Dear investment bankers: Would you befriend me? (advice needed, please)

Tunancier's picture
Rank: Baboon | 171

I am really debating myself whether IB is a suitable career path for me. I love the idea of working hard, learning 24/7, and using every bit of my neurons to produce high quality works that may help my firm win that lucrative deal. I am a technical guy with solid finance knowledge, some decent excel tricks and programming skills. However, I feel like I don't have the other things that will fit me into the culture of an IB. The following concerns are the blockers that are stopping me from going 100% (even 70%) at current opportunities to break into IB:

  1. I can have a beer here and there but I am not an experienced drinker. It's embarrassing to admit that I have never been drunk before. While hanging out with friends, I am always that guy who only has a pint of beer or one shot and that's it. It's not that getting drunk is evil. I just don't want to lose control and have a hangover the next day. My friends actually like me for this because I can drive them home later (yay!...). However, I don't think it will really benefit me in terms of getting along with my future IB colleagues who probably like drinking a lot. What's worst? I don't know how to party...
  2. I can network well at a professional level but I suck when it comes to small talks, buddy talks, and locker-talk type of things. It puts me down sometimes to hang out with friends/alumni who are bankers and most of the things they talk about are expensive suits, Cuban cigars, and girls. I respect these topics of conversation. They are just... not me.
  3. I am probably the most honest and no-game persons you ever know. I am not skilled at relationship/workplace's politics like most IBankers are. As a result, I am not sure if I will be able to stand the associates or directors at IB who like to give people like me a hard time because they think I'm a joke. It looks like I will be a sheep among wolves.

As sad as it sounds, I hope my concerns are just blown out of proportion by my fragile mind. In the past 2 years, I have tried to work on those 3 things to bring me more in line with the 'standards'. However, I know they don't represent who I truly am. I'm trying to fake it but haven't made it yet. My friends know I'm interested in IB but maybe they are too polite to tell me I'm not a good fit for it.

I know there are many investment bankers and people in the industry on this forum. What do you think about somebody like me? Would you see me as a candidate for being a friend/colleague/chai wallah?

Comments (25)

Jul 18, 2017

I honestly think some of your concerns are overboard and stereotype-based. Plenty of groups within firms and people who work in finance who are like you. Yes there will prob be people who fit your stereotypical image but that's an extreme and there are also people on the other extreme like asian nerds who came from top schools and went in finance. U shud go out and meet bankers in person or through social media and u'll realize people are just people and there is a fair amount of diversity. People on WSO (myself included sometimes) act a certain way that may reinforce the stereotype - it's just sarcasm a lot of times so don't take the vibe u get from WSO as real life.

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Jul 18, 2017

This. A decent number of bankers I've met are similar to you and it's fine. The stereotype is overblown.
But keep in mind that even though you may not like doing or talking about certain things, you have to play the game that everyone wants to play. Find a balance.

Best Response
Jul 17, 2017

Don't fake anything, be yourself. Maybe drinking more would bring out a more intriguing and fun side. Anyways, I'm sure you would be a great friend/colleague/etc, but sometimes you gotta let loose. Some of your colleagues may be stressed and talking about work or some random shit is the least of their concerns. They want to talk about things that turns them on (expensive suits, cigars, and girls). Read up on this book "How to win friends and influence people". It's a great read and you will learn a lot.

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Jul 18, 2017

jesus christ

I am the real boss baby.

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Jul 18, 2017

I really appreciate your opinions guys. I understand not everyone at IB is the same but unfortunately most of the bankers I know are like that. I read "How to win friends and influence people" a long time ago. I am actually a likable guy and have no issue making friends. It's just the IB's culture that makes me feel not up to it.

In terms of job interviews with IB firms, how should I present myself? I have a phone interview coming in two weeks with a BB, and one in-person interview with an alumni who now runs a boutique. Should I match my personality to how the interviewers are or should I just be myself and tell them I will do my best to fit in whatever culture their firms have?

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Jul 18, 2017

Be yourself. Understand their culture. What about the firm interests you. How you are passionate about IB. Just be yourself, so then you're not nervous and fake and answering falsely.

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Jul 18, 2017

Yeah just be yourself and convey your intelligence and interest. And i have no clue where u are from but MOST bankers ik are not like what u say.....

Jul 18, 2017

I'm in the Toronto area. I know a few seasoned bankers and have some friends working in the industry. My sample of bankers is fairly small so it absolutely doesn't represent its population.

Jul 18, 2017

You are a senior banker's ideal candidate. Once had an MD tell me straight up he wants analysts with no social life so they can do all his work whenever he wants ha

There are lots of different personalities in banking - you will find your niche if you are active in your search and diligent in assessing bank/group culture.

Jul 18, 2017

Thanks man. I will keep your words in mind.

Jul 19, 2017

.

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Jul 18, 2017

and you will?

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Jul 18, 2017

Absolutely.

Jul 18, 2017

On my very first IB gig my MD gave me a very succinct piece of advice: "Shut up and DON'T apologize". So..."I am not an experienced drinker, I am not skilled at relationship/workplace's politics... What should I act like?" You would be a real hit with my old boss with that attitude. The guys on my team were very stuffy but suffered from a major case of work obsession. Main takeaway: stop apologizing and just do the work that is at the level that you are 100% proud to put your name on. Period. Drink however much you're comfortable with, socialize to the levels you feel at ease with and you'll be fine. Focus on the work, man, and DELIVER. Strong workers are ALWAYS noticed in a good sense. Good luck.

Jul 19, 2017

That seems like my type of plan. Thanks!

Jul 19, 2017

Dude, just drink a lot, fuck some prostitutes, do your work, and end up fuckin a coworker when you get laid off or fired. This is the best attitude to have because either you'll have hella time of your life going from analyst -> MD or if you fall short of a promotion, you'll remember the memories

Jul 19, 2017

Sounds like a movie bro... I don't think I can keep up with the fast lane lol

Jul 19, 2017

I have friends and relatives who are temperamentally quite similar to you, so here's my input.

As many have already said, I believe you can land an IB analyst position simply through conveying your intelligence, diligence, and genuine personality.

That being said,,,it will be impossible for you to rise up in the ranks - not just in IB or the business world, but in any function that requires managerial skills and charisma - unless you become more comfortable with "locker-room" talk.

For example, even if you decide to be a software engineer or some other stereotypically number-crunchy personnel, you will be forever stuck in the bottom or lower-middle management ranks unless you can charm people.

Nothing necessarily wrong with that. Most of my immediate family members will probably be in such a position.

I'm sure you have already considered this...but you may be better fit for another, more meritocratic field such as medicine or academia - in which your ability to excel depends almost exclusively on your personal aptitude rather than your ability to "win friends and influence people".

Lastly, I totally get that people have different personality-types - Keirsey and all that bullshit.

But human beings are inherently social creatures, which means happiness generally stems from being comfortable around people - not for any higher level cerebral purposes like professional networking, but just in that shared capacity as conscious animals with primal urges, emotions, feelings, fears, desires, etc.

Which means, as another user already commented, that you need to be comfortable in your own skin, and to LOOSEN UP. Every social interaction should be - to different degrees depending on the scenario - an opportunity to have fun, learn about people's backgrounds, tell and listen to stories, make jokes, laugh, cry, etc.

Talk of "suits, cars, women, and cigars" is usually bullshit filler conversation, but unfortunately it is a necessary evil on the path to reaching that higher-order level of human interaction. (i.e. You wouldn't automatically share your deepest and darkest secrets or craziest stories to someone you just met)

Hope that helps man, best of luck!

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Jul 19, 2017

Hey WB, I think you nailed it right on the head. The ranking issue does not concern me for now. I go into IB to work with the smartest people in the industry and gain considerable experience, not necessarily to move up toward the MD level. At some point, I plan to move out of IB and find something more balanced.

I do see the need for loosening up myself to blend in easier. The fact is that I grew up in a very confined environment that was anti-fun (long story). Therefore, there seems to always be an fun blocker in my head. I often envy with people who can chill and fill naturally. Hopefully, one day I will be able to do that.

Anw, I am planning to improve my social skills by hitting some clubs with friends this weekend. I will drink a little more and be more open to topics

Jul 19, 2017

The trolling around here is getting more and more elaborate.

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May 23, 2018
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Jul 20, 2017