Everything I wish I knew in Banking

It's a slow Friday, so figured I'd take a walk down memory lane... feel free to add things I miss.

1. Your reputation.

You are building your reputation on day 1, and the first 3 - 6 months will define your reputation for the next 2 years.

2. Who's Important?

Figure out who the important people are in your group and do great work for them; learn to push back on everyone else.

3. private equity recruiting.

If you're going to do PE recruiting main cycle, decide and prepare early. You need to get the practice in early to succeed

4. Ask questions, but not stupid questions.

People want to see that you're thinking about your work, and trying to think about the bigger picture, but don't ask things you can google or find on the drive or find by asking another analyst

5. Always print and check your work.

Errors appear when you print. Find them before your VP / associate do.

6. Work efficiently.

If you can outsource work, do it. If you have a graphics team, use them. Attention to detail is very important, but no need to waste time on tedious shit that you can have someone else take a first pass at. Use logointern.com, bamsec.com, mappingintern.com, etc. Save yourself time for the stuff that matters.

7. Specific behavioral tips:

  • Stop talking about "college" around anyone more senior than an analyst - it just highlights the age gap
  • There's a fine line between not speaking enough and speaking too much. For everyone and every group, this is different. Try to find and hug that line. In the first ~6 months, err on the side of caution.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained. After you've built trust with your teams, ask for things. If you want to go to a meeting, ask your associate / VP if you / they can ask the director / MD. Chances are, even if it's a no, it will reflect well on you for showing the initiative. Maybe they'll bring you next time.

--
Have at it, monkeys.

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Comments (80)

Nov 3, 2017
  1. Learn to handle stress well. It's rarely the end of the world. If you're even-keeled that will help balance out your team and grow their trust in you when you're coming up on tight deadlines.
  2. Even if it's silly, respect the hierarchy.
    • 6
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Nov 4, 2017

One cannot stress the hierarchy thing enough. The more senior guys/gals worked their asses off to get where they are. One should respect that.

I would also add: don't make overly complex models with features that no one is gonna use anyway. It just eats away at your precious time and increases room for error. Keep the models simple.

    • 2
Nov 6, 2017

Strongly agree with this, especially the second point. Why overcomplicate things...

Nov 6, 2017

@Sil anything to add to the list?

Nov 6, 2017

@Intern4ever, I posted this in another thread before, but:

What really helped me become a better analyst and get much better even as I left IB for corp dev was taking ownership of my work. This can be tough in IB because many analysts really are there just for the paycheck (nothing wrong with that), but also because most senior bankers do a terrible job at keeping analysts up to date of the process, so analysts frequently work on assignments with no clue how it fits into the bigger picture or even what purpose it serves. What I would suggest doing is when you receive some assignment, even if it is incredibly mundane, ask yourself what the purpose of the assignment and its worth is. Then, not only complete the assignment as asked, but try to add some value, insight, thoughts, etc. Maybe that just means bolding the important part of an email or highlighting three or four comps that you think should be removed, but that shows that you care and it really does result in you producing better work because it forces you to actively think.

    • 7
Nov 8, 2017

And by silly, I mean that's definitely the worst part of banking.

Strong agree with @Asatar below +SB

    • 1
Nov 3, 2017

good info, thanks for posting

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    • 2
Nov 3, 2017

Just posted this under PE category: PE Recruiting Guide

It's tags onto your section above about PE recruiting. Definitely pays to prepare early - hard to catch up when recruiting cycle arrives

Nov 4, 2017

Excellent post. i think some trifecta of staying humble/grounded, being current in the situation, and not taking things too seriously are very helpful in navigating through that inevitable crash that most of us inevitably approach.

I can't stress enough about being current. Sometimes I catch myself thinking about the next [ ] years, charting out what to do when this is done. At a certain point you just have to recognize that this is where you are, and that you should put your best foot forward in the here and now. Eventually, things start to make sense, the pace slows down, and you find yourself near the end of your two year stint, wondering where the time has gone :)

    • 4
Best Response
Nov 6, 2017
  1. No matter how serious / important something seems at the time, within a week it won't look that way
  2. You're going to work with dickheads at some point, figure out how to deal with it
  3. Build a good relationship with other people your level / 1 above / 1 below - it'll be helpful and valuable for years
  4. You might not think something matters but if it matters to someone else, it automatically does to you
  5. If you think something is wrong, mention it - associates / VPs etc aren't perfect
  6. If someone takes the time to explain something to you, don't forget it and thank them
  7. Never put anything in an email / writing that you wouldn't be comfortable appearing either on the CEO's desk, on the front page of the WSJ/FT or in front of a regulator
  8. Don't do the job for the money, it's not worth it
    • 9
Nov 10, 2017

Agree with the not for the money point especially. +SB

Nov 9, 2017

Success = WC * PC (political capital)

Perhaps this is a bit of a summation of certain items previously mentioned, but it is a constant reminder for me. The previous commenters have nailed the WC. The PC component though is a tricky one for some and it can boil down to the most ridiculous shit like race, gender, ect. I think its important to set yourself a timeline and 'read the tea-leaves' when it comes to your career progression. Do your work, do it well, and be someone everyone important can rely on. But arguably being social is just as important... otherwise how do you establish your clout?

So be there when it matters, in a few parties and in meetings that you can learn from or contribute to.

...& raise hell baby

Nov 9, 2017

What the f*** is 'WC'?

Nov 9, 2017
pe-b1tch-hehe:

What the f*** is 'WC'?

Working Capital

Nov 9, 2017

Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?

    • 1
Nov 9, 2017

Was not ironic - genuinely was not sure what he meant.

I guess I agree with this... political capital multiplying your 'working capital'

Nov 15, 2017

What's working capital?

Nov 10, 2017

Every day is a new day. Do not get down on yourself for errors made the previous day, it happens and you can bounce back.

    • 3
Nov 11, 2017

Yeah I feel like with most errors - banking doesnt have a long memory span. +SB

Nov 15, 2017

Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, "Would an idiot do that?" And if they would, I do not do that thing.

Sorry, I ripped that off someone on this forum...Just seemed relevant

Nov 15, 2017

From my internship, I learnt to keep your head down on a Friday and look busier than the monkey next to you - otherwise your staffer will drop sh*t on your weekend

Nov 15, 2017
rodneymullen:

From my internship, I learnt to keep your head down on a Friday and look busier than the monkey next to you - otherwise your staffer will drop sh*t on your weekend

It seems that many people recommend behavior to avoid getting staffed. But as an Analyst isn't your goal to get the best deal experience so you can recruit to the buyside and make top bonus?

Nov 15, 2017
Banker88:
rodneymullen:

From my internship, I learnt to keep your head down on a Friday and look busier than the monkey next to you - otherwise your staffer will drop sh*t on your weekend

It seems that many people recommend behavior to avoid getting staffed. But as an Analyst isn't your goal to get the best deal experience so you can recruit to the buyside and make top bonus?

getting staffed on a lot of deals =/= top bucket. this could actually backfire you.

remember: quality, not quantity. obviously, you can't possibly be staffed on 1 deal at a time and expect top bonus...you learn to balance.

"Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, 'Would an idiot do that?' And if they would, I do NOT do that thing."
-Dwight Schrute, "The Office"-

Nov 15, 2017

BigSwap's list is a solid start.

I would reiterate writing down questions, wait until you have a decent list, and then approach someone more senior on your team when they have 20 minutes and fire away. Not only does this show them you want to be respectful of their time and interfere as little as possible, but overall I think you gain more from the discussion when its not just a quick 30 second Q and A.

Also, do everything possible not to ask the same question twice. It most likely will happen, but definitely do not make it a habit. Similarly however, don't say you understand if you don't. There's a fine line here, as sometimes it works where you just need a few minutes to digest it on your own and not look like an idiot in front of your MD, but if you act like you understand and really don't have a clue then its going to embarass you later.

One other important thing - while obviously it blows to get stuck doing something all night, on the weekends, etc., do not show anything except appreciation when this happens, esp. early on in your career. Going into banking, you expect this so it should not be a shock. Initial impressions go a long way, so have a positive attitude and plow hrough it. 2 am can be the best time to really understand what youre doing because there will be less e-mail interruptions and side conversations to distract you.

Nov 15, 2017

reading the last 2 responses, I take back what I said!

Nov 15, 2017

Thanks for those two great posts PaperTrail and BigSwap! Really insightful.

Have some silver bananas!

Nov 15, 2017

An old MD once told me "All you have in life is your name and your honor; keep those intact and in good standing and you'll be ok"... a bit philosophical but I've always found it to be true.

Also agree with F.I.LO.

Nov 15, 2017

Could I ask for you guys to give me some input on my forum "in search of prestige.." I feel I have a lot to learn!

Nov 15, 2017

Thanks for the great advice, everyone!

Nov 15, 2017

Make sure all your numbers are tight: look through parts of the book where the same number is shown (or even just used indirectly) and make sure there is consistency throughout the book. Check for errors (both numerical and formatting) on your screen, then print out and check again. Fix the ones you find, then print and check again. Also it's easy to zone out, but think while you're looking at things - do the numbers make sense? Are they plausible?

Always "under-promise and over-deliver". If you are jammed and are not able to complete something in time, communicate that to the person above you.

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7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Nov 10, 2017

Manage Up - Keep asking yourself how you can add value to your boss so he can look good to his boss. This applies more at the associate+ level but getting into this mindset will pay dividends down the line, even if you don't intend to stay in banking.

    • 3
Nov 10, 2017

This is a great point. I would always try to think with the mindset that my associates were my customers - and my job was to make them look good.

Nov 15, 2017

Lateraling from a non-banking position?

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Nov 15, 2017

PMed you.

Nov 15, 2017

Run while you still can

Nov 15, 2017

how shitty M+A is, and the boatload of money they pay you for really doing nothing.

Nov 15, 2017

how much the job sucks? even if you get top bucket/top PE job...

Nov 15, 2017

Don't believe the hype

Nov 15, 2017

no... you're not going to be on learjets advising CEO of the latest most brilliant idea since sliced bread

you're a mortgage broker - you get your client the money...

Nov 15, 2017

I got into an argument with a securities lawyer about which of us was the bigger whore. Came away with the realization that we were both just administrative whores.

Nov 15, 2017

Prepare thy soul.

Nov 15, 2017

Know that you know nothing, but are willing to learn anything.

Nov 15, 2017

How can one go about acknowledging this, and at the same time, make his/her manager confident that the job will get done on time and will be exceptional?

Nov 15, 2017

Respect the perils of "Reply All".

Nov 15, 2017

Would this also depend on you team? What if I get a hint from my teammates that they want to be in the loop on everything? When do I draw the line to reply all versus reply?

Nov 15, 2017

My comment was more aimed at the instances when you accidentally hit "reply-all" instead of "reply", leading to potentially embarrassing or job-threatening situations. When it happens to you (and it will, don't think your own shit don't stink) there is no conscious decision making involved, just the horrified realisation and regret that a message intended for your best bud on the floor is now on the public record and can never be erased. With great power comes great responsibility. This applies to MS Outlook. Respect it by applying a 1-minute send delay to all outgoing emails.

Another big no-no is adding people into sensitive email chains at late stages, especially higher-ups. This is a common way of saying "anything you tell me is going to be passed onto your boss and your boss's boss so don't trust me cuz I'm a snitch". Hierarchies need to be respected, let your manager do the escalations.

Nov 15, 2017

lol to the latter. i've had many instances at my past internship where i wanted to copy their managers so badly, but i controlled myself.

Nov 15, 2017

Keep track of your accomplishments / projects in a word doc.

Nov 15, 2017

This is interesting. What would be a benefit of doing this? Is it for resume-building purposes?

Nov 15, 2017
yankfan1216:

This is interesting. What would be a benefit of doing this? Is it for resume-building purposes?

No, it's to add color to your future autobiography. Goddamn, son

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

Nov 15, 2017

I just don't see why i need to record accomplishments in a document when I will be limited to a one page resume, at least for the next 10 or so years.

Nov 15, 2017

Uh, so you can refer to your accomplishments in detail? It's difficult to sit down one day and just summarize your past experiences off the top of your head, especially if you've been working for more than 6 months.

Nov 15, 2017

Do not pretend to understand something when you don't and note down all of the answers you receive to your questions so that you don't repeat them.

Nov 15, 2017

@"TheFamousTrader" I've heard about the above quite a bit. So, lets say you didn't understand something that was just explained to you, do you write all of it down and try to figure it out yourself and then go ask follow up questions OR you start asking questions right when the person is done explaining? Sometimes I feel that I can understand something once I've had the time to try it out myself/look it up etc.

Does it bother Senior Analysts/Associates when newbies start asking questions right away? Or when they come back 15-20min later to ask questions?

Nov 15, 2017

The best answer would probably be 'it depends'.

It is almost always better to go in to a dialogue there and then with the Associates/Senior Analyst vs. just receiving orders. If you don't understand something, make it clear there and then where you're having trouble following him/her. Getting back to that issue after a bit of time is, well... a waste of time. The last thing your boss wants to hear is that you've spent the last half an hour just pondering what you need to do as opposed to doing it. At the same time, if you see that the person is in a rush, get off his/her back and try asking fellow peers on the team, esp. if it's a 'generic' issue as opposed to a task/project-specific issue. In short, you have to play this by ear.

If you feel you don't instantly get it, but will get it after trying, that's great as it's very important to be able to do work independently/own the issues (esp. in my field of work where you have really small teams). At the place where I work Associates/Senior Analysts never seemed to be bothered with any seemingly basic questions as long as the timing was fine (i.e. you're not asking questions 10 minutes after Q-earnings have been released and the Senior Analyst has to come up with views in the next 5 minutes to tell the BS clients) and as long as I didn't come back to them with the same issues - you are expected to instantly learn from your mistakes and the challenges.

Nov 15, 2017

To cup the md's balls when going down on them and that a surprise finger in the ass is never a good idea.

Nov 15, 2017
reddog23:

To cup the md's balls when going down on them and that a surprise finger in the ass is never a good idea.

best. reply. EVER.

GS, BX. Will work for prestige.

Nov 15, 2017

^^^hahahahah!!!

"Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion" - Muhammad Ali

Nov 15, 2017

That I should have started in sales

"The American father is never seen in London. He passes his life entirely in Wall Street and communicates with his family once a month by means of a telegram in cipher." - Oscar Wilde

Nov 15, 2017
veritas14:

That I should have started in sales

PM'd you

Nov 15, 2017
  1. If you know the companies/sector you'll be covering, read over 4-6 quarters worth of transcripts and Qs/Ks to gain a feel. Each sector is unique and familiarity will be huge in speeding up your learning curve. Pay attention to the types of questions that analysts ask in conference calls.
  2. Keep your mouth shut. Don't speak unless you have a really good reason to speak up. No one will care about your thoughts/opinions. Your time will come.
  3. Don't burden your analyst. Obviously you will have plenty of questions but try to solve problems before asking the analyst. Google is your friend. Proving that you can problem solve and think independently will help gain their respect.
  4. Arrive before your analyst and leave after. Simple enough but many fail at this. If you don't have anything pressing, just read/surf the web.
  5. Follow your analyst into the bathroom on one of your first days and park at the stall next to him. Once he starts going, lean over and whisper "nice cock" into his ear.
Nov 15, 2017

Especially #5. Especially.

Nov 15, 2017
D M:

Especially #5. Especially.

Personally, I go with "DAMMNNNN that thing's huge, I'll bet you can doink two honeys at the same time like shishkabob", but you're right, sometimes, it's better to be subtle.

Nov 15, 2017

Dank Nugs nails it. Some less helpful tips:

  1. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ER people can come from a variety of backgrounds; you may have a steeper learning curve than the Wharton grad with a PM dad, but it says nothing about your intrinsic ability to pick stocks.
  2. You will fuck up a call. You will fuck up a lot of calls. You will, when you start, fuck up 50%+ of your calls and the ones you get right will mostly be because of luck. It's okay. Leave your ego where it's lying bleeding on the ground and figure out what you did right and what you FUBAR'ed.
  3. If you plan on getting the CFA, in the name of the baby Jesus start immediately. It's not hard material, but it is a slog, and you do not want to be 28 and still trying to pass L2. Some guy on the BSAS forum is in his 40s and still trying to make it through the program after 10 years--don't be him. Party less, save your liver, and nail that MFer when you can still burn the candle at two ends.
  4. Make friends with the support staff (IT, compliance). Don't be fake, learn their names (especially the efficient ones), say please and thank you, etc, etc. They can make your life a lot easier and all it takes is that you be a decent human being.
Nov 15, 2017

Excuse my ignorance, but what's BSAS?

Nov 15, 2017
D M:

Excuse my ignorance, but what's BSAS?

The Boston Security Analysts Society. It can be a good resource if you're interested in the business.

Nov 15, 2017

Awesome, thanks a lot man, definitely will check it out

Nov 15, 2017

Be nice to EVERYONE. Sad to say but sometimes, the dickheads you run into can be used as a means to an end.

fucked up but yeah.

Nov 15, 2017

If you're sitting at your desk all day you're doing it wrong.

Nov 15, 2017

rotational programs are harder than they seem.

Nov 15, 2017

Luckily when i was your age I knew the one thing that i needed to know, which was that I didnt know shit.

Nov 15, 2017
Nov 15, 2017