Landed Your First Job? EXTREMELY Important Thread: Office Politics

Mod Note: Each day we'll be posting the top WSO forum posts of 2014. This one was originally posted on 3/22/14 and ranks #14 for the year by total silver banana count. You can see all our top ranked content here.

Ahhh so you landed your job. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve it because you absolutely do. The recruiting process for Sell-Side Wall Street is brutal and has significant merit attached to it (unless your dad is the CEO of a F500 of course). But lets cut to the chase. You need to read this post very carefully or you will never ever get paid at the top. That is a bold statement but anyone who has spent a meaningful amount of time on the Street knows the following:

Without solid political positioning I will never get promoted and I will never be ranked at the top

This point is so important that we are going to write it again. Say it out loud to yourself. Say this as you walk into training. Write this on your iPhone as a calendar invite every single morning for a month before training… until it sticks.

Without solid political positioning I will never get promoted and I will never be ranked at the top

This applies to Investment Banking Analysts and Associates. It applies to Sales and Trading Associates. It applies to Equity Research. It applies to your entire Wall Street Career.

Backdrop:

You are a bright eyed twenty something. Your entire life you put in the work. You deserved a shot to make some money on the Street. The problem? Your entire life, performance at school drove your results. As soon as you sign that dotted line and rake in that 5 figure signing bonus, this is no longer the case. You need to have politics and performance. Without politics? You will work longer hours. You will not get ranked as top bucket... and you will not be offered the promotion. Period.

Don’t mean to beat a dead horse but please don’t waste our time saying that this is false. If you have never worked a day on the Street, you don’t have the right to an opinion.

Does this sound incredibly intense? Is the tone much more aggressive than usual?

Yes and Yes.

Why? It is that important and we want anyone who reads this post to take it seriously. Unlike our fun post on “Attention to Detial is Overrated"… There are no jokes in this post. Simply the truth... If you want to get paid and have a life.

Now that we’ve made this as serious as possible please read the below and we will outline a high level view of how to get good at politics assuming you have zero experience.

Overview:

The truth is you must do the following: 1) find the people within the office who are going to help you get placed into a hedge fund/PE shop - eg. Any exit ops apply, 2) manage multiple tasks prioritizing those with more political weight over those with minimal political weight, 3) respond aggressively to important tasks on the fly and 4) get all of the important people in the office to like you as a person.

What does this all mean? It means on day one you better figure out who matters and who does not. There is no excuse for not knowing who the important figures are within the office by the end of the first month. Luckily you’re reading this post, so we’re going to make your life a whole lot easier.

Day One - Who Matters?

You’re walking into the office with your brooks brothers T-shirt and your oversized suit and sit down at your desk. After the first 8-10 hours the office begins to clear out. While every other Analyst/Associate is sitting around staring at the screen to show “face time” it’s time for you to become the CSI of your investment bank.

Investment Banker: Open up the most recent pitchbook with a “qualifications” section. There should be 1-6 slides explaining why they should bank with your firm. Guess what? On the slides there will be Tombstones. Tombstones tell you the most recent deals that have closed and include major deals as well. Circle and highlight all the major deals and transactions over the last 2 years. Now go on your Company’s internal contact sheet and find the Managing director responsible for those transactions.

Follow the money and you’ll find who matters. Follow the money, follow the money, follow the money.

Sales and Trading: This is the easiest one. When everyone leaves the office pretend that you are reading research reports to understand what your Analysts are saying… when the dust settles immediately go through the Account list. Quickly look for the major accounts. Fidelity, Capital Group, CREF, Invesco, Wellington, Citadel, SAC Capital, Soros…. You get the idea. Now all you have to do is find the sales person in charge of these accounts.

Follow the money and you’ll find who matters. Follow the money, follow the money, follow the money.

Equity Research: This is a cross between investment banking and sales and trading. Go through the IPOs that have occurred in the past and see which analyst is constantly being asked to cover more stocks. As an example: Analyst 1 seems to be adding companies over the past 2-4 years versus Analyst 2 who has covered the exact same companies. Why? While not related to IBD due to the Chinese Wall many companies will request a certain analyst cover their stock instead of analyst number two if the stock is between two spaces. Finally, the two other ways to find the good analysts is by looking at 1) call log of clients (if large accounts mentioned above fidelity/CREF etc. call in he is a good analyst) and 2) institutional investor is the trump card. If the analyst is ranked in the top 3, no doubt you want to try and become part of that team find all ranked analysts. If you are on a rotational program shine bright. Shine as bright as possible for the best analyst when you work under him or her. That is where you want to end up after the rotation is complete.

Follow the money and you’ll find who matters. Follow the money, follow the money, follow the money.

Analyze the Data:

You have the dirt. It is time to look at the food chain and figure out where to position yourself within the investment bank. Again no time to waste. If you choose incorrectly you will have a 10-100x harder time getting promoted compared to choosing correctly. If the guy pulling for you can pay for your promotion as a rounding error compared to the revenue he brings in, you better believe the firm will promote you to keep the managing director happy. It isn’t even about you at that point, a big guy says he wants you to stay, this means the firm will make sure you are paid enough to stay.

You got the names in your hand. Lets say there are three important managing directors. How do you know which one to latch on to? Look at what has happened in the past. Find all of the people within the investment bank who have been promoted over the last 3-5 years. Which managing directors did they work for? Of the three that are amazing, hopefully at least two are kind enough to promote within. Now you know who to keep happy.

Lets look at this from a basic business perspective. If your boss is making it rain and is a golden goose to the firm, why would they care about paying you an extra few thousand dollars? A top tier Managing director is making in excess of seven figures. The bank actually works for the managing director, the managing director does not work for the bank because if he is a top MD he is in charge of the relationships and uses the bank for leverage and/or its balance sheet.

(Side note this is a bit of an aggressive example in italics but the point is simple the top MDs are constantly getting job offers from other banks, so the top guys are not worried about getting laid off one bit they are primarily interested that no one wastes their time)

They will do what is needed to keep him happy and part of keeping him happy is keeping his team intact. If you are an analyst about to get promoted to an Associate there is no way the firm is going to say no to an extra $50K a year in expenses… if it means the managing director will stick around. The number of good analysts/associates is small, so this same logic applies to the Associate to VP promotion however the skill set you need to sell is certainly different. They will simply refuse to promote the other analysts/associates and let them exit the firm. Cost structure unchanged, top tier performers are still with the firm. Sounds like an intelligent business model.

Simply put, by now you know who you want to work under because you have correctly done your research and see a path to that promotion everyone wants.

Positioning and Performance:

We’re making a rather large jump now we assume you know how to do work without making major errors. Please note this post is NOT saying you can turn in work that is subpar. The point is that anyone can do the entry level job. If you went to MIT and got a 4.0 or you went to a Non-Target and got a 4.0 we’re pretty sure you can copy paste numbers into an excel sheet without making mistakes. If there are major errors in your work you also won’t get ranked at the top, but lets be honest, it is not incredibly difficult to make a price volume chart, spread a comp table or update a merger model.

So lets get to positioning.

It’s time to strategically drop quality by ~2-4% on the lower ranked managing directors and increase quality on the higher ranked managing directors by ~2-4%. This is going to take serious concentration and will help you immensely.

For investment banking this means you have a few extra formatting errors on your low level work and for the high up MDs you have none. Simple, your quality simply goes up a bit with the people who matter

For Sales and Trading this means you are slightly faster with your requests from the top S&T MDs. If you want to position yourself under sales guy #1 and he asks for something that will take 30 minutes and sales guy #2 wants something that will take 15 minutes… Ignore Sales guy #2.

For Equity Research this means a mix of quicker speed and quality of information and data requests. This is a bit easier to do. If you know Analyst 1 matters and you are currently working under Analyst 2… Show up slightly later to work and leave slightly earlier. When you work under Analyst 1 burn the candle on both ends. Respond immediately, work harder and be visibly pleased to work with him/her.

Why would you do this? Well the answer is clear. If everyone else is trying to please every single MD with the same quality of work, you know with certainty that they are giving 9/10 work to everyone, instead you’re giving 10/10 work to some and 8/10 work to others. We’ve said it before and will say it again, what is everyone else doing… probably a bad idea.

Guess what will happen? Slowly you’ll end up doing more work on the right team.

The Transition:

You must be able to change gears if you hope to succeed long-term. Lets say you’ve correctly landed yourself more responsibility on the right team. Lets say you’re heading into that important annual review. It is time to listen to all of the criticism because if you don’t you’ll miss the train.

Here is the explanation:
At the bottom of the totem pole your movement to the next level is generally a function of likability and error free work. Notice we now assume that you are working under the **right** team/group/analyst/sales person etc. Make everyone like you AS A PERSON within that team. There are no excuses, no matter how much you may want to kill that one Director or that one psycho Vice President... It is simply not worth it to lose the momentum you’ve created.

With that said, the best time to find your weak political spots is going to be… during your review. Take copious notes on any negative feed back and immediately triangulate who made the comments. Do not shirk on this step or you will regret it. This is because your life is going to be chaotic at this point. Simplistically, if 8 people reviewed you at the end of the year, you need to be certain that person 1 and person 6 are the ones that made comment one and comment 4. Why? Now you can remember this specifically for their projects. No matter what, do not let this error occur again on their projects.

Everyone makes mistakes so don’t beat yourself up over some minute errors in the beginning… But… you need to dial in on these comments to win their affection when it comes time for that promotion.

If you’re doing this good well guess what? You’ll gain more traction. If everyone likes your work and you are on the best team in the firm your only job is to be happy in the office

“The first to complain can withstand the least amount of pain”
”The spoiled child cries first”

You’re going to want to complain a lot by year 2. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. It is simply not worth it. If you need to complain, go take a walk and call someone you care about, you can cry as much as you like at home in your bed or out at the clubs. Don’t bring it to work. Separation.

The Home Stretch:

So you have the office situation locked up like a death row inmate.

The key is to remain on the gas pedal and continue to ask a smart questions once in a while and receive minor actionable feedback. Why would you do this? You’re validating their belief that they are good leaders. Again this is not about you, no one cares about you, this is about slight nudges of validation after you ask an innocent and intelligent question.

Here is an example unrelated to Wall Street.

You want to gain a few pounds of muscle but you’ve hit a plateau. You read a few books and still can’t seem to jump the gap… You find someone who has done this before. You contact. No answer. You contact again. No answer. You contact a third time and the person finally answers.

“I know you’re a busy person and I have been researching this topic for a few months and learned xx and xx, to cut to the chase I’m trying to gain another 5 pounds and have hit a plateau. Would you mind sparing me a few seconds so I can troubleshoot the issue”

Guess what, you’re going to get an answer and then they are going to hang up. 9/10 they are hoping you don’t contact them again because they are extremely busy and don’t have time to waste. 2 months go by. You send them the following

“Didn’t gain just 5 pounds of muscle, gained 10. Thank you for everything. (attached photo)”

Want to take a guess if this person will be willing to help you again?

The TL:DR Version:

There is no TL:DR. If you are unwilling to read this long post you will not make it. No joke. If you were too lazy to read this long-winded and accurate post you’re simply ruining it for yourself. We have no interest in seeing you drown, please take it seriously and remember…

Without politics there is no performance

We are trying to make your career run as smoothly as possible. There is always some luck involved in life, but luck favors the prepared.

If you need clarification, glad to help!

**

Addendum:

We know what the question is going to be. What if I screwed up? What if I didn’t play my politics correctly and messed up in this process?

Hate to say it… But it is time to leave. The chances of undoing significant political damage is extremely difficult. You are relying on a lot of luck at that point (too much luck). You should stick it out for a year or so and try to switch firms. After that you can learn from your political mistakes and move on.

Don’t become bitter, become better. Learn from the mistakes.

 

Great post but have a few questions.

Suppose your team (including MDs) are 'new' to the team too (IBD). How do you judge them if you are just starting off in IBD too? Also your post mentions to do good work for the good MDs and ok work for the not so great MDs but what if you are only assigned work for not so good MDs from day 1? Finally apart from producing quality work how do you make sure the top people who matter like you? Go out for drinks with them (should you ever invite them?) or something?

 

These are good questions.

  1. New MD? The best way to figure this out is how much power he has as soon as he walks into the door. The way you will tell is he/she is very demanding of the firms resources. Just because someone is new, does not mean they have no power from hello. So here are some signs:

1) Immediately able to change how the firm works (process), 2)) he is asking for more resources than the other MDs the best analysts and best associates (key giveaway, all the top ranked analysts and associates are immediately staffed with him), 3) finally you should get along with your staffer and see how he/she allocates resources (note the Staffer is generally of high value don't forget that)

  1. This one is unfortunately not one we can help answer. The post is tailored to larger banks and should have been noted in the post, apologies. However... Even at small banks it is quite rare for someone to work under a single person (that is more common on the buyside and equity research). Maybe the best solution is to simply be amicable with everyone in your office. Again haven't heard or seen such situation as most Investment banking groups don't operate that way.

  2. The biggest thing here is noted in the OP. "The first to complain can withstand the least amount of pain". The happiest person in the office is generally the guy who is getting ranked highly.

Why? Well if you think about it, most banks have a "360 degree review process" this is a inane process where all you are going to do is give your boss excellent marks and tell him he is great. Now if you are an MD, put your feet in his shoes. You are going to want the happiest person in the office to write your review correct? This is because he intrinsically realizes you're likely to give good feedback as you seem to be happy with the firm/career.

  1. Do not invite them for drinks. Unfortunately, there is a trend on the Street where many people join the firm and have poor social skills. If you join the Street with this set up you're going to get burned out. It is going to be the small things that add up. Do you recognize when your staffer is stressed out? Do you recognize when your MD is in a good mood versus a bad mood? Do you recognize socially when someone is just extremely mad and is taking out their anger on you?

Adapt or die.

If you two just closed a deal and he knows you worked long hours... The best thing to do is go and say congrats to him, he is in a great mood, if he typically gets coffee you can roll the dice a little bit and say hey I am grabbing coffee do you need anything. He is significantly more likely join you. Why? He feels great about his recent deal.

If he is in a bad mood and is having a fit, avoid, avoid, avoid. Respond to any emails immediately and be extremely professional and polite. Sometimes people are just having a bad day and are taking out their anger by creating meaningless work (this is going to happen more than you like) hold together your emotions and again complain to someone unrelated to your firm when you go home.

If the staffer asks if you want to grab coffee or any analyst/associate in the firm. Your answer is always yes and drink water in the worst case.

Finally, no we are not stating that you should get "stepped on" by your MD however... If he realizes you're willing to burn the candle at both ends for him and not have a problem with it you're going to get treated with more respect.

If he's a complete psycho MD? Well you may have to leave. Remember that politics is art and performance is analytical. Or Politics is social skills and Performance is technical skills.

It is quite difficult to put great art into words.

 

Have been following your posts, OP. You're a genius.

Thank you for your time and please ignore above poster.

"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."
 

Haha we don't care if he doesn't think it's real.

Literally in the post it basically says:

"If you don't think this is serious you have never worked on Wall Street for a single day"

So all it tells us is that he is a keyboard jockey and has never worked a day on the Street.

This was not a joke at all.

What is more valuable: 1) a degree from XYZ top tier school or... 2) Carl Ichan saying you're an amazing talent and spreading the word to his contacts

Anyone with an IQ above the median is going to choose number 2. We're trying to outline a good way to make sure you get the right people to like you.

It matters a lot and we hope everyone reads this at least once before starting work.

 

I don't work on the Street, but I think that a lot of the info you provided can be applicable to many industries. Very good post and thanks for the info!

"Decide what to be and go be it." - The Avett Brothers
 

Oh of course my man. The difference is the guy is saying "not sure if serious"

Anyone who says that = definitely doesn't have any real experience or didn't even read the post.

Now if he said

"I disagree with this tactic here is what I did"

In fact that type of commentary would be encouraged because it would actually be valuable to people on here.

 
WallStreetPlayboys:

Oh of course my man. The difference is the guy is saying "not sure if serious"

Anyone who says that = definitely doesn't have any real experience or didn't even read the post.

Now if he said

"I disagree with this tactic here is what I did"

In fact that type of commentary would be encouraged because it would actually be valuable to people on here.

OP, your post was so real, it was serious. Unfortunately I didn't read your post years ago during my first stint on Wall St, and basically did the exact opposite of everything you advised. I was young and naive. During my second stint I've applied everything you've said (life experience basically taught me--wish you had been around)... These young guys need to learn!

One of the most useful posts that I've read on this site!

 

This may work in a true hierarchy structure at an investment bank, and it could very well be useful in getting yourself in with the best possible team or desk or analyst/MD...

But when it comes to most results-driven work environments that are flatter and in many cases have literal scoreboards for everyone's production in the office, the whole political scheme is exchanged for a meritocracy. I'm not so sure about the private equity side, but hedge funds tend to be much more relaxed, with a flatter hierarchy and everyone has a very clear understanding of which investments they're responsible for and which they are not... Regardless of how long you've been working there, performance is what you're evaluated on, and if it's not good, there's no office politics you can try and use to bend a bad year into a decent year. There are no top buckets or bottom buckets... there's only how much outperformance did you bring in for us and how much carry did we get for our trouble. I should be able to point to the analyst whose two names in the portfolio made up all of outperformance and say that guy helped us pull in $X in fees.

Real office politics like the kind OP described is probably the type of environment where after a month or two of work, I'd have jumped off the roof of the building to get away from the place. Takes a certain kinda person, that's for sure.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
 
BlackHat:

This may work in a true hierarchy structure at an investment bank, and it could very well be useful in getting yourself in with the best possible team or desk or analyst/MD...

But when it comes to most results-driven work environments that are flatter and in many cases have literal scoreboards for everyone's production in the office, the whole political scheme is exchanged for a meritocracy. I'm not so sure about the private equity side, but hedge funds tend to be much more relaxed, with a flatter hierarchy and everyone has a very clear understanding of which investments they're responsible for and which they are not... Regardless of how long you've been working there, performance is what you're evaluated on, and if it's not good, there's no office politics you can try and use to bend a bad year into a decent year. There are no top buckets or bottom buckets... there's only how much outperformance did you bring in for us and how much carry did we get for our trouble. I should be able to point to the analyst whose two names in the portfolio made up all of outperformance and say that guy helped us pull in $X in fees.

Real office politics like the kind OP described is probably the type of environment where after a month or two of work, I'd have jumped off the roof of the building to get away from the place. Takes a certain kinda person, that's for sure.

"Hold on a sec...you mean they made all this money without doing IB --> PE --> HBS --> PE --> God? How is this possible?!?!?!!??" - TheKing
 

Backing one MD and doing poorer work for others may not fare well in the forced ranking systems that some IBs work with, where all directors meet, discuss performance and rank all analysts and associates.

You want more than one MD speaking on your behalf at this meeting, even if the guy on your side is the BSD.

Compounding the risk is that you often find some BSD MDs are not the most empathetic or caring people and may not see upside in arguing your cause in a forced ranking meeting.

Understand how your IB division determines advancement and remuneration before getting too set into tactics which may be inappropriate.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 

SSits that is an excellent point. Poor writing on our part. We should have adjusted the phrasing and you are absolutely correct... Basically, you should back "the good MDs" ie: it is going to be very very difficult to give 10/10 work to everyone and have a normal functioning social life as well.

You ABSOLUTELY need more than one MD pulling for you. However, you simply want the right ones on your side.

Eg: if there are 3 BSDs and 1 that doesn't matter. Give the 3 BSDs your best work and shirk a little on the other guy. Also, try to push yourself a bit ore to the BSD wp also has a history of pulling/promoting his junior workers.

Again, great point as you definitely don't want to go "all in" on one MD (in IBD).

The goal here is to correctly position yourself to get ranked at the top, work a bit less (the star analyst/associate has no life - eg: 10/10 to everyone) and avoid getting into a bad downward political spiral.


@"BlackHat" now you're just bragging mane! (Joke) yes this is for the sell-side and does not matter anywhere near as much at a hedge fund. Our guess is most readers on here start in the sell-side, if you landed a good buy side gig this is much less applicable.

Just don't piss on the shoes of your PM at dem dere holiday parrrttyyy

 
WallStreetPlayboys:

Before 25 no.

But it absolutely matters miss penny, ie: no chance of moving up without the politcal performance.

Sucks. But it is what it is.

Hopefully this question makes sense, but ... Is the primary reason for the necessity for politics that, at the end of the day, the work product of an IBD analyst doesn't lend itself to having real evaluative criteria to it? i.e. An analyst either got the work done or he didn't, and most of determining if someone was more or less useful to an MD is simply how much the MD liked them?

I hate victims who respect their executioners
 

Great stuff. I haven't worked a day on Wall Street yet but I'll be going into a MSF program hoping I can land a Wall Street gig. This definitely helps set the stage for steps that I should be taking once I start the job. If I am to understand previous posts and comments correctly, the best way to impress your "targeted" MD or MDs is to present high quality work and have a positive attitude at all times?

In terms of interacting with others in the office, I'm guessing you just have to be socially intelligent and rarely say no if they ask to go grab coffee, drinks or lunch? Sorry if this comes off as being ignorant but having never worked in IBD, I'm trying to get a picture of the landscape and the social expectations.

 

"The best way to impress your "targeted" MD or MDs is to present high quality work and have a positive attitude at all times?"

We are highlighting the MDs part to be clear (due to correct commenter above us) but in a sentence yes that is it however... A positive attitude is just one piece

"Does he like you as a person"

A positive attitude is so important because no one likes hanging out with a boring guy/girl with aspengers. No one likes to invite the angry person out for a drink. No one enjoys hanging out with a complainer. Plain and simple, it is incredibly easy to get bitter and give up.

The getting coffee piece was just an example, strongly suggest reading the example section one more time because note we suggest only asking a higher up if he "wants coffee" when he is in a good mood. If you do this on your first day (no trust or performance characteristics built up) or when he is in a bad mood he is going to tell you to take a hike and actually you will be negatively associating yourself with him.

We put a ton of effort into this post because we are basically trying to teach "people skills on the sell side" in a single post. An impossible task.

 
ValueBanker14:

Great stuff. I haven't worked a day on Wall Street yet but I'll be going into a MSF program hoping I can land a Wall Street gig. This definitely helps set the stage for steps that I should be taking once I start the job. If I am to understand previous posts and comments correctly, the best way to impress your "targeted" MD or MDs is to present high quality work and have a positive attitude at all times?

In terms of interacting with others in the office, I'm guessing you just have to be socially intelligent and rarely say no if they ask to go grab coffee, drinks or lunch? Sorry if this comes off as being ignorant but having never worked in IBD, I'm trying to get a picture of the landscape and the social expectations.

good god listen to yourself

 

What if you get called out on a "mistake" that wasn't yours? I once got into an argument with a VP who's very important and all around liked at my firm about a template I used for an analysis. She wanted me to redo the whole thing because she incorrectly assumed something was wrong just because the formatting was slightly different from what she was used to.

I tried to gently point out that all the formulas and calculations are the same but she wouldn't even take a look at it and in the end it escalated to an argument as I didn't want to spend hours redoing an analysis that had nothing wrong with it.

Few weeks later I got a pretty negative performance review and I know that it was because of her. I wouldn't say I ruined my political positioning as I'm still generally liked by the MDs but this was definitely very damaging.

So should I have done something differently? Even if I was being accused of a mistake that wasn't there, should I have pretended that the VP was right? I just felt like it was a lose-lose situation at the moment. Either 1.) I swallow my pride and just do what she says risking making the impression that I'm prone to mistakes (even if I hadn't) or 2.) Come off as defensive and argumentative

I ended up having to redo the analysis anyway so probably would have been better just to not argue.. But I had stayed late making this analysis and to be asked to redo it in the morning for just no reason.. I just snapped

 
bkzen:

What if you get called out on a "mistake" that wasn't yours? I once got into an argument with a VP who's very important and all around liked at my firm about a template I used for an analysis. She wanted me to redo the whole thing because she incorrectly assumed something was wrong just because the formatting was slightly different from what she was used to.

I tried to gently point out that all the formulas and calculations are the same but she wouldn't even take a look at it and in the end it escalated to an argument as I didn't want to spend hours redoing an analysis that had nothing wrong with it.

Few weeks later I got a pretty negative performance review and I know that it was because of her. I wouldn't say I ruined my political positioning as I'm still generally liked by the MDs but this was definitely very damaging.

So should I have done something differently? Even if I was being accused of a mistake that wasn't there, should I have pretended that the VP was right? I just felt like it was a lose-lose situation at the moment. Either 1.) I swallow my pride and just do what she says risking making the impression that I'm prone to mistakes (even if I hadn't) or 2.) Come off as defensive and argumentative

I ended up having to redo the analysis anyway so probably would have been better just to not argue.. But I had stayed late making this analysis and to be asked to redo it in the morning for just no reason.. I just snapped

I would be interested to hear about the OP's view on this. At what point should you stand up for your credibility over making someone like you? From what it sounds like in Bkzen's situation it ended up working to their disadvantage, do you think there could have been a diplomatic alternative way to approach the situation?

Many thanks.

 

great post. wish I read this when I started out - granted I'm in consulting but the general concept still applies

I'm currently under a boss who: 1. is not liked positively on by anyone of consequence and 2. has very little political leverage to get anything done. Recently, I've started to see that being reflected on to me.

That said, I do have relationships with key BSDs in my organization, and I also have C-suite execs at the client personally vouching for me to my partners - so I'm not in a terrible position. (And this is at a client that is really important to my company).

That said, I would never recommend being in this position. Take heed at what was written in this thread. If you work with incompetent people who have limited say in how things work, you WILL end up with NO LIFE and also RISK OF A CRAPPY BONUS. Instead of focusing on things that matter, you have to put an unnecessary amount of time watching your back, triple checking your work, fixing problems that should never have been problems, and doing all these time wasting political machinations that you will never have to do otherwise.

A lot of organizations are trying to move into a more 'meritocratic' way of working but there's usually bits and pieces that don't work that way - especially when you're dealing with 'hot' areas. So especially if you're looking to be on some cool stuff (and have a more senior role, I would recommend following at least some of the advice above just as a precautionary measure)

 

Significant political damage consists of having your intangibles ranked below the ~70% mark.

Essentially if you get 2nd tier in intangibles then you know you are close. The wrong people in the group won't be able to get very far past the median.

Overall if you're in the top quartile or quintile, it is a no brainer that you are doing it right. If you drop below this level your best bet is to start looking at what went wrong.

Bad examples include 1) not prioritizing, 2) your team no longer cares if you are recruiting and 3) there is no personal relationship between you and the higher ups.

2 is a bit subjective, but essentially if you' re looking to hop banks and word gets around... They should be asking you to stay. If not... Well you know it is time to leave.


Regarding being thrown under the bus. There is limited ways to deflect this. The best possible thing you can do is live by this motto:

"If I touch it the whole project is my responsibility"

If you are an associate working under a poor VP, it is your job to check the work of the VP if you know he/she is going to throw you under the bus.


Yes politics matter more for areas where there is no $$$s associated with your name. That is exactly why we reiterated "follow the money".

Even in IBD if you work under the "rainmaker" you are basically under the "performing" group. Same applies across all industries.

In fact this even applies to the buyside, if you are supporting a PM/Analyst and your piece of the portfolio does well. You will be paid well. If it does badly... You will also be paid badly.


Final note, politics are so important that if you get ranked at the top politically, but you get a median score for performance. We suggest you stay. You should 1) put in more face time, 2) quadruple check your work, 3) increase speed of processing the work.

You can recover from that type of review.

If you're ranked below the median in either segment, that's a tough tough situation and we would leave. (Opinion) we would also leave if you got a median review in both performance and attitude.

"It never pays to be average"

 

I've never even worked on Wall Street (yet) and can tell this is gold. Great post, I enjoyed reading all of it and will definitely keep it in mind as I move forward in my pursuit of a career.

-- reaper
 

No need for a Rabbi. You really just need to be certain you have strong social skills.

If you're the guy who got a 4.0, 7 internships... but you are extremely introverted... You're going to struggle and will not be in the position for a promotion. (Always exceptions). You will likely get ranked at the top performance wise and get mediocre attitude assessments at best. Again, if you are not a likable cool person... It's going to mean more hours, more face time and likely less pay. (Pi-day sums it up pretty well, more work less pay less options)

The real person to fear within your associate/analyst class is the guy/girl who is somehow able to be part of a frat/sorority and maintains great grades and networks like a champ.

Bet on that guy/girl 100 times out of 100.

 

SB for you

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right." -Warren Buffett
 
WallStreetPlayboys:
We’re making a rather large jump now we assume you know how to do work without making major errors. Please note this post is NOT saying you can turn in work that is subpar. The point is that anyone can do the entry level job. If you went to MIT and got a 4.0 or you went to a Non-Target and got a 4.0 we’re pretty sure you can copy paste numbers into an excel sheet without making mistakes. If there are major errors in your work you also won’t get ranked at the top, but lets be honest, it is not incredibly difficult to make a price volume chart, spread a comp table or update a merger model.

Yes, this is so true. Managing politics also allows you to work less hours.

One thing I add is start saying no to some VPs (and MD - if your team is structured in such a way that you get orders directly from the MD). At some point, you have to say no, I have too many on my plate and can't take any more on.

Also think about it this way. If you are working 120 hours a week, you are doing 3 people's work (40 hours per person). How much are you getting paid? Are you getting paid 3 times your friends who went into corporate and do 40 hours a week?

 

Extremely useful post. I've just started as an Investment Banking Analyst and was wondering if there are any good books you recommend on this topic, such as, "How to win friends and influence people". Thanks

 

Believe all the remaining questions are answered already in the comments

1) if you get bus'd it's 100% your job to check a VP's work or associate's work if possible. Why? There is always one a**hole on the team who will throw you under if it is going to impact his performance review. So there is minimal you can do to prevent this.

This is why politics are extremely important, you need the extra time to focus on the groups that matter and ignore the poor directors/MD's

2) Asset Management summer analyst is not too difficult. The goal there is to simply grind for everyone and anyone, you are only there for 10 weeks so simply kill yourself to make sure you get an offer.

No offer = no leverage and red flag during interview/recruiting process. With an offer = much easier to sell and upside to a different firm come fall.

3) no books on politics that we're aware of. To be perfectly candid, each point in here could be a full chapter.

Beating a dead horse here but you mess up politics your career is basically going sideways and all your effort is wasted.

Thinking of a "good analyst/associate" versus "bad analyst/associate" post as well for the performance side.

Just remember with no politics your performance doesn't matter.

 

This is great info. I will be reading this multiple times before I start in S&T Goal is to eventually get to ER at the firm but regardless from day 1 i will be making it a point to build strong rapport with everybody, especially the head honchos

twitter: @StoicTrader1 instagram: @StoicTrader1