Good Associates vs. Bad Associates - How They Affect Your Work Experience As An Analyst

TheKing's picture
Rank: Senior Neanderthal | 5,753

Moderator Note (Andy): Best of WSO - this post originally went up August 2007 and we thought it deserved to go back on the homepage for those who may have never seen it.

I don't really think this has been discussed and I think it's worth delving into. As an analyst, working with an associate who is on the ball and knows what he's doing can really make your life a lot easier. Working with an associate who is clueless can make it a living nightmare.

I anyone has any stories to share about working with good and/or bad associates, feel free to share.

Also, what, in your mind, separates a good associate from a bad one?

I'll start, in my opinion, a good associate is someone who knows how to manage upwards and keep a realistic workload coming in. Second, it's one who you can rely on to further check the work product so no errors (as tiny as they may be) get sent out to a client (or VP/MD for that matter).

Let's see what everyone else thinks.

Comments (50)

Aug 26, 2007

Agree, the whole problem with bad associates may originate from the fact that people without banking experience are recruited from business schools to become associate and from the fact that banking is probably a world where people who are likeable are recruited not necessarily good/smart people...

I had 2 horrible female associates who couldn't even use excel or type with 10 fingers...

Just because they were pretty looking females they were recruited IMHO, because whenever you ask a finance question they don't know the answer and become very annoyed...

Aug 26, 2007

Interns work in power point.
Analyst work in excel.
Associates work in outlook, specializing in forwarding e-mails with mesages like "FYI" and "Can you handle?".

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Aug 26, 2007
altfp:

Interns work in power point.
Analyst work in excel.
Associates work in outlook, specializing in forwarding e-mails with mesages like "FYI" and "Can you handle?".

Spot on. Same with VP's - I woke up this morning with four separate emails containing just three words each - "can you handle".

Aug 26, 2007

I agree 100%.

smuguy97:
altfp:

Interns work in power point.
Analyst work in excel.
Associates work in outlook, specializing in forwarding e-mails with mesages like "FYI" and "Can you handle?".

Spot on. Same with VP's - I woke up this morning with four separate emails containing just three words each - "can you handle".

Aug 26, 2007

Ditto - the three level approach sounds about exactly right. Now, granted, there are trade-offs. The interns once in a while will get to see their page in the book that goes to the client (or, if they're lucky like me, actually get to shake hands with the client and watch the book get flipped through lazily, then put down and forgotten) but mostly make bad charts look worse with bad data from questionable sources cited improperly. But damn had it better be aligned vertically, or you're totally f'ed.

Analysts are your friends and worst enemies, since they get thrown under the bus right next to you. Of course, the 2nd years want to do as little work as possible, so they'll often do the throwing.

Associates will never be your best friends, but they can be both the most loved and most hated people in the group. Pray for the hands-on associate who likes to get her hands dirty and make the page look just-so herself, who's willing to make the chart herself after you've told her for the fifth time "20 more minutes, I'm getting killed over here," will scream you out when you fuck up the footnote and get her yelled at for a straight 20 minutes, but sends you home and does the three pages herself when you've been up for two days straight.

And then there's the awful associate who won't look at a single page you've created, but is only too happy to share the wealth when the inevitable "What the hell's wrong with these bullets? Why is this page still this way?" email comes back downhill. The "Industry Expertise" guys, the one who doesn't know how to set up two screens (and you wonder why he bothers opening the laptop, since reading the same page at two angles has hardly ever brought about understanding), but the one on whom the Director is relying to cover his ass should he run out of bull in the midst of a meeting.

But remember, whoever you get has to be met with a sunny disposition and a smile. You'll never be the top of the heap at the Bank.

Aug 26, 2007
Ballyho128:

Pray for the hands-on associate who likes to get her hands dirty and make the page look just-so herself, who's willing to make the chart herself after you've told her for the fifth time "20 more minutes, I'm getting killed over here," will scream you out when you fuck up the footnote and get her yelled at for a straight 20 minutes....

why would you pray for that? associates determine your bonus. if you get them yelled at for 20 minutes and they take it out on you by screaming at you, you should be worried about your standing in your group

Aug 26, 2007

Associates straight out of business school with no banking experience are a treat to work with.

Not only are they getting paid more than analysts, it is the analysts who have to them how to everything like they're damn summer analysts.

Aug 26, 2007

You guys must work at some shitty ass groups, my associates are generally nice, and considerate. There are exceptions every once in a while.

...

...

Aug 26, 2007

Agree with slams. My associates have all been extremely nice. Instead of saying: "Stay up all night and take care of this," I get: "If it is going to take you too long don't worry about it, it isn't important anyways."

Aug 26, 2007

My associate last summer was a great guy but he left and now I'm stuck with a couple of retards....

Aug 26, 2007

where did your associate go to?

Aug 26, 2007

He left to do equity research...He got married and his woman was complaining about the long hours blah blah

Aug 26, 2007

that makes sense, in the end family and a healthy work life balance is more important than money...

is he still in the same bank?

Aug 26, 2007

No, he went to a Tier 1 BB

Aug 27, 2007

is he now at a better bank or a worse bank (according to the rankings)?

why didn't he stay at the same bank ?

why does HR at your bank not retain 'talent' by allowing him to move to Equity Research?

Aug 27, 2007

Better bank

Not sure why he didn't stay here, maybe he felt their ER dept was more reputed

The guy was an analyst promote, had been here since '01 so he probably felt that moving internally would be too much of a hassle... he probably wanted a change

Aug 27, 2007

Compbanker, it sounds like you work at I-banker fantasy camp.
My associates have been pretty solid. One was extremely demanding/hardcore and made me walk the plank a few times, but he also knew his stuff cold.
"Dammit, the client doesn't give a fuck if you haven't slept!"

Best Response
Aug 27, 2007

My worst associate experiences: one reffed out and then saved over the model I'd built from scratch (after erasing the forty prior versions "because they were just cluttering up the folder"). I kid you not. It was the guy's first deal ever, while he was still a generalist and had just been released from training. He literally destroyed fifty hours of my work, then said, "I don't see why this is a problem," when I asked him to stop reffing, saving, and erasing.

Later on, two nights before the meeting, he decided that "this sheet in the model doesn't do anything," and deleted it "to clean up the workbook", then spent six hours trying to figure out why the model reffed out again. Luckily, I'd learned by then to email myself a copy of the model every half an hour. It fucked up my inbox something fierce, but at least this guy's rampant new-associate-syndrome only required a couple of hours to recover from, rather than fifty.

The same associate once called me at home out of the blue at 8:20 AM after a late night. I was still getting dressed. He said (and this is in a thick, almost-comical Indian accent), "I need you here in ten minutes."

"Hmm. Okay. If I leave now, I can be there in just under half an hour," I said.

"No. You need to be here in ten minutes."

"Um. Okay. I can knock off five minutes by getting a cab. We'll call it twenty minutes. It's not physically possible for me to get there faster."

"You will be here in ten minutes. You will. You will. You cannot do this to me. If you don't, I will call [your staffer] and tell her that you are... I don't know, whatever. I will call her right now and tell her that you are an idiot. You will be here in ten minutes."

"I will be there as soon as humanly --" Click. The dude had hung up on me. He called back two minutes later, repeating the "You will be here. You will be here in ten minutes," line. The solution finally came about fifteen minutes later, when I was in the cab and still on the phone with him.

"You will be here in ten minutes. Why can you not be here in ten minutes? Why are you so stupid that you cannot do this one thing?"

"All right. You are completely right and I am wrong. I'm so, so sorry for being stupid. Okay. It's now 8:35, and I will be there in ten minutes as you ask."

"All right, fine. I'm glad you finally understand what is important. Next time don't make me take so long to teach you." Click.

I probably don't need to underscore this, but I arrived at the exact same time I told him I would.

I am not fucking kidding.

On the other hand, there was a truly amazing associate. He respected my time, was kind and understanding, and only raked me over the coals once: on my very first deal, when I hadn't yet learned that sleep was optional. When I got staffed with this associate on a Friday night, I'd call my fiance with the news and we'd both laugh for joy, because it meant that I'd get to spend at least half a day with him that weekend.

I'd tell stories about this associate too, but there's just nothing entertaining about a good associate.

Aug 27, 2007

whahaha what kind of crap associate indian must that be.... which bank is this? ML?

Aug 27, 2007

There are crap associates at all banks and of all races. I only mentioned his accent because it made his rant much more surreal and harder to understand.

Aug 27, 2007

I don't see how any non-retarded associate could "see no problem" with deleting all 40 prior versions of a model. A worksheet that doesn't "do" anything? I wouldn't expect even an MD to be that ignorant.

I'm currently in the post-LOI diligence phase of a deal that we're closing; if someone erased v1-v72 of my LBO model I would fucking lose it with them.

Aug 27, 2007

To be fair, it was his first deal. He probably straightened up a little after that... though someone just PMed me and told me they knew the same associate (we verified with his initials), so something tells me that he hasn't made as much progress away from that crap as he should have.

To give credit to my group, they certainly didn't extend him an offer to come back and join them full-time. He was completely incompetent during that first month he was with us.

Aug 27, 2007

oh wow, WOW. I would eviscerate anybody that did that to a model. That's a hilarious story, though I'm sure it wasn't hilarious at the time. It kind of makes my hair stand on end to hear it. I can't imagine hiring somebody so unimaginably retarded. I mean, I had some pretty bad rookie associates when I was an analyst, but geez...most of them at least had common sense, most of the time.

Keep up the good stories...

Aug 27, 2007

The worst associates tend to be women....

Aug 27, 2007

Yes I fully agree... unless they studied engineering (which I do respect) I think the most of them are recruited because of their looks not because of their skills especially those with liberal arts backgrounds which are really a joke ahhahahahha...

Aug 28, 2007
student22:

Yes I fully agree... unless they studied engineering (which I do respect) I think the most of them are recruited because of their looks not because of their skills especially those with liberal arts backgrounds which are really a joke ahhahahahha...

That's rather sexist, don't you think? Most women are poor in positions of power due to lack of management experience and lack of other women to look up to and emulate. It's twice as hard for a woman to be taken seriously than men, especially in such a male oriented industry. If women can get ahead by using their looks, what's to stop them? Also, liberal arts degrees are not jokes, perhaps that is what just interested them at the time.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

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Aug 28, 2007

I have actually taken risks several times and called associates out in front of officers.

Example.

We were running short on time so my associate (I will call him Andrew Associate) was going to look at the book right after I finished it before I looked it over myself. It was a book that had a lot of powerpoint tables with numbers, so clearly footing numbers was a problem. Anyway, I was apparently not on top of my game that day and made lots of mistakes and the numbers did not match. I fixed them at my computer as my associate was looking over the book. Victor VP came to my desk and called Andrew Associate over.

Viktor VP asked, "Andrew Associate, did you check the numbers."

Andrew Associate responded, "Yes, I looked them all over."

altfp, "No you didn't. I caught about 100 mistakes in the draft I gave you. Fortunately, I can fix them myself. Let me print you a copy Victor VP."

I do not recommend such behavior, but when an Associate is doing absolutely nothing and you have to make sure everything is correct on your own, you get no sleep-and a little annoyed.

Aug 28, 2007

Damn -- ballsy. My modus is always apologize/rectify/smile, no matter how bad it gets. Were you actually successful in calling him out without negative consequences?

I wish I knew which associate that was.

Aug 28, 2007
Mis Ind:

Damn -- ballsy. My modus is always apologize/rectify/smile, no matter how bad it gets. Were you actually successful in calling him out without negative consequences?

I wish I knew which associate that was.

Well as long as the quality of work is there you can get away with some things. Everyone gets tired and occasionally says things they shouldn't. Its more about limiting the number of times as much as possible.

Aug 28, 2007

Good point.

Aug 28, 2007

It's not sexist, it's my experience with female associates/analysts. Most of the female ones can do nothing right, but I do agree with you if a female associate is good she then is really good and on top of her game and even better than the male associates. Those female associates/analysts I do respect.

I want to have a competent associate who is on top of his game and can teach me skills and mentor me not a kind of barbie doll wearing prada and gucci incompetent of doing modeling etc.

Your argument IMHO holds more for minorities who always suffer from racism who come out of poor families, no one to look up and emulate. I do believe it is harder for a minority from a poor background to succeed in the financial industry but I don't believe those females using looks without skill should be respected.

Liberal arts? We call them joke degrees at our school...

Aug 31, 2007

Joke degrees, good one. Your school must be full of fantastically creative people. I mean "joke degrees" is such a cleaver term for what you consider worthless. You are an idiot and you school is probably worthless too.

Aug 28, 2007

::Knock knock:: Glass ceiling anyone?

There are always a few bad apples of course, in any group. I find it impossible to believe however, that females are hired SOLELY on their looks. Yes, if given a choice, one would have a proclivity towards the thin blonde than the fattie. Men are horny creatures yes, but they aren't that stupid. You cannot be stupid in this industry.

To say that minorities deserve more respect than females who "use their looks" (which one could say is somewhat of a catch-22, because how else are they going to succeed?) is silly. Both are in the minority. Few people talk about the latter however.

Re: Liberal Arts degrees.

At your school? I have the feeling that's a bit over-board. I'm sure it was just your buddies.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Aug 28, 2007
atropolation:

::Knock knock:: Glass ceiling anyone?

At the associate level??

Aug 28, 2007

I don't want you to think I'm a raging pro feminist either, I have worked for a monster woman once who ended up firing me over something rather minute. She thought I was "too feminine" and "soft" because I wasn't a raging bitch like herself. Nevertheless, I was happy to be out of there.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Aug 28, 2007
atropolation:

I don't want you to think I'm a raging pro feminist either, I have worked for a monster woman once who ended up firing me over something rather minute. She thought I was "too feminine" and "soft" because I wasn't a raging bitch like herself. Nevertheless, I was happy to be out of there.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Most of the women in Banking are like this, I worked with an Indian Associate and she was the biggest bitch I've ever come across. Every time these chicks raise their voice I feel like telling them to blow me...pisses me off no end.

Aug 28, 2007

EVERYWHERE! lol

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Aug 28, 2007

Hate to disagree with you, Atro, but I don't believe in the glass ceiling as a cultural institution in finance. Perhaps I'm just not seeing it, but most places I've worked, I've seen great, capable women at every level of the business. I've never been held back by my gender (except once at a branch of GS PWM populated by southern good ol' boys with chips on their shoulders, but I told 'em to kiss my grits and went up to New York to finish out my summer). I'm sure there are localized problems, but I don't think gender discrimination is endemic anymore. My group in IBD had tons of hard, brilliant women: associates, VPs, MDs. And let me guarantee you: none of them were there for looks, just like none of the guys were there for looks.

Of course, it's quite possible that there's a massive glass ceiling that I just haven't seen. It's possible. After all, it is made of glass, and some females seem to ignore it without ill effect.

On the other hand, there are other minority statuses that seem like they really can keep you down. From what I saw in my bank, it looked like Indian people had to work very hard to prove they were good for more than modeling, and they seemed to get less client exposure. Is this something other people have noticed as well?

Aug 28, 2007

Hm, I have dealt with a lot of people brushing me off as nothing more than a pretty blonde, but I've really worked quite hard to prove myself. It still comes up a lot, but I am not as senior as you.

I just felt, in reference to what some of the guys were saying on here, that it was as though the men were just brushing off the ladies in finance because they thought that they were hired solely on their looks. But as you and I both know, such is not the case.

I wasn't saying that the glass ceiling is a "cultural institution", but it def. still exists. Whenever I read some of these blogs and posts that people write it makes me sick to my stomach from all the rampant sexism. I work with some great guys, but I don't know about working conditions everywhere else.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Aug 28, 2007

I have seen many indians, they usually stick together and are not very outgoing, there were actually even worse than the stereotype asians all work no play...There are exceptions for sure, but isn't it the case we all prefer white but don't dare to tell it?

We live in an unfair world, which is a fact we have to accept!

Aug 28, 2007
student22:

I have seen many indians, they usually stick together and are not very outgoing, there were actually even worse than the stereotype asians all work no play...There are exceptions for sure, but isn't it the case we all prefer white but don't dare to tell it?

We live in an unfair world, which is a fact we have to accept!

Don't agree with this stereostype, maybe true at your Bank and school but Indians are pretty chill, they can drink that's for sure...

Aug 28, 2007

sure the ladies in i-banking (I mean banking and not equity sales) are not hired for their looks...God, I hope not, otherwise there are some recruiters with terrible taste out there

Aug 28, 2007

It really depends... Indians FOB are usually pretty bad but it isn't their fault. After fighting the ridiculous odds to go to IIT, then fighting the ridiculous odds to get a good job, then the ridiculous odds to get a green card/work visa, then the ridiculous odds to make it to i-banking, you can't really fault them for the "all work, no play" attitude. They are just really scared of fucking up after all the work they put to get there. Even amongst those, there are some who let their hair down. The Indian-Americans though are just as social, and definitely mingle well with other races.

Aug 29, 2007

This whole idea of taking associates from bus schools is something I never got.

Aug 29, 2007
TheKing:

Also, what, in your mind, separates a good associate from a bad one?

The bad associate is the one who barks orders and starts picking apart your ppt/excel cos he (probably) gave u the wrong info in the 1st place!!!
The good associate is the one who takes apart the ppt/excel, barks as much as the bad one but then takes you for a beer at the end of the week and stands up for you at the end of the yr when its numbers time...

Aug 29, 2007

Bad associates are ones who don't even know what you're talking about. There she is, right in front of me.

Aug 31, 2007

you are worthless and useless, joke degree holder!!!

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