VP Archetypes

As requested…a sequel to the “Associate Archetypes” post from a few months back…VP Archetypes has arrived. We all know that sequels are never as good as the original, so please keep those comments to yourself. Let me know if I missed any archetypes as there are only so many VP’s I’ve worked with so far. 


  1. The absolute man/woman. This VP has earned the respect of MD’s, mostly due to going through particularly brutal associate years. Any work they sign off on is never questioned because of their “brand” of top-quality work. To qualified as “the man/woman” they need to be ‘for the boys’ (doing things in the best interest of the junior team, instead of catering to every whim of the senior team), meaning: avoiding weekend work whenever possible, working to align the first cut sent to MDs with the MDs actual expectations to minimize incremental page additions, and doing exactly what is needed and nothing more. They know they are good, so they have no issues telling the MDs that they are not doing certain irrelevant analysis or work. These bankers typically are razer sharp and can quickly tell if a number seems off by just looking at a page, and confidently say “this number should be closer to $1.453B” (great as an analyst when fixing number to just back solve the xls to their numbers lol). Junior bankers try to get staffed with them because word is out about how much of a chiller they are, and therefore, when juniors are staffed with them, they go above and beyond to continue to work with them. This VP generally has a life outside of work too, so they don’t enjoy giving comments on Friday nights/weekends because they have better things to do. Because they are sought after, they only work with good analysts/associates and discard the bad apples for lesser VP’s

  1. The technical god. They love complex M&A, they love doing things “correctly”. Shortcuts are not tolerated. As an analyst, you are valued on your ability to run complex analysis and arrive at the correct number while allowing the model to be very dynamic and efficient. They could care less about formatting, but xls templates are not allowed. If you are seen to have used a template from a prior deal, you will be rebuilding the entire xls. Likes to ask new hires to re-create prior work to get reps. This VP is well respected at the firm, and many deal teams will ask for their advice on things. Has been top bucket since their first year as an associate. MDs never question their work and don’t do so because they don’t want to come across as dull to this sharp VP. You may see deck’s they’ve produced lying around other VP’s desks as an example of great valuation work, a new way of analyzing xyz, and so on. They are all in on the job, and are in the office more than the associates on their teams. Will pull all-nighters with the team. They like mentoring and teaching analysts and associates so long as they are constantly giving their best efforts and not making mistakes. As an analyst, you will learn the most from them, at a detriment to having any modicum of social life outside work (you will spend your Friday nights hand spreading the most irrelevant things). They don’t really care about “industry pages” as the numbers tell a better story than market demand bar charts. Is very difficult (if not impossible) to get a “thanks, good work”. Most analysts/associates fear getting staffed with them, but for the hardo analysts, this VP is great

  1. The culture/relationship VP. These are the ones that go along with the group head to meet important potential clients. While they aren’t the most technically crisp and rely on strong analysts and associates to crunch the numbers, they have great personalities and clients love working with them. They won’t be put on the cross boarder mega-cap technical M&A deals like #2, but are great to work with as a junior because these VPs constantly have social events to attend, and have a personal life outside of work. Generally, will only hear from them between 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday (2pm on Fridays) unless some major action is occurring. Squarely ‘for the boys’ as opposed to senior team and will never create extra work. Will listen and take advice from juniors and respect their opinions. I would assume they are constantly mid bucket, but because of their social skills, wouldn’t be surprised if they were top bucket

  1. The bro. Recently promoted to VP, and still has associate like tendencies. They don’t mind getting their hands dirty in the xls and being more in the weeds than some of the more tenured VPs. They are always chatting with the associates/analysts when they aren’t busy instead of chilling at their desks or like most other VPs in their down time. Will grab beers with analysts/associates on a regular basis. Sets very realistic expectations and great at giving instructions. Makes you feel like a good analyst. Is very liberal with praising good work.

  1. What do they do? These VPs have been at the firm long enough to blend in and seem like they should be there. Nobody is really sure what their value add is because they aren’t technically good, and don’t have a rolodex of potential clients to bring in, but have kept their job because the juniors beneath them are great. Probably won’t get promoted to MD, but are just around until the operations team realizes they are dead weight as it takes a long time for operations to figure anything out. As a junior, no issues to work with them except the fact they are getting 3-4x my salary and are at the intelligence level of my 5th grade cousin who is in the “gifted and talented” group at school. They can manage a process, but not significantly better than any 2nd year associate. Generally, presents materials to seniors and won’t let others speak much to come across as a critical part of the team.

  1. Wannabe MD. Might be up for promotion soon, might not be. Either way, they are trying hard to ‘play up’ to the MD level. Generally, creates hellish scenarios for their juniors. Tremendous amounts of tuning decks to get perfect so that when the deck goes out to the MD for the first time it’s at v105 of the PPT, with having switched out pg 57 for the previous version 3+ times because they changed their mind on how they want it. At any given point, has 4 internal decks on different sub verticals going “for future use”. Nothing is very technical with them. All very surface level, but somehow every book they do is 50+ pages on the first turn, and will become 10 pages when it goes out to the client. They may seem to come across as “the bro” when you meet them, but don’t be fooled, this VP will push you to the brink of ripping out your hair more times in one week than the entirety of your life before banking. And don’t worry, after two years of working for them, you won’t have any hair left to rip out. Somehow clients think they are great and very knowledgeable about their business, and unfortunately, their MD thinks the same.

Other VP Archetypes (I don’t have direct experience):

  • Golden Child: see other posts.
  • AnalystàVP: most likely the #1 “absolute man/woman” in my archetypes
 

If you’re a military dude you might say being a vp gives you the opportunity to be the corporate E4 mafia bro. Some of us are content with the VP bro role the comp and both no real responsibility or risk (like an MD) other than giving juniors the proper leash and freedom to thrive.

But you’re not gonna hear about the people happy staying as a stress free vp talk too much on here…they probably have never heard of wso

 

There are a few more incompetent archetypes you're leaving out 

 

Similar to the bad associate types really -

- The pass through entities: lazy VPs that don’t create extra work when it’s not needed, but also not someone you want leading you into battle on a live deal. Whenever a MD has a question on the materials, this VP will deflect to the associate. IMO VP is the easiest position to be a pass through if you really want to, because you don’t need to do the work and you bear no risk when it comes to winning business.

- The psychopath/brown noser: the worst types of VPs are the ones where there’s a massive dichotomy between how they treat seniors vs juniors (in other words - they suck off the seniors and treat the juniors like shit). They will take credit when things go well, and when something goes wrong they play Houdini and shirk blame onto their juniors. Will grind you for 20 extra hours on something if it’ll make them look 1% better to the seniors. Stems from a combination of insecurity and just being a rotten human being.

 

I fall squarely under #3 although my technicals are sharp(ish) because I had the bad luck of being Anal to Ass. I kept thinking the 1s and 2s would get the promotions and top buck over me but it’s worked out in my favor so far.
 

Also, you alude to this but it might be lost on some, managing up is as important as managing down. Learn how to get a smart person to agree with you and you’ll get far kid. 

 

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