Piper Jaffray: Sweatier Than Ever in 2018

Takeaway message:

Piper Jaffray (PJC) is a massive sweatshop. Probably one of the worst MMs for work/life balance from what I’ve seen and heard. Imperial Capital is the only other MM bank I’ve heard that is worse, and I guess Lincoln now that somebody died.

Background:

Created this new account for anonymity, but I’ve spent a few years at Piper so I have a lot of first hand knowledge on just how bad it can be and what HR/sr. bankers never tell people in interviews or networking calls. Instead all they do is parrot on and on about how “Piper really cares about the people” and “We’re not like other banks”. Not true and is 100% group dependent. Even the “good” groups have some terrible individuals though. Posting this now because of some extremely recent instances which should not be acceptable at all and should highlight why you absolutely should join another firm if you have multiple offers instead of accepting Piper.

Examples and Stories:

- Two analysts had literal breakdowns within the past year. Talking about middle of the day, full blown tears and having to go home. Both highly well regarded too, so it’s not like these are scrub first years being overwhelmed. One of the instances involved an analyst having to print out CIMs and NDAs for every single buyer in a process and actually address and put them in FedEx boxes. Keep in mind Piper always says “we have a targeted buyer approach instead of a shotgun blast approach”, then proceeds to blindly reach out to 100+ or 200+ buyers. This MD apparently can’t accept sending out CIMs electronically and forces a single analyst to do this by themselves on every one of his deals instead of having admins or print services do it.

- Industrials this past summer with multiple interns, analysts, and associates pulling consistent nights until 4-10am, with some doing three days 7-10am in the past week alone. One instance was working until 10am Monday morning (as in was working all day Sunday, then worked through the night until Monday morning) then told to come back at 1pm. If this was really crucial deal-related work, fine. It wasn’t.

- Analyst in HC landed at say, midnight, but wasn’t allowed to fly into the city the meeting was at because an MD was flying into an airport two hours away and is apparently above uber/taxi/renting a car. So the analyst has to fly in at midnight, wait until 2am for the MD to fly in who was coming from a different city, then drive both of them to the final destination two hours away.

- Analysts having to run 15 detailed A/D analyses for a fucking pitch. Not just a generic let’s plug into a template type of thing and cut basic line items from the target’s financials, but full blown, digging into 10Ks/Qs and scrub each one as if it was for a fairness opinion.

- Buyer telling sr. banker they didn’t want to start outreach until after Christmas and New Years (this was before Thanksgiving). Sr. banker proceeds to force multiple turns of the CIM over Thanksgiving break.

- Sr. bankers publicly chewing out analysts and associates with no repercussions other than getting a “talking to”. Stuff such as screaming that somebody is “dumber than a bag of fucking rocks”, that “I’ll do your fucking job for you since you fucking can’t”, and sometimes even cussing people out in writing over email. Apparently this is all viewed as acceptable even though Piper is “a firm that cares about its people”.

- Saturday policy is a joke. Enforcement is basically non-existent and people work double digit hours on Saturdays all the time. I remember back when Piper had a one weekend a quarter off policy, an analyst was given work Sunday morning and when he told the senior banker that was his protected weekend the response was “oh enjoy the rest of your weekend, just have it on my desk first thing Monday”.

Other:

- People complain about the above and then nothing happens. At best a talking to where things die down for a wr two but then then it’s back to the same old horrible sweaty AF mentality. I swear to god the basement of a neckbeard who lives with their parents is less sweaty.

- Piper is super fucking cheap and doesn’t support its analysts and associates with the resources they need to do their job properly, such as fucking them on weekends by not having a print guy there just to save a dime on admin costs.

- Despite what management likes to think, Piper is not a “leading global middle market investment bank”. Two bankers in HK who do literally nothing and tiny offices in like London does not make it a global bank. I mean, the Zurich office just shut down lmao.

Final Notes:

- Some of you might be thinking “why is this poster complaining, that doesn’t sound any different from what I experienced”. Difference is this is Piper, a run of the mill MM. Many of the guys get worked over as analysts and have little to show for it in terms of exit opps. My view is if you’re going to get assfucked, get assfucked by Goldman, Moelis, JPM, Evercore, etc. where you can at least consistently exit to MFs and then it’s “worth it”.

Mod Note (Andy): Don't miss this post "Biggest Professional Regret?" from a former PJC analyst.

 

The 15 detailed A/D analyses is priceless. Just having that in the book is to loudly announce that you have no understanding of corporate strategy and /or how CEOs think about acquisitions. Also a total waste of time because as much as we like to pretend otherwise, a short form model will get you within the margin of error on A/D 99% of the time.

 

In diligence. Exactly. Which this banker is not going to be part of. Time spent on overly detailed models is time not spent on things like strategic fit, synergies, pro forma growth, profitability, and competitive landscape, investor reaction, etc. Without a strong case there, the most accretive deal in the world isn't going to get done, let alone initiated.

 
PJC Truther:
Prefer not to say but have heard bad things across all offices, including Charlotte.

I'd lay a bet this is not Minny. I've spent time years ago with A. Duff former CEO and found him much more level headed than other CEOs are in his seat

 

How does this sweatshop approach prepare you versus someone at another bank? Disregarding the long hours, unnecessary work, shitty worklife balance, do you guys feel that you might learn the same/more about finance than someone at another bank because of the extra work? Considering piper, so this would be helpful to know. Let’s say in a theoretical world the the sweatshop culture hypothetically didn’t matter and I only cared about learning experience, would it be worthwhile?

 

Yes, but it makes for painful and expensive associate recruiting when zero of your analysts (or the good ones at least) want to go A2A. The predictable result is that the firm has to spend a zillion dollars recruiting a bunch of MBAs who, let's be honest, are historically very unpredictable performers in IB.

 

It doesn’t make sense paying analysts £££ just to use them as admin or delivery boys/girls tho. I mean I get that they know people would jump to other shops anyways but don’t they want their analysts use their brains more often also?

I’ve been through probs a month of semi admin work without having to use my brain much in my current workplace. I felt like my brain was literally rotten and useless at some point.

 
Most Helpful

IB keeps its rep because no one will admit they slaved away their undergrad earning perfect grades to simply slave away at an IB as a glorified assistant. Therefore IBD analysts make it sound "baller" with how much money they make and how they are closing deals. In reality, they are powerpoint b!tchboys (aka the deck and CIM) who make pretty presentations to the sellers of businesses. Modeling is part of the job, but not a huge part. Despite what you learn in the CFA, valuation does not equal price. Some of you were bashing me for my comp valuation I was attempting awhile ago and how I should use free cash flows. Look, we are looking to buy a company at the lowest price possible and justify it by comps in the market, not do a DCF valuation and pay what the company is hypothetically worth 10 years from now.

IB is like spring break. Have any of you ever went for one? Every year tons of horny frat boys go South to places like Cancun, South Padre and Miami to party and hook up every night with ease like MTV made it out to be. I am here to tell you that it was all a ruse. When I went on spring break, it was easily 10 to 15 guys per girl, and most girls kept close to their crew since they know what our agenda was. The truth was far from what MTV made it out to be. However, no guy was going to admit they blew $2000 on a spring break that was shittier than the run of the mill weekend in their college town; so they lie and saied it was crazier than a GGW gang bang.

There you have it folks. The cat is out of the bag.

 

Woh that reminds me. I went on a boat trip once with another group of folks from the hostel. I suggested we jump in and swim with dolphins. We tried. The dolphins retreated straight away.

Got back to the hostel and had a bunch of people asking me how it felt to be swimming with dolphins. Must be amazing right?

We didn’t. We just tried but them dolphins weren’t having any of it. Apparently those guys told everyone it was balling swimming with the dolphins.

Lmfao people need to get their ego in check.

 

Ah yes. I will say you are lucky you were not attacked. Wild dolphins are pretty vicious and do bite.

Reminds me of farmers convincing city slickers how they get drunk and tip cows. City folks keep the urban legend alive.

 

It's the same with an MBA :

After doing my HSW and blowing $250k and two year of my life, I ended up in PE with a job I wanted (I think). A lot of my compadres are getting their nuts ripped in IB (I worked in IB after undergrad, didn't waste $250K to get in there...)

You do have to keep on justifying and telling each other how you are fucking amazing. I'll tell you what: an MBA is a huge money machine for the University - few will make something out of it, but all will tell you what a unique and amazing experience it was, and they won't forget to tell you they did an MBA...

 

Im all for hardwork, but I personally couldnt deal with being cursed at by a manager or disrespect.

If my work is shit, fine, call it a heaping pile of bantha poo poo. But telling someone they are dumber than a box of rocks, or cursing at someone...nah

 

Does Imperial Capital actually have that bad a rep as a sweatshop? A mutual friend is an associate there and it definitely seems like the analysts get slammed, but there is little info on the firm as a whole so I have never heard of it being widely known as a brutal place to work.

 
joeyballbag15:
Does Imperial Capital actually have that bad a rep as a sweatshop? A mutual friend is an associate there and it definitely seems like the analysts get slammed, but there is little info on the firm as a whole so I have never heard of it being widely known as a brutal place to work.

No idea about overall culture, but I was once on the opposite side of a deal with them. Their MD was the biggest tool that I’ve ever come across in banking, complete moron and abrasive to boot.