Is Pursuing Top Bucket Worth It?

B.f.banker's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 8

As an intern (summer 16'), I was ranked in the top three out of roughly 17 interns at a top BB in NYC. Towards the end of the summer, when the top quartile of us actually began creating value for the group, our hours got significantly worse. In other words, we got a taste of what our lives would likely become upon starting FT.

As an incoming first year, I am 100% committed to pursuing either private or growth equity roles when recruiting picks up towards the tail end of this year.

To preserve work life balance (i.e. free up additional time for buyside preparation), would it make sense to intentionally "slack off" during the first few months (relative to my performance as an intern) to ensure that I track towards middle bucket for the greater quantities of free time this would provide?

Though I realize top bucket comes with prestige and compensation benefits (among other things), the individuals I have spoken to have unanimously said that top bucket is not worth it in terms of the hours it takes to achieve it.

If purposefully tracking for middle (or top middle) makes sense, how would one engineer this to ensure not getting ensnared into the life draining abyss of a top bucket analyst?

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Comments (10)

Jun 23, 2017
B.f.banker:

how would one engineer this to ensure not getting ensnared into the life draining abyss of a top bucket analyst?

do less work, leave earlier and hope no one calls an MD or VP who thinks you're lazy for a reference

    • 1
Jun 23, 2017

what BB only has 17 interns?

Fake News.

Jun 23, 2017

Is it not implied that this is one group?

Best Response
Jun 23, 2017

You could read it that way, but its not entirely clear. In any case, it's better to be top bucket.

If you strive for middle, you risk being bottom bucket. I was a top bucket analyst, and I can assure you that after the first six months, when the learning curve is shitty for everybody, you will have had the most valuable experience and thus be faster and better than your peers (hence top bucket). There are a few benefits to this:

  1. Better Staffing - you are less likely to work on the BS pitches that are all data/research driven and more likely to work on deals/client accounts that actually produce cool deals.
  2. Consistent teams - when an MD/VP know you are a good analyst, they request that you work on their shit. Its good when this happens because a lot of times they have the same style for all pitch books, so you can usually reuse old materials and/or know what they expect, so you are not turning several versions of the same stupid presentation.
  3. Deals are better than pitches - you want deals, no matter what. There is nothing worse than the let down of ongoing pitching to clients that you have no traction with that your MD just keeps throwing "follow-up" shit back at them to get in front of them. There could not possibly be a bigger waste of two years digging into shit that will never happen. It is much better to work with clients/attorneys/accountants/consultants on deals than it is to manage massive Research folders for some big idea your crazy MD has to get back in front of a company.

At the end of the day, I would argue that a good top bucket analyst actually has a better second half of the first year and by far a better second year. The work sucks no matter what, so at least you can look busy because people don't think you're intentionally dogging it when you are actually watching Netflix.

Jun 23, 2017

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your perspective.

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Jun 23, 2017

This is a stupid attitude and mistake. The best-ranked analysts, while overworked, get the best deals, which is the best preparation for the buyside (recruiting and on-the-job).

By the way, recruiters usually have relationships with staffers / second and third year analysts they already placed in PE. Come recruiting time, they will call up those folks and ask them to force rank your class. If you're not in the top-bucket, good luck.

Jun 23, 2017

Fair, thanks.

Jul 1, 2017

That's the wrong approach and setting you up for disaster

Jul 3, 2017

Always strive for success. The knowledge you gain while working on the deals you're staffed on (as a function of being the go-to analyst) will be instrumental for the PE interviews you're trying to study for.

Jul 3, 2017