How to *really* add value as a first-year analyst in a deal team?

Rank: Chimp | 10

Hey WSO. I'm a first-year analyst in NY at a EB/top MM firm. I'm staffed on 3 very interesting and intense sell-side deals which have a high chance of closing, and I'm happy to have been given this opportunity right from the start. I've been told I am doing a good job 3 weeks into the job, but I wish to start contributing in ways other than what is expected for a first-year (i.e. not just maintaining buyer logs, VDRs, writing sales documents, etc.), in addition to those basic roles of course.

The deal teams I am on are lean (5 people, including VP and MD), so I am wondering about ways I can insert myself into the process and make myself an important team player without overstepping hierarchy/authority. I know many in my class at this stage are still stuck with taking calls on notes, working on pitches, etc., and I want to distinguish myself and cement a top-bucket ranking early. For example, instead of just maintaining the data room, I am making sure I know the location and general content of each file so I can quickly point to it when it becomes important, and outlining important takeaways that may need attention from senior members in the deal-team.

My biggest worry is overstepping my position, as I understand hierarchy is very important in investment banking.

What are some things a first-year can do to separate themselves from being just another analyst and someone who is a 'real' member of the deal team? What are some ways that you can make your role on a deal be 'unique,' as opposed to just doing the standard stuff really well? Thanks in advance.

Comments (19)

Sep 30,2017

There was a thread on this made by a person who has been in the industry for a couple years. Let me try to find it.

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Sep 30,2017

IB Analysts monkeys are fresh college grads with pretty much zero deep understanding of how the world works; you're not bradley cooper in Limitless, don't expect to add the "smoking-gun" strategic/tactical insight.

But everything you produce should make your superior's life easier. I generally try to consider every task from the perspective of the associate/VP/MD who assigned it.

When compiling PIBs for an MD, know what items to omit versus highlight. If the MD needs the PIB in advance of a casual/ad-hoc intro meeting, the contents will be far different than that of a PIB requested before a bake-off pitch to a client whom the MD has an established relationship with.

When generating analyses, ask if things make logical sense and are easy to follow. If you were the associate and had to review the excel file, would it be easy to audit the formula trails? Do you have complex formulas that reference 1000s of numbers in other worksheets that could potentially crash the application? Do you include a balance check?

For any sort of presentation materials, do the outputs seem "odd" in any way? Always flag items that contradict the "narrative" that your deal team is trying to construct; in general, just flag anything that looks suspicious. Are the standard comps outputs relevant for a specific deal? There is no downside to including a bulleted list of potential errors/suspicious items with every file you send above.
1) It truly was an error, in which case you aren't the careless analyst who failed to see it or
2) There is no error, in which case you wouldn't be blamed for anything at all.

All these tips can reduce the time it takes for someone to review your work, and more importantly, minimizes the pain points. Even if you make errors, they will be easy to spot and correct, which is worse than error-free work but better than mistakes that take 30 minutes to find and fix.

Sep 30,2017

Shuddup and do your work. = Best way to add value.

Sep 30,2017

haha i was going to say that's exactly how you become a lifer, but based on your user handle my point seems to already be implied.

Sep 30,2017

This potential error list is fucking priceless advice my man!

Sep 30,2017

There's always a smoking gun. Don't play the case, play the man. Get me something I can bluff the guy with. If you can't find it, that means you're not working hard enough, and I'll get someone else who will.

"Loser terrorists" & "bad hombres"

"Typical candidates are those who attended a top-tier academic institution"
-Most job applications

Sep 30,2017

You basically just described high paid monkey in a 7 paragraph essay.

Sep 30,2017

1) Never make a mistake twice
2) Be proactive
3) Check everything thrice
4) Manage your time and your various deals and prioritise properly

That's all there is to it as an analyst

Sep 30,2017

This is a great attitude and there's some good advice already thrown out there.

I will also add - at 3 weeks, you've made a 'good start' but you haven't truly yet 'established trust'. I wouldn't worry about 'overstepping' your position but in your shoes, I'd focus on getting 2-3 months of solid work in before I start really trying to wow people. One or two mistakes now can cost you. Even if those mistakes are on more 'experimental' work. Really all anyone expects for the first six months is lots of hours and doing what you're told; doing that really well for 2-3 months while you absorb all the knowledge you can will be good for your career.

Sep 30,2017

If you're only three weeks into the job, just execute those projects perfectly without making any mistakes. Don't try to add value outside just yet because it will probably backfire.

Sep 30,2017

don't be a try-hard

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.

Best Response
Sep 30,2017

You will do wonders for your reputation by identifying all the minutia that goes into your job and executing it flawlessly.

Let me reword some of what others here have already said. Banking at the junior level is an incredibly tedious job. It isn't rocket science, nor is it glamorous. You win by being reliable, relatable, and respectable.

Reliable means you are a undeniably a stress-reducer for everyone senior to you on your teams. This is different for each person you have to 'manage up' for.

An associate is the one reviewing all your Excel work and your first crack at slides. You de-stress his life by:

  • producing error-free work of your own (e.g. when a VP calls you both into his office to sketch out how he wants some slides started; you produce those slides with fidelity to his instructions
  • catching errors in inputs other people deliver to you (e.g. clients are notorious for sending over ugly, hard-coded, incorrect files; your firm has the sell-side mandate, your team has to generate the book; the sloppy analyst just builds the model -- the great analyst builds the model, flags whatever doesn't look right, hunts down the source of the problem with the client staff, and presents the findings in a concise summary to the associate and only the associate [so he can decide whether to escalate to the VP or just direct you to whatever action he deems appropriate])
  • process managing yourself so well that you remove from his plate the timesuck of process managing you (freeing him to process manage in greater detail the sloppy analyst(s) who require more bandwidth of his than you, the all-star, require)

I'm constrained on time so I can't write in equal depth about the VP and the MD, but think through in a similar heuristic what each of their roles and responsibilities are (e.g. where their bandwidth gets allocated and how you affect that bandwidth [and can thus alleviate their stress]).

In summary, follow the instructions given to you so flawlessly for such a duration that your seniors can bank on the caliber of your execution. If you are scrupulous to the point that no senior ever has a cloud rolling around their mind about the inevitable detailed review of your work they're going to have to go through, you are freeing them to focus on the other analysts who inevitably will create those stormy clouds.

Relatable means being an enjoyable presence on the floor. Note that I didn't say 'tolerable'. People self-censor so rigorously out of fear of standing out and getting punished.

This (the self-censor) seems to come in two primary forms; the person who's so fearful of any potential misstep that they eventually turn into the equivalent of the dog that's been beaten enough that it flinches each time a human near it raises a hand, or the person who knows they're so far from the cultural norm that they box themselves up to look like a drone.

Both of those look tolerable, but the first archetype is someone you can't stand to be around because they're so ingratiating and eager to conform to whatever they think you're looking for while the second is someone who looks either so disengaged or so ready to explode that you kind of shy away for your own safety.

Don't be afraid to bring your own personality. You don't have to be stuck talking only about the weather, sports, or vacation plans for your whole two-year stint. It's okay to bring more of your authentic self to the office. Be personable, ask real questions about the people you work with, and listen when they talk. Human moments in this industry are few and far between, and if you're the guy who becomes known for bringing them, that will serve you well. People will smile genuinely when they see you, you'll develop deeper relationships with the people who manage you, and as your career progresses and you see certain people far less frequently as you change roles, the warmth of your relationship won't fade like it does for the people who simply clock in and clock out day after day.

Respectable means having a moral compass and behavior that shows it. It's okay to stand up for yourself if something violates your conscience or your character.

If you have to deliver books to an MD's house at 5am before his flight after the all-nighter you pulled making them, that unfortunately part of the job. It sucks. If an MD is screaming at you and being personally abusive, you're entirely in your place to remind him that this is a job, people have dignity, and you're happy to do whatever he's asking but would appreciate it if he left the abuse out of it. Contrary to what you may think in that moment as a 23-year-old, it won't ruin your bonus. It will make people think well of you and probably speak well of you too.

It means not coming into work visibly wrecked after a wild night out. If you're going to have a wild night out during the work week (and the real advice is: don't), take the necessary steps to handle yourself. Drink water before you sleep, crush Pedialyte in the morning, use Visine for your eyes, take a long shower cycling from hot to cold to hot to cold (increases circulation and toxin elimination), and use mouthwash and deodorant aggressively so you don't have the smell of alcohol oozing out of your body.

It means dressing well. That includes being presentable at all times (always have a backup jacket in the office in case you suffer a tear, stain, or any other mishap), not dressing too ostentatiously (there's nothing wrong with wearing an expensive suit as an analyst, it's whether the suit fits what a junior banker is supposed to look like; that means a $6k RLPL suit isn't a problem [if you could afford it], but it should be a subdued color, ideally not a pattern, and nothing flashy like peak lapels or bold pinstripes), and keeping your body in some semblance of fitness.

In short, be someone that anyone would be happy to put in front of senior management of the client, to senior management of your own firm, or to their spouse if they were walking down the street and bumped into you.

Keep these things in mind and you'll realize it's about mastery of the minutia. Don't overreach. That was my mistake early on. I was so eager to add value and stand out head and shoulders above my peers that I ignored some of the basics to my own harm. As people here have said, it's hard to recover once you've ever slipped. The guy that does everything asked of him routinely and uninterruptedly well is more valuable to seniors in this business than the guy that does some unasked things brilliantly but the basic things at an average level.

This is especially true in cultures that run lean and offer autonomy. If the team is lean, each cog in that team is more critical. Master the domain that is your cog. Demonstrate that, and the autonomy you're offered will increase.

That's the path to strong staffings, to top bucket, to having people provide strong (not just solid) references during recruiting, to having colleagues go out of their way to call friends or former coworkers who are now at shops really hard to reach where a personal "in" is mandatory to even get a shot at an interview, and to continued success.

If I miss your message, please resurface it again one week later. You can imagine how crowded my inbox gets.

Sep 30,2017

This is really wonderful advice. Thanks a lot.

Sep 30,2017

You are basically the only reason I still come on this site. Thanks.

Oct 31,2017

Thank you, I really appreciate that. I hope you're able to identify what matters to you, a clear path to execute that will unlock it, and success that unfolds quickly before you.

If I miss your message, please resurface it again one week later. You can imagine how crowded my inbox gets.

Sep 30,2017

I like to describe an analyst's evolution as follows: what, how, and why.

An ok analyst knows what needs to be done without being told.

A good analyst knows how to do the task in the most efficient and accurate way possible. Where / what precedent materials.

A great analyst knows why something is being done. As a result, someone asks you to do x and you do x plus y because the output of x didn't yield the answer your superior was looking for (the why).

Sep 30,2017