Why "MOST" Of You Should Strive For Bottom Bucket

besides the 5% of people on here who genuinely like finance (nerds), most people just want to collect a pay check and go home, at least from literally everyone I chat with.

Lets say you work 9am - 11pm. you only have like 1-2 hours of free time before you pass the fk out.

If you want to be a top bucket nerd, you'll have to give up your EXTREMELY SCARCE free time at work for some MARGINAL and DIMINISHING RETURNS in terms of work effort.

Trade that precious ass time for what you say?......... like 10 grand after tax at most. Does it make sense when your time is so scarce after work to get a little extra dough? No

does it hurt your ego to strive for middle bucket or bottom bucket? Good, fk your ego, no one cares at the end of the day, swallow your pride.

just don't be dog shit and don't get fired

do the bare minimum and coast

thats how you'll make it to associate

then to VP

then to MD

not to fking burn out and go to some Shite corp dev gig or PE which is the same shit

bottom bucket and just above the cusp of getting fired, thats where its really at.

fk the good / busy staffings.

I'd rather play more golf.


Why do you assume that performance is primarily a function of effort and hours? Some of the worst bankers I’ve ever seen also try the hardest and work the longest hours. They’re inefficient and slow to understand concepts, so everything takes forever.

Others perform much better without expending nearly as much effort. 

You should be cautious about doling out career advice imo


I was the shit banker you just described. Often first in first out, but slow to understand concepts and my work was riddled with errors, so it took me 2x as long to edit everything (CIP, model, etc.).

Anonymous VP in M&A is right. People who worked a fraction of my hours outperformed me consistently. 

With that said, I was never treated as a bottom bucket due to my work ethic. If you know you arent the smartest, you best be willing to work the hardest, and at the very least, make sure your work quality is improving at a good rate. 


be bottom bucket when banks are looking to shed headcount, brilliant advice


Depends on the macro environment 

When times are tough, you gotta do just enough to be in the top half


Think your bucket has more to do with the relationships you have with your seniors and how they speak to your work product in reviews. Trying to convince yourself that working an extra hour each night is a determining factor in your bonus is just misguided, unless that extra hour has an outsized impact on your work product, i.e less errors or your whole group makes analysts log hours.

There were analysts that got top bucket this past cycle who didn’t have as many staffings or get worked as hard as others but their teams went out of their way to say how good they are in reviews


Mine typically doesn’t either but this year I know they’re being managed out


This advice is turrible, and it is a loser mentality that will pay loser dividends throughout your life.

Your goal should always be top-bucket performance.

Your priorities should always be your family/health/relationships first, and then work (IMO). You will need to change these priorities for *short* periods of time to succeed. The two keys to this are 1) knowing when you need to have your foot on the gas pedal, and when to take it off, and 2) working smarter (ensuring your efforts provide maximum return).

Admittedly, it is not always easy, or possible, to be top bucket and live according to your priorities. And the underlying thread here about not burning out is very true - burnout is counterproductive.

Don't discount the compounding effects of effort and growth- success/development early in your career pays higher dividends in the future, and success/development is a direct function of effort applied & the quality of that effort (working smart).


I rarely post.  This comment is just too good.  Takes me back to college when this nice dude joined a frat and his gf at the time stuck around after they broke up only to sleep with several of the brothers.  He is now in risk management fwiw.

Most Helpful

Everyone is missing one simple fact: if everyone agrees to this approach and everyone is doing less work, then the bottom bucket actually becomes top bucket because all of the bucket stuff is just a stack ranking of peers !

For example, if everyone scores 90+ in exam, then 80+ is bottom bucket.

But what if everyone scores 80+, then 70+ is bottom bucket and all 80+ people are safe !

If everyone just scores 60+, then the only way for you to fall into bottom bucket is getting sub-60 score ( gotta be really shitty at your job to end up in that score ).

Alternatively, if everyone works so hard to get near-perfect score — 100, 99, 98, then the people who score 95 is bottom bucket, and everyone feels so pressured to sacrifice health, sleep, free time … so that they don’t end up scoring 95 and getting bottom-bucketed.

This is real-life game theory, we need to game the system, instead of letting them game us !


I reject the premise that juniors are bucketed based upon hours worked lol. I was top bucket during COVID years despite spending almost no time in office even as corporate was trying to wrangle everyone back in office and the try-hards were back to being 24/7 in office. 

Initially, yeah, you gotta get some facetime. But after that you actually get a lot more leeway if you're known as reliable and able to consistently deliver. MDs will want you on their deals, trust you and you'll earn more rope. The dude's that get grinded to a pulp are the bottom buckets who VPs / Directors have to micromanage the shit out of because they have zero faith they'll get things done otherwise. Once you get lumped into that category your life is hell. 


I don't agree you can get to MD like this. I also think it's terrible advice in a market where everyone is cutting. I know seniors in my bank often cite those seen as "coasting" as the first to get the chop

You don't have to be Top bucket but you can't be a bottom bucket fringe case. Some people get to Director being sh*t but again most get weeded out and never it make it past VP. 

Also it depends on really what you want. I would say it's more important to join a lifestyle team or bank if WLB is your goal. Trying to create a WLB in a non lifestyle team isn't clever. 

Financial Sponsors groups are often great for allowing you the balance without trying to be clever doing just enough not to get fired.....

Tech & Media M&A - London

Law of diminishing returns definitely comes into play here. 

Agree with others not a good time to "strive for bottom bucket" given headcount reductions, but there comes a point where that extra 1-2 hours a day can help your overall health more than an extra 5k pre-tax would...bonus spreads are at a historic low imo.

Appreciate any differing views here.


Sucks that this mentality is scarce in this industry. After actually working this job I couldn’t care less about bucket rankings and other micromanaging methods to evaluate your performance anymore. I’d rather just go to the gym, hang out with friends, go on dates and pursue my hobbies. I don’t derive my self worth from people whom I couldn’t care less about and have chosen to forfeit their lives to their office job. 

“But you’ll be on the chopping block for the next round of cuts!!!” Cool bro, if that happens I’ll just respond to the dozens of recruiters in my inbox and move on with my life at a better gig. It’s just a job


I love this post so much. I have only worked at small and medium shops that punched way above their weight and other than 2022 nightmare land I can say it has been fantastic.

No egos, no prestige whores who only talk about work and it feels much more like 9-5. The pay was lower to begin naturally but after some experience and job hopping the logistics are the same yet the pay is a lot better in my role than at larger shops and I have very little red tape.

I can’t speak from experience but it seems like there’s a lot of red tape and bullshit that tacks on hours unrelated to actually doing the job at some bigger groups. These places I’ve been at aren’t easy but it’s finish the job and go home whenever. Also a bear sterns vintage “PSD” mentality > dei, legacy kids, nerds and I don’t mean smart kids when I say nerds I mean dudes that go down to hair of the dog expecting to get with nyu girls cause they have a nice LinkedIn 1st year analyst title.

People talk about prestige a lot but some of us just want to make good money and a family and could care less how it came about.

All this being said would never tell a kid to turn down a nice name brand offer out of school but a lot of you guys who id probably like will realize after that stint you couldn’t care less about saying I’m with “x firm” and no one else other than people like us would really care.


if your time is so precious in your 20s, why join IB. Personally, I had nothing better to do in my 20s than work my ass off because missing booze, smoking weed, and just sitting at a table discussing the most mundane topics wasn't something I liked. Now that I'm better off and I did some self-introspection to know what I really expect out of life, what I liked to do, how I would like to spend and live my life, what my priorities are, I can now lay back a bit because my reputation does the job, but when you're starting, if you're bottom bucket, you're just robbing your future self of some better opportunities and more interesting work.

this is def a L post and the bigger L is for those that associate working hard = miserable/wasting life, because clearly the peak of life is living like in a Netflix series according to them


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