Investment Banking Analyst: 15 Things I Wish I Knew

I was writing an email to a fellow monkey who is about to start as an investment banking analyst in the summer. It's been a little over 5 yrs now since I was a wee young first-year analyst in restructuring for one of the Moelis/Houlihan/Evercore type firms (I call them the firms where most people will still say "What?" and sort of nod their heads when you tell them where you work - thanks for validating my 80 hour work week - anyways moving on).

I really like mentoring and sharing knowledge for future generations - a lot of people have helped me along the way, and still are, and I really like WSO in general - there are giant gold nuggets all over this site from which I have benefited so I thought it's high time to throw one back in the pit.

What I wish I knew as a first year investment banking analyst:

1) Your performance from day 1 matters.

So, prepare as much as you can beforehand. Ask (politely) if your future colleagues can send you some pitches/other helpful materials and start working on your excel, formatting, attention to detail. Keep your Outlook box tidy and have a folder for every single deal - learn to back up your email box. Have a good system for knowing where each file is. Always carry a notebook and your HP12C, and learn to use that little calculator really really well. That thing can run a full DCF in seconds if you know what you are doing. Especially if you work in debt, know how to use the financial functions (I, PMT, PV, FV, n).

2) For your first 3 months you will be a burden

- just try to be a small burden. Don't spin your wheels, ever - Associates hate when their analyst is sitting there fumbling and stymied. Don't ask questions that you haven't at least tried to think through yourself - but once you've thought them through, don't be afraid to ask. Write down everything so you remember what you learned and don't have to ask again.

Get close with a good Associate/Sr. Analyst - tell them you just really want to do well and look to them for areas to improve BEFORE your midyear/full year reviews. Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

3) If you want to someday go to the buyside, think of that from day 1 as well.

Start talking now with people who are where you want to be in 2-5 years time. Figure out where past analysts have gone and how. You can jump after 1 year, 2 yrs, or later - but realize it might get tougher later on. You will need to teach yourself how to model quick and dirty - prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

4) Be thinking about whether you want to go to grad school, and where, and what experiences will help that cause.

Keep detailed records of the things you do - because you're about to do so many things, that you will inevitably forget some of the best ones. 2 yrs at a non-incredibly-amazing firm is not likely to get you into HSW, even with a good GMAT - a better track is to target 4-6 years of work experience and have a non-banking role in between - PE, work for a startup, go do microfinance in Tunisia, whatever you like really - just something to distinguish you from all the other bankers - HSW will have plenty of BB IBD kids from target schools to fill their class. If you know you want to go for an MBA eventually, think about taking the GMAT before you are working 80 hours a week. I think the GMAT takes about 2 months of good work for most really to maximize your score (this is another good WIWIK possibility).

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it

- errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

6) Spell Check

On that note, set the print area right away and always run a spell check (yes, Excel has spell check too!)

7) Master your macros

- if you have time or inclination before starting, maybe even take some Excel VBA classes online or something - if you are really good with Excel you will be a prized asset. Ask your future colleagues if there is a particular package they use and if they can send it, otherwise maybe use the WSP pack or any macro pack you can find. Remove your F1 key because it will only get in the way. People generally say don't touch your mouse - I mostly agree for Excel, but there are still the few odd things that are quicker with a mouse sometimes. Excel is another potential WIWIK topic.

8) What Headhunters want:

smart people, who can hold a good conversation, humble, good team players, sharp modeling, who can THINK LIKE INVESTORS - always be thinking like an investor - if you want to do PE/HF later on, this might be your single most important point. Many investment banking analysts go into PE/HF interviews and have never thought like an investor - they have no conviction in their ideas and their investment theses have little basis. Many BB kids think they are simply entitled to a HF/PE job. Don't be one of those. Do your work. And be a good person. Everyone will have decent technical skills, but if you can strike your headhunter as also being just a super nice and hardworking person, that counts big time.

9) If you want to practice for HFs, pick any public company that doesn't have nightmare financial statements

(i.e. don't pick a FIG unless that's your thing), download the latest K and Q, and give yourself 2 hours to make a working 3 statement model with a DCF and a quick LBO analysis. You should be able to get the 3 statement model with 5 yr projections and a balancing balance sheet in 1 hour or less, then do the DCF and LBO in the next half hour, and leave a half hour to check your work.

9b) Be a good person.

Don't be a finance 'dick.' Yes you work in investment banking and probably make good money doing it. No that doesn't automatically make you cool. You can be hugely successful and still be a nice guy and down to earth. Take note of the associates and VPs that you really like to work for, and aspire to someday be a person that you yourself would like to work for. Finance is full of jerks and egos - that makes people who are down to earth and really genuinely nice an asset. Find a style that works for you and is true to who you are - you'll have to be firm sometimes, but keep that blade sharp.

10) Adhere to the logic that you can't learn if you aren't listening, and you can't listen if you are talking.

Be a good listener. Some bankers and even some analysts are so garrulous that they miss key points, and their words just lose weight over time - they're so eager to say what they know that they just blurt out whatever they know on a subject. You want it so when you speak, people know you have listened, and you're saying something of value. Keep your cards close.

11) Perhaps the most important - figure out who on the Admin end really runs the show.

Admins are some of the most powerful people in terms of making your life better as an analyst. Treat your admins with respect and go out of your way to treat them well. Bring up some flowers every once in a while to brighten the reception desk. Pick up a few extra coffees when you run out, and take note which admins like which kinds of coffee. Being a banking admin can be really dreary work sometimes and those little things can brighten their day a lot.

12) Be neat about your reimbursements

- I probably lost hundreds to low thousands just by not being prompt/organized about receipts and the like. Get the best possible credit card plan you can find for travel and hotels.

13) Take care of your body

- watch the Thursday night cocktails and save it for Friday/Saturday. Oversleep one important call/meeting and you might never recover. Most analysts are vitamin deficient - take a good daily multivitamin and drink water, not red bull. Fish oil is good for keeping your skin/eyes/brain in good shape. Burt's Bees Serum for your face is a god-send - my girlfriend says it looks like I am glowing after I put it on.

14) If you do mess up badly at work

- learn from it and get over it. Don't beat yourself up too much. Other people might have a little giggle now and then about your f-up but believe me nobody is thinking about the f-up as much as you think they are. Consider how many of your brainwaves you spend in a typical day thinking about other people. Now get back to work.

15) Work-life Balance

Many bosses will preach a work-life balance and say things like "This can totally wait until Monday." But they will still be more impressed if you did it over the weekend and give it to them Monday morning. Figure out who those bosses are.

I think those are the main ones - I'll probably think of more here and there and I'm sure tons of other users have some great things to add. Any questions/thoughts let me know.

Cheers
frgna

Interested in Investment Banking - Breaking In

The fact of the matter is you won't improve unless you practice. To have any chance at the technical questions you need to prepare yourself with legitimate questions. The WallStreetOasis investment banking interview course is designed by countless professionals with real world experience, tailored to help you break into investment banking by acing the technical questions.

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Comments (172)

Feb 10, 2013 - 12:10pm
JWR34, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Fantastic thread and great advice for anyone about to go into an SA stint as well.

  • 7
Feb 10, 2013 - 7:52pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post, SB for ya

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
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Best Response
Feb 11, 2013 - 11:20am
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No problem folks.

One thing I forgot to mention - live on your base, bank your bonus, at least for the first 3-5 yrs. After that you can put your saved bonuses into whatever - house, etc. But always try to live one or two rungs below your means. If you're thinking of grad school you'll thank yourself later. In finance, money=freedom, so don't build a lifestyle that will lock you into a job you don't love. The brand new BMW can wait until you are 26.

Also, unless you just have a really naturally good memory (some do), really make an effort to "study" key details about your engagements. Memorize all the coupon dates and maturities of the tranches of debt, know the capital structure cold, memorize historical revenue and EBITDA and capex etc. for the last few years. Know which comparables are the most comparable in your valuation by geography and revenue composition/size and business type.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
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Feb 11, 2013 - 11:27am
duffmt6, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great stuff. SB to you good sir.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."
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Feb 11, 2013 - 4:59pm
m r b s, what's your opinion? Comment below:

as someone starting ft this summer, I really appreciated this post - one of the best i've read on this site

Feb 11, 2013 - 8:28pm
neilol, what's your opinion? Comment below:

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

Gold - sounds dumb but its important

Feb 20, 2013 - 3:35pm
Amphipathic, what's your opinion? Comment below:
neilol:
5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

Gold - sounds dumb but its important

Great point, and I also find this works just as well when you covert the document to a pdf and check it in adobe.

May 24, 2013 - 3:29pm
Plato, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Amphipathic:
neilol:

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

Gold - sounds dumb but its important

Great point, and I also find this works just as well when you covert the document to a pdf and check it in adobe.

Agreed. The higher resolution and enlargement really make things stand out.

Feb 12, 2013 - 1:19am
aempirei, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Good advice. Now I just need the offer to put this into practice.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.
  • 4
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:09am
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Fundamentally Undervalued:
gold

ps: wtf is a wiwik?

It's a "What I Wish I Knew" - the WSO guys smartly retitled my original post :)

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
Feb 12, 2013 - 9:51am
TheKid1, what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Feb 12, 2013 - 10:08am
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:
TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Would help if you could elaborate a bit on the mistakes but here are a few tips.

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

Second, have another peer analyst quickly look at it (esp one you know is really good at details). Always run the spell check and take note of your common errors. You can do a ctrl+f's and search for common errors. These are things like not being consistent in word lists (search for the word "and" or ", and" depending on your convention) and spacing after periods.

For an excel model, always look to your numbers and ask, does this make sense? I had an interest calc once where I was trying to do some fancy compounding and the number should have been like 3% of principal but it was more like 30%, and my associate caught it right away.

Steps for excel: 1) F2 through each formula and hardcode and make sure the formulas look consistent - often times people just copy and paste the wrong formula. Also see my trick below. Run a spell check. 2) Print it, and then go through it, left to right, top to bottom, and make sure all the numbers make visual sense. Senior bankers are really good at finding numbers that don't look right. Use your calculator to check things that might seem off. 3) Talk through the sheet to yourself once - try to pretend you are presenting it to your boss. Anticipate his questions and be ready to answer odd things.

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
  • 27
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:15am
oreos, what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

GOLD
"After you work on Wall Street it’s a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side.” - David Tepper
  • 2
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:24am
Otter., what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:
One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.
This is best practice for anyone starting out, or really anyone period.

My strategy is to always write my e-mails with the e-mail addresses in the subject line instead of in the "To" line until I'm actually ready to send. This is especially important if you're using Excel and have CTRL+ENTER as a shortcut to send e-mails like I do (I think it's the default shortcut). I've forgotten to do this a few times and have sent half-complete e-mails by accident. It's never been anything that's been too embarrassing, but it still just looks sloppy. Gmail has the "Undo" function but Outlook doesn't have anything similar to my knowledge. If it does, please enlighten me.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.
  • 2
Feb 12, 2013 - 12:46pm
Plato, what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:
TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Would help if you could elaborate a bit on the mistakes but here are a few tips.

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

Second, have another peer analyst quickly look at it (esp one you know is really good at details). Always run the spell check and take note of your common errors. You can do a ctrl+f's and search for common errors. These are things like not being consistent in word lists (search for the word "and" or ", and" depending on your convention) and spacing after periods.

For an excel model, always look to your numbers and ask, does this make sense? I had an interest calc once where I was trying to do some fancy compounding and the number should have been like 3% of principal but it was more like 30%, and my associate caught it right away.

Steps for excel: 1) F2 through each formula and hardcode and make sure the formulas look consistent - often times people just copy and paste the wrong formula. Also see my trick below. Run a spell check. 2) Print it, and then go through it, left to right, top to bottom, and make sure all the numbers make visual sense. Senior bankers are really good at finding numbers that don't look right. Use your calculator to check things that might seem off. 3) Talk through the sheet to yourself once - try to pretend you are presenting it to your boss. Anticipate his questions and be ready to answer odd things.

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

This is what makes WSO such a tremendous resource. Thanks for the tips.

Mar 17, 2013 - 8:17pm
CivilServant, what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:
TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Would help if you could elaborate a bit on the mistakes but here are a few tips.

One thing, for emails, if you want to make sure they're right, literally read them out loud to yourself quickly. Will also help your writing. Also leave the 'to' boxes empty until you are ready to send.

Second, have another peer analyst quickly look at it (esp one you know is really good at details). Always run the spell check and take note of your common errors. You can do a ctrl+f's and search for common errors. These are things like not being consistent in word lists (search for the word "and" or ", and" depending on your convention) and spacing after periods.

For an excel model, always look to your numbers and ask, does this make sense? I had an interest calc once where I was trying to do some fancy compounding and the number should have been like 3% of principal but it was more like 30%, and my associate caught it right away.

Steps for excel: 1) F2 through each formula and hardcode and make sure the formulas look consistent - often times people just copy and paste the wrong formula. Also see my trick below. Run a spell check. 2) Print it, and then go through it, left to right, top to bottom, and make sure all the numbers make visual sense. Senior bankers are really good at finding numbers that don't look right. Use your calculator to check things that might seem off. 3) Talk through the sheet to yourself once - try to pretend you are presenting it to your boss. Anticipate his questions and be ready to answer odd things.

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

That is a golden excel tip. Any other gems?

May 24, 2013 - 4:08pm
snakeplissken, what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:

*****My single favorite tip for Excel: hit F5, then Alt+s, then O, then X, then G, then E, and press enter. This will select all of the hardcoded aka data entry (i.e. non-formula) cells.

All of the highlighted cells should be blue (hardcodes). If you see something highlighted and it's not blue, look at it. If you see something blue, and it's not highlighted, look at it.

This is also the really quick way to turn an all-black font sheet into a properly formatted sheet.

This is an amazing trick. Also, you can record a really simple macro do this for you and then you learn a little VBA too. 2 birds. 1 excel stone.

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own. Oh, you mean I can't count on you? No. Good!
  • 2
Jan 6, 2014 - 1:12pm
Dave-McKay, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great excel tips, frgna. My daughter, who works in NYC for a cosmetics firm, needs the opposite. She needs to select unformatted non hardcodes, so she can change them into hardcodes. She works with big data downloads for CRM apps. Any help? Thanks!

Feb 15, 2013 - 4:53pm
Dat Maz, what's your opinion? Comment below:
TheKid1:
frgna:

Your first midyear review will likely be pretty pointless, unless you've done something really bad, but keep the year-end review in mind and realize people's memories are much shorter than you think, so a good 3 months leading into the review can make up for quite a bit of mediocre performance. Bankers love to see when people have really "stepped it up" - it validates that their criticism did something and that you aren't afraid to improve and take advice well.

5) Before you present important work, ALWAYS print it - errors stick out like sore thumbs on paper and are much easier to find and correct. Take the 5 minutes and print the product before you put it on your boss' desk. Set the tone early that you are simply not a person who makes spelling or formatting errors.

The first one made me feel better as I just started at boutique last month and keep screwing up, Sr.Analyst said I've gotten better but make mistakes.

5). I always print it but don't always catch same details like periods and such and sometimes big ones--- Any way to improve on this? Its really annoying and I'm kicking myself in the end.

Get another set of eyes on it. When you've been working on something long enough, you stop seeing the little errors.

Feb 12, 2013 - 11:07am
chrisjr, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post frnga - really applicable to my workplace and good to keep a list like this to constantly remind yourself of things to work on.

One question, do you have any links or videos that go into more detail on this: 9) If you want to practice for HFs, pick any public company that doesn't have nightmare financial statements (i.e. don't pick a FIG unless that's your thing), download the latest K and Q, and give yourself 2 hours to make a working 3 statement model with a DCF and a quick LBO analysis. You should be able to get the 3 statement model with 5 yr projections and a balancing balance sheet in 1 hour or less, then do the DCF and LBO in the next half hour, and leave a half hour to check your work.

I need to work on this, a lot.

Feb 14, 2013 - 12:31pm
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:
chrisjr:
Great post frnga - really applicable to my workplace and good to keep a list like this to constantly remind yourself of things to work on.

One question, do you have any links or videos that go into more detail on this: 9) If you want to practice for HFs, pick any public company that doesn't have nightmare financial statements (i.e. don't pick a FIG unless that's your thing), download the latest K and Q, and give yourself 2 hours to make a working 3 statement model with a DCF and a quick LBO analysis. You should be able to get the 3 statement model with 5 yr projections and a balancing balance sheet in 1 hour or less, then do the DCF and LBO in the next half hour, and leave a half hour to check your work.

I need to work on this, a lot.

Give it a shot, email it to me if/when you get stuck, and I'll let you know what I think of it. I'd basically just say for now, it takes a lot of practice and work. The first time might take you a whole day, or longer. But you'll get faster each time.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
  • 4
Feb 12, 2013 - 2:14pm
HOVA, what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:
prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

Very interested. Great post.

May 24, 2013 - 3:22pm
Plato, what's your opinion? Comment below:
HOVA:
frgna:

prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

Very interested. Great post.

Seconded. Could you post something to this effect, or comment if you already have?

Thanks for some great tips. I just saved and printed into a Word doc.

May 24, 2013 - 3:29pm
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Plato:
HOVA:

frgna:
prepping for HF/PE buyside interviews is serious, serious business. I could write a whole article just on that process.

Very interested. Great post.

Seconded. Could you post something to this effect, or comment if you already have?

Thanks for some great tips. I just saved and printed into a Word doc.

Will try to post something after CFA

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
  • 2
Feb 12, 2013 - 4:50pm
alphasilverback, what's your opinion? Comment below:

good stuff.....thanks for posting

We can't rely on anyone these days, we just have to do things ourselves don't we?

Feb 12, 2013 - 6:09pm
NoSoupForYoU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Awesome post. very good read. was wondering if anyone could recommend some skills/knowledge to try and master before i begin my internship. What programs should i get familiar with? Concepts to know? I just want to make sure i dont go into my internship looking dumb.

Feb 13, 2013 - 12:40am
Football2Finance, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Speaking of gold nuggets, this is a damn big one

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” - Sun Tzu
  • 1
Feb 13, 2013 - 1:33am
meabric, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'd add, if you want to be useful from day 1, learn to spread comps perfectly. I'd pick a recent transaction in the space and then look for fairness materials in the proxy. Once you find some, spread the comp set as of that date and see if you can get the exact same numbers. The other benefit is you will understand common adjustments in this space (i.e. minority interest, EBITDA adjustments, perpetual restructuring charges, etc.) very well, which is a great asset if you are in a coverage group.

  • 3
Feb 15, 2013 - 4:47pm
oowij, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Awesome post, going to have to take that coffee to the admin tip and put it to use.

Feb 17, 2013 - 6:40pm
brainwashed110, what's your opinion? Comment below:

best post i've read on WSO, thank you.

time is the most precious commodity.
Feb 17, 2013 - 11:48pm
WildColonialBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great Work - On the modelling front, become an expert at CapIQ. It should be able to instantly feed into your own Comp Table, and indicative CDF/LBO models. Will save you heaps of time - Excel is about never using the mouse. It takes a bit to get through but once you know the hotkeys of pat your away - Learn to use Document Locations on the network and email them as a hyperlink (You can set it up in excel and word in the quick access ribbon) . Document control is critical - Personality is important. Actually talk to Associates, VPs and Directors. Take an interest in their football/basketball team, know what is going on around playoffs, transfers etc.. Small talk works - you want to be brought to meetings not treated just as a modelling monkey - Originating ideas is important, read business news, know what action is taking place. If a big deal is announced look at deals which will spin of this - i.e. Buffet going for Heinz - will he be flicking smaller divisions out of this, how does the deal effect x customer, x supplier?

Houlihan is a sweat shop, hang in there. 80 hours is the standard. Everyone wants to quit after 6-8 weeks. Just get through it and get used to it!! You'll thank yourself at bonus time and later on...

You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake son.
  • 9
Feb 18, 2013 - 8:41am
Adushe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

SB piece right here. Respect for you my man, respect.

Death is certain; Life aint.
Feb 19, 2013 - 12:28am
ozymandias, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Super useful.

"It doesn't matter where you are or where you came from: it's about where you're going."
Feb 22, 2013 - 2:00am
tangent style, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bookmarked and +1'ed.

"Do not go gentle into that good night"
Feb 22, 2013 - 4:54am
oreos, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Is this getting towards a record of SBs?

"After you work on Wall Street it’s a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side.” - David Tepper
Feb 22, 2013 - 12:41pm
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Oreos:
Is this getting towards a record of SBs?

Never would have expected this much positive response - thanks for all the kind words folks!

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
May 24, 2013 - 8:35am
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No problem guys, glad the response has been so positive - sorry I've been so absent on the boards lately, CFA 2 is taking priority in a big way

CivilServant - let me give some more thought to more excel tricks and I'll update sometime after June 1

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
  • 2
May 25, 2013 - 12:33am
RustyR, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post. Would be good to have something similar for those looking to start as Associates

May 25, 2013 - 2:56pm
PeterMullersKeyboard, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a lot, excellent post.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
Aug 1, 2013 - 10:44pm
StoicTrader, what's your opinion? Comment below:

solid info, thanks for sharing

twitter: @StoicTrader1 instagram: @StoicTrader1
Sep 2, 2013 - 1:44pm
SSits, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"Don't spin your wheels, ever - Associates hate when their analyst is sitting there fumbling and stymied. Don't ask questions that you haven't at least tried to think through yourself - but once you've thought them through, don't be afraid to ask."

This is gold advice. One of my pet annoyances is analysts and associates who just forward me e-mails with problems to solve, without having attempted to come up with a solution themselves. If they made an effort to think up their own solution, even if wrong, then:

  • If they are wrong, they've at least attempted to think through the problem and will remember the right solution I give them much better, as they can understand where in the chain I went right when they went left and why. That narrows down for them where exactly in their approach they got it wrong, which is much more targeted education. If they just get the answer from me without thinking themselves or understanding how I got to that answer, they've learned very little.

  • I'm a lot happier that they have given me a partial solution that I can work with, so I don't have to come up with a solution from scratch. I've got a lot of other stuff to do and get pretty pissed off when I have to put down whatever I'm doing and come up with a complete solution because someone can't think for themselves.

  • I like to think that I learned not by getting the complete answer handed to me by seniors, but by reaching out laterally, thinking from first principles etc. I'd like juniors to try the same rather than just dumping problems on me. I have other shit to do and am not a happy man when I have to spend time fixing problems that I worked out myself how to solve 7-8 years ago.

  • A junior who demonstrates independent thought = someone with potential.

A point I'd make about some junior bankers at the associate/low level VP stage - some specialise in being ring leader/switchboard operator type people, delegating heavily, forwarding e-mails to others to get stuff done etc.

If that person knows how to do the delegated stuff him/herself, I'm fine with that, as they can guide and filter the results.

However, you get some people who ONLY know how to delegate and can't do tasks themselves or filter problems. I give these people a task because I want THEM to do it, but then find they've delegated it down the line to an inexperienced junior or referred it to some external adviser because "it looks like a [legal/accounting/something else] issue", resulting in the external adviser blowing through their fee cap on out of scope work because the junior can't execute for shit. My shop has some associates who I suspect have only ever prepared pitchbooks and are masters of cut-and-paste, but have no decent execution abilities other than hitting forward in Outlook.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
  • 7
Dec 26, 2013 - 3:22am
stillwinnning, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is great to review as the new year approaches.

I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there.
Dec 29, 2013 - 4:42am
leporlepos, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Solid Post.

Money doesn't change people, it shows you who they really are.
Jan 4, 2014 - 3:00am
ThePanther, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great advice! thanks for sharing

“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.” - Ayn Rand
Jan 8, 2014 - 8:10pm
looping56, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great advice, thanks

Array
Mar 25, 2014 - 11:50pm
ramadjaffri, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a soon-to-be fresh graduate, reading this post made me feel both challenged and intimidated at the same time.

Fingers crossed!

Fortes fortuna adiuvat.
Feb 27, 2015 - 5:27pm
vtu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I caught one very minor error in your 9b point. Should've been Know instead of No. Regardless, this was a great post and I greatly appreciate it.

May 26, 2015 - 11:38pm
very.chipper, what's your opinion? Comment below:
vtu:

I caught one very minor error in your 9b point. Should've been Know instead of No. Regardless, this was a great post and I greatly appreciate it.

No, that was not an error. It was supposed to say no, as in "No, you are not right even though you are trying to sound smart."

May 27, 2015 - 8:37pm
Attack_Chihuahua, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The reason a lot of the techies are treated like children is because those companies know how to pander towards the millenial mindset.....and quite frankly, a lot millenials are children in adult bodies.

May 28, 2015 - 1:54am
N0DuckingWay, what's your opinion? Comment below:

15 also, be warned that many bosses will say they're pro-work/life balance, then give you a project at 5 and say it's due the next morning.

"There's nothing you can do if you're too scared to try." - Nickel Creek
May 30, 2015 - 11:48am
Eddnyc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post!

LIVE THE IMPOSSIBLES
Jun 2, 2015 - 4:23am
Bodacious, what's your opinion? Comment below:
frgna:

7) Master your macros - if you have time or inclination before starting, maybe even take some Excel VBA classes online or something - if you are really good with Excel you will be a prized asset. Ask your future colleagues if there is a particular package they use and if they can send it, otherwise maybe use the WSP pack or any macro pack you can find. Remove your F1 key because it will only get in the way. People generally say don't touch your mouse - I mostly agree for Excel, but there are still the few odd things that are quicker with a mouse sometimes. Excel is another potential WIWIK topic.

I have some experience with macros but don't master it yet. What kind of macro programming are we talking about? Could you care to explain a litte bit, and maybe give some examples?

Great post. Thank you!

Nov 24, 2015 - 3:36am
Pesca-pescatarian, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know this is a very late reply ... but check it out: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary

Maximum effort.
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Nov 18, 2015 - 11:14pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

this post is a god-send to me. just starting my degree in finance and am trying to absorb as much information as possible ahead of time. thank you!

Dec 10, 2015 - 8:01am
TiltPhil, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is one of those posts, that you have to print out and pin on your wall!

Mar 28, 2016 - 10:08am
Winning related, what's your opinion? Comment below:

These are the types of posts people like me want to read, thank you!

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.
May 25, 2016 - 5:26am
PinkPantherina, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a lot for all the advice! Highly appreciated!

pinkpantherina
Dec 5, 2016 - 2:47am
adamsmiths, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for this long article. Extremely useful insight. Will keep this in mind as an aspiring banker.

Adam Smith
Dec 7, 2016 - 5:54am
Ruhm, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Always relevant, great post.

Feb 6, 2018 - 3:02pm
MexicanSherlock, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This post is just great. Thank you

“Sounds good, doesn’t work”
Feb 9, 2018 - 10:20am
gryphonguy31, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I really appreciate this, it really helps being introspective leading into my first SA role.

-"Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance."
Mar 15, 2018 - 4:22pm
Njabulo Vincent-Hadebe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is golden thank you very much for this, just superb.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.
May 21, 2018 - 8:00am
younghungryandfoolish, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What are some skills you wish you learned early in your career? (Originally Posted: 12/21/2016)

As background: I am a junior in college heading in to the world of investment banking starting this summer. As part of my new years resolutions for 2017, I have made it my goal to learn two new skills this year. One that will help me in my professional life and one wildcard skill. This could range from the interesting/entertaining, to new hobbies, or skills that you simply have always wanted to learn.

Inspired by Eddie Braverman's recent post I am intrigued by learning to code as my professional skill (not sure how applicable it will be right away but I am sure that computer literacy in the future will be a prerequisite for almost everything). The wildcard skill is more open-ended. I have tossed around poker and backgammon as possibilities, and I think something along those lines would be useful/interesting.

I am looking for any and all suggestions! I am really curious to hear from some of the older guys on here as they look back to their early days and think about what may have helped them in their career or what they wish they picked up at a younger age.

PS- I am always looking for reading suggestions, so if you have read something that you love toss it out in the comments.

May 21, 2018 - 8:01am
The_Regulator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

N-E-T-W-O-R-K-I-N-G

**How is my grammar? Drop me a note with any errors you see!**
Dec 11, 2018 - 6:47pm
johnadley35, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Quia et deserunt quae nemo quia. Quis id voluptates fuga atque odio rem nam sit.

Fugit non voluptates debitis temporibus debitis ut ad dicta. Ipsam magni voluptas sequi repellendus voluptatem voluptate tempore. Commodi neque culpa minus delectus. Qui totam ea eum ex accusantium voluptatem consequuntur expedita. Ut rem provident culpa est in est aut.

May 18, 2019 - 1:47am
George87, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Numquam consequatur voluptate animi ex accusantium est. Sit quae ea corporis totam dolorum. Culpa et eligendi ea atque sit consectetur non. Doloremque voluptatum rem laborum qui modi ipsa. Sed omnis corrupti consequatur asperiores. Non et pariatur rem libero officiis architecto recusandae.

Aug 2, 2019 - 1:16am
MoBananas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Minus cumque ea dolores fuga perspiciatis culpa. Ad atque libero cumque nobis enim voluptatem. Omnis architecto veniam necessitatibus voluptatum officia debitis. Corporis voluptas occaecati sunt soluta. Sit tenetur et repudiandae quae voluptatem.

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Velit impedit sed qui non dolore velit. Assumenda eaque dicta repudiandae quis perferendis recusandae. Nobis ipsam aliquam provident praesentium voluptatem. Pariatur aut unde eum.

May 26, 2020 - 6:41pm
IBFicc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Et qui qui consequatur autem mollitia maxime corrupti. Itaque rerum ullam deserunt eos ipsam repellat magnam cum. Ut quibusdam possimus aut molestiae. Ipsum atque est delectus asperiores eveniet earum accusamus. Laborum in inventore quaerat harum.

Nesciunt rerum commodi provident ea nostrum suscipit ducimus eveniet. Molestiae deleniti at est quos culpa. Vel minus harum maxime quia quae voluptatibus. Ab omnis fugit molestias dolorem ipsa dolorem vitae. Quia ab eos et laborum quia.

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Earum quidem blanditiis exercitationem et officia. Perferendis ullam minus quia consequatur ipsam. Deleniti aspernatur quam accusantium aperiam dolore. Non nostrum consequatur aut a placeat. Quidem explicabo consequatur maxime deserunt voluptatibus maxime veritatis et.

Apr 24, 2021 - 1:32pm
Light in the dark tunnel, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Et quis sit debitis. Magni dicta eius voluptatem.

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Aperiam illum eaque alias provident. Quisquam voluptas quisquam quam incidunt. Ipsum itaque tenetur eligendi nostrum.

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