstreams up front from a wide variety of people so that your big workload is evident to all. This reputation can last a lot longer than the workload itself, giving you a chance to pick good projects and do well on them. On the other hand, use this reputation to parry anything likely to turn into a fire drill.

3: Read the WSJ and have informed opinions.

At the analyst level, few people want to hear your opinions on the economy. If you have opinions, don't share them unless asked, or unless you are 100% certain you don't sound like a douche. (Hint: In your early 20's, you can never be 100% certain you don't sound like a douche.)

4: Work through lunch.

Sometimes, nothing is going to save your ass. Just go. Find a friend in the same boat and drag them with you. Life will be better afterward.

5: Fire on all cylinders all the time.

Recipe for burnout. If you're chained to your desk 90+ hours a week and pushing yourself the whole time, you are going to make a bad mistake or fall asleep during a meeting. You have to carve out small nonobvious breaks. Critical part of being a good analyst.

6: Search for work to do when you're not busy.

No. Search for high-impact work to do. If there is none, go home and rest.

7: Follow directions exactly.

Wall Street is full of people who'll give you a recipe for making a shit sandwich and then complain when they don't like the taste. Once you know what you're doing, do it the way it should be done. The boss will like this better than the sandwich.

Comments (48)

Jun 15, 2012

I agree with all of them except #7.. I'd be very hesitant to change anything without getting an OK from my boss first. Maybe it was done that way for a reason, you can't be sure.

Jun 15, 2012

awesome list

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Jun 15, 2012

Thanks Bankerella :-)

Jun 15, 2012

Great post

    • 1
Jun 15, 2012

Agreed. And never forget: UNDERPROMISE AND OVERDELIVER!

finance is the science of goal architecture.

Mar 4, 2013
linoxgill:

Agreed. And never forget: UNDERPROMISE AND OVERDELIVER!

Most important of all

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Oct 26, 2014
linoxgill:

Agreed. And never forget: UNDERPROMISE AND OVERDELIVER!

Agreed, but inevitably I over promise--usually I'm able to deliver on that over promise, but it's definitely hard not to over promise in our hyper-competitive environment.

Jun 15, 2012

I disagree with number three in that you should absolutely read the wsj and have informed opinions. Are there times to shut up? Absolutely. But I think it would be dumb not to be keep up and be as informed as possible and discuss it with others.

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Jun 15, 2012
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is so so so so true. Might even be more true in consulting.

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Jun 15, 2012

Agree with all of them. On #7, better to make a suggestion when you disagree with what your boss asks for but definitely don't just disregard his/her directions because you think they are wrong.

Jun 15, 2012

.

Personal wealth is not how much you have in the bank or the worth of your portfolio. But, rather how you've used the wealth to make your life and those around you better.

Jun 15, 2012

Agree with comments above regarding #7. Great advice - very very true. And manging your boss's expectations is very important.

Jun 15, 2012
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

I'm not quite sure if I understand this. Do you mean one should refrain from returning changes/updates quickly?
Won't one be known for working slowly?

Jun 15, 2012
prospective_monkey:
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

I'm not quite sure if I understand this. Do you mean one should refrain from returning changes/updates quickly?
Won't one be known for working slowly?

I'm kind of confused, too.

Jun 15, 2012
Do what I gotta do:
prospective_monkey:
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

I'm not quite sure if I understand this. Do you mean one should refrain from returning changes/updates quickly?
Won't one be known for working slowly?

I'm kind of confused, too.

If I understand correctly, the OP is saying that yes, you should always complete your work in a timely manner. However, the point was that one shouldn't always rush to complete the assigned work ahead of schedule. Sure, it's good to finish early..on occasion. But, after a while, this will just lead to more and more work being assigned to you, since you have more spare time.

Jun 15, 2012
Downeasta:
Do what I gotta do:
prospective_monkey:
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

I'm not quite sure if I understand this. Do you mean one should refrain from returning changes/updates quickly?
Won't one be known for working slowly?

I'm kind of confused, too.

If I understand correctly, the OP is saying that yes, you should always complete your work in a timely manner. However, the point was that one shouldn't always rush to complete the assigned work ahead of schedule. Sure, it's good to finish early..on occasion. But, after a while, this will just lead to more and more work being assigned to you, since you have more spare time.

Me still no understand. Won't one be known in office to work slowly??

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Jun 21, 2012
adapt or die:
Downeasta:
Do what I gotta do:
prospective_monkey:
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

I'm not quite sure if I understand this. Do you mean one should refrain from returning changes/updates quickly?
Won't one be known for working slowly?

I'm kind of confused, too.

If I understand correctly, the OP is saying that yes, you should always complete your work in a timely manner. However, the point was that one shouldn't always rush to complete the assigned work ahead of schedule. Sure, it's good to finish early..on occasion. But, after a while, this will just lead to more and more work being assigned to you, since you have more spare time.

Me still no understand. Won't one be known in office to work slowly??

Read Monkey Business, then you will understand.

Jun 15, 2012
Downeasta:
Do what I gotta do:
prospective_monkey:
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

I'm not quite sure if I understand this. Do you mean one should refrain from returning changes/updates quickly?
Won't one be known for working slowly?

I'm kind of confused, too.

If I understand correctly, the OP is saying that yes, you should always complete your work in a timely manner. However, the point was that one shouldn't always rush to complete the assigned work ahead of schedule. Sure, it's good to finish early..on occasion. But, after a while, this will just lead to more and more work being assigned to you, since you have more spare time.

Actually, this advice is tailored for IBD-type analyst situations characterized by the following assumptions:

1: All deadlines are "As soon as possible" (i.e., no such thing as early, no such thing as late).
2: All jobs are on "No sleep till Brooklyn" status (i.e., you know the book will not cease iteration until the very last moment)
3: An analyst is rarely/never unstaffed

Jun 15, 2012
prospective_monkey:
bankerella:

1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.

This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.

I'm not quite sure if I understand this. Do you mean one should refrain from returning changes/updates quickly?
Won't one be known for working slowly?

I'd exercise best judgement. There is a line between acceptably slow and unacceptably slow. What I'm saying is that in my experience, the better analysts come down on the line of acceptably slow as opposed to "wow, that guy is blazingly fast".

Everyone loves it when you whip through changes in fifteen minutes, but that love turns to hate pretty fast when they catch a mistake. They remember that much more clearly than they will remember the ten times you were slightly slower than they wanted you to be.

So, two good reasons to be a little slower in the long run: it allows you to spend more time either on product quality or on self-care (food, rest). Obviously, it's up to you to choose how you mix the two.

Jun 15, 2012

Good list...one thing I would add to #7: if possible, do it both ways (as you were instructed to do it, and how you think it should be done)

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Jun 16, 2012

When turning changes I would always do them as quickly as possible, but i wouldn't necessary hand them on once they're done. Interns are notorious for not prioritizing work when it needs to be. Therefore as an intern you always want to get everything done as quickly as possible, take a break and then take some time to review. But get it done quick just in case the analyst comes rushing over asking for it.

Jun 16, 2012

I'm liking your posts more and more. Good shit.

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Jun 22, 2012
Flake:

I'm liking your posts more and more. Good shit.

we told you you'd like her!

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

Jun 21, 2012
bankerella:

This is all representative of commonsense

Is this supposed to be ironic?

Jun 21, 2012

Bankerella I want you right now.

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    • 1
Jun 22, 2012

Great post: I'll add my comments.

1) Perfect work >>>>>> Fast work.
2) Manage expectations. If you're swamped, don't be afraid to tell the staffer
3) Keep reading and having opinions, but don't contradict your bosses (at least, not a lot)
4) Either lunch or dinner must be sacred. Value your sanity
5) Think of sleep is a highly-valued commodity
6) ^^
7) Follow content pretty exactly, but take some liberties on the formatting. Their job is to know what to say, your job is to make it look pretty.

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Jun 22, 2012
illiniPride:

Great post: I'll add my comments.

7) Follow content pretty exactly, but take some liberties on the formatting. Their job is to know what to say, your job is to make it look pretty.

So funny you say that. I had an impulse to go back and clarify that point but didn't follow up on it. Thanks for doing it for me.

This list largely came into existence for me during the earliest sliver of my analyst experience, before I was given any discretion over content. I had repeating issues with a VP who kept giving me a very clear and detailed recipe for a shit sandwich (in terms of exactly what to put where on each slide) and then hating the results. When I started disobeying his direct orders and doing what I thought would work better, he loved me.

Funny: he didn't have any power over the content either, now that I think about it. Maybe that's why he was in such a foul damned mood all the time.

Best Response
Jun 22, 2012
bankerella:
illiniPride:

Great post: I'll add my comments.

7) Follow content pretty exactly, but take some liberties on the formatting. Their job is to know what to say, your job is to make it look pretty.

So funny you say that. I had an impulse to go back and clarify that point but didn't follow up on it. Thanks for doing it for me.

This list largely came into existence for me during the earliest sliver of my analyst experience, before I was given any discretion over content. I had repeating issues with a VP who kept giving me a very clear and detailed recipe for a shit sandwich (in terms of exactly what to put where on each slide) and then hating the results. When I started disobeying his direct orders and doing what I thought would work better, he loved me.

Funny: he didn't have any power over the content either, now that I think about it. Maybe that's why he was in such a foul damned mood all the time.

The life of a VP:
Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the god damn Analysts so the MDs don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?

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    • 3
Jun 22, 2012
illiniPride:

The life of a VP:
Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the god damn Analysts so the MDs don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?

Word.

Mar 4, 2013

Damn it. There was a movement in my pants because I thought Bankerella was back, then I realized this was just an old post.

Mar 4, 2013
FrankD'anconia:

Damn it. There was a movement in my pants because I thought Bankerella was back, then I realized this was just an old post.

I didn't notice until I read your comment

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Mar 5, 2013
ricky212:
FrankD'anconia:

Damn it. There was a movement in my pants because I thought Bankerella was back, then I realized this was just an old post.

I didn't notice until I read your comment

Fuck.

Mar 4, 2013

Agree so much with the lunch comment. Taking a break (unless it's a fire drill) rejuvenates and makes you feel just a bit better that only 1/4th of your day is over.

Mar 4, 2013

This list is dead on. Dumbfounds me that #1 is true even in a fast paced, live risk environment such as a trading desk. Even if you are right and you can work extremely fast on something, people will always second guess you thinking you didn't do your "research". Go figure.

Mar 4, 2013

She is back!

Mar 4, 2013

awesome list

Mar 5, 2013

Damn, I thought she was back!

Mar 6, 2013

Damn, Bankerella still posts? Blackhat still comments? Thought being away a while there would be a new guard. What is left to say?

-Non-Target, 2.8 GPA in Business Arts, what are my chances!?!

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Mar 10, 2013

solid post

Oct 23, 2014

Post #7 hits... and nowww the picture makes sense (dear god that's not Nutella!)

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    • 1
Oct 23, 2014

good list, even better comments ha

Oct 23, 2014

Ha #7 is gold. Too much shitty sandwiches everywhere. Predict your boss, usually isnt too hard

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Oct 23, 2014

seems obvious, but good, short and clear.

Oct 24, 2014

marry me

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Oct 24, 2014

Can anyone go in depth on #6?

Oct 28, 2014

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