AMA: A2A 2nd Yr BB Associate (Healthcare) Residing in SF

BB_ennui's picture
Rank: Baboon | 106

A2A at a BB with ~5yrs of experience in Healthcare Investment Banking coverage. Current focus towards the Biotech/Biopharma subsectors. M&A focus; transaction experience across all common product groups.
To preempt, I do not have a medical degree but do have a natural sciences background.

Comments (41)

Nov 3, 2017

What is FT analyst recruiting like at your BB office? How is banking different in SF lifestyle wise compared to your peers elsewhere?

Nov 3, 2017

FT analyst recruiting is dependant on our summer internship programs e.g.

Whether or not we believe the interns performed better than what we would expect the recruiting pool for FT analyst to look like

Whether or not we enjoyed their company / personality and they enjoyed ours etc., and

Whether or not the interns enjoyed their work experience and the general nature of the job enough to choose to invest 2+ yrs of their life towards

Having previously worked in a comparable environment to NYC (think Europe) for the first half of my time in IB, and having also worked with many NY colleagues throughout project work, I would say that by comparison, SF is a much calmer, less beurocratic, less uptight environment than NY, with the caveat that it is very much dependent on the personalities within your group. I left the East Coast environment and haven't looked back, but i am not everyone.

If you have lived in a big city for a while, still want all the niceties associated with big city living and dont want to freeze your butt off in the winter then I would tell you its great. But as you would probably imagine, its not for everyone.

For me at least, I've had more deal experience and a better work-life balance since moving here.

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Mar 12, 2019

Hey man, do you think you could speak a little more to the work/life balance at SF BB's? Will be starting at one in June FT

Nov 3, 2017

The logicial question - why A2A vs. leaving for PE/HF/Corporate etc?

Do you see yourself working towards VP?

Nov 3, 2017

The Analyst program removed enough years of my life to make sure that i would not want to go through something like that again in a buyside role. But a couple of additional points:

I've seen people above and below me leave for PE. I work significantly less and get paid the same / more at this point (granted the upside is higher for them should they stick).

No desire for HF based work - it's just not in my nature unfortunately (i am a bad gambler / have no real clue how i would add value in an HF).

I find my work interesting / intellectually stimulating, enough that i actually enjoy my job

I am good at what i do, but more importantly, i have people senior to me who are better. When there is nothing left to learn i will leave, but that was not the case as a 2nd/3rd yr analyst.

Rank is important to my morale. Without sufficient ego boosts i would admitedly be out

Staying for 4+ years comes with its perks:
- I don't have to spend 18hrs/day learning things or doing grunt work
- An A2A will always look untouchable when surrounded by MBAs (nothing against them, just a function of real life experience / know how)
- I am lazy and would like to enjoy the remainder of my 20s as much as i can - a.k.a being slightly higher up the totem pole has its merits

I am quite obviously biased to my chosen path of A2A vs. buyside, but VP is 2 years away. Its a decision i'll make later

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Nov 3, 2017

Hello BB_ennui,

I'm also a West Coast resident (SoCal) and glad that you're willing to share some of the experiences working in a BB. My question would be, compared to the NYC BB, how is the working hours for a daily basis? Is 80+ hours also a norm in the West Coast? As you mentioned SF is less uptight and calmer, I wonder if West Coast in general would be the same.

Also, to get to be a 1st yr analyst, did you network extensively to land interviews for BBs? Or did you already have few SA internships to write for your resume?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Nov 3, 2017

Working hours are significantly more varied. I think day to day you are more likely to finish earlier and keep you weekend as work-free as possible in SF for a few reasons: 1) people care more about your livelihood - its West Coast 2) You are part of a smaller team than NY and have a bigger impact to morale and culture in SF where you are 1 of 10-15 vs. 1 of 60-100 in NY. It's therefore in everyone's interests to keep the juniors happy and 3) you are working with the same people over and over again vs. NY where you could see 5 different associates over a 2 week period. A good working relationship is built on respect - if you don't respect your Assoc / VP because he leaves at 6 and crushes you, it will come back to bite him because you will put in less effort and he will have to work harder. Everyone has to play nice in the sandbox

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Nov 3, 2017

would say SF hours are between 35-110 - mean is gonna be 70.

When you have no work you are an adult and can choose to spend your time appropriately in the knowledge that the 110 hour week is unavoidable at some point. TBH longer than 100 hrs and it is more likely than not that you have incompetent seniors (whether inefficient or unwilling to allocate additional resources to your project)

on your second point re. recruiting, I was very targeted in my networking. I basically spent my entire sophomore year convincing 1 BB Director who i had met that i was his guy. I put my eggs in one basket and i got lucky with an internship. You really have to believe you will convert - if there is a time to make sacrifices, its getting your foot in the door.

Would not say i am a good example to follow as my situation was pretty unique and I recruited in Europe as well where things are very different

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Nov 5, 2017

Can you elaborate a little bit on how you maintained open lines of communication with the Director throughout the year?

I struggle to find a way to stay connected with people after the initial informational phone call. I'm not talking from a recruiting perspective, but simply knowledgeable people in the industry you want to maintain a relationship with. I don't want to only reach out to these people when I need something from them, but I also don't know them well enough or want to waste their time by suggesting a phone call just to catch up.

Nov 3, 2017

Hey thanks for doing this! Do you have any insight into how your firm thinks about lateral recruiting? I get that they probably have organized MBA recruiting efforts but do they ever hire Associates/Senior Analysts away from other banks?

Nov 3, 2017

Lateral recruiting is given more scrutiny than internal departmental moves but for context, we have multiple analyst laterals from other BBs. Associate lateral recruiting is more challenging IMO

Nov 3, 2017

Hey thanks for sharing. Could you tell us your story that you used in interview?

Science background --> finance?

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Nov 3, 2017

I started in Europe where recruiting is quite a bit different to the US. My analyst class had art history, spanish and politics majors which is a pretty common occurrence (not being finance-based). Only ~50% had finance-based degrees.

Story was therefore focused on how a natural curiosity for the industry led me to pursue extra-curricular finance classes / clubs and reading and learning a lot on my own. I was also fortunate enough to gain significant insight and perspective from alumni in the industry.

After the internship offer the rest was up to how much i wanted the FT position

Nov 3, 2017

Do post-MBA associates in your group have any sort of pre-MBA HC experience?

Nov 3, 2017

Not really. It helps though, but what you learn on the job is most important. The best pre-MBA experience to have is obviously medicine but only ~1-2% of candidates tend to have that kind of experience. While pre-MBA HC experience is a "nice to have" it is by no means a deal-breaker not having it. Our last 4 MBA hires had no prior HC experience and they did just fine

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Nov 3, 2017

I'm going through Round 1 interviews with several T15 MBA programs right now, with a goal of ending up as an Associate in SF. Unfortunately Haas is off the table. Where else do post-MBA Associates at your bank (not necessarily just your group) come from?

Nov 3, 2017

We have MBAs from Wharton, Harvard, Tuck, Stanford, Columbia. We actually rarely recruit from Haas, though I couldn't tell you why.

MBA Location tends not to be an important factor in our decision-making process. Much greater emphasis on pre-MBA experience and personality

Nov 3, 2017

Does that experience have to banking? Any career switchers? (Although I know you probably look down upon career switchers because of of their modeling skills, or lack thereof)

Nov 3, 2017

Alright I'll take a stab at this, kill, fuck, marry - Rosie O'Donnell, Donald Trump and an Apple Pie

Nov 3, 2017

Make it harder

Trump, Pie, O'Donell

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Nov 3, 2017

Do you know anything about how strong Wells Fargo Securities' healthcare group is in San Francisco?

Nov 4, 2017

I'm not too sure to be honest. They haven't shown up on the advisory/syndication transactions i've worked on, but they are strong on the corporate banking side from experience. The big HC groups are CVP, JP, MS, BAML. Beyond that I'm afraid i don't have sufficient exposure

Nov 5, 2017

whats your perception of the HC players in the more midmarket space?
i.e. Cowen, Leerink, Piper, Jefferies etc.

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Nov 3, 2017

Any idea how to leverage a few years of medical school experience, a boutique ibanking internship and a valuation internship to get a FT position in SF Biotech investment banking?

Nov 4, 2017

FT is hard. Internships are easier. PM me.

Nov 5, 2017

PM sent.

Nov 5, 2017

What did total comp look like year by year. Also what is your long term vision career wise? Do you think you'd ever get an mba and what is your view on jumping over to a corporate role.

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."

Nov 10, 2017

In general, comp is exponential. I cannot give you accurate translations of my comp progression in the EU other than to say the flexible component of my comp increased by 50% between y1 and y2 and by close to 100% in Y3 vs. Y2.

I do not have a long-term vision for my career yet because it's my belief that there are too many variables capable of tipping my decision-making process one way or the other in the years to come that render the exercise futile. Making decisions in your mid-twenties is not something I am willing to embrace just yet.

Jumping across to a corporate is not particularly appealing at my level, but would probably be a few years down the line. The way i see it is the longer you leave the jump to corporate, the higher your entry point, and the elevation is geared (1y banking experience > 1y corporate exp IMO)

MBA probably not desirable for me at this stage given I have no immediate desire to leave the industry, am already an associate, and do not want to part with $200k and 2 years of lost earnings

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Nov 5, 2017

Any advice for getting into the SF banking market from an east coast non-target (albeit a very selective school) ?

Nov 10, 2017

west coast offices are typically geared towards tech and healthcare (LA is a little different). If you're able to demonstrate interest, knowledge and proficiency in any one of these specialties to an interviewer, the fact that you are from a non-target school is likely to be unimportant to the decision making process. Be keen and make sure people know it

Nov 11, 2017

What is lateral hiring like for someone currently in a HC group at a reputable healthcare MM? Focus on biopharma.

Nov 13, 2017

Depends on the needs of the group in most circumstances. As a group we tend to prefer BB experienced candidates over MMs but there have been and always will be exceptions to that. It is certainly possible

Nov 11, 2017

Thanks for doing this! I'm a recent graduate from a non-target and I just accepted a role in corporate development with one of the biggest private companies in the world. I took this because 1) they're very acquisitive, I'll have 5 deals under my belt if I stay 1 year as well as some minority investments in tech companies and 2) I felt the banks I was getting offers from weren't a better option. I really want to work for a BB with tech coverage in the Bay Area, typically do you see anyone lateral from a non-IB background?

Nov 13, 2017

more often than you would think, but its likely that you'd have to start as a Y1 analyst at the very least, potentially having to go through an internship given the pool of available candidates competing for that position in FT recruiting

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Best Response
Nov 11, 2017

The smartest kid I know who went to a target school and started as an IB analyst at Goldman was directly promoted to associate. Now he's on his second year as an associate, and doesn't seem like he is going to PE/HF. While his current job is amongst the elites of finance, I was actually shocked that he didn't end up on the buy side. Now, I don't know if it was his choice to turn down the buy side or not, but knowing how driven and smart he is, I'd have to assume that the chose to stay as an associate.

Have you seen this a lot recently. With the growing competitiveness of the buyside, and the crowded field at the top, and the closing gap of PE Associate and IB Associate pay, it seems like its more and more logical lately. Why go to KKR and get kicked out after two years and do two more years at an MBA, when had you stayed in banking, you would have been a 1st/2nd year VP.

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Nov 13, 2017

its not particularly common given its certainly not the culture out here to do so.

I'd tend to agree with your statement - PE is hard, ultra-competitive and you start from the bottom all over again, only to find yourself with a 2-yr contract and a small chance of staying on. The opportunity cost of leaving a workplace you've spent 2 years building relationships in is not always worth it in my (albeit biased) opinion. Other points for consideration, and building upon what you've mentioned:

Being more experienced than MBA associates can provide greater opportunity for receiving a top ranking in later years

Business school is >$150k spent over a number of years, and likely over $500k in gross earnings lost, with no guarantee of receiving a job once you've finished

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Nov 13, 2017

Ok now take away the elite candidates from target schools and analyst stints from JPM/MS/GS. If you have a guy from a semi target/non target with a 3.4-3.6GPA at a Deutsche/Wells/UBS/RBC/Jefferies/other top middle market place, how selective should they be when looking at middle market/lower middle market funds vs. staying on as an IB associat. I'm not asking you what they should do (since ultimately theres too many variables that an anonymous poster wouldn't have the info to consider), but how should they go about thinking and evaluating the decision?

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Dec 29, 2017
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Mar 12, 2019
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