Analyst says "be more proactive"

Cheers mates,

I am currently doing an internship at a MM in London.
(2nd year bachelor student from a German target)

Had a feedback talk with the analyst I'm working with.

He said I did a good job, the only thing that I could do better is be "more pro-active".

Asked him if he had a feeling I don't ask enough for more work when I'm done - he just replied with "No man, I like that you ask for more when you're done. You just need to be more pro-active."

What the heck is that supposed to mean? Thanks..

Comments (15)

Sep 1, 2017

What I've found especially true at boutiques and MMs is that you truly need to take ownership of your file, even as an intern or an analyst. At BBs, your staffer is going to tell you what needs to be done, and often times you'll be swamped to the point where you can't really take on much more. At boutiques/MMs, the work flow is much less linear, so if you find that its not all hands on deck 100% of the time, its completely normal.

Asking for more work is the first step to being proactive, but I think what makes an employee stand out is taking the initiative to ask themselves, "What can I do to drive the deal forward?" I know that it may seem like a daunting task that is above your paygrade as an analyst, but you'd be surprised at the value you could bring. For example, if you're on a sell-side M&A mandate and see that one of the top prospects to acquire your company recently deleveraged their balance sheet significantly that was preventing them from committing to a deal before, you could bring this up to your associate as a heads up. Tons of other examples, but take away is that you need to show that you will do whatever it takes to drive the deal forward.

    • 8
Sep 1, 2017

Agree with this. In response to your question - when you finish a task, go up and ask him for more work. If you have an idea of what needs to be done next / what he'd give you to do, you can even propose that. "Hey [Analayst], I finished [XYZ] - can I get started on [next thing]? It shows you're thinking about it more.

Sep 1, 2017

Good point on your take about bringing value to the table. Just wondering, if you dont have access to financials or data room information yet can you bring up anything that sticks out that can be of concern to your MD during a call? Its all good to lay things out first and discuss spearheading a deal with a client. Afterall its all about execution, whats the objective after closing.

Sep 1, 2017

This is the correct answer. You need to take ownership of what you work on. Try adding value whenever possible. For example, if you're asked to run a CapIQ screen for potential acquirers, do so, but also do some research on your own to highlight three or four that you think would be the best.

Then, as @StreetofBulls stated, try thinking a step or two ahead. Say you get a calendar invite for a meeting to discuss an upcoming pitch. Before the meeting, print out relevant past pitches and try assembling a shell. When I was in MM IB, my senior bankers loved this because it saved them some time.

If "be more proactive" is the feedback that you're receiving, there's a good chance you're a top analyst, but need that extra push to be a real rockstar. Good luck.

    • 1
Sep 3, 2017

Take work off the desk as it arrives.

    • 1
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Best Response
Sep 4, 2017

All great answers. They are right on point, if you take the feedback literally.

Remember, in banking, there is canned feedback that gets rolled out over and over again--it's easy to tell someone to step it up or be proactive. It's easy for reviewers to write, "Keep doing what you're doing."

Nearly every review is littered with such non-confrontational vague useless feedback. But that feedback, like most feedback in life can be taken literally as it relates to you, or used to determine how that person thinks.

If I said to you, "I like your shirt." Most humans think that's a complement of their taste, when really it only tells you the type of shirt I like. If a man complements a woman as beautiful, is she? Or did he just give her his own definition of beautiful?

All feedback is the same. It tells you something about you, but it tells you more about them.

His comment may or may not accurately describe your performance, but it certainly tells you what he is measuring. So rather than running around trying to guess what he means, you want to get excellent at asking the right questions so you know his definition of what it means.

Sure, it might be running right back up to him for more work. Or it might be that you read some specific idea in a footnote somewhere that was valuable to the team. You job is to find out what he defines as proactive.

Just like you asked him about asking for more work when you're done, test some other examples. And perhaps ask him something like, "OK, that makes sense, thanks a lot for that, so could I just ask you, what are 3 ways that you have seen people better demonstrate how to be proactive?"

See, here, you're not trying to alter your behavior based on vague and mostly useless feedback, but you are specifically trying to get to "his criteria" for what good proactivity means. Because, no matter what you or any of us on WSO define as "proactive," all that matters to your success is his definition!

at the end of your internship, people like him are going to rank your performance. Your best move is to figure out what specific performance the people who are measuring you respond to, and then deliver it.

in my wall street book, this is one of my core principles for winning--I call it feedforward. Instead of waiting for feedback, figure out what people need to hear, and keep feeding it forward to them.

e.g. X person told me last month to be more proactive, and so I've been doing, this, this, this, and this. What else would you suggest I do to keep honing my skill of being proactive?

Sep 4, 2017

Thank you for your advice. This is gold.

Sep 4, 2017

Just wanted to say that advice was really helpful

Sep 4, 2017

A few things from managing analysts and associates at work:
- If I tell you do something, stop me to clarify if you don't understand what I am telling you.
- Ask me exactly when this needs to be done. If I don't say anything, I need this to be done asap.
- Check everything; spelling errors, formatting issues, calculation; most of the time, follow the template.
- Try to think from my perspective on what needs to be done.

For example, this is a recent case example of what happened at work. I am very sure that this analyst going to be at the bottom of the ranking when the bonus time comes.

Situation: My MD has asked me to do an industry deck on education services provider in the country to assist a buy-side client in acquiring one of the top 3 education service providers.

My Memo: I sent out a previous deck template with what needs to be done from industry slides, recent transactions slide, company profile pages and comparable transaction slide. Ask the analyst to get this done in a week.

Analyst Response: She waited one day before the due date to tell me that she has not finished this and took a day off on the day that deck is due. I ended up doing a quick and dirty update of the deck and sent back to the client.

What should have been done:
- Go over the template and tick off the pages that you have questions.
- Ask me where the data are being pulled from, if you don't know.
- Update the general industry slides first: country GDP, industry data, student population, etc.
- Do a quick summary on the buy-side client on their holdings, recent deals, shareholder listing.
- Ask me who the buy-side client is and pull up their recent transactions to see what sort of investor they are and try to populate the potential target list with companies which are similar to their recent acquisitions.
- Based on that potential target list, come up with top 3 companies that the client would most likely to acquire.
- Do a quick individual company profile page of these 3 companies.
- Then pull together a comparable transaction slide to show that what are the valuation multiples (EV/EBITDA, PER).
- Put together a summary on why these 3 companies would be a good fit for the client (rationales).
- Then put together an action list on what is needed to proceed to the next steps.

And that would be "pro-active".

    • 7
Sep 7, 2017

Great insight

Sep 4, 2017

Thank you very much for your response. Much appreciated!

Sep 4, 2017

Dont say german target because that sounds stupid

    • 5
Sep 4, 2017

Why wouldn't I?
Because your knowledge about schools is limited to the Ivy League?

Sep 25, 2017

Take this monkey scheiste!

Sep 4, 2017