Motivation After a Bad Review
After starting banking last summer, a few weeks ago, I had my first performance review. I wasn't expecting anything stellar, but I was completely blindsided by how abysmal my review was. It could not have been worse.
Every work product I have sent to the ASO always gets the response "Looks good! Good to send to md" and the MD comes back with only minor comments. So I was a little dumbfounded when I found out that everyone I work with thinks my work products continually suck. How is it beneficial for anyone if I am told I am doing a good job, only to shit on me in my reviews? This is not productive. Tell me I suck, when I suck.
I was also told I frequently miss deadlines, have zero technical skills etc. (but I cannot think of a single deadline I was anywhere close to missing a deadline for and I have no problem with technicals). I understand I have room for improvement -- I've only be at this for 6 months
I didn't hate the job before my review, but now I dread having to wake up everyday to work with people who apparently hate working with me and think I'm stupid.
Do I stick it out or try to find something else? Not much to find given the job market... and it's too soon to switch to PE now... do I apply to MBA programs (too little work experience, probably... and if I try IB or PE after MBA, it's going to be a red flag that I lasted as an analyst for only 6 months.) Any career path recommendations for a failed IB analyst that are still "high caliber"?
only a mid year review - id try lateralling or speaking with your MD regarding the review
is it possible to lateral? Even if banks were hiring... what would a reasonable story for switching banks be (unless I wanted to switch to a different city too)?
They're fucking you so they can pay you a lower bonus. It's messed up but this is how some banks use reviews, as a way to justify lower pay. That or the work product isn't all that, which seems unlikely from above.
Had something sort of similar happen to me so I agree this is the case. I started in the 2020 analyst class. My 1st year reviews were great, 2nd year mid-year review was great, then suddenly the full-year review was terrible and I got a bad bonus (Summer 2022).
Can't say I was actually doing any worse…they just wanted to pay me a worse bonus. Understandably so as the market was bad, but still, wish they had just told me it was due to market conditions than make up some shit that made it more on me than on them.
Lateraled out thankfully, I'd advise OP to do the same
I don't believe this at all. They aren't providing a good analyst a bad review to pay them 10-20k less, and then risking the analyst leaving because they think they won't do well there
Meh - maybe the group/bank is bloated and deal flow is down materially. Take a calculated and indirect approach to cull the herd bc they don't want to outright fire juniors. Ruins rep if analyst came from their preferred pipeline
Check the state of the market brah
Also it's okay! You haven't failed, this is one them. I would keep an eye out for when the market improves
Unfortunately, it's often difficult to change perception once people have formed an opinion. Your team should have given you ongoing feedback if they felt like there were areas for you to improve. Additionally, if your team had good culture and open / honest communication, then there would be no reason to blindside you with a bad review.
I would suggest exploring a lateral move. It seems like the market has been slowly warming up again.
Wouldn't anywhere I try to lateral to ask for a recommendation (by the looks of it, nobody is going to vouch for me)?... I also don't want anyone here finding out I'm trying to lateral unless I am successful in my switch
Highly unlikely they contact your current firm. They may ask you what your reviews have been
sorry to hear about this. is this coverage or product group and what type of bank (BB or MM)? This is really surprising to hear but sounds like group culture sucks
Did you ask for specific examples?
I tried to but the guys reviewing me were all people who I haven't worked with on any deals yet, so they didn't actually know. And the feedback they based the review of me on was all anonymous. They told me that I shouldn't be shocked by a review... but I am. Up to this point, I hadn't been told anything negative, which is frustrating because I want to be good, I want to know when I make a mistake, I want to learn on the job, etc., which isn't easy when there is no honest communication happening...
I would be sure to give them the feedback that this was unexpected as you had not heard this type of feedback before and would appreciate getting more feedback in real time as this will help you improve and thereby make the firm more productive.
If they don't voluntarily give you the feedback in real time, then ask for it via email after doing a few assignments or wrapping up a large piece of a project or a whole project.
Wild. Why are people you've never worked with doing your reviews?? Seems super sus and wouldn't rule out them wanting to pay bad bonus or preparing for layoff without severance.
You need to speak asap to an MD and tell him what you told us.
If there is such a huge disconnect between your reality and the review, something odd is going on.
You don't need to cry foul to your MD, it's more of a mentoring talk and how your direct feedback is the opposite of your review.
I wonder if you're being set up to be fired or something.
Who actually gave you the review? A vp staffer?
Agree and echo this 100%. The other advice is good and you should parallel track (e.g. look outside for other opportunities) but if you want to salvage the current situation you should reach out to your MD immediately. You need to be deliberate, but not combative, and frame it in the context of truly wanting to understand what you need to work on. Don't be afraid to show a little passion here. If what you're saying is true, you need to advocate for yourself and this set of circumstances is the perfect opportunity.
Devil's Advocate Thought: Think hard about what interactions or work products might have led to this review and consider also that there are a ton of socially awkward nerds that have been put in positions where they're managing others when they couldn't lead their shadow into the sun. I've come across plenty of people that will tell others to their face that their work product is good, fix it behind their back, and then sewer them in reviews just because they're afraid of conflict. If that's the case, the failure is on them and it's probably best to leave anyway.
Great points and awesome name
One other point. Am very inclined to believe OP that the work is good. When have you known IB seniors or reviewers to mince words when it comes to feedback? The firm I work at is maybe less communicative than others, but they'll definitely tell you if changes are needed.
That being said, some firms might give you a few comments and then stop, and are secretive, ie wanted to make more changes but didn't want to tell you to be "professional", but really are just cat-y, but then you never learn that you're making a mistake.
This is fucking weird but not uncommon in the industry… I've also gotten consistently great feedback in real time, then blind sided by lots of negative feedback in reviews (that made me wonder if I ever do anything right), but then still compensated well and get good staffings.
To this day I have no real explanation other than they need some justification to give some analysts (even slightly) lower bonuses than others. I would stick it out and take a holistic approach: do your seniors seemingly enjoy working with / shooting the shit with you? Do you get high quality staffings / clients / projects? Do you get generally treated with respect (if you're truly a bad analyst you'll feel it when people interact with you)? Does your actual bonus turn out good?
I would not quit just yet. This is an extremely frustrating yet normal professional experience. Most analysts in IB will have to deal with unfair and infuriating things if they want that sweet sweet 75%+ bonus.
Been there, sorry to hear that. In my experience, it's not the tangible work outputs of the job that make or break the review, but rather the intangibles surrounding your perceived attitude and enthusiasm.
For instance, are you responding to an email ask with "sounds good, will do" or "perfect, thank you for the detailed instructions - will get right on this and will let you know of any questions!"?
To get good reviews in this job, your work being high quality is only 50% of it. You need to feign being aggressively enthusiastic about getting railed in the ass on even the most mundane tasks and workstreams.
If you ever decline a new bullshit staffing, you must say "I'd love to get this learning experience but I just don't think I can dedicate this project the time and energy it deserves!" rather than "sorry I don't have capacity".
Be the person that sends out random press releases on relevant transactions or industry news, even when nobody asked for it.
Ask super smart questions, even if you probably know the answer already.
I left banking as an A3 (ignore title), and in that time I got shitty reviews for about a year and a half, until one day I decided enough is enough and I shifted my attitude 180 degrees and took the repeated ass-fucking with a pleasant smile on my face and became the most unabashedly positive, enthusiastic, cringe version of myself. Ended up turning things around in my reviews, and I honestly think my work product got slightly worse in that period lol.
First let me say this has happened to me before when I was in another field. I'll the be the first to say it fucking sucks. I was told "you're not qualified to work in this industry and I'm not sure why we hired you as an associate. You were more of an intern" trust me it fucked me up. Assuming you enjoy IB and want to continue here's what I'd recommend
Hope that helps. As one whose been in your shoes i can tell you it's a Shitty experience. You can private message if you want more insight. Best of luck!
does your work product go to the client without changes? if yes, then the people who reviewed you, played you dirty, and you should talk to them one on one and ask for more detail. if not, then your seniors probably are too busy to teach you given your level and they would rather say "looks great thanks", then just fix it themselves and send, instead of showing to you all the mistakes you've made, waiting for another iteration from you, and then reviewing again.
I have some analysts who send me such shitty models that there is no hope they can make it right. so I just reply "great thanks" and then do it myself, usually from scratch. and obviously review will be accordingly.
3 statement forecasts, m&a, spin-off models
how is an analyst supposed to learn if they're never taught?
there are courses online. BIWS is the best one imo.
I'd recommend trying to lateral asap. It's either they want to give you a lower bonus or kick you out. Also speaks to the group culture which is not collegial at all. Not worth sticking around.
It is hard to change peoples opinion after a bad initial review - you might not get fired and last 1.5 years at this job or whatever until you can go to PE, but yes try lateraling. Remember, bad reviews don't mean shit once you're out of that firm nobody will ever hear about it or check that kind of stuff again in your career (unless it happens again). I would talk to your MD especially if you're close with him and say you're not happy etc. but want to stick around and succeed whatever it takes.
I got a bad review once and then lateraled to a better bank lol and got a good review a year later there it's all so subjective
Most probably, in the first weeks/1st month, you received some feedback about your work product. Unfortunately, you didn't manage to solve the issues they pointed out even after their feedback so it's easier for them to just give you a thumbs up and they'll correct it than to lose time explaining things that they already explained.
Before your product reaches the MD, most probably, it passed through the AS who made the corrections on your behalf. The minor changes you're getting from the MD are things that aren't as important and you're receiving them only to let you remain involved in the workplace and not marginalized. Obviously, the MD doesn't really care who's done the work, so I think that this play is mostly pulled up by the associates.
Either 1) you're in an extremely toxic place or 2) your work product is, unfortunately, pretty shit and you don't seem to improve. Either way, try to clarify it. If it's the first, lateral. If it's the second, you decide if resign (considering that you'll get a 5k bonus) or put in some hard work to improve.
an alternative point of view that maybe explains your circumstances
I really want to focus on your 3rd paragraph where you say two things:
1. They claimed you missed deadlines when you never did
2. They claimed you had problems with technicals, and you don't see that at all
My first reaction is that something is seriously wrong if you're getting factual lies in your review. While I've certainly heard of companies embellishing negatively when they want to give a bad review, I've never heard of such blatant lies. That's so rare, I'd be telling you to ask HR if a technical glitch led to you getting someone else's review.
However, I noticed two other things:
1. You didn't mention the lies first . . questionable to me that something as bizarre as that isn't the complete focus of the post
2. You said you "weren't expecting a stellar review" which suggests you were aware of some issues maybe?
So now I'm not sure what to make of it. If in fact you are hitting deadlines and good on your technicals, that false review reveals a serious issue at the organization.
On the other hand, if this review wasn't as blatantly dishonest as it sounds in your 3rd paragraph, then you need to think about how to get better. Either way it's a signal to look elsewhere.
1. I was telling the story in order of what came up in the review.
2. It's a mid-year review... By "I wasn't expecting anything stellar", what I meant was I wasn't expecting "you're a perfect analyst. you have nothing to improve upon"
Then something is seriously wrong. I mean who the fuck just says someone misses deadlines when they dont? Get out of there as fast as you can.
do you fit in well with the group? It's not a perfect meritocracy system sometimes. Be honest with yourself as well in accessing if this feedback is fair. Try to see if others got similar feedback or what is up.
ie: i heard attractive women get the "improve on your technicals" feedback a lot more than men.
Take the feedback as a blessing - it's an early indicator to start prioritizing your own career path and other places - they saved your time.
I am the only woman in the group and I'm not all buddy-buddy like the other juniors are, so I'm sure that plays a role
I had something very similar happen to me, except I was actually let go from my group without any warning.
No real comments from my MDs and my Associate always gave the thumbs up on my work. Got pulled aside with two MDs and HR one day and was told some vague things like my work product sucking, the team 'losing confidence' in me, etc. I told them I was shocked, asked why this was the first time I was hearing about the dissatisfaction, and asked for some examples. They just hemmed and hawed and then told me I was out. Very bizarre. None of the associates or VPs knew about it either and were just as shocked as I was. I will echo what others are saying: it is extremely difficult to change people's opinions once they have been formed. The market is tough right now, but I would try to lateral to a different group if you can. Some groups just have a shit culture and that can directly translate to junior banker feedback / development.
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