It is the thoughts, beliefs, values, and behaviors that create the general atmosphere of companies.
At the end of the day, employees' thoughts, beliefs, values, and even behaviors create a company's culture – not how much we are paid! Company culture, or corporate morale, is the thoughts, beliefs, values, and behaviors that create the general atmosphere of companies.
The employees largely determine company culture at a particular office, region, or city.
As a result, it is important to note that although offices may fall under the same "corporation", the culture at each office/city may differ dramatically.
There are a variety of factors that may determine a company's culture; they are as follows:
- Dress code
- Hours / "Face-Time"
- Treatment of employees
- The needs of the client are met
- Churn rate/employee retention
- Hiring decisions
- Human resources department (HR)
- Salaries and wages / Bonuses
The core values are often displayed through the corporation's customs, so we must be mindful that we give each a different perspective and appreciate them all for what it is, not how we want them to be!
With all of the above being said, we want to first discuss the lifestyle/culture faced on Wall Street.
One of the most lucrative positions in all of finance is investment banking.
Below you can find a few thoughts about IB's culture from insider and outsider perspectives.
Investment Banking Culture
Investment Banking (IB) culture is likely one of the reasons that you clicked on this article.
You've likely heard many different stories about the hours, people, and banks across Wall Street, but we should first brief you on what "investment banking" truly is…
If you were to ask someone not on Wall Street / closely associated with the finance world, "what is investment banking?" you will probably hear something along the lines of "I think you invest other peoples' money… I don't really know…."
While this is the answer you will get 99% of the time, it is completely wrong!
A common misconception always seems to be that you invest peoples' money in investment banking – NO!
When we talk about investment banking, we tend to refer to the investment banking division (or IBD for short).
Investment banking advises large corporations on strategic decisions such as mergers & acquisitions (M&A) and raising capital (via equity or debt).
You can think of investment bankers (those who work at investment banks) as advisors to large companies that need specialized advice on a specific decision.
M&A is just the buying and selling of companies, and an investment banker will do that exactly. Capital raising is just raising money through stocks or bonds.
If you've ever heard of an IPO, then you're likely already familiar with investment banks because these bankers are typically those that typically underwrite the deals.
And just to clarify, underwriting is where a company (in this case, the investment bank) determines and assumes another individual or company's risk in exchange for a fee.
In the IPO process, underwriters buy the shares from the issuing company and agree to sell them to the public (institutional and retail investors).
And simply put, each of the largest financial institutions you've likely heard of or are already familiar with are considered investment banks. You're likely already familiar with the largest "bulge bracket banks,"
These three banks have not only an investment banking division (IBD) but also sales and trading (S&T) as well as equity research (ER).
The S&T division buys and sells securities, such as stocks or commodities (e.g., oil, gas, gold), on behalf of its clients.
The equity research division will usually produce quarterly reports (4 each year) about specific stocks on the public market and sell those reports/findings to institutional investors (e.g., hedge funds).
We bring this up because the IBD is notorious for a terrible work culture. While it can vary based on the bank, many have described investment banking culture as "cutthroat", long hours, prestigious, and well-paying.
Many tend to think of the IBD as cutthroat because there are tons of different people trying to get more money than the other person – in essence, there is a rather "scarcity mindset" instead of one full of abundance.
So many across the Street tend to think of banking as the place where it is "every man for themself".
Additionally, the main deterrent for IB is, no doubt, the hours.
Tons of analysts and associates (the entry-level positions at these firms) tend to complain a lot about the brutal hours and workload endured for 2 to 5 years.
Being in an entry-level position in banking is extremely tough because you have to create tons of "deliverables" via Excel or PowerPoint, which often contain lots of analysis of the deal at hand.
While some technical portions of the job can be tough, many analysts describe IB as a 6-month learning curve that dramatically improves over time because you spend so much time trying to understand the ins and outs of each process.
Thus, you become an expert in running Excel models for a specific industry group, such as TMT, oil, and gas, or consumer & retail.
Additionally, the corporate mystique of IB tends to revolve largely around the prestige of investment banking.
Because many of the students (at both the undergraduate and graduate - MBA) levels tend to be the most hard-working and smart individuals at their respective schools, there tends to be this elitist culture surrounding the most coveted jobs on the Street.
Whether this is a good thing or not is all SUBJECTIVE at the end of the day. Still, it's important to note that everyone has different perspectives at the end of the day and that you need to be mindful that not everyone is willing to sacrifice their free time and personal life for money.
Hence, many undergrad students stay away from IB and Wall Street altogether and instead pursue a career in engineering, like computer science.
Undoubtedly, the hours in tech are MUCH better across the board as IB is a client-facing industry where you have to be accommodating and meet the needs and deadlines at all times.
Investment Banking Compensation
While some may argue that the culture and hours can be terrible, one non-negotiable thing about banking is, no doubt, the money.
The money is much higher than the typical 22-year-old will receive after undergrad.
- Analysts (straight from undergrad, so ages 22 to 25) can typically expect to earn around $100K + for their base salary.
Associates are around double that amount.
- Vice Presidents (or VPs) can expect to earn 3 to 4 times the amount of your typical analyst.
So as a VP, you can expect to make $500K+ per year.
- As a Senior Vice President or executive director (ED), depending on the bank and how the firm titles its promotions, you can expect to earn around 800k+ per year.
- Finally, at the MD (or managing director) / partner level, you can expect to earn upwards of 1 million dollars per year.
That is a lot of money, but it will typically take 15+ years to get there, and climbing the corporate ladder is by no means an easy feat as tons of smart, hard-working people across the Street likely have the same ideas as you.
So just be careful of burnout because money is not everything in life!
Why is Company Culture Important?
Company culture is important because it allows current employees to stay committed to a long-term career and attracts new, talented employees.
We strongly believe that meaningful relationships and work are life's key pillars.
Without those, you'll find yourself in endless sorrow because you cannot justify why you're here.
When you have a great team environment and culture, you'll realize that the journey of making it TO your end goal is far more important than actually achieving it.
When we realize that everything is temporary and the people and experiences endured along the way are more important than any amount of recognition or money you may receive.
If you focus too much of your time on things like money and the "end goal", you'll miss everything in between, like the relationships and memories you could be making along the way.
It's important to note that the corporate culture in the 90s was much more different than today simply because of the introduction of technology.
Technology in the Business World
Technology has enhanced not only our individual lives but also the culture in the workplace because of the following reasons:
It has been dramatically improved in the workforce because of the introduction of the internet and smartphone.
People can now communicate from wherever and wherever they may choose.
Communication is an important part of a company's culture because it shows that we can express our greatest concerns about what is right and wrong with those around us and potential improvement solutions.
With inventions like the iPhone, communication is almost seamless because we can get immediate feedback on our messages within seconds.
It has been updated for businesses because we have stricter and more security measures to safeguard our assets.
Security is a part of corporate morale because it ensures that the things that keep the company great (i.e., the unique ideas and solutions) are safeguarded from unwanted viewers.
It is important for the culture because it enables employees to have more work-life balance.
Imagine if investment bankers still had to build out financial models by hand via paper and pen!
Now that we have Excel and PowerPoint, overall corporate morale increases because employees can spend more time with loved ones and, as a result, are much more productive and clear-minded when they return to the office space to resume work.
4) Employee assistance
Employee assistance has always been a big component of margin growth.
When companies can outsource some of the labor to AI systems or computers (e.g., updating systems/projects), they can focus more on important things like building client relationships.
5) Monemoneyally, the money aspect of the workplace has increased significantly because we can cut labor costs at factory lines and focus more on the engineering components.
Instead of human workers in factories, we can use robots on assembly lines like car companies.
- While we have different beliefs on what the BEST culture may be – at the end of the day, the thoughts, beliefs, values, and even behaviors within an organization create a company's culture.
- Positions like IB, PE, and HF are notorious for cutthroat environments where you work intense hours – money is not everything to live!
- While the money may be well above average than the typical American worker across the Street, you might have to ask yourself if the lack of "work-life" balance truly is something that you want to undergo in your mid-twenties to late-thirties.
- An IB analyst can make upwards of $100K straight from undergrad – making it a highly competitive position for a young job-seeker
- Undoubtedly, technology has a profound impact on the world around us. However, tech (particularly software) is positively eating up the workplace!
Everything You Need To Break into Investment Banking
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Researched and authored by Joshua Tobias | LinkedIn
Reviewed & Edited by Ankit Sinha | LinkedIn
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