How do you deal with "bad" associate?

blackishberry's picture
Rank: Monkey | 50

8 month into my once-dream BB IB job, I definitely have more to love than hate - but I am hitting an issue of how to handle the "bad associate" situation, and I wonder in general how does everyone else deal with this?

I was reading through the top posts on WSO, seems that many people hold the belief that analysts are at the bottom of the chain and should just grind it out, but how much can or should analysts push back on unnecessary work that associates create? Or just how to deal with them in general?

Comments (40)

Apr 4, 2018

Having a horrible associate is likely the worst part of being an analyst.
This is why analysts quit.
Or keep going.
Totally your call

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Apr 5, 2018

you're probably better looking than these dad-bod carrying losers

find out where they live and bang their wives/sisters/mothers/daughters

it's the wild wild west here boy.

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Apr 9, 2018

Yeah. Each and every wife of an associate dreams of banging an investment banking underlying. Overworked, quickly putting on weight, insecure, full of college debt, no time for working out.

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Apr 9, 2018
Marty Bishop:

Yeah. Each and every wife of an associate dreams of banging an investment banking underlying. Overworked, quickly putting on weight, insecure, full of college debt, no time for working out.

truth

Timing Is Everything.

Apr 13, 2018

Love this

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Best Response
Apr 5, 2018

I mention private equity firms in casual conversations to remind them of their abysmal interviews.

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

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Apr 9, 2018

Lol ouch

Apr 9, 2018

Hahaha

Apr 13, 2018

Haha yes!

Apr 5, 2018

There's a subtle art of making people's lives absolutely miserable while they continue to believe you're their best friend. ;)

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Apr 5, 2018

Really depends on whether or not you plan to stay at the firm or leave (for buyside etc.). If the latter, a lot of things you can do without consequences...

But, generally speaking:
- talk to your VPs and talk to your staffer and make it known that the associate sucks (obviously need to be tactful but ppl probs already know that associate sucks). Hopefully this will get on people's radar and help drive him/her get fired soon or at least give you some room to avoid staffings with him/her.

  • if you don't want to be confrontational about this issue with anyone...you can:
    1) Start being in charge of dividing work. After each meeting, cut to the chase and drive the work dividing process
    2) start working off a PPT saved on your desktop. If you can't trust that associate will do the work that's been divided, save your own version with your own portion on your desktop. When the associate comes to tell you he/she is too busy, do not disclose that you've already finished your version and just stick to the message that you guys divided up the work already and you will get your part done and that he/she should do her part too. Do not share your version until you see that the associates slides are done.
    3) start emailing the VP only. If you are doing the work, the associate doesn't know shit and so just cut him/her out. Make your VP/team realize that the associate is clueless. Take credit for your work and don't feel bad to cut the associate out. All he/she is a deadweight and treat him/her as such.

A lot of other little games you can play but honestly the biggest thing you need to realize is that if you drop the ball, it's the associate that has more to lose. Just make sure you crush all other staffings so people don't think you are a shit analyst. Keep in mind you have a lot more flexibility than the associate and a lot less chance of getting fired in the first place.

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Apr 6, 2018

Do most banks divide the work between associates and analysts? My associate insists that the associate job entails no excel/powerpoint work. He only works with pdfs

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Apr 6, 2018

Maybe it's because my bank runs deal teams pretty lean most of the time, but I feel like an associate that only works with PDFs is 1) the exception 2) not a good associate.

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Apr 7, 2018
chad3890:

Do most banks divide the work between associates and analysts? My associate insists that the associate job entails no excel/powerpoint work. He only works with pdfs

Find out whether or not this is the norm at your bank from other analysts/associates. I expect it's not and you are just dealing with a shitty associate. At most places this would be unacceptable, from my experiences as an associate and the conversations I've had with my peers. In most cases, at the very least, the associate should be taking on a significant amount of ppt work while the analyst is taking on the excel work.

Apr 7, 2018

It is not at our firm, but this is the one who insist on "only send her PDFs". But I know someone at a recently-famous sweatshop due to an email:) who said its the norm there

Apr 8, 2018

Next time send your excel model in PDFs. No PPT outputs and no set print area. That bitch needs to learn his/her place.

Seriously do realize most associates aren't as smart as your analyst peers and yourself. If you can't run a model in your head, there is no way that fucker can see how the math works on a PDF

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Apr 9, 2018

As an associate myself, I can tell you that is horseshit. Tell the guy to pound sand.

Apr 7, 2018

Unfortunately, bad associates, bad VPs, bad MDs will accompany you for the rest of your life...
Don't just roll over but don't push back to create a scene either. Make detailed notes of unnecessary work. Then give this to your associate's manager once you have enough evidence of concrete incompetence.

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Apr 9, 2018

I would just tell my SVP to tell the VP to fire that associate.

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Apr 10, 2018

I guess the most important question is...in what way is he bad?

He can be bad because he is clueless. If that's the case, help show him the ropes and what he should be doing. Not only will this ingratiate you with him, but you will have more control over what you wind up doing.

If he is bad because he is a slave driver and makes you do unnecessary work, you need to do everything you can to earn his trust. You usually do this by doing excellent work for him. Once you earn his trust, then you will have more influence in telling him..."I don't think that is necessary". Or "I think the most efficient use of time is to focus on XYZ." But if you aren't able to develop that relationship with him, you will never be in a position to push back on things you think don't make sense. He will never trust you enough to listen to you. For the analysts who earned my trust, I pretty much let them do whatever they wanted. So building trust is paramount. If things still don't get better, then you should do what my MD once told me do (I had a horrendous VP who was a slave driver when I was an associate), you need to start building relationships with other bankers and keep yourself busy on their projects so that you are "too busy" to work on this bad associate's projects when they come up.

Staffers also play a huge role too. As a former staffer, I can honestly tell you that staffers play favorites. If an analyst I liked came up to me and said..."hey dude, I really don't like working with John. Can you not staff me on any projects with him at least for a bit?" I would do my best to do him the favor, but only if I liked him. Why? Because I like doing favors for my friends if they ask. And, selfishly, if this analyst is actually good, I can use him on my projects if he is not staffed on John's projects.

Therefore, what I'm saying is that....if you want something to change, it starts with building relationships with the associate himself, other bankers, and the staffer. Beyond this, I'm not sure what else you can do. I would not recommend doing what some others have suggested. That is just very poor advice.

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Apr 13, 2018

Fantastic answer

Apr 21, 2018

It depends. First, I'll begin this by saying, more often than not I've heard, "What do you do when you have a 'bad' analyst?". In fact, as a lateral, that question came up in every single interview.

Assuming you are an analyst, it is important to make sure you are actually good (read: on your s**t) before questioning the skill/judgment of the associate you're working with.

To answer your question, associates don't "create" work, their job is to divide it in the most efficient way possible. You know the banking chain of command, associates - with the exception of a very few third year superstars - don't have the power, bandwidth or interest to "create" work for you. It is far more efficient to have someone running pen on the deck that the client will actually spend time looking through - i.e. will earn the firm money - than to bother you (you superstar analyst) by doing competing modeling work. With that in mind, it IS an associate's job to make sure that she can accurately check each cell in your model for accuracy. We know you won't get everything right, so the best of us do check: on a good day it's each cell, on the worst day it's for sanity. It's our job to tick and tie each number in the deck before meeting with VP / entire deal team.

I second an earlier commenter's note about "building trust". Unless you've been working together for years, your associates don't know you and you don't know them so every once in a while, try a mature act and work on building that relationship by developing a sincere interest in delivering great work and getting to know them. We have no vested interest in you staying late unless we think you are a bad seed. Don't let us think that you are a bad seed.

My final note is, hang in there. Have a sit down (coffee, drink, etc) with your associate instead of running to a staffer or VP which only creates more drama and - unless you are STELLAR - can reflect poorly on you. That's what adults do.

Good luck.

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Apr 10, 2018

Get it together. Unless you are at PJT, then quit.

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Apr 16, 2018

Delete

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Apr 13, 2018

Impress them with your technical skills cause that and how fancy your model is all that really matters for the next 25 years you'll need to survive banking. The model will be accretive because how awesome you are - not because of low interest expense and ambiguous synergies.

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Apr 16, 2018

Associates who come from other IB shops. Tend to be very hardworking and efficient at their job. There are 3 skills of what makes an associate great..again

1) Tend to know when to voice their opinion to the client/ during meetings with MDs

2) Work efficiently AKA allocating what to/what NOT to allocate to analysts/summer associates

3) looking at it from bigger picture

Its really hard to have #3 when you didnt have IB experience prior to MBA

Apr 21, 2018

[Delete]

May 16, 2018
Comment

Timing Is Everything.

Apr 17, 2018
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