7 Practical Tips for Entering 1st Year IBD Analysts
It's been over 3 years since I first came across WSO as a junior in college. Eventually, I was able to land an IBD analyst gig at a BB. My experience has largely been great, and I am now a 2nd year analyst who will soon join the buyside. I owe a debt of gratitude to many, not the least of which is the WSO community.
I've noticed that there are plenty of resume / interview prep materials and topics out there, but less so practical, easily actionable tips for those entering banking. Therefore, as a contribution to the WSO community, I've put together a short list of direct, practical tips that I feel that every new analyst should know. I've tried to keep these tips group/bank – agnostic, and noted when they might be less relevant where applicable.
So without further ado:
Tip #1: Sign up for frequent flier /hotel programs. If you are in a group that allows analysts to travel to meetings, this is money. Business / First class tickets => bonus miles. Even if you will not be travelling, or not working in banking at all, you should still sign up asap. It costs you nothing and can only lead to good things.
Tip #2: Sign up for AMEX Award program. It used to cost $75 /year (may have gone up since then). This allows you to earn points on corporate purchases (cabs, meals, travel, deal toys, closing dinners, etc). The quick and simple math is 1 pt equals $0.005. You earn 1 pt for every $ you spend. The breakeven level of corporate spending is $15,000 / year for a $75 / year membership. You should ask other analysts in your group how much they spend per month on average on corporate expenses and plan accordingly. (I won't disclose how much I've spent per year but it was WELL over the breakeven amount)
Yes you can use your personal card and get rewards that way, but depending on how much you spend you may not have that kind of working capital, and you also have to worry about lost receipts, paying extra close attention to reimbursements and the such.
IMPORTANT: If you do go with the awards program, make sure to get a personal AMEX at somepoint before you leave the firm so that you can transfer your accrued points to your personal account (otherwise they will go to waste).
Tip #3: Treat your assistant, the presentation / production guys, the janitors, and basically anyone "below" you with respect and dignity. It's easy for anyone to kiss up to the MD, but it's a good reflection of person's character based on how that person treats others "below" him. There are many ways you should build a good rep for yourself, this is one of the easiest ways.
Sidenote: Treat (tip) your assistant especially well. Depending how good they are, they may go beyond their call of duty to hook you up when you need it most. (Think flight upgrades, lost receipts, helping you on a weekend, etc)
Tip #4: Get a gym membership and use it. Obvious reasons.
Tip #5: Don't treat the $25 meal allowance as a target that must be met. Yes you would be leaving money on the table, but sometimes less is more. $25 of anything, even sushi, is a lot of food. Though there are things you can do to counteract this (have a naturally fast metabolism, get a gym membership and use it frequently and right before eating that $25 feast). Saving food for lunch the next day is always an option.
Tip #6: Pay what you must for fast, reliable internet. Invest in a good keyboard, mouse, chair, and at least 1 large monitor. Buy a quality set of earbuds with a quality microphone. You want to be able to take calls and work from home as much as possible in as comfortable of a manner as possible. (Note: this is not the case for groups where facetime is important, nevertheless you should still invest in the above => no group I know expects facetime on weekends)
Tip #7: Headhunters are good to talk to, regardless of what you want to do. Just keep in mind as friendly as they are and how much help they provide, they are not your friends and it is a business relationship. This applies for everyone throughout their careers, not just IBD analysts going through buyside recruiting: you should be speaking with multiple people whom you trust who have YOUR best interests at heart and no ulterior motives that may conflict with those best interests.
I'm sure others have tons of tips as well so I'll stop here and let others chime in.