First year analyst, still feel incompetent and like I haven’t learned anything

Started as a first-year analyst (GS/MS/JPM) this past summer in a coverage group working remotely for most of the time. People talk about the typical ramp-up period for analysts but I feel like I haven't gotten that yet. Even though it's been 6 months I feel like I've learned nothing about corporate finance and modeling as I've just been editing Powerpoints and doing bitch work for 90 hours a week.

Is this normal or a byproduct of WFH? Should I be more outspoken about wanting to get more technical exposure? My concern is I'm already staffed up on things that fill up all my time but 90% of the work is in PPT, and while I'd love to get more technical experience I don't want to get over-staffed.

Am I the only one who's had this problem?

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Comments (56)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jan 18, 2021 - 12:48am

Relax there isn't "technical exposure" you arent going to program a self driving car.  You are at worst missing out on making a bull shit illustrative lbo with made up inputs that no one really takes seriously anyways.  Just keep going you will be ok.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 19, 2021 - 12:34am

First yr here that literally just did what was mentioned above. Built my first illustrative LBO today and realized it was the most bs thing possible lol. Literally was a bunch of random assumptions and the outputs that took me 50 hours to get perfect are going to be looked at by the client for maybe 60 seconds tops

Jan 18, 2021 - 1:32am

Even though it's been 6 months I feel like I've learned nothing about corporate finance and modeling as I've just been editing powerpoints and doing bitch work for 90 hours a week.

😂😂 That's what bankers DO! Mindless "bitch work for 90 hours a week." You thought you were going to be building space ships?  Especially when you're at a coverage group that outsources its modeling to the product guys? LOL. Congratulations my friend, you're a fucking "Investment Banker." This is now going to be your life every fucking week until you leave, die, or retire. You make sure to go back to your alma mater and tell those hardos at the SMIFs that this is the same life awaiting them when they graduate.

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Jan 18, 2021 - 1:56am

Second year analyst here.. feel the exact same way

"The future will be better tomorrow" -Dan Quayle

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 18, 2021 - 9:28am

Also at BB and agree 100%. If someone asked me to build a DCF I would probably shit myself (that's how little technical exposure I have) and similarly am so busy on other things that I don't really have time to learn it myself. Wondering if Associates etc realize this is happening?

Jan 19, 2021 - 4:29pm

lmaoooo chuckled

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Jan 19, 2021 - 7:42pm

I'm at a coverage group as well (with lower prestige than a top BB like GS). DCF is fairly straight forward. Get a sample model and practice 2-3 times you'll be fine. LBOs are more complicated, and should be within grasp after 10 times (that's how many times I practiced, might be bc I'm dumb). Don't worry too much about this. Take it with a grain of salt since my coverage group doesn't do any modeling. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 18, 2021 - 10:09am

Same here, I've mostly been put on pitches and although the people I've worked with haven't expressed negative feedback and I'm pretty responsive, I can't help but feel like maybe I'm just the worst analyst, since it seems like other people in my class are on live stuff.

Jan 18, 2021 - 11:59am

I see a lot of this same sentiment on WSO all the time, that IB work is essentially editing PowerPoints all day long. If that's the case, why are the interviews typically so technical and why is it so difficult to become an IB analyst? Surely at some point before becoming a senior Banker you're doing more analysis and actually utilizing all the knowledge of financial statements etc?

I'm in wealth management but I've been working on gaining the skills i need to make the transition to corporate finance for a while and from what I see it's either "you're pretty much just doing PowerPoint presentations all day" or "you have a ton of Excel, be prepared to answer a variety of technical questions etc etc" so is it one or the other? Both? Does it depend on the company you work for?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2021 - 10:32pm

 if you're willing to memorize 100's of technical answers that you don't actually need to know + have a good gpa you're probably willing to be someone's bitch for 90 hours a week. At least that's how I imagine them thinking of us. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 18, 2021 - 1:14pm

Also a first year Analyst at a BB, and have also got 0 technical exposure. The most excel I've done is make a few charts with data pulled from Factset to put in a PPT.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 18, 2021 - 2:44pm

Hahaha somebody should make an "expectations vs reality" IB thread. But yeah man, coverage banking is mostly putting slides together on your client and spreading their historical financials, maybe rolling them forward and showing what pro forma would look like if they issue more shares or something. Undergrads seriously overrate the importance of financial modeling. Don't think my MD would even know how an IRR/NPV excel function would work.

Jan 18, 2021 - 4:04pm

Also a first year Analyst at a BB that has gotten relatively little technical exposure until recently. When it comes to modeling, I honestly feel like I have no clue what I'm doing. My Associates and VPs assume that I've already had modeling experience before but I'm at a loss and unsure of who to turn to for help. Ordinarily, I would take it upon myself to learn the ins and outs of the model but I'm already doing 95+ hour weeks. The other Analysts and Associates are in the same boat so I'm hesitant to ask them for too much help as I don't want to add to their workload.

I feel like WFH has been a major impediment to the typical learning curve and I'm not sure whether I should try to wait this out and see if these skills come to me over time or just switch careers now. Would definitely appreciate some advice from other people on here who have been or are going through similar experiences.

Jan 18, 2021 - 5:27pm

Hold up– so people cite (with astounding frequency) "financial modeling skills" as one of the main (only) takeaways from IB. And you're saying that's not the case? Would love to get some more opinions on this since it may be important for many students considering IB.

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 18, 2021 - 7:42pm

Lmfao I posted a similar thread a few weeks ago asking when I can expect to get any modeling exposure as a first-year, but all the comments were current first-years telling me about how they're running 3 models simultaneously and I'm getting fleeced by my firm. Not sure wtf is going on here but maybe it's a coverage v. m&a thing? 

Jan 18, 2021 - 9:58pm

They are probably talking up their book. Now that everyone has a dose of humility it is cool to say how you really feel

I doubt anyone is building any meaningful models that are actually used in live deals

Maybe an m&a model for a pitch that entails refreshing factset and updating the tickers

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 19, 2021 - 2:49am

First year in m&a here doing significant modeling (2 sell side and 1 buyside operating models, handful of quick valuation decks for bakeoffs as well). From my experience operating models are significantly harder to build because most start from scratch. Valuation models are just template based for bakeoffs, and honestly anyone can learn most modeling on their own.

Great experience in terms of learning but i am still absolutely miserable and wanna get out of finance due to the hours and culture

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 22, 2021 - 12:02am

Never, it will take you too long and your associate wants to go skiing this weekend.

Jan 19, 2021 - 12:47pm

Banking at the end of the day despite all the "glory and praise" that it receives is a broker business - all you're doing is finding a buyer and a seller - the "financial modeling" work is a nice added bonus (putting aside the lending arm of the bank). Echoing everyone else's sentiment that the only way to learn how to model is to do it yourself on your own time - find whoever the best second/third year analysts are and ask them for their best models - start digging through and figuring out what's going on. There are many people who spend 3-4 years in banking and never close anything material - don't get disappointed it's just the way it is. If you really want to "work on interesting modeling" - see if you can somehow become close to your staffer and ask him for the next buyside deal - especially if it's for a strategic - I think that will probably give you the most "modeling experience". If you want a deal to close - dual/track sell-side but 80% of it is managing data rooms    

Note: Edited to reflect a contradictory statement that was called out below

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 19, 2021 - 2:47pm

Great advice but just one thing that I think was contradictory. DO NOT ask for buy-side staffing if you just want a closed deal on the resume.

You will definitely learn and do a lot more modeling on a buy-side but in most cases the probability of it closing is way lower than if you have a sell-side mandate.

Jan 19, 2021 - 2:59pm

This. Sell-sides are way better probability for your part of the deal to close

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 19, 2021 - 5:41pm

I literally feel like a summer analyst.  Whenever there is a model or something complicated, it's like I am a silent observer on the email chain and calls.  Obviously I am trying to follow what's happening and learn but it is not nearly the same as actually working on something.  

Speaking of incompetence, does anyone else feel like even in ppt and lighter stuff like comps they are still lagging?  Or is it just me?  My attention to detail has sharpened up for sure but it still feels like every time I am given a task like "Make X slide" I end up conceptually getting it wrong. Even when I ask for old examples, essentially replicate them, and have my associate review it.  Is this just a normal MD thing?  Makes me feel like even the stuff I should be able to do and is "easier" than modeling I am messing up.

I wonder if my MDs get that I have not been exposed to that kind of work (and no one is teaching me) so that's why I end up sitting most of those tasks out/make technical mistakes when helping, or if I just suck. Is it possible to be fired for being perceived as an incompetent analyst?  At this point I am actually worried. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 19, 2021 - 5:56pm

I 100000% feel the exact same way!! I suggest setting something up w staffer or close assoc to help you learn... bc I feel like if we don't try ourselves we never will ... it's fucking ridiculous how little I know lol. 

Jan 19, 2021 - 6:59pm

First year analyst here. It's alright man and do not feel insecure about it. You're only 5 months in (same as me). I think the best thing to do is just make sure you execute deliverables well and don't get coffee orders wrong. It just takes time to get there. No one will trust a kid 5 months into his job working with complex models.

And yes, you learn jack shit in banking, the models are ludicrous at best - if you work for people like I do, learning their behaviourals are very important. How do they get shit done? How do they deal with problems?

  • Prospect in S&T - FI
Jan 20, 2021 - 12:52am

Haha I'm a CS major & spent a summer at a BB. I was so afraid of 'modeling', thought it was gonna be harder than coding... until I realized it was data entry into a template and random assumptions. Industry is total BS

Jan 20, 2021 - 6:49pm

Unless you're in a product group or an EB/BB or a group that does it's own modeling, that's basically the role of an "Investment Banker." 
There's a reason the finmeme accounts post weekly if not daily about how their job is just 90 hours of bitch work and moving logos around. 

If you did a summer internship, that might have shed some light on it, but I spoke to people I knew as friends in banks and they iterated that this is what they basically do, it's the flashy guys who go back to campus talking about the models & bottles kind of life that distort reality. I think it's also that when you know someone get's paid a lot, works for a brand name firm, is pretty smart/intelligent, and looks disheveled at brunch on sunday as they suddenly say they have to leave to get to the office to work on something, that you think it's cool important shit like corporate finance / modeling / or some important thing, but it's often not the case. Like you might be going to the office on Saturday to print and courier books, they're not going to tell you that but you might assume. 

Plus, it's banking right, it's a sales job, I'm surprised at how many people went in thinking it was going to "make them feel smart" or they would "learn the ins and outs about how a company operates" or "impress their fathers who got them that job"!

Really, follow the finmeme accounts and the ones for law / accounting / consulting, and you'll see a trend where everyone feels like they should be doing what their title and role suggests they do, but they dont. Think if you needed to actually do important super technical important stuff banks could hire so many art history majors who while are great at golf couldnt do a paper LBO? 1/2 joking about that last point

Jan 21, 2021 - 9:32am

It's a truth everyone in the industry knows but prefers not to share. 
It's similar to hating your firm/job/people but pretending like you dont to prospective candidates and stuff "omg the people are so nice"

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 21, 2021 - 12:16pm

We all drank the kool aid

But then again I always joked with my friends that people that stayed in this rat race weren't the kind of visionaries that you think about when you think about building businesses. This industry is great for process oriented people who can take orders and kiss ass, not for people who want to move mountains or create anything of material value

Sure, you might get rich, but you'll never truly have felt ownership in anything and to me, having owneship is always better than having money

Although it doesn't hurt to have both :)

Jan 21, 2021 - 2:27pm

If by rat race you mean IB yeah I would agree. The friends I had in IB with the 4.0 GPAs and anxiety around always doing the "right" thing I've noticed did great in IB (GPA to me means how good you are at doing doing shit without losing attention or discipline) at the associate/sr associate level are starting to have trouble managing jr people and a lot are scared of the buyside cause you have to think for yourself lol.

You can build businesses in PE, as far as truly feeling ownership and moving mountains, idk about that haha Im just in it for the ca$h and to make it out of the cycle lmao

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