Can I pick an Analyst's Brain for a Second?


As I begin my "networking"/investment banking recruitment journey, I am genuinely curious on what analysts want to hear from aspiring investment bankers regarding cold emails and then potential calls.

I've read plenty of sites and forms, but this is me just picking your brain and seeking an honest opinion (pretend the student isn't alumni):

What makes you smile/want to respond/not roll your eyes? What makes you hit delete/ignore?

I see templates online, but I just yawn; I feel like if I sent an email like that it's so rigid and cookie-cutter like and surface level. Analysts are literally 3 years older than me...When I network I really just want to know the person at the end of the day - yes of course the job is important but I genuinely like hearing about their experience as a whole - investment banking is a lifestyle. I want to send a personal yet relatable and semi-professional type of email (if that makes sense to you?)...Maybe that's too casual; I don't know. Is it weird to attach a resume/LinkedIn profile just kind of to make things easier/quicker?

And as for the call...what questions/conversations do you crave and make you want to go up to bat for the student? I think a majority of kids interested in IB are hella smart, so that's a given...but what do you really want to know/care to hear? I do my homework relating to the person + industry but I feel like while they may enjoy their job that's not me getting to know them as a person... I know the phone call should flow naturally, but for someone who hasn't networked a lot, it can be a little intimidating. 

And call me silly, but what can these phone calls really do for you? Do you want to talk to as many people? Do they get you the interview? Do you ever talk to HR? 

Sorry if this is confusing. I'm just a naive novice working on my networking skills at the moment. 

Thank you.

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Comments (69)

Aug 28, 2020 - 12:11am

I think it is fine to custom fit a networking email for reach out.  It actually annoys me when I have to ask for a resume so I think its fine to attache that.  The real life interactions happen at coffee chats and this is where you will differentiate yourself.  

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  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Aug 28, 2020 - 2:03am

Looking back, if I stuck with the finance route, I would recruit for analyst positions at MM PE firms with a proper program in place. These firms with regimented programs are breeding hitmen. The experience is like being in a hyperbolic time chamber compared to the analyst experience at a BB.

I've worked with a number of PE firms where the AN > AS is running the show and telling my MD how things are going to operate. Inversely those who come over from banking are usually supervised by a VP. One of my MDs despite being ex head of ______ @ a top BB was chewed out and remained silent, from a little shit who graduated from college 3 years ago. This associate is the same age as me but felt 10x more experienced.

If I attended a better university with a decent CS program, I would swap in a heartbeat. This is beating a dead horse as there are plenty of threads on this in the forum. If I didn't get into MM PE, I would probably join the military as an officer.

Aug 28, 2020 - 3:11am

Tech IBD ANL 2 here, I like seeing short, concise emails with a resume attached and your availability. Flexibility is helpful too given our schedules can change frequently. During the call it's always refreshing to talk to someone that can actually hold a conversation. Often these calls end up sounding like the student is reading off a script, which can be off putting. Personally I try to go to bat for candidates that seem sharp, personable, and ask questions that show you did your research. 

For the firm I work at, having calls with ANL's / ASO's is helpful insofar as it gets you on our radar, specifically when it comes to tagging resumes for first rounds. Few examples of students I went to bat for below:

- Non target, high gpa, VC internship, had a call with me and followed up a month later to catch up, connected with a few others in my group, followed up with me again to discuss their other calls / how to learn more about the industry (outlined what they were already doing and asked for some other suggestions); got him into our process

- Target, average gpa, prior banking internships, startup experience, had a call with me where all we talked about was investing / the warriors, asked for a connection to an ASO, call with the ASO went well; got her into our process

Aug 28, 2020 - 3:16am

Stalk linkedin in private mode, try to find something in common.

Also I really love when students go for real questions, why did you choose X firm, did you target any other firms, whats the most important thing you have learned, what could I do to prepare in advance to succeed in your firm...

At the end of the day you will find some A&A very rigid with the allocated time and structure of the interview, whilst others will be more flexible. Its difficult to fit with everyone as it will happen during your work at IB.

Aug 28, 2020 - 9:44am

Keep the emails short, it is the calls that matter more. 

The best advice I can give is be a real person. Ask them questions outside of the banking industry to- "any kids?", "a girlfriend?" Then ask them how they got involved into the banking industry and why. I also always ask, "if you were not in your current industry what would you do?" 

If you have a mutual connection, that is even better.  I have also discovered that the folks that grew up with nothing are more likely to help out then the folks who got their job based on connections. Take a guy who went to Fordham or CCNY vs Yale or Stanford. The former understands the struggle to break in way more than the latter. 

  • Intern in AM - Other
Aug 28, 2020 - 6:38pm

Okay I didn't know if those kind of questions were a no go and considered unprofessional/irrelevant. Thank you!

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 29, 2020 - 4:02pm

Definitely don't ask a random banker if they have a girlfriend lol

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Sep 1, 2020 - 9:11pm

The above advice is NOT professional. I'd be pretty weirded out if some undergrad started asking if I had a girlfriend / kids

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 28, 2020 - 10:56am

Don't forget the analysts also had to send these awkward emails 2-3 years ago. They've been in your shoes and this is how the recruiting process works.

Obviously there are some superstars with multiple PE internships or some killer extracurricular, but the basic kid who gets pushed is
- personable on the phone, doesn't bother me if you're a little awkward given how early recruiting is now
- not a hardo, would get along with others in group
- responsive to emails (huge pet peeve is college kids responding 2-3 days later. there's no reason you can't respond within 24 hours)
- competitive enough resume to get a first round (generally 3.5+ unless you have something special on your resume)
- has done basic research on IB/what the analyst role entails/can half ass an answer on why they want to do it

I don't respond to emails that don't have a resume attached but LinkedIn profile is too far.

Overall it's not that high a bar, you don't need to knock it out of the park truly connecting with each person. Just learn more about the industry/job in a casual way, you'll become more comfortable as you go. I'd also look up some questions other than "walk me through a day in the life".

Aug 28, 2020 - 11:31am

My advice is that you have to make it personal. I get so annoyed when people follow a script when doing networking interviews. I'm sick and tired of talking about work. Ask me about my hobbies and such. Like yeah, I know you want info about my firm but don't treat this like an exclusively business transaction. There's a person, not a corporation on the other end.

Aug 29, 2020 - 6:37am

Make sure emails are at least somewhat personalized. I'm not talking about adapting them to each person but don't send them with the wrong bank mentioned or say "Good morning" when it is actually being sent at 6pm. These small details generally help quite a bit. I've also seen the wrong name in emails which are signs of flagrant copy/paste errors. We know that this is a numbers game but be smart about it.

  • 1
Most Helpful
Aug 29, 2020 - 1:01pm

I'll divide this into three sections: (i) initial outreach, (ii) during call, and (iii) after call.

Initial outreach:

  • See if we have something in common (school, interest, hometown, etc.) on LinkedIn and reference this in your initial email. It makes you stand out compared to all the generic requests I receive
  • Respond ASAP. I'm busier than you and it shouldn't take you longer to reply than I do
  • Attach your resume if you go to a good school, have good grades, and / or have relevant internship experience. I'll ask for one if you don't, but some people may not reply if you have zero experience and go to a non-target
  • Make sure your resume is error-free. I'll still talk to you, but I'm not going to refer you if your resume isn't formatted perfectly
  • Double-check spelling, grammar, and formatting for your emails. I won't refer you if you can't string together 3-4 coherent, mistake-free sentences over email
  • Write out your emails. Many schools use Gmail, and we Outlook users can see when you've copied and pasted our bank or name into a template. I know I'm not the only person you're emailing, but it takes minimal effort on your end to fool me into thinking I'm special
  • If I ask you to suggest 2-3 specific days / times that work for you, don't tell me you're free the entire week. It's easier for me to schedule if you specify times like I asked. If you're worried this makes you seem too unavailable, end your note by saying you're flexible with time and can make something else work if none of those work for me
  • If I ask you to send a calendar invite, send a calendar invite. Also don't make it for an entire hour (maybe this is the default for Gmail?) if you asked for 15 minutes of my time. I'll gladly speak for an hour if (i) I have time, (ii) I enjoy talking to you, and (iii) you ask good questions

During call:

  • Don't ask me "how's the culture?". It's so generic and difficult to give an accurate answer. It's our job to sell our firm to interested students in these calls, so I'm not going to say anything negative (especially if I'm taking the call from the office). Maybe try asking how I get along with the other juniors or senior guys, how's the cameraderie, etc.
  • Ask personalized questions. They don't have to be about my job or my bank; they can be about some club I was involved in, what I do for fun, where I've traveled, etc. I enjoy talking about my job, but I'm more likely to remember and refer you if we connect over something other than finance
  • Have a lot of questions ready. Many students only prepare questions for 10-15 minutes of conversation. If I have the time, I'll offer to answer more questions at the end. Most students say they don't have any. This makes you look like you didn't prepare and stuck to a script of generic questions you'd ask anyone else. Don't feel like you're keeping me by asking more questions; I wouldn't offer up more of my time otherwise
  • Don't interrupt me. I don't like being cut off while speaking; once you've asked your question, wait until I've finished to comment or ask a follow-up question
  • Don't use a ton of finance buzzwords. There's a difference between being knowledgeable and coming across as a finance hardo
  • Don't swear. I'm a pretty chill guy and likely come across as a "bro" during calls, but this doesn't mean you should talk to me like I'm your best friend. Yes, I'd prefer you be more casual than rigid and interview-like, but there's a difference between that and being the guy / girl that swears or calls me bro, dude, etc. in our call, even if that's how I'm talking to you. On a related note, this is especially important to remember in interviews
  • Ahead of the call, make sure you look up how to pronounce the bank's name. It's an especially bad look if I've said it during our call and you say it incorrectly afterward

After call:

  • Send a thank-you. I took time out of my day to speak with you, so the least you can do is take a few minutes to type and send me a quick note. Please don't ask me for a referral in your thank-you note if you didn't have the balls to ask me during our call
  • Follow up. Nothing makes me smile more than receiving an email telling me our conversation helped you decide on my firm vs. another offer, or that you received an interview or accepted an offer someplace else. It makes me feel like I was genuinely helpful and that my advice was valued, and it makes me happy knowing you landed somewhere. Also, whereas I've fogotten the names of most people I've talked to, I'll 100% remember you if you've followed up even once after our initial call (excluding the thank-you note)
  • Intern in S&T - Other
Aug 29, 2020 - 4:38pm

'I'm a chill guy'

*proceeds to write out 15 ways how a college sophomore's tiny mistake could ruin his or her chances at a bank through you*

finance lol

Aug 29, 2020 - 8:18pm

So wanting people who reach out to have attention to detail, communicate professionally, and put more than the minimum effort into their networking means I can't be a chill guy? Ok intern. Wait until you start a real job and get reamed out by an MD for a stray footnote, then tell me that those "tiny mistakes" don't matter.

You don't have to be smart to do any of those things I mentioned -- all you need to do is put effort, thought, and care into what you do. If you can't demonstrate that over 2-3 emails and 15 minutes of conversation, why would I trust you to do that for 60-80+ hours a week with client communications and deliverables?

Sep 2, 2020 - 5:33pm

Thank you for this advice. I always have trouble with making the conversations more personalized. How do you jump from asking about their career to something like what they do for fun? Do you just straight up ask them? (Sorry might be stupid question but don't come from great background so no one else I can ask..)

Sep 2, 2020 - 9:00pm

Not a stupid question. Ask how their weekend was or how their week is going, and see if they mention any interests you can ask about. If you know of a shared interest heading into the call, feel free to bring this up after the initial pleasantries. Otherwise, at the end of the call, you can ask if they have weekend plans or what they do for fun. "Now that I've asked plenty of questions about your work, I'd love to hear about how you spend time outside the office" or something like that.

  • Intern in PE - Other
Sep 15, 2020 - 4:39pm

How often should I reach out after the first call? I'm a sophomore starting pretty early so I don't have a lot to update people on. Would it look bad if I update them 6 months after we first talked?

Aug 29, 2020 - 2:41pm

Before getting into banking I always thought I would never ignore these types of emails because it is so easy to to hop on a call but I was surprised about just how many I receive and how much 15 minutes could mean for my day. If the person is not an alumni of my school I typically wait to see if they will follow-up and then respond, maybe this is wrong but think it shows some initiative and that maybe they are interested in my bank in particular and it wasn't just a broad outreach. From my calls, the more natural it is the better. I usually like to start the chat and talk about something casual and see if I am just asked the cookie cutter questions or the person can command the conversation in a smooth way and if they know at all what my team does.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 30, 2020 - 4:00am

Thank for this topic it has helped a lot to get a better grasp on the whole networking thing ! 

However I have another question that I have been asked myself since I have started to network for my January 2021 internship this summer : do you need to keep talking to people you called after having sent the thank-you message ? I mean I don't think that is so useful to just reach someone, speaking to them for 20-30 minutes about the industry, how things are going and so on.. and after this : nothing. 

I mean they will just forget you no ? So how do you think we ( as prospects ) can keep having a sort of "relationship" with analysts by talking to them after the call as we are not friends in the real life and have basically not that much in common ( and if we have one thing in common, you won't send them a message like " did you see the victory yesterday night ? " as, as I said, they are not our friend.

My question is kind of messy and I apologise for it as it is still messy in my head and as I am not a native English speaker.

Thank for the answers !  

Sep 2, 2020 - 1:30am

Even though you're not friends, I'd treat it like you're building a friendship. Send them a short note if you see on LinkedIn that they closed a deal, got promoted, started a new job, had a birthday, etc. If they mentioned an upcoming trip, reach out a few weeks after to see how it went. If it's been several months since you talked, email them to ask how they're doing. It only needs to be a few sentences, and it shows you care enough to keep in touch and helps them remember you.

On your end, you can update them on your recruiting process (upcoming interviews, offers received) and let them know how things are going once you've started your internship or job.

Aug 30, 2020 - 4:50pm

Keep your calls brief and focused. Unlikely anyone will remember that awesome question you asked. They damn sure will remember if they said they have 15-20 minutes to give you, and you kept them on the phone for 40, while they tried politely to end the call without having to hang up on you.  If you end up finding yourself saying "oh just one more question though..." then you've likely gone too far.

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