Another Investment Banking reflection

Analyst 2 in IB - Ind

I read a post where someone was reflecting on their analyst years in IB. Figured I'd do the same, although the post will be a bit different. This is how I feel and look back as I am about to switch to PE from GS/MS/JPM in a couple of months.

What I will miss

  1. General office camaraderie. I was really thankful for me team and the people were much nicer than I had dared to hope. Fellow analysts in general super helpful, most associates nice and respectful. Some good nights out and office drinks. Some close friendships. The "we're in this together" at the office at 3AM, effing around and being crazy inefficient. Super thankful for having been a part of such a great team.
  2. Doing meaningful work. I understand that we are not saving lives but I'll admit I was damn proud putting together materials that were being used for meetings with CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies, and even better to be on calls with them. Seeing a deal reported in WSJ was really cool too. Working on live deals with massive, well-known companies, knowing that almost nobody in the world had any idea what was going on, was fun. Doing some really interesting analyses, even though they'd end up being thrown into the garbage, helped me learn a lot. Even getting "stupid" one-off requests in evenings / weekends from clients, you knew you were doing something that was important for them in making serious decisions.
  3. Learning. Similar to the above, but slightly different. Being on calls / meetings / working with some of the absolutely smartest people I've known, some top bankers who know their stuff and more. Just being awestruck by their knowledge and understanding of what they were doing. Everything from sector knowledge, deal dynamics, strategy... really just work with people who are thinking five steps ahead and make sure not to miss anything. I know this knowledge only comes through experience, and in a way I still feel like I have a ton left to learn from these people.

What I won't miss

  1. The inefficiencies. Sometimes waiting for hours doing nothing, only to have to work until 4AM. I understand why things are something like that, but it can be incredibly annoying. Particularly frustrating when the MD had never looked at the deck or commented until the day before the meeting, then realizing he wanted something totally different
  2. The fake deadlines / unreasonable timelines. Similar to the above, waiting for hours for something but then desperately needing to turn things ASAP was very frustrating. And sometimes the timelines were just ridiculous for no reason. I feel like I had way too many extremely stressful moments where I had to get work done in record time, where it could have easily be avoided.
  3. The stress. Points 1 and 2 culminate in point 3. This job was way more stressful than I thought. People say that it's long hours / low stress but in my view that's not accurate. Sure you have times of no stress, they are great. But then there are the times of extreme stress that I found really challenging.
  4. The menial work. The gut-wrenchingly boring stuff. Setting up meetings, going to internal committees, doing 1-page profiles on every company under the sun, spending hours on stupid research or benchmarking, spreading comps, getting conflicts clearance... yes, a surprisingly big part of this job is not that fun.
  5. The assholes. Yes, sadly there are some. They mostly came from other teams that I worked with. A few bad apples in my team too, literally dreaded working with one associate that I kept getting staffed with until I said that I didn't want to work with him anymore.
  6. The unpredictability. Much worse than the hours. Working 90-100 hours isn't too bad for short stretches when you know. I would say that working for 50-60 hours Monday through Friday and expecting a quiet / free weekend only for it to be blown up with a random Saturday email was the worst. Not daring to go with my gf to Brooklyn without having my laptop with me. Not daring to leave the city / make any plans because I MIGHT have to work.

A couple of notes to future analysts:

  • Don't expect a pat on the back / people to be impressed that you pulled a few 100 hour weeks in a row. Yes, your family and non-banking friends will think it's crazy, but nobody at work cares. We've all been through it.
  • A positive attitude goes a long way. You'll be working hard and it won't always be fun, but it's your choice to find a positive angle on things. It will make the job a lot more enjoyable. Also, people will appreciate your good attitude and hate your negative attitude.
  • Try to learn as much as you can. These two years fly by and I wish I had learned more. Pick your associates' / VPs' brains on things. Learn about modeling, corporate finance, sectors, deals... you'll be surrounded by people with a ton of knowledge to share.

I could write more but it's late! Overall, I would say that I enjoyed my banking experience, it wasn't always easy but I wouldn't have traded it for anything in this world. If those negatives were a bit less negative, I could have seen myself staying. Let me know if any questions.

Comments (40)

Jun 14, 2020

What was your go to seamless order to raise the dopamine levels?

Array

    • 1
Funniest
Jun 14, 2020

great username btw

    • 6
Jun 20, 2020

thanks :')

Array

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 14, 2020

Tried to vary it, TMI might give away my bank :)

Jun 15, 2020

its just food.

    • 5
Jun 16, 2020

Sounds fake if no seemless...

    • 1
Jun 14, 2020

A++++++++ Post.

lesson: no job is perfect. its a journey. learn from the good and bad. more people need to understand.

    • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jun 14, 2020

what was ur comp for each year u worked? is it what you expected the classic 115k-145k or something less or more?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 14, 2020

We'll see this year but $125-$155k range.

    • 1
  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Jun 14, 2020

Any reasons why you're choosing to move on to PE besides the IB negatives you mentioned?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 14, 2020

Honest answer: I think the bad just slightly outweighs the good in banking. And I think it skews the other way in PE. Hoping for more predictability and not being my client's "bitch" so to speak, which can be annoying at times.

Mostly it's because I've always wanted to try investing and I think it's overall more interesting to be an investor than a banker. I am hoping eventually to open a smaller investment firm in my own country once I've had enough experience abroad. I think I'll learn a ton in PE and after two years I can figure out if I want to: continue in PE, go to business school, move over to other buyside roles (public assets), go more towards corporate or whatever. I feel like I just don't want to be a banker for life, my bosses generally don't seem to be happy people.

    • 3
Jun 14, 2020

I will say the stress in PE is on another level compared to IBD. The hours are better and the work is more interesting, but you take things much more personally. I found myself actually losing sleep worrying about things in PE while in IBD I was never stressed about anything beyond my next immediate deliverable. YMMV but keep that in mind.

    • 3
Jun 14, 2020

Haha this is great. No need to lose sleep in IBD when it's not your money. You get paid a salary and a bonus and life is gooooood, no matter how great the stock/bond performs in the market

    • 1
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 14, 2020

That's good to know. I have heard similar things too from some people. Certainly more responsibility / accountability. I'll say that my role is a bit less traditional so we'll see. Certainly know hours will be better (while salary is the same / better).

    • 1
Jun 17, 2020

There have to be other reasons why you are going into PE that are not just simply oh, I think IB sucks because of these reasons and PE is slightly better. If you really didn't want to do IB, you wouldn't want PE either because like others said, there is way more stress and way more on the line with a ton of mindless shit too. I think you are driven by other things including money that make you want to continue in high finance but trying to get the best out of what you can do while still making good money. That being said, I like your positive attitude and belief that what you are doing is helping the world. All of the following exists in PE too so be VERY AWARE:

What I won't miss
The inefficiencies. Sometimes waiting for hours doing nothing, only to have to work until 4AM. I understand why things are something like that, but it can be incredibly annoying. Particularly frustrating when the MD had never looked at the deck or commented until the day before the meeting, then realizing he wanted something totally different
The fake deadlines / unreasonable timelines. Similar to the above, waiting for hours for something but then desperately needing to turn things ASAP was very frustrating. And sometimes the timelines were just ridiculous for no reason. I feel like I had way too many extremely stressful moments where I had to get work done in record time, where it could have easily be avoided.
The stress. Points 1 and 2 culminate in point 3. This job was way more stressful than I thought. People say that it's long hours / low stress but in my view that's not accurate. Sure you have times of no stress, they are great. But then there are the times of extreme stress that I found really challenging.
The menial work. The gut-wrenchingly boring stuff. Setting up meetings, going to internal committees, doing 1-page profiles on every company under the sun, spending hours on stupid research or benchmarking, spreading comps, getting conflicts clearance... yes, a surprisingly big part of this job is not that fun.
The assholes. Yes, sadly there are some. They mostly came from other teams that I worked with. A few bad apples in my team too, literally dreaded working with one associate that I kept getting staffed with until I said that I didn't want to work with him anymore.
The unpredictability. Much worse than the hours. Working 90-100 hours isn't too bad for short stretches when you know. I would say that working for 50-60 hours Monday through Friday and expecting a quiet / free weekend only for it to be blown up with a random Saturday email was the worst. Not daring to go with my gf to Brooklyn without having my laptop with me. Not daring to leave the city / make any plans because I MIGHT have to work.

Will update my computer soon and leave Incognito so I will disappear forever. How did I achieve Neanderthal by trolling? Some people are after me so need to close account for safety.

  • Intern in PE - Other
Jun 14, 2020

Any advice on this " Pick your associates' / VPs' brains on things. "?

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 14, 2020
  • Don't be afraid to ask them about nuances in a model you see or ask if they can help with your model
  • If you want to know more about a sector that your associate / VP is knowledgeable about, don't hesitate to ask them to educate you about anything related to the business
  • Literally ask questions about anything you find odd / interesting: why does A pay dividends and B not? Why is X trading at a higher multiple than Y? Why does sector I trade at a higher multiple than sector II? Why is company A much less levered than B? These are just SUPER random, you'll figure out plenty of questions when you're on the desk. We'd talk about geeky corp fin stuff all the time.
    • 6
Jun 15, 2020

Honestly the thing I miss the most about working in the office (wfh now cus of covid) is sitting next to my VP who is like an ocean of knowledge. Guy knows our sector like the back of his hand and it was so easy to learn. Also a really chill dude which was obv a plus.

    • 1
Jun 14, 2020

You won't be moving to PE...

It's full-on crisis mode for the entire industry.

    • 7
  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Other
Jun 14, 2020

Haven't seen any threads on funds pulling offers.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 18, 2020

Hard no on that. Plenty of shops hiring and staying active.

  • Analyst 1 in Other
Jun 18, 2020

I have a friend that just moved to a megafund so suck a dick

    • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 15, 2020

Any more details on the type of fund you're headed to? Is the focus similar to that of your BB group? How was recruiting (did you do on-cycle or off-cycle), and was the firm supportive?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 15, 2020

It was off-cycle but through a headhunter. It's outside of the US, it's the PE arm of a pension fund / SWF. Sadly visa issues pretty much prevented me for getting a PE job in the US as I was here on a student visa and did not get H1B. My team does direct investments, co-investments and fund investments. I kept recruiting on a need-to-know basis and people were generally pretty supportive.

Jun 15, 2020

Oh I see. Mind PMing me? I think I know exactly what you're talking about - I'm from the same country and worried about the H1-B, looking into your path as well.

Array

Jun 15, 2020

Could you PM me as well? I am very interested in working for SWFs / Pension Funds outside of the US and would love to learn more about the recruiting process from IB

Jun 18, 2020

Can you please PM me as well? Tried to go through SWF recruiting this year but wasn't able to. Very interested in the space and would love to learn about your process.

Jun 18, 2020

would appreciate if you might be able to PM me as well :) have some questions on how to recruit PE as an international student // options on staying for a second analyst year in the US. thank you!

Jun 15, 2020

I can relate to #1 of the good so much. I remember one night a few months ago where me and my analyst friend were waiting for comments at like 5am (because of a time difference) and we were kicking a ball around the office. Being in the proverbial foxhole like that is annoying but it has its moments. Being an analyst is a pretty unique experience, regardless of what I choose to do, I'm glad I am getting it.

    • 1
Jun 16, 2020

Great reflection. Let's also have you revisit this post a year from how and compare how you feel about banking now and then.

Jun 16, 2020

Hey mate, I am an international student tok and did not get the h1 first time around.

would really appreciate it if you could message me- wanted to get some advice. I also think I know which fund you are going to. I grew up in that region so very happy to chat about my experiences/ give any recommendations

Array

Jun 17, 2020
Comment
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
  •  Jun 21, 2020