Apologies for the rant

Longtime lurker posting from a new account.

Apologies for the coming rant. I could use some perspective / advice.

First a bit of background - graduated from M7 MBA ~year and half ago, 2nd year associate in TMT coverage group at BB in NYC. Group is well regarded, but not GS-level well-regarded. Ranked middle bucket, with good support in the group / decent mentorship.

Rant: I've been on ~1.5 - 2 live deals in the last 6 months, and frankly on 1 of those deals, the analyst did most of the "interesting" work, and we were both micromanaged pretty heavily by a VP. I get it - didn't go to B school to be the analyst, but I struggle to see where I'm adding value when squeezed between a strong VP and strong analyst...

That wouldn't be so bad if we weren't constantly churning out mindless pitches & "discussion materials". Seriously what software company needs 20+ pages of generic appendix info? Is that a good use of anyone's time? On these pitches, I generally have an analyst under me, but as a more junior associate, oftentimes I'm getting dumped with the work. I'm a team player, and I get it -- live deal takes priority -- but some days I'm sitting here wondering WTF I'm spending my 30s on... assembling pitch pages that no one reads? massaging / reordering logos? Making mindless / endless profiles? Even when the analyst can make the pages, I'm still checking them / helping assemble.

I don't want to complain internally, because don't want to be seen as a whiner. Posting here instead. Anyone else in a similar boat? Whats up folks?

EDIT: Removing some of my background to be less identifiable ;)

Comments (43)

Most Helpful
Feb 5, 2020

There's a lot to digest here - below are some clarification questions / scattered advice...

  1. You said past 6 months have been bad? What about the year before? Is the overall group activity down, or are you just being shafted with staffings?
  2. Are these pitches with MDs who you worked with heavily in year 1, or are you being passed around to handle the shitty work?
  3. Do you have a mentor VP / director that you can grab coffee with and discuss more tactfully?
  4. Sometimes, it pays to be proactive. Go around to some of the busier (deals) MDs and say you'd like to work with them and to keep you in mind for their next sell side... maybe one will bite
  5. RE the endless pitching - are you using your resources efficiently? Making use of the graphics team? For logos, use Logo Intern [dot] com. Will save you a ton of time.

Likewise, if you find yourself grinding out the same pages over and over again, you can work with the analysts to assemble / organize some "best of" templates. I've done this, and it saves way more time than you'd expect.

    • 13
Feb 5, 2020
  1. First year was good. Got a solid mix of exposure to M&A and ECM. Group activity is a bit down, but some of my peers have had more luck with staffings...
  2. Id say 75% of the pitches are for MDs I have good relationships with and the remaining 25% are rando BS.
  3. Have a VP I can speak to, but he already basically said to sit tight and be patient. I feel like if I bring it up again, I'll be perceived as whining...
  4. This is a good suggestion. I can try this, but worried I'll be simultaneously shafted on a live deal (where I can't disappoint) and the endless pitches...
  5. Graphics team is hit or miss. SB for Logo intern suggestion - hadn't seen this before. Will also try organizing better templates / precedents, but every MD seems to want it "their own unique way"

Appreciate the reply

    • 1
Feb 5, 2020

I would be less concerned since:
1. It sounds like year 1 was good and your rank is fine (it sounds like).
2. Pitches mainly for MDs you worked with before...

I agree - if you already spoke with VP, probably not worth repeating. Trust your judgement.

Pitches suck, but you should view it as an opportunity to build relationships with the MDs who will support your climb to VP / director...

I would make sure you are proactive about staffings so that you can shift more of your work to live deals vs. pitches. Also, some people are more intense about this than others, but I try to optimize any work I do... work on improving your efficiency and the pitches won't be as bad.

Keep your chin up OP

    • 2
Feb 6, 2020

Seasoned pitch monkey here -- agree there's a lot you can do to improve efficiency here. It's not fun or glamorous work (not saying that in a judgmental way), but you can do a lot to make this less painful.

  • Definitely store down "best of" deck templates - I organize these by MD / D
  • Logo intern must have for "arts and crafts" outputs
  • Even when they're slippery, you should utilize the analyst. Part of this is just planning in advance (assuming you're given enough lead time).
    • 9
Feb 6, 2020

Agree with this. Not trying to be a dick, but OP sounds a little whiny.

Yeah you're not closing deals on the PJ yet, my dude. Grab a shovel and starting mucking out the pen.

    • 7
Feb 5, 2020

Why not take some of the more "interesting" work from the analysts?

Feb 5, 2020
  1. The analyst is definitely better at modeling than me. I'm decent at technicals and can review work effectively, but he's faster at driving
  2. I've been told that our group generally favors associates who focus more on the associate and above tasks rather than trying to be an analyst... problem being that the VP often times sucks up the associate and above tasks. To be a team player, I pitch in by doing all the remaining dumb tasks... and here we are.
    • 1
Feb 6, 2020

No better way to learn and improve efficiency than to do some of the work yourself. That'll make you a better VP than somebody who has never been in the weeds imo.

    • 1
Feb 6, 2020

How about talking to your VP and telling him you need more room to function as an associate, overseeing the work of the analyst. In turn, suggest that'll free up his time to stay focused on the overall process. Sounds reasonable? Eat it silently or talk your way to a better situation.

KC

    • 1
Feb 5, 2020

Some people will understand your frustration and they, as well as you, probably have other options to make good money and do interesting work.

I am a back office bitch applying for MBA programs and hopefully I'm lucky enough to be in your position in 4 years. If at that time the VP told me to smell the analyst's balls for 80 hours a week, for 300k a year, I would without hesitating (I say that now...). Right now I do uninteresting, boring, mind numbing work, for a forth of that wage. Yeah the hours will be different and the work might be frustrating but someone like me with no real skills being able to make that kind of money because I am good at coffee chats? I'll take it every time.

I realize what I said probably isn't that helpful but just a reminder that it's all about perspective. You have the skills, background, and degree to pivot to something more interesting and still make good money. My guess is you will soon start getting more and more responsibilities just as all MBA bankers do at some point. They want to see if you are VP material so you will get your chance. I would say tough it out one more year and you will either get the VP promote and be forced to do more interesting work or will get pushed out with more experience. Tough it out! You got this!

    • 7
Feb 5, 2020

Thanks for the reply. Pre-MBA I was doing mind-numbing work too ("engineering consulting"), so I get it. Good luck with the bschool apps!

Feb 6, 2020

I went from FO to BO to running my own $100mm+ deals with BX/KKR/Citadel/Sequoia. I cannot tell you how much this fucking made me laugh.

Finance -- until you get to the top -- is just different flavors and salary levels of mind numbing, juvenile, ultimately meaningless bitch work that you don't realize is totally just bitch work until you are the one running the show.

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Funniest
Feb 6, 2020

Oh STFU

    • 9
Feb 6, 2020

I can't speak for anyone else, but all I do is bitch work

Feb 7, 2020

Fully agree - I used to be back office at a bank, now doing tech implementations.

Whenever I feel like complaining about clients or BS meetings I remember my 9-5 life doing the same menial tasks every day and I feel a bit better.

Feb 7, 2020

*fourth

if you want to sniff balls, you're going to need to spell correctly.

Thank you for your interest in the 2020 Investment Banking Full-time Analyst Programme (London) at JPMorgan Chase. After a thorough review of your application, we regret to inform you that we are unable to move forward with your candidacy at this time.

    • 1
Feb 5, 2020

Associate is an awkward positioning in the hierarchy. Sometimes you're a senior analyst and sometimes you're a junior VP. People (especially un-imaginative VPs) will often reflexively feel that you're a warm body that needs to be used for something, so they'll tell you to go do something. Even if that's placing logos in PPT.

Most of the economic rationale for havning associates is that a certain % of you will go on to become profitable MDs. So baked into your salary is a certain lottery/option value on your future profit potential for the firm. In the meantime, they won't always have the right idea about how you should spend your time.

Anyways, your experience is normal and if you just wait it out it'll get better.

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Feb 5, 2020

Thanks - sounds like it. I guess I'll see how the next 6 mos go before reevaluating my options

Feb 5, 2020

Focus on what the more senior guys do every day and ask yourself if that's the job you want. If that appeals to you, then just ride through the associate years. Your day will look more like a senior guy's day as time goes on, and it will happen pretty fast. OTOH if you see an MD's day and say that's not for you, then you definitely don't want to be along for the ride.

    • 2
Feb 6, 2020

Anyone else got advice or perspective on this? Much appreciated

Feb 6, 2020

I've been in a similar position - like some of the other posters here have said - I think you should:
- Keep in mind that this role and team dynamic is temporary
- Help out however you can - even if it's creating dumb profiles while your analyst flexes with the model
- Focus on building trust with your higher ups - this is how you will win better responsibilities

    • 1
Controversial
Feb 6, 2020

I think part of your issue is this:

" didn't go to B school to be the analyst, but I struggle to see where I'm adding value when squeezed between a strong VP and strong analyst..."

You have an entitlement issue. As a senior analyst the new associates drove me nuts, they thought they somehow were valuable because they got a MBA, but I could do both their job and my job better and had the confidence of the more senior people. This is a huge issue in banking. I was directly asked at one point to "mentor" 3 associates who were making more money than me, wtf is that about. Junior people don't mentor more senior people in any other industry than banking.

If I were you, I would take a hard loo at what the VPs do and emulate that. I would also treat any 3rd year analyst in reach like gold. They often can do anything from newbie to director level work.

After leaving banking (after more than a decade), I've learned a few things...get to know an industry vertical really well. The bankers I talk to now know all of my competitors and what they are doing because they are focused. Pick some industry sub-segment and learn all about it and then, more importantly, get to know all of the people from execs to Corp dev folks. That's really where a banker starts to add value.

Feb 12, 2020

I'm adding absolutely no value to the thread.
But as a former officer I'm simply gonna point out that a PL (platoon leader) is an officer fresh out of school and is mentored/is expected to learn how to lead a platoon by his much more experienced platoon sergeant, who reports to him.
So banking is not the only industry!

    • 1
Feb 12, 2020

I think almost every industry does this for new hires. How else will someone learn company specific processes and policies? "Show'em the ropes" etc

Feb 6, 2020

I used to be a VP at MS. Be happy that you have a VP in front of you and a strong analyst beneath you. It makes your life easier. When I was a second-year associate, I never had a VP in front of me and had relatively weak analysts beneath me. I wound up doing all of the VP, associate, and quite a bit of analyst work -- and got reamed out when something went wrong at any one of those three levels. If I screwed something up at the VP level, I was not being proactive and stepping up. If some number was wrong in the analysis, I was not being a good associate and triple checking number. If I spent too much time doing analyst-level work, because I was working with relatively weak analysts, I was being too in the weeds and not delegating enough. And, when all things did go perfectly, nobody gave me extra credit for it at the end of the year. It was just expected. So my advice to you is -- enjoy your setup while you can. At some point, speak to your staffer about getting on projects where there is nobody above you. It will happen soon enough. Just be patient. Then you can deal with the hell I described above.

    • 9
Feb 7, 2020

I'm in this comment and I don't like it

    • 2
Feb 7, 2020

?

Feb 10, 2020

+1 for the meme reference

Feb 7, 2020

Your analyst probably runs rounds around you so if something needs to be done right and quick they'll ask them. I wouldn't see the analyst on your team as "being beneath you" as in reality the VP will have them on the team instead of you. Start with adding actual tangible productive value and increase scope day by day, week by week. If you're going to try and "add value" to the analyst work you'll have lost against them and the promote through associates before you've even started.

Array

    • 2
Feb 7, 2020

So a bunch of years ago I was in your shoes, and made an early jump into PE. Do NOT leave the bank too early. You need to recognize that you're getting paid a lot of money which will buy you freedom to make moves later, it's getting a brand on your CV, and it's letting you network with software companies - any one of which might go unicorn and hire you over. No one cares if you're intellectually stimulated. Try to learn what you can, find a mentor, and if you find yourself with slack time use it to study and make yourself a stronger finance professional.

    • 4
Feb 9, 2020

Agree with this comment. I find random stuff you learn comes back to benefit you in ways you cannot imagine at the time.

Feb 9, 2020

2nd year associate?
If you're not happy with your group now, chances are things won't change unless turnover at the ranks above you changes your outlook.
I would say it's prime time to lateral to a EB maybe or at least a smaller group where you're sure you'd get to do more. BB's tend to have way too many cooks in the kitchen leaving some on the sidelines as busboys.
If you're just doing ok now, it doesn't seem like you'll have a great shot at VP in the same group. Could be better to lateral to a more hands-on associate role in a smaller group where you could have a clearer path to VP.
I'd be nervous to stick around in the group for another year just to find out too late that I'll be passed over for VP and then be really F'd in the A.
Call up those headhunters man. Bonus and promo season is over and lateral hiring is ramping up. Hedge your risks and help yourself to some optionality.

    • 1
Feb 10, 2020

It's so easy to mind-fuck yourself out of a good thing. Hate to see it, really. Learn some patience, or you'll make your life worse. Practice gratitude. And if you're truly bored, strengthen yourself to the point that the VP says "man I gotta get my associate some more deals and put him on more front line stuff"

Feb 11, 2020

Network like crazy and build up your rolodex in between logo tweaks and edits. It'll pay off over the next 6-12 months.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 21, 2020

e to know your shit. i suggest you take cfa level 1 or at minimum modeling course. if I see my associate struggling to move in the model or uses the mouse to go to cells and doesn't just jump there in two seconds, I will never trust him to help me. If he can't help me, he doesn't add value and there is no reason for me to do what he says, unless I really have to.
For you to survive all this means you are very smart but you have to know what you're talking about, technical skills wise so if you decide to move, you actually get a better position.
Never mind your team, if they're bad, use the next 6 months to know your shit. Do every model yourself and time yourself. Know all shortcuts. Same on powerpoint. Compile everyones comments and note all comments from vp. You can do this. I can always help more if you need me to

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 21, 2020

and also if I may add. we have a new associate who clearly is not as experienced as other associates or even third years analysts. theyre very confident and ask many questions and they learn stuff on the spot and MDs like that. just be proactive and dont be afraid to ask questions

Jun 17, 2020
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Jun 17, 2020