How can we do better?

Hi all. I'm an MD at a bulge bracket bank in NYC. My group staffer recently shared this link: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/1st-year-a… 

Banking has always been tough on juniors but seems like working from home has made it a lot worse when it probably should not have.

I am very close with the group staffer and we are involved in our firm's recruiting and wellness efforts. We decided to create this forum in hopes of getting candid advice from junior bankers and former junior bankers. We understand working from home has been tough on juniors so please share any complaints and advice on how we can improve the situation.

No promises that this will transform the experience for everyone but I guarantee that we will at least relay the information to people at my bank and work to find solutions... hopefully some of this can get sent to bankers at other places too...  

I'm new to this site and barely understand the dynamics/demographics of it but hope this goes somewhere. I will monitor this periodically with a couple of my guys and we will chime in when we see fit but this is mostly a space for productive discussion among juniors. Thanks

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Comments (324)

Jan 7, 2021 - 2:18pm

- The 121s are more relevant than ever, focus on line managers taking care of their staff.
- Ask what your people need, ask how they feel being stuck at home with no opportunity to go out during the work time.
- There will be huge gaps during the work day for younger employees who can no longer rely on immediate help from seniors or their boss. They can't just jump up and go to a colleague and ask. This gap has to be closed somehow. Figure out how.
- Are there social events (digital) that are for the wider team for a more fun environment? Not just official stuff? We introduced that and it helped a lot. (like Friday afternoon calls)

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Jan 7, 2021 - 3:17pm

I agree with the 121s but not the social events. I definitely feel more connected to the seniors when they call to ask to walk through something and I actually participate in the conversation. The social events are just added stress imo.

Jan 7, 2021 - 4:08pm

Appraisals, formal sessions with your line manager.

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Jan 7, 2021 - 4:09pm

I think I should clarify - our young employees have *never* met anyone IRL. like ever. They feel very uncomfortable at times dealing with complete strangers over the phone (we don't even have video conferencing for all meetings).

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Jan 10, 2021 - 1:32am

I could not agree more. Just another hour long call I have to make time for. My group did one holiday event that was fun, but other than that all the other attempts seemed to fall short.

The difference with the holiday event was it was a zoom show led by an actor, not just a chit-chat. Those things get so awkward, especially for new analysts (even more so laterals, who may know nobody). Actually, in the beginning we were yelled at for not speaking up more on these fundatory calls. Thankfully they seem to have realized this by now.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 2:31pm

Juniors in my group (especially first years who are starting their first role in a professional environment virtually) feel immense pressure to be online at all hours and to be ready to turn comments at the drop of a hat. I think it would be extremely helpful to have "protected" hours on weekdays. It would be nice to know that from 7pm-8pm, I can eat dinner with my family, call a friend, read a book, go on a walk, or pursue a hobby. In the office, we used to walk out and grab lunch / tea together and would eat dinner as a group when possible. Now many meals are spent alone in front of a computer because someone is pinging us or wants comments immediately turned. 

Jan 7, 2021 - 2:50pm

I couldn't agree more with this, and for banks that aren't offing seamless to WFH juniors this problem is magnified. There were a few weeks where I never got a chance to go the grocery store (multiple Sats in a row and the all hours pressure). I had to uber eats every meal which over two weeks is incredibly expensive. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 3:29pm

Another suggestion I might add is to take the time on each pitch / book to call the junior team and make them feel like they're actually a valued member of the team rather than a resource that is only around to output pages. Beyond learning technicals, we are also here to learn soft skills from successful MDs and want to know how you think through the materials, why we are showing what we are, strategy, etc. If we are lucky, we will get a "thanks for the effort" email at the end of the pitch. I think it would mean a lot if MDs just spent 15 minutes with the junior team to answer questions and provide insights. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 11, 2021 - 2:47pm

Robin Olds, Commander of a major fighter wing that played a crucial role in Vietnam, took the time out to speak with everyone from the enlisted mess staff and aircraft maintaniners to senior fighter pilots returning from sorties.

His job of planning the tactics of the air war is definitely more stressful, time consuming, and 10 times more important than any little pitch an MD has. Yet he, along with many other military leaders, took the time out to see from top to bottom what was working and what wasn't. Because of that people at his wing literally missed being at war and many volunteered to go back multiple times. Despite long missions and seeing their friends get shot out of the sky, the senior leadership showed them their worth and they felt valued. Thus, they were motivated to get back to fighting the next day. That mental state boost from everyone top to bottom made his wing much more lethal. 

TLDR; Taking the time out to understand your junior employees and see what's working and what's not besides the surface level work will not only make their work better but make it much more efficient. It's not a waste of time, its a part of the fucking job as a leader. If you're in a senior position, show up to the game and lead.

Jan 7, 2021 - 3:54pm

Someone elsewhere commented that UBS is already doing this and it is ignored.

What if instead, you simply implemented a norm that between 6pm-12am, it is ok if your response time is 1 hour. Then you wouldn't stress if you were at the gym/running/eating dinner.

Obviously you would need to get sr banker buy in or enforce this somehow, but might be more flexible than just "do things during this 1 hour"

  • Associate 2 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 11:02pm

I'm at ubs and have never even heard of this policy or anyone taking it

Plus its condescending.   You have 1 hr each day for free time.  Wow.  Imagine telling a software engineer that at Google.    So glad I'm free from 7pm to 8pm, but I'm being driven to the ground until 4am every night.  Thanks hr for this wonderful freedom.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 10:22pm

First-year here! I started 100% WFH and  I gotta say Analyst 2 got it 100% right. PROTECTED HOURS are key. Just give me 1 hour where I can go to the gym and eat dinner without the pressure. Love when my firm started this.. We only have it 3 days a week(M/W/F)

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 7, 2021 - 10:26pm

Juniors in my group (especially first years who are starting their first role in a professional environment virtually) feel immense pressure to be online at all hours and to be ready to turn comments at the drop of a hat. I think it would be extremely helpful to have "protected" hours on weekdays. It would be nice to know that from 7pm-8pm, I can eat dinner with my family, call a friend, read a book, go on a walk, or pursue a hobby. In the office, we used to walk out and grab lunch / tea together and would eat dinner as a group when possible. Now many meals are spent alone in front of a computer because someone is pinging us or wants comments immediately turned. 

I actually love this idea. What if we just implemented a strict 1 hour "dinner time" from 7-8pm. Just today, I had no food in my apartment so I step out to go to the grocery store and my VP is calling me multiple times as I'm driving to Whole Foods and I'm like fuck fuck fuck. I feel guilty not picking up, but also know it's going to be a question about the model and I don't want to have the conversation without the model in front of me for backup so I quickly stop and buy some almonds and candy at a gas station and go drive back home ASAP. This kind of shit just wears on you.

Whereas in the office, dinner was my favorite part of the day, I'd go walk around the bullpen and round up analysts and we'd spend too long deciding where to go and finally walk around Bryant Park to Dig Inn or Sweet Green or wherever and bitch about whatever we were working on and people usually left us alone for at least 30min because they could just look up from their offices and see we were gone and know.. "oh they are grabbing food."

My entire time in banking I must have ordered Seamless 5 times, because I just loved the fresh air. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 10:30pm

You can't just stop work streams at 7-8pm. My firm does this but no one uses it cause it won't make sense. Imagine telling your associate or md that you're taking an hour to eat and no other analyst uses it. Who do you think will get the higher bonus?

  • Managing Director in IB - Cov
Jan 8, 2021 - 7:44pm

Good idea. Thank you. A very strict policy might be impossible to implement and get people to follow. It might have to be more related to the culture and expectations of seniors... getting people to understand that its OK/expected for analysts to reply with ex. "sorry having dinner now, will start on it in an hour". This is very helpful

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 2:33pm

Associates need to mentor more, I usually get "make a page on x" and I have no idea what that would look like then they don't reply when I ask. I don't have any stats but I'm sure staffers have staffings sheets going back a few years, check those and see how much worse it got. I heard that there is typically down time during the day for analysts, I have yet to see that.

Edit: also, never ever go directly to analysts for work. My md has problems staffing since everyone is at capacity so he asks me directly for work. I'm on 10 projects (7 active)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 10, 2021 - 12:24am

Agree with this, especially for those who are in the same boat as me and didn't intern with the group. Another thing is communication - 6 months in and still having substantial difficulties understanding what's going on with deal proceses. A few times where 1st years are left off email chains then get yelled at for not "taking ownership as the analyst on the deal" - for example 1st yr analyst is left off email chain discussing comments. Few hours pass. Associate / VP then cc's junior asking for timing update, but its our first time seeing comments. Just a bad look. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 3:08pm

I'm glad to see this post as its important that the toxicity of the work environment for 1st / 2nd years is addressed. 

I think the biggest issue you're going to face is many of us are burnt out from months of false fire drills. Even if the work environment improves, I will still look to exit as soon as possible as I know the true color of the people above me. It needs to be a complete 180 turnaround in work environment otherwise I don't see a future longer than 3-4 more months of this. I don't want to be receiving comments at 2am on a Sunday for a cold pitch that really has no deadline. I also don't appreciate a $20 Christmas gift after several back to back 100hr weeks when I know the people I'm working for are quite wealthy.

Best of luck.

Jan 7, 2021 - 3:13pm

Yes, there's definitely a lot of frustration built up. I think another place where this stems from (not necessarily senior bankers fault) is the rush to go back to the office in the fall. I think JPM, BAML, and Citi to name a few all told their first years to come back at some point and now we're all back at home wondering why we're paying $2000 a month for an apartment we don't even use.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 8, 2021 - 12:40pm

This is a great point. Was told to be ready to come to the office in early July, now have been paying $2K a month for 6 months while no one is actually going in at all. Wish they would be like some of the clients and just be firm on a date (ie. WFH until at least April 2022, reevaluate then) rather than keep the office open on an ambiguous policy where no one goes in because no one is going in.

Could've saved upwards of $10K by now not to mention the lost opportunity to live somewhere with better weather/beaches/cheaper for ~6 months

Jan 7, 2021 - 3:17pm

Stop accepting every rfi, pitch, and mandate.  Realize the juniors are completely burned out physically and emotionally and at some point you need to weigh the well being of the employees vs the bottom line profits the group takes in.  I know this will be ignored, but has to be said.

Tired of the bank leadership saying empty things like "we have persevered through this challenge....let's continue to stay close to clients and deliver exceptional solutions to them"   yeah...at the expense of every employee...

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - ECM
Jan 7, 2021 - 3:24pm

This! MD in a team call spoke about taking on a new mandate, and my entire team was like omg.. we are just swapped and he just laughed. We needed up doing it...

Jan 7, 2021 - 3:34pm

The last pitch I was on the entire junior team (senior associates and analysts) huddled on a call to go over comments and it turned into a "I hope we lose this pitch, let's stop caring about this" session.   Your employees now want the bank to lose.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - ECM
Jan 7, 2021 - 3:19pm

Can speak for myself and a few other first years I work with. It's the never ending work. And what I mean by that is, we log on at 8am, log off at 2am. Sleep a few hours and go right back to it. Walk from the desk to the bed and back. It's only work, wake up at 5am to pee real quick and have to scroll through your phone because you are afraid you got an email right when you fell asleep with comments or something. We all signed up to work long hours, we get that but there has to be a "off switch" at some point to not have to stress about it. We sit in a room alone for 16 or more hours a day, slaving away and it puts into perspective how quickly you actually dont enjoy it. Maybe at the office it would be different, I have yet to experience it. Sitting next to other first years, working and joking around at times. Being able to walk home for 15 min and get that break. Have your boss give you a smile once in a while, that can change things for someone who is feeling miserable at a job.
I have only been working for 3 months now and I have been doing intensive research on where to go next. Recruiters have already reached out with roles for 2022. Sad thing is, I actually like the bank I work for and my associate is awesome.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 10, 2021 - 2:02am

I could not agree with this more. And if it tells any seniors reading this anything, I am not the only one. I've been having pretty regular panic attacks for the past few months, and this was supposed to be my dream job. That's a new thing, by the way...

But if you haven't experienced what it is like to start this job for the first time in a virtual environment, in a group where you don't know anybody, alone with an empty fridge, then you can't really imagine what it's like. Hearing about how we had a record year coupled with a cheap gift and holiday work really laid the cherry on top me.

And how the hell are we supposed to admit these things virtually to people we don't know? Especially if most of us are the types of people who have always performed well? Who worked so hard for this job? Who don't like to complain?

It's a hard problem to solve. But if it doesn't move in a positive direction, I think analysts may begin drop at even faster rates. I hope this comes off as constructive, as that is 100% how it is meant. I really do not want to quit this job. But if my sanity continues to be less important than a totally worthless Friday staffing, I will be forced to.

  • Consultant in Consulting
Jan 7, 2021 - 3:20pm

Speaking for myself here, but in a TAS group that recently has similar hours to IB with 80% of the pay, the reason people don't get burnt out in our group is primarily due to protected hours concept.

Giving people an hour or so a day to workout is crazy helpful in managing the stress. Also, unless clients are demanding a ton of us on a Friday/Saturday, we have wind down hours where if you have completed all your responsibilities for a deal, you can call it early and make changes late Sunday night if needed. The point is to incentivize people to work more efficiently, but it only works if seniors enforce the culture.

  • Consultant in Consulting
Jan 8, 2021 - 6:45am

Spare me with the "it isn't IB hours". 9am-1am for 6 days a week since August is fucking IB hours.

Jan 7, 2021 - 4:26pm

Can you make a concerted effort to make sure there is equity in staffing? Some juniors are always swamped with 100 hr weeks while others get a free pass partly because of competency I believe. Either way it's not fair on those working repeatedly while some are video gaming

  • Managing Director in IB - Cov
Jan 8, 2021 - 7:55pm

This has been a common theme or at least a root issue to a lot of the concerns. Has this been amplified with remote working? Its much harder now for us/staffers to see how much juniors are working now. inherently everyone wants to work with the "best" analysts  but more equal distribution of work Is key. thank you 

Jan 7, 2021 - 4:26pm

Probably not a popular opinion, but in my opinion work from home is the best thing to ever happen to banking. I never want to go back. I still work until 2AM every night, but during the midday lulls, I get to do laundry or clean my apartment--previously, I'd have to start that at 2AM after getting home from the office.

You're stress and need to always be signed on is not unique to work from home--you've just never worked in an office before. If you were in the office, you'd go through the normal stress of feeling like you can't leave until everyone more senior than you has. 

There's no reason you should be waiting for comments in front of the computer if you get notifications on your phone when you get an email. Unless you walk at a snail's pace or the distance from your WFH setup and your kitchen/living room/wherever in your house/apartment is that big, you should be able to eat dinner with your family / watch tv/read a book when you have some downtime, feel your phone vibrating with the email, check said email, and if necessary walk back to your WFH setup and respond to that email pretty quickly. 

Part of this is just learning what deadlines are real and what deadlines aren't real. 

Jan 7, 2021 - 7:58pm

+1 SB

This viewpoint matches mine the most and I think it's not a mistake that both of us have a few years under us and most of the concern is around 1st year juniors quitting. I just plain LOVE wfh and I feel like I get a ton done. I've had the hours-long commutes in to the office, dealing with weather and traffic, etc, etc. I'm plotting to NEVER sit in an office again - and my BB has some really, really nice offices - happy to be on zoom for the rest of my career. Send me all the work you want as long as I never have to leave my house!

Just like you, I take advantage of the slow time to do laundry, walk my dog, heat up a meal. It's really not difficult and completely manageable, you just have to have the right mindset for it. Sure, there's days like today where I had meetings for 5 hours straight, but it beats the heck out of having to commute in every day. 

So it will be interesting in a few years when these first years get to experience a "normal" work routine. I have a feeling the wfh time will sound like paradise at that point. 

Jan 8, 2021 - 8:01pm

GoingToBeAnMD

+1 SB

This viewpoint matches mine the most and I think it's not a mistake that both of us have a few years under us and most of the concern is around 1st year juniors quitting. I just plain LOVE wfh and I feel like I get a ton done. I've had the hours-long commutes in to the office, dealing with weather and traffic, etc, etc. I'm plotting to NEVER sit in an office again - and my BB has some really, really nice offices - happy to be on zoom for the rest of my career. Send me all the work you want as long as I never have to leave my house!

Just like you, I take advantage of the slow time to do laundry, walk my dog, heat up a meal. It's really not difficult and completely manageable, you just have to have the right mindset for it. Sure, there's days like today where I had meetings for 5 hours straight, but it beats the heck out of having to commute in every day. 

So it will be interesting in a few years when these first years get to experience a "normal" work routine. I have a feeling the wfh time will sound like paradise at that point. 

Aren't you in the back office tho

Jan 8, 2021 - 2:30pm

Exactly! Man. This comment should be pinned. Your off to big things kid.

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Jan 8, 2021 - 3:14pm

100% agree with this. I no longer work in IB, but WFH is the greatest thing to have ever happened. If I have a five-minute lull, I start a load of laundry, turn on the news, get a minute of shuteye, etc. I am much more efficient with my time. Instead of twiddling my thumbs waiting on my boss, I can do something else. Just make sure to have Skype, Teams, whatever your company uses on your phone, and you should be good.

Jan 8, 2021 - 5:17pm

This arguably highly depends on what kind of person you are. Are you fresh out of University? Do you life with your spouse/wife and have already children? Do you live further away from the city and have a relatively large and well equipped house that has a nice office? 

I'm currently interning at a bank in non IBD but still FO where the hours are WAY less but my motivation is still zero. I've started my internship at the office and its leaps and bounds different. As a junior / analyst / intern you are often coming from a completely different town to a new city. There would be so much new to explore so much fun stuff to do. The whole social part is lost completely. "We" are sitting in a new city in a relatively shitty flat with little to no real life contacts and are working on projects which we don't have the proper skills on to work yet and the instructions over zoom/teams are rather poor. My senior/boss is in meetings the whole day, there is literally no way in reaching him. 

I agree with you on the merits of WFH and I see a trend in my bank where mostly more senior guys with wife + kids + established social circles + not living in the city + not fond on going out/partying anymore are hugely in favor of WFH but for a junior I can't imagine anything worse than sitting in your room alone the whole day.... this does not feel like work and I don't care whether I save some time here and there by doing my laundry. I want to be at the office and see my colleagues and be able to learn from hem face to face. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 4:31pm

You are giving us a lot to do with very little context/advice.

Constantly, I am given so many tasks to do with absolutely no guidance or direction. I can't ask others for help because they are swamped and I go in circles with my projects, just getting berated by everyone but not told HOW to do something correctly.

I need more time with 2nd years/Associate or anyone up the chain to show me how to do my job.

Jan 7, 2021 - 4:42pm

Out of all the comments in this thread this one spoke the most. I was in banking over a year ago before finishing my stint and I'll tell you -- that's a culture problem within your own group. It's middle managers trying to add value by "guessing" what upper management wants, creating more turns and iterations of a deck that really didn't need that many turns to begin with. 

The best way to combat this is you need to build rapport with your team on "common" slides used to demonstrate concepts in the past. Then organize these "go-to" slides by MD. Basically ask for stellar pitches that went well etc and have them on hand. You need to create as little "custom scratch work" as possible.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 4:59pm

Yeah I was told "created a side by side between these 2 companies" and then I asked for an example didn't reply asked the analyst email chain, no replies. Spent hours then got a "we have an older version you needed to update in this deck" 

Jan 8, 2021 - 12:19am

Classic lol. Wait until you get the "change A to B" from associate and then "B to C" from VP and the "C to D" from MD and then finally "D to some simplified combination of all 4" from the global head of X group.

Not saying that an iterative process isn't necessary. Sometimes it is for complex ideas. But what I will say is that I've never seen a fuckin rain making MD come into a meeting with a 30 + slide deck on V50 and win the deal because of the book. 

Jan 11, 2021 - 11:26am

lol, reminds me of a few months ago when I asked my associate a question, they yelled at me for asking it, and then never answered the question, then I got yelled at again for not doing the task 'correctly' by their standards and got yelled at for taking too long at the task

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 7, 2021 - 5:09pm

1) Be way more selective on pitching. Just because Zoom means you can take 4-5x as many meetings, doesn't mean you should. It's not like the amount of mandates available to the street has similarly increased ~fivefold (though I know it's been busy).

2) Quit assuming people have nothing to do, personally, outside of non-COVID 'in-office' hours (e.g. Friday night, Saturday during the day, etc.) - this is more a directive that needs to be given to mid-level employees, but the culture of immediacy has gotten way worse, especially for new juniors who 1) don't know what's important to prioritize and 2) haven't been able to develop rapport with those giving them work, in order to push back or assess the timing.

3) Too many scheduled calls. An email is fine most of the time.

4) Offer way more hand-holding of 1st-year analysts - precedent materials, detailed instruction, etc. 

Jan 7, 2021 - 10:28pm

1) Be way more selective on pitching. Just because Zoom means you can take 4-5x as many meetings, doesn't mean you should. It's not like the amount of mandates available to the street has similarly increased ~fivefold (though I know it's been busy).

2) Quit assuming people have nothing to do, personally, outside of non-COVID 'in-office' hours (e.g. Friday night, Saturday during the day, etc.) - this is more a directive that needs to be given to mid-level employees, but the culture of immediacy has gotten way worse, especially for new juniors who 1) don't know what's important to prioritize and 2) haven't been able to develop rapport with those giving them work, in order to push back or assess the timing.

3) Too many scheduled calls. An email is fine most of the time.

4) Offer way more hand-holding of 1st-year analysts - precedent materials, detailed instruction, etc. 

Totally agree with #2, the amount of times I've heard MD/Directors joke "we're all just sitting around anyway" while they schedule a call smack dab in the middle of Saturday or at 9pm at night is insane during COVID. Maybe during March/April people were literally sitting around but everyone else I know is getting on with their life as best they can. People aren't sitting around all day every day ready to act at a moment's notice

Controversial
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 5:42pm

You need to pressure Associates and VPs to stop being completely fucking useless (50% of them are) and actually take some work off analysts' plates. An associate can turn fucking comments for example. I'm so sick of these mid-level employees that literally add no value and allocate 100% of the work. Fire some of them please and hire more analysts 

Edit: Idea for your Mr. MD - poll your analysts to determine which VPs/Associates are useless and which are actually helpful. I personally find VPs to be the most useless individuals in the chain, but they still feel the need to take full credit for the work. I don't know how these people aren't fired, they add zero value and are so expensive. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2021 - 6:09pm

This. Either associates need to start doing some work, or fire them and just have a VP with two analysts.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 6:20pm

Maybe wouldn't word it as harshly, but agree that it would be helpful for associates and VPs to help a bit more with creating the materials. A lot of associates are always "busy" on another project and thinks it's below them to help turn a comment. It's frustrating when you're slammed and you can't start turning comments on a deck till 3AM and you see the associate has been away for 3 hours. 
 

I understand that most the work falls on the analysts, but I think given circumstances, associates and VPs also need to help with content creation. A lot of them are of the mindset that because they are no longer the analyst, they don't need to do the grunt work. This makes sense under normal circumstances, but I think given the workload, mid-level employees need to be a bit more involved until we get through this. 

Jan 7, 2021 - 8:32pm

This one makes me legit sad and I see it all the time on WSO. As an associate, I try my hardest to subscribe to the thought that "leaders eat last," especially in this tough WFH environment. I prefer to split pages, split up comps, etc so we both go to bed at midnight instead of me at 10pm and the analyst at 2am. Definitely fucked myself over on this before but it's worth it. This is also part of our group culture I think, so we're lucky.

Jan 7, 2021 - 9:44pm

I dunno. what's the purpose of working so hard as an Analyst if you'll have to keep working as hard as an Associate and VP? I kinda see it like you sacrifices 3-5 years and dedicate your life fully to work so that you can later live a proper life as a VP and let juniors work for you. and then the cycle repeats.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 10:15pm

You slack off as an associate and I won't go out of my way to help. I had an associate do comments cause I was stuck on something and I always offer to help him. Stayed up until 4am 2 weeks ago because his FactSet broke and I took over. IB is a team sport and if you aren't willing to sacrifice / help others, don't expect it back 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 8, 2021 - 2:05am

The point of working hard as an analyst is to develop the skillset required to be a good associate / VP / etc. - as your pay jumps, though your responsibilities shift, you're expected to contribute more to the team, not less.

The guys who think they've 'made it' after their associate or VP promote get run out of town really quickly. There's always a hungrier fish. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 7, 2021 - 11:08pm

I've always thought that the hierarchical structure of IB / PE, makes it really difficult for MDs (or people with power) to know who is good at their job and adds value and who doesn't and also who is well respected and liked and who isn't. Some Associates and VPs will just always elect to do the MOST for every pitch when it's not needed and MDs don't even care. Most pitches should be off the shelf pages. Groups need to be better at sticking to page limits. 20 pages for a pitch max. Maaybe throw in one M&A scenario if you're feeling ambitious. Otherwise just market update is fine. The MDs will just voice over all the key stuff anyways. There should also be more weight put on analysts view of associates and VPs and more anonymous feedback. I feel like the opinion of a well seasoned strong second year analyst is really valuable because in banking you only see up the chain. So analysts see everything. They know who fucks up. They know who is a dick. They know who is lazy. They know who is incompetent. MDs only see down one level and so one. 

  • Managing Director in IB - Cov
Jan 8, 2021 - 8:07pm

Completely understand the concern. thank you. Also understand that you do not have a complete view to what an associate or vp does on a daily basis.. 9/10 everyone is crucial to the teams success. With that being said, do not be afraid to voice your concerns directly with your associates or vps and staffers. Especially if you feel like you are "doing their work." If we fire all vps we'll have no MD in a couple of years, the assumption is that they are learning mgmt and relationship skills just like you are learning technical  and financial modeling skills 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 8, 2021 - 9:05pm

Vaild points. Although, I am an associate now and was an analyst at two different banks (one EB one BB) and so I actually do know what a lot of associates and VPs do and a lot of it it is bullshit. One thing that is really annoying is when associates and VPs don't read materials that you as an analyst/associate create. I can't tell you how many times I get comments being like, "let's include xyz" in the deck or a VP will forward me a research report and it's the exact one that I'm quoting and I just have to hold my tongue and be like "thanks great idea". VPs need to accountable up and down (to MDs and Analysts) somehow. 

Another thing that should stop culturally is the "associates / VPs time is more valuable than analysts time" mentality. For example, don't ask analysts to print out materials or "send me a PDF in a clean email so I can forward from my mobile device." Or another favorite, can you send me XYZ document that I know very well in deep within my inbox, but I want my analyst to dig it up for me. We are all busy in different ways and we all have different responsibilities, but certain tasks are just demeaning. And I see this much less in PE. For example, for text edits, the MDs just ask to see the PowerPoint and they do them themselves. I can't tell you how many useless hours I wasted as a banking analyst just trying to read shitty handwriting. It's just inefficient.  

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 9, 2021 - 8:54am

Ohhhh I get it. So the whole time these VPs have been working on learning mgmt and relationship skills and not contributing at all to deliverables! Makes so much sense. I get why they can't help us out at all - it must take up a lot of time working on those key skills. 

For what it's worth. My friends at Evercore say VPs there work just as hard as the Associates. But, that's why they're Evercore and the BBs are BBs (ex MS & GS which I assume you are not). 

Jan 11, 2021 - 12:09am

With all due respect, and sincerest kudos and thanks to you for trying to make the industry a better place, this is incorrect. I left an EB not too long ago, and can say with confidence I knew what the associates and jr. VPs (who didn't have offices yet) were doing all day - they were in the bullpen with all of us, and 75% of off-time in the bullpen is spent talking about what you're working on & what work streams you're handling. There were deals/teams I worked on where your assumption would've been spot on - everyone contributed and it was a well oiled machine. There were also deals/teams I worked on where that statement couldn't have been further from the truth - you had one strong analyst at the bottom, and one in-the-weeds VP/MD (we had Partners where I was, so MD wasn't quite top-dog yet) at the top, who drove the whole thing while the mid ranks just forwarded emails around. Completely hear you on headcount - there are some excellent VPs out there who will make excellent MDs - but the ranks frankly should be a little thinner, and more associates should be cut after 2-3 years once potential has been assessed and its clear they aren't cut out for progression. At that point they're just getting paid double what a gung-ho analyst is paid, while adding less value. There needs to be quarterly quick survey evaluations given upwards - you will very quickly weed out who the unproductive associates/VPs are, and while that doesn't mean you need to fire them immediately, it's a helpful way to make sure everyone is aligned.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 10, 2021 - 2:15am

Also take a close look at the MBA associates who have never been in banking. I get comments that are literally wrong and have to chase them while they're off having dinner so I can get the approval to send out v20 rather than v21 and have them call me screaming.

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:10am

on 2nd thought... nah. deleting. this all sounds too working-thru-covid specific, as opposed to systemic about why banking is losing the talent war to both MBB and FAANG. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 21, 2021 - 6:36am

This is so true. I swear some associates don't even bother reading email chains anymore -- all they do is chase analysts to do the work asked by the VP. You can really feel which associates are former analysts that are burnt out and missed the exit window and which ones are actually competent at their job. Doesn't make us want to stay long.

Jan 7, 2021 - 6:04pm

Please give some freaking context and direction when you ask us for something. We're fresh college graduates who don't have years of working in the same bullpen. Also, it's not fair the best performing analysts get slammed with work because they're the ones that everyone trusts. Think long-term, if you keep this up, your best workers are leaving in less than a year and you'll be stuck with the shitty ones no one wanted.

Also, stop hiring useless MBA associates from shitty business schools. What value do they provide?

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 7:27pm

What value did you offer the day you hit the desk? 
 

I don't buy that associates can't model. Maybe some are lazy but if they put the time in, they can learn just like analysts do. 

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 7:31pm

That's pretty sad. I definitely don't plan on being lazy and handing off work to anyone, but I do get annoyed with the view that an associate is incapable because he didn't do IB out of undergrad.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 7, 2021 - 7:38pm

Yeah, I don't like that. MBA associates I've worked with are killers after a year or two. I think my group does a good job because we treat them like analysts (even work below analysts sometimes) for the first 6 months. Then they understand what's it's like to be an analyst and can lead better. Thing is that most mba associates don't get into the weeds at all which isn't bad but if I'm slammed, I don't need 7 "ETA?" Emails, maybe "let's split this I'll do x and you do y tonight. That work?"

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 7, 2021 - 8:43pm

You can clear that assumption by spending your first ~year making sure you can handle any of the block & tackle work (from any type of excel model, to PowerPoint tricks, to process work) as well as any analyst. Avoid delegation at all costs at first (even if you have to go bed after your analyst; this is your long-term career, he's leaving in X months) - lots of MBA associates fall behind because (unlike analysts), they have the 'out' of passing the buck, which is a vicious cycle. You might have a slightly better WLB now, but fast-forward a year, and you're 'checking' work you don't understand or, even worse, have to step in on a piece of analysis and look like a total jackass to your VP+ and will quickly get the "useless MBA associate" rep amongst the entire team, not just the analyst class. 

Jan 8, 2021 - 3:58am

this 1000x this 

I suspect part of the reason certain MBA associates have this dynamic occur may be that, when they first join, they are too insecure / lack the humility to ask experienced analysts questions and get in the weeds to actually do the work (rather than pass it off) since they think "I'm more senior and went to HarColWharNYU for my MBA" - much better for their long term careers to be in the trenches as much as possible so they're as good as any analyst + more 

Jan 7, 2021 - 7:59pm

My apologies if I offended you or suggested that all MBA associates are useless - i'm just mad and tired of this, nothing personal. That being said, it is extremely annoying for an MBA associate to come in and order us around, when they don't even know what to do, without providing any help or value. Maybe I just had bad luck, and I'm sure they can't catch up virtually either, but if I wanted to do something all by myself without any help, I could just contact the VP directly instead of having a middle man.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 8:17pm

The problem isn't that they can't learn, its that the people below them rely on them for mentorship and guidance. If you're starting at the same point as a first year, you're pretty useless as a resource. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 7, 2021 - 8:57pm

75% of MBA associates are fine at modeling.

10% just don't get the reps due to team dynamics - let's say you're immediately staffed on a long-term engagement with a senior analyst who handles all the excel jockeying while you get crushed with process and other more qualitative work. In this case, the associate needs to be proactive in understanding other workstreams + trying to get on projects that build more skills. 

15% think it's above them to model (or do any other analyst grunt work), which also leads to them being far worse at it than analysts or other MBAs due to lack of reps, but can even (and I've seen it) cause fear / avoidance of "running the model." Said 15% get **** reviews from juniors since they're pushing off all the work, and seniors quickly catch on when 1) the associate can't get in the weeds during the in-office team discussions and 2) deliverables are slow to arrive due to inefficient allocation of junior resources (analyst doing all the work, associate making sure it matches the markup).
 

Jan 7, 2021 - 6:14pm

My biggest suggestion is to spend time thinking through what work is actually needed for a meeting.

To give you a tangible example, we recently had a client-service meeting with a 70-page deck for a 60 minute discussion. We spent countless hours turning minute comments on some pages that were never even looked at.

We worked on a model for days, and the discussion on the phone was 90 seconds on it.

Rather than just doing "more" work, focus on the quality and impact of the work. I would argue that a well organized and thoughtful 10-page deck would get across the same point. More importantly, if you are a CEO/CFO, you are likely looking for takeaways / conciseness, not a 70-page deck.

Jan 8, 2021 - 11:33pm

Issue is that senior folks still like the big deck because 1) it shows how much / hard they worked and 2) they think that the client goes back and reads the whole thing when the meeting goes well (spoiler: 99% of the time they still don't). So unlikely to change. 

I've been a client (in various roles) my whole life. And this is true across asset classes. The whole "Look at the number of pages!" things is endemic throughout the industry when the actual stuff we (or I) may care about is usually within 10 pages. Most of us literally flip through the book quickly while the guy rambles and tell whoever is pitching to get to the point. If there is some guy flipping through more than 15 pages while and I'm letting him, it's usually because I'm bored and don't care (and I'm being polite). This actually happens a lot since it's important to never burn bridges in this industry...

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
  • 5
Jan 7, 2021 - 8:17pm

I have another one.  Please, try and get a life.  With everything shut down and children's extracurricular events cancelled, I feel like every md is just sitting around home all day with nothing to do but work and give comments.  If you guys would just relax a bit and enjoy some activities that don't involve sitting by a screen or phone, then maybe, just maybe, the junior lives would improve.  You need to realize the power and effect all your 10pm emails and 6am emails has on the team(whether you intended it or not)

Array
  • 7
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 8, 2021 - 2:46am

wherethefisdonny

I have another one.  Please, try and get a life.  With everything shut down and children's extracurricular events cancelled, I feel like every md is just sitting around home all day with nothing to do but work and give comments.  If you guys would just relax a bit and enjoy some activities that don't involve sitting by a screen or phone, then maybe, just maybe, the junior lives would improve.  You need to realize the power and effect all your 10pm emails and 6am emails has on the team(whether you intended it or not)

Accurate. Ever try disk golf?

Jan 8, 2021 - 1:26am

Biggest issue I've seen is pre-COVID MD's and VPs etc had lives. They'd spend time with their wives, kids etc. Now man they're online 24/7 churning the deal machine. I think it's key to contextualize that culture starts with actions at the top. As well, similar to pre-WFH, analysts find it difficult to leave the desk or sign off for the night if you never do so.

Jan 8, 2021 - 2:50am

These are just a few things that came to mind.  Overall theme is setting boundaries between the home office and the home, which has become opaque during COVID.

1.) Having protected hours on the weekends (Saturday seems like a nice day to keep sacred).

2.) Setting and communicating clock-in hours for the morning; Analyst's aren't expected to be logged on until 8am/9am

3.) Limiting the number of active deals for Analysts (anything above a certain number requires approval); helps to prevent analyst's from overcommitting themselves and MDs/VPs from overbooking.

4.) Recognizing burnout, and promoting an office culture that acts upon it. Some of the most highly regarded MDs/VPs I've seen would tell their analyst(s) to take the day off after a long push; it's a small gesture that goes a long way.  This requires more vigilance as it is harder to notice burnout working remote.

"A man can convince anyone he's somebody else, but never himself."
  • 6
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 8, 2021 - 2:58am

If I am ever an MD, I'm going to be a huge slacker.

In my group, we had two types of MDs: execution MDs who were constantly on the phone, doing grunt work, coordination, dealing with lawyers, business dev work, etc. These MDs had rep for being technical and smart and prided themselves on this and earned the respect of analysts. And they made money for the firm. 

Then there was the second type of MD: the relationship MD. The guy who maybe used to get into the weeds but doesn't anymore. He'll still technically on a bunch of deal teams and so on paper he is just a busy as the execution MD and still gets a competitive bonus (if not more $$), but the relationship MD will dial into every 5th phone call and derail the conversation because he's playing catch up and kind of has no idea what's going on. Analysts will envy his lifestyle. He's a lot of fun at the holiday party, but he's not very helpful in terms of structuring and executing transitions and likely relies heavily on a couple of VPs / EDs to do most of his work.

Everyone should just aspire to be relationship MDs. There's no need to get into the weeds. Give juniors more responsibility. And also get a life. At the end of the day, it doesn't usually matter especially when it's a pitch.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 8, 2021 - 3:54am

I'm one of the analysts that left their team back during the summer of their third year in IB. Pillars that my bank and group seemed to have stood by all went out the door. Saturdays were no longer protected and "capacity" didn't mean anything when MDs kept taking on pitches despite literally every junior on the team plugging away on 3-4 active sell-sides engaged with clients wanting a year-end close before Biden's tax plan sent them to the poorhouse. The writing was on the wall to me back then, and based on what my friends tell me, it's gotten much worse and I got out just before the temperature really cranked up. The group is apparently hitting its new record year in terms of fees, though, so it's tough to blame seniors for their pursuit. The flip side of that is it's also tough to blame juniors and up for finally reflecting on what they're sacrificing when they see it in front of them at home every day with their roommates and loved ones enjoying their 5 PM clock-out.

I think the system seriously breaks down at the VP level. Analysts and associates have a hard time being direct with MDs, and for good reason, especially if they're newer to the team. VPs do also, as they're typically career bankers gunning for that Director promotion so they're focused on staying out of MDs' crosshairs to get there. Unfortunately, juniors look to VPs to shake sense back into the MDs when MDs are being overbearing. If someone more tenured and with more rapport than me isn't speaking up, how could I? This misalignment is what broke me. The VP on a particular deal was one of the nicest and most competent guys I'd come to know, and he dug into the weeds with the associate and me on the deal. Truly a well-rounded execution team. But, the VP was a pussy when it came to pushing back on one particular MD's requests that gave us a 17-day stretch of 5 AMers and 2 true all-nighters (thankfully not back-to-back but what a weird thing to even be thankful for). I've gone similar stretches with comparable hours but the camaraderie in the office kept me going. I even took a 5-day weekend to see if my feelings would change about wanting to quit but it only further clarified my decision.

I quit without a job lined up. Been eating microwaved savings and Trump bucks but enjoying time seeing old friends across different states and networking with people in career paths I would have giggled at during college. My Call of Duty wins are through the roof, too. TBD what's actually next.

9.7/10 would do again.

Jan 8, 2021 - 7:39pm

December 1, 2020: "Hey Analyst 3, hope you had a good thnxgiving. Just secured a juicy mandate through a close connection to help raise growth capital on a DTC consumer brand that is killing it during COVID and wants to inject some capital and de-risk and provide liquidity to major shareholders before EOY. Going to need a full CIM and Model with International and Retail Expansion modeled in there. Kickoff meeting is tm so pull together a deck for that. Going broad on this one despite the time pressure."

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 8, 2021 - 10:17am

Totally agree with this sentiment. I had a similar stretch over 21 days, though not til 5am every day, but with two all nighter as well. Only difference is after a 2am night on Saturday when an analyst spoke up the VP essentially told him "too bad, these comments need to be done by Monday morning". Really demoralizing when you have no support. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jan 8, 2021 - 9:53am

A few simple things come to mind:

1) Protected Saturday's or some protected hours on Friday night / Saturday. Other banks do this and are still competitive. It can be done

2) Pay for dinners again. I get the attitude from higher ups that the meal stipend was because we were working late in the office and now that we're at home, we don't need it and can just eat at home but most of us with the increased hours and demands from sr bankers don't have a ton of time to grocery shop / cook. Which means constantly getting our food delivered, which adds up. Seems like a small ask to go back to paying for dinners in some capacity

3) I've heard of some banks that are pooling analysts from slower groups to help out with busy groups and even the workload. Seems like a good idea but not sure how practical that is in implementation especially at larger shops

4) Just a little understanding from sr bankers that although we work late/hard that our lives don't/can't revolve around yours would be nice. Some times I need to step out to run a couple errands, get a haircut, get groceries, workout, go for a walk, something to just get my eyes away from a computer screen and smell some fresh air for an hour. So if it's absolutely needed ASAP, it can wait an hour when it's past 7/8pm

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jan 13, 2021 - 3:06am

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 8, 2021 - 10:23am

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