Leaving IB Soon, Final Rants

Hi all,

I'll be on holidays very soon and I am happy to finally say that I have managed to find a good buy-side opportunity and will be giving my notice once I return.

I understand that a lot of PE firms are just banking 2.0 and also that lifestyle won't be absolutely amazing, but wanted to talk about a few things that I found to be ridiculous during my 2.5 years across two investment banks. I think this is at least partially the reason why a lot of junior staff in investment banks are disgusted about the culture, and also why you get those results from that survey.

At least for me, reading about how other juniors face the same hardship and being able to 'vent out' online anonymously (without taking the risk of some idiot co-worker spreading the word for politics) together was quite helpful to control the rage. So, to vent out one final time (famous last words):

1. The Classic 'Overkill'

The whole IB working system is built around a simple system:  juniors prepare the materials that seniors need for their meetings. Modelling, aligning logos, updating market stats, you name it - ultimately that's all work to equip the MD with the right talking points during a bake-off, catch-up or a 'discussion'.

Problem here is that there are loads of seniors that are insecure about their ability to talk about a topic without a 40 page appendix in case someone asks for a number. Also, there's the breed that wants 10 charts to send across one message. Ok, we get it - it's a low interest environment. Do we really need 15 different variations of interest rates for last 25 years, with labels colored accordingly and lines with 10-year averages? And we need to update this chart again because meeting got pushed by a week? Basically asking for two rocket-launchers, 3 heavy machine guns and 50 hand grenades to go hunting for a rabbit. How stupid is that?

I've worked on quite a few decks where we have a section of 'potential opportunities', filled with quarter-slide profiles that no one will ever look at. Sometimes there were 20-30 pages like this. For christ's sake, why are we still doing this? Some say competition between banks / IB becoming a commodity but I don't buy that explanation - as if some MD was explicitly told that his/her book was too thin and needed to have 30 extra slides that they won't look at, right? Every person that I know who made a transition to a client says the same thing. I've once been told that for these random pitches, they send an internal blast asking who's free during that afternoon, and they send that person in to take a quick break from work by pretending to listen to the presentation.

There is so much value lost in doing these meaningless work, and sorry, analysts are not stupid enough to live with that 'meeting went well, client very happy' b/s. I've dialed into these calls - MD spent 20 seconds on the business plan which we built with a model v182, and the client didn't ask for a follow-up. That's a screw-up in my view, in terms of both ends and means.

2. Fake, and Tight Deadlines

This one's another classic that goes without saying. I have a feeling that this worsened by a lot since WFH, because now everyone is treating every pitch / discussion like it's the next 30 billion sell-side. Because people don't see each other and the sympathy element is basically gone, seniors have started to set fake deadlines just to make sure that work gets done well before the actual date.

They also micromanage as well; 'hey, where are we with xxx' every 30 minutes gave me so much stress during my time in IB. It's like that guy that presses the pedestrian crossing button every 1.5 seconds just to make sure that the light turns green at one point. What is infuriating is that this in no way means that there are no last-minute edits. This just means 3 more rounds of comment gang-bang where you have to keep making edits on the deck until that final exclamation point that is the start of the meeting. 

I'm sure everyone can relate, but sometimes these comments don't add jack shit. Like, how is changing the word 'industry' to 'market' value additive? Why am I editing the size of the footnotes 12 minutes before the presentation? And being given the 'ok, pls pdf and send' 2 minutes before people start dialing in (now you have to pdf, draft that 'please find attached' email, hit send, open the call and accept everyone)? It just feels that this has become the norm and no one finds a problem / have the guts to say that this is all a stupid circus and should really stop. 

3. Dependent Seniors

Apparently when you hit VP, you lose all your fingers and cannot scroll the mouse to share the screen anymore. You also become so holy that your computer logs you out when you open excel. Of course there is that Director who still prefers to work on the model hands-on, but in so many cases people just stop doing things just because they've 'made it'.

I've been looped into calls just so I can share the screen for 2-3 hours, without given full context of what's going on, or being fully staffed. What's the point of this? For the analysts and associates, the more calls there are, more time is wasted simply taking 'notes' that no one looks at / needs, or flicking through slides. Work starts after the call ends, usually 6-7pm. 

So much time is wasted in these stupid requests - sometimes you get an email with 'changes' / 'text to be incorporated into slides' where if the guy actually typed it in the PPT (where the slide has already been drafted) himself, it would be already done by now. Or, you get told to 'change the file name to xxx' in a email, which could've been done like 10 seconds earlier by the guy who sent that email.

I even had VP who sent me a link of his personal folder and told me that I am supposed to 'clean up' his folder so things belong where they are. This level of over-dependency (MDs not being able to open calls etc.) not only drives me crazy but also makes me think about how juniors are perceived within this culture, which brings me to my next point:

4. No logging Off

For those seniors who are wondering why some of your analysts don't want to come back to the office, consider this, because it's not just because they want to chill at home with their dog on their lap (although it helps). At least for me, what I feel is that now there is no real 'done for the day' moment. Before covid, when you left the office, you were done. Yes, there was some pressure that you therefore have to be in the office until quite late just to make sure all last minute tasks were covered (for me that was 12pm - 1am), but you knew you could dive into bed once you get home and forget about work for the next 7-8 hours. Those days are gone.

Now, because everyone knows that everyone has the office at their home desks, even when you leave the office people expect you to log back when you reach home. They don't care if it's 2am or 3am, because guess what, you're only <10m far away from your desk! 

This is why I feel that there is a very sad future ahead for those who've just joined / will be joining in the coming years. Even when things go back to 'normal', people will expect that you log back in (or stay logged in) while at home. And this is why I would rather stick to working from home, because at least I can use my double screens to watch NBA while working late. Travelling to the office just to come back to home to finish off ? No thanks.

5. Delusional Company Initiatives

What's worse than all of this is the fact that the company keeps on signalling virtues without doing anything tangible. If they at least acknowledged the fact that their junior employees are borderline suicidal and they've managed to nurture a psychopath culture, it would at least feel better. Have you received that auto-sent email at 3am from HR while working late, telling you to 'try out yoga' or to 'drink more water' to take care of yourself?

Once we had a call with a really senior guy at the bank, and when asked what he thinks can be helpful to improve juniors mental health, the guy said that analysts should just try to set a 'log off' time, so that when the clock hits 10pm, for instance, you log off for an hour and take a break. The fact that senior management are able to say these things with a straight face can mean only two things - either they have 0 clue how they get that P&L, or that they give 0 shits about welfare and just want to make themselves feel better. 

What really 'works' in my opinion, is that you set up a proper disciplinary framework where if a senior breaches certain policies (e.g. IM'ing an analyst at 3am on Friday to do something by Saturday morning for him to review, while the meeting is on next Friday) certain times, it affects their bonus. Or even worse, get fired. Sounds extreme, but if you think about it most 'normal' companies have some sort of equivalent policy regarding harassment / workplace abuse. Imagine that some Director / MD actually gets fired in one of the major banks for harassment reasons - and it gets published by FT or whatever.

That's when people will start caring - what VP or MD will suddenly become nicer and more reasonable when there are 0 drawbacks of not being so? I know this will never happen, because all banks care about is how much money seniors bring to the bank. I'm just saying if you're not willing to do this because of money, don't act like the bank is an amazing place to work, or that you're trying to make it one.

I'm sure there are countless stories/elements that you can add to the list above. In fact, I've done this so that we can at least openly communicate about what's killing you - the above were reasons why I had to cancel family trips, lost key relationships and friends, and face both physical and mental health challenges.

Conclusion

Thing is, despite all these points, I still love finance. And that's not just because of the many elements of the job that makes it interesting (at least to a certain degree). It's also because finance embraced me and allowed me to kick-start a career, without having to think that 'things could've been better otherwise'. It might sound really stupid, but coming from that 'target' background, the fear of not being able to be satisfied about my life after graduation under my own standards (taking on a proper path of development / being excited about my job etc.) was real, and investment banking was a challenge good enough for me to take.

We should all admit that working as an Analyst in an investment bank is still one of the top ways to start your career (from money and learning perspective), and being able to rest on that sense of comfort was something I was quite proud of (compare yourselves to many around you who are still clueless about their lives / wasting time and are feeling bad about it - you are doing really well and you should all be proud, in a good way!) All people require a sense of accommodation, belonging and acceptance, and for me, it was the finance community that gave me all this when I was lost with direction after graduating uni.

I know some will say that my job cannot / should not define who I am, but let's get real - what you do for a living is a big part of you. After all, it's one of the only things along with your name that you will bring up when you first introduce yourself. Because of this very reason, I hope that the culture in finance becomes something we can all be proud of - at least for now, I think we have a very, very long way to go.

Thanks a lot for reading all, and I look forward to any comments / stories!

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (100)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 12, 2021 - 4:54pm

Thank you man! Glad that you found it worth a read.

May 12, 2021 - 4:51pm

Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

Hi all,

1. The Classic 'Overkill'

The whole IB working system is built around a simple system:  juniors prepare the materials that seniors need for their meetings. Modelling, aligning logos, updating market stats, you name it - ultimately that's all work to equip the MD with the right talking points during a bake-off, catch-up or a 'discussion'.

Problem here is that there are loads of seniors that are insecure about their ability to talk about a topic without a 40 page appendix in case someone asks for a number. Basically asking for two rocket-launchers, 3 heavy machine guns and 50 hand grenades to go hunting for a rabbit. How stupid is that? I've worked on quite a few decks where we have a section of 'potential opportunities', filled with quarter-slide profiles that no one will ever look at. Sometimes there were 20-30 pages like this. For christ's sake, why are we still doing this? Some say competition between banks / IB becoming a commodity but I don't buy that explanation - as if some MD was explicitly told that his/her book was too thin and needed to have 30 extra slides that they won't look at, right? Every person that I know who made a transition to a client says the same thing. I've once been told that for these random pitches, they send an internal blast asking who's free during that afternoon, and they send that person in to take a quick break from work by pretending to listen to the presentation.

There is so much value lost in doing these meaningless work, and sorry, analysts are not stupid enough to live with that 'meeting went well, client very happy' b/s. I've dialed into these calls - MD spent 20 seconds on the business plan which we built with a model v182, and the client didn't ask for a follow-up. That's a screw-up in my view, in terms of both ends and means.

2. Fake, and Tight Deadlines

This one's another classic that goes without saying. I have a feeling that this worsened by a lot since WFH, because now everyone is treating every pitch / discussion like it's the next 30 billion sell-side. Because people don't see each other and the sympathy element is basically gone, seniors have started to set fake deadlines just to make sure that work gets done well before the actual date. They also micromanage as well; 'hey, where are we with xxx' every 30 minutes gave me so much stress during my time in IB. What is infuriating is that this in no way means that there are no last-minute edits. This just means 3 more rounds of comment gang-bang where you have to keep making edits on the deck until that final exclamation point that is the start of the meeting. 

I'm sure everyone can relate, but sometimes these comments don't add jack shit. Like, how is changing 'industry' to 'market' value additive? Why am I editing the size of the footnotes 12 minutes before the presentation? And being given the 'ok, pls pdf and send' 2 minutes before people start dialing in? It just feels that this has become the norm and no one finds a problem / have the guts to say that this is all a stupid circus and should really stop. 

you confirmed many of my suspicions on why IB in general has a terrible culture with these points. what a shame. this is the only area of sales I've ever heard of that works this way.

I wish you luck on your next move

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 12, 2021 - 4:56pm

Thank you for the kind words. I hoped that the COVID crisis / focus on WFH and the GS survey would serve as a wake-up call, but it now seems like companies have pushed the problem aside either through a meaningless townhall speech or one time payment.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
May 12, 2021 - 5:32pm

Reading this post I'm glad my senior bankers are actually willing to get their hands dirty and go through a complex merger model / or just a quick sentence fix in PPT. Sorry that you had a bad time and hope you have a great PE experience!

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 12, 2021 - 6:03pm

Yes - I get the feeling that the hands on seniors are usually the ones who understand the numbers inside out and therefore able to easily talk through / defend the points in a meeting without thick books. On the contrary, there are seniors who tosses the question to the senior associate / junior VP because all they've done is looked at the final numbers and marked up ones that seemingly looked wrong. I've learned the most from the hands-on seniors myself.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
May 12, 2021 - 6:32pm

Have worked at two different banks. The first one was where anyone VP and above was allergic to ppt or excel. Then switched banks to my current group and its underrated how nice it is when you have VPs,Ds,MDs that are willing to get their hands dirty and make direct edits themselves. Blew my mind when an MD hopped into a deck and made edits himself. Most of the senior bankers at my first gig couldn't turn on their laptop or use outlook without help 

May 12, 2021 - 7:08pm

4 is the most important point and driver of the ridiculous turnover, pay raises, and 1 time bonus hysteria we have seen over the last couple months.

If you worked in IB prior to COVID, it simply was a different animal. Sometimes you would work until midnight or later, but it was for things that were ridiculous asks at 5-6PM as Seniors drove home to eat with their kids.

Now ridiculous asks come in at all times of the day. 9:30PM is the new 5PM for me personally (when requests come in) and I work like crazy until midnight or later to take care of them.

Return to office won't fix this this. It will make it worse. Everyone is flexible now, and all flexible really means is flexible to work all hours of the day. Now I just assume I'll get yelled at for needing to drive commute and not being able to work while commuting. Maybe self driving cars will fix that so we can truly never stop working.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 12, 2021 - 7:11pm

I feel your frustration and completely agree with you. In fact, I've actually wrote this on my way back home and now I've logged back in and am waiting for comments. There's that leaked email where an MD asks an employee who's trapped in an elevator if there is wi-fi in the elevator because he has comments that should be turned - that's how life will be like once this thing is over and we all 'go back to office'. Kudos and hope you'll find a solution of your own!

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 12, 2021 - 8:00pm

Thank you. I was under the impression that some might find this post lame given that it's usually the same things that drives us crazy, but really thankful that people found this worth a read.

May 12, 2021 - 8:01pm

Solid first draft, couple comments below (kidding..):

On (2), totally agree that fake deadlines suck, but what I've been struggling with alot more throughout the pandemic is tight ACTUAL deadlines. With WFH, it's so easy for MD's to just schedule a zoom call on a whim for the next day with a client, and send a 7pm request for a deck that needs to be ready for a 9am meeting the next day. You can push back on the fake deadlines you mentioned when you're over staffed, but you really have no choice for the deck that your MD needs tomorrow for a meeting he either just scheduled or forgot to tell you about.

Also if I had to add another point that applies to most if not all people's experience, it's that the amount of administrative b*tch work (KYC, compliance etc.) is really out of control. I get why we have to do it but it feels like every other week there is some new process/platform/checklist/etc. that we need to do for every live deal and it's absolutely been driving me nuts. Nothing worse than a 16 hour day becoming an 18 hour day because you're behind on some compliance or recordkeeping stuff 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 12, 2021 - 8:34pm

Can't agree more. One point that I didn't mention is how there is no senior performance measure in relation to 'management'. Fees / no. of deals closed is pretty much all they look at. MDs are called 'managing' directors for a reason, and senior VPs/directors who are managers of other analysts are called that for a reason.

I feel that while this industry asks for so much from juniors (attention to detail, being proactive, availability 24/7, being bright and sociable, quick work turnarounds etc etc.), for seniors not so much. They can suck really bad in terms of communication, workload management and just being a decent person and get away with it because the juniors have delivered DESPITE all this. Forgetting to send comments until right before they go to sleep, not letting people know that there is a meeting scheduled, scheduling calls under unrealistic deadlines then complaining about the quality of works etc. is just simply poor management and people need to be assessed on these grounds too. Yes, I get that these guys are smart and all, but a lot of them are horrible at management, no matter if they admit it or not. And this, as managers, is doing a bad job as much as a junior screwing up all the model he/she touches.

May 12, 2021 - 9:48pm

Nailed it. Great write-up.

Probably my favorite quote describing banking as a junior staffer is, "Investment Banking is easy.  It's like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire, you're on fire, everything is on fire, and you're in hell."

"A man can convince anyone he's somebody else, but never himself."
  • 9
May 14, 2021 - 10:30am

I have a similar one....being the best analyst is like winning a pie eating contest where the first place prize is more pie

  • 1
May 12, 2021 - 10:09pm

I have a buddy from my MBA that did M&A IB for 5ish years and he started getting serious health problems, his parents paid him to quit and get his MBA because it was going to kill him otherwise. He's looking way better now, lost like 30 lbs and is actually eating healthy haha.

I can't even imagine sacrificing my health that much for work, I hope you see better days and find a good balance. You don't want to fuck around with your health.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 12, 2021 - 10:13pm

Yes - thankfully I realized this at one point and started taking proper supplements, eat healthy and work out when I can. I think I was able to balance this out quite well compared to some other peers I've seen - worse case I've seen is a 29 year old female colleague going through menopause (shocking was an understatement). You're right that we should take care of ourselves...

May 14, 2021 - 5:35pm

Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

Yes - thankfully I realized this at one point and started taking proper supplements, eat healthy and work out when I can. I think I was able to balance this out quite well compared to some other peers I've seen - worse case I've seen is a 29 year old female colleague going through menopause (shocking was an understatement). You're right that we should take care of ourselves...

Jesus Christ, I hope she quit

May 12, 2021 - 10:17pm

Great write up. I would also add that I don't see the new bonuses as any sort of change.

In fact, it's the same mentality that has always run banking. I pay my juniors $X dollars which is a lot for someone their age - hence, I can do whatever the fuck I want to them because the bank pays them $X.

Sure, the bonuses are nice, but the ethos behind them is the same crap that is burning out juniors.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
May 13, 2021 - 12:06am

Even as a remote intern last summer, I was able to see how much of a mess it is culture-wise and efficiency-wise. 100 man hours for a presentation that a CFO doesn't give a damn about. Not sure how some MDs are so clueless. Also not sure why HR can't simply lay down some ground rules. As far as having the excuse of allowing senior bankers to be obnoxious because they "bring in revenue," does any other industry do this? Would the bank lose all its business if analysts are limited to 80 hours a week... and maybe a presentation nobody even looks at has an appendix that is 10 slides shorter? I'm betting that efficiency would actually skyrocket as MD's start to realize they have to allocate analyst hours to useful tasks. Maybe if hours were fixed and junior banker's time was being respected, then better people will choose to join IB and rise up the ranks. 

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
May 13, 2021 - 1:24am

100 man hours for a presentation that a CFO doesn't give a damn about. 

I feel that. During my last internship, I felt so embarassed whenever we'd meet with our (sell-side and fundraise) clients. Those clients probably thought that our team was working day and night to help sell their company, but instead the Associate and I had probably wasted an entire morning drafting a "catch-up" deck prior to speaking with the client. So much time is wasted on these dumb little side-projects that make the company look good and help the MD to talk through a meeting with the client. I know we can't always be talking to potential investors and acquirers so we need to fill the time, and we always need to look for clients so we need to pitch too but it's pretty disheartening. I think as a whole, the investment banking industry is really insecure about the services we provide which is why MD's always need the flashy little deck to go through in his meeting with clients. By demonstrating that we'll prepare for a 15-minute call with a 20-page deck, apparently we're making a statement that this is how hard we work and prepare... Plus, the MD needs a script for his call but I can understand that - even our MD's were overstretched. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 13, 2021 - 12:54am

Great write up about the pitfalls of this industry. I'm glad you finally are moving on and really hope you get some needed rest and reconnection with friends.
 

It's unfortunate, but the industry is partially broken because despite all the issues, seniors and banks know for a young motivated undergrad there are few jobs that offer the combo of pay and learning that IB does. As a result, there's a long line of individuals willing to take burnt out analysts and associates place. The other thing I would argue is ultimately banks succeed by their brand or the relationship senior bankers have-not by execution. While very poor execution could ultimately present long term brand risk, the difference between a deal being executed flawlessly and just alright isn't enough of a reason to try to retain good junior talent-it's just unlikely to really affect top line revenues at the end of the day. 

Elaborating further on some of your points, from my experience, the bizarre and bad parts of this industry come from there being no limit to client services, nervous energy, and a strong lack of big picture thinkers at the senior level. The nature of client services means there just is a never ending duty to go the extra mile. Many banks will have these bogus appendixes if anything to just show to clients the lengths they are willing to go to appeal to the client. While I agree and I think anyone with a brain would agree no client is choosing a bank due to the size of the appendix, I think no one wants to lose potentially millions of dollars due to an analyst not pulling a few all nighters-the stakes are just too high. Also, it ultimately doesn't affect them or their sleep it's an undergrad who they don't really care about. Plus, for many bankers they had to do the same thing at one point so they aren't sympathetic because they survived as were "better for it".

I also think the element of nervous energy  is significant in this industry. Many/ almost all senior bankers are incredibly hard working, competitive people who have moved up in their role due to hyper attention to detail in the execution role. As a result, in many situations when they can't control the outcome I think they begin to start trying to change things they can affect or control which often means meaningless details in a deck or just controlling an analyst's time frankly. It's just absolute bullshit that never in the history of a banking analyst tenure do they ever hear the words, "hey guys, this looks great for next week, let's save it and pencils down." Instead you always get last minute changes that are zero value add as mentioned above such as changing "tier 1 strategics" to "best few strategics" 3 minutes before the meeting. 

Lastly, I think at some level the issue with the industry comes back to a lack of big picture thinkers at the senior level. For the reasons you listed, you are leaving. I think most analysts that are independent thinkers, or individuals that see the bigger picture, do in fact leave the industry. As a result, there is some serious self selection going on where you are left with primarily highly risk averse, non-independent thinkers who somehow weren't annoyed with pedantic details like a chart being the wrong shade of gray.

I think the more self aware seniors will even acknowledge it. I once had a senior I respected mention to me, "You know, the best junior and senior bankers are smart, but not too smart. Anyone that really is a thinker will just think too much and become depressed with the inefficiencies of the industry." 

Frankly, it blows my mind that 55 year old dudes with kids are sending me comments at dinner time or at 11pm that include changing a word in a subtitle from one synonym to another-but hey that's why they are MD's and why me and you are leaving.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
May 13, 2021 - 7:00am

Completely agree - I think fundamentally as long as there is no opportunity cost for seniors to continue acting in such way, nothing will change. People still lining up for the pay, prestige and opportunity would be another reason. However, just like how unpaid internships should be illegal / viewed as exploitation, people being desperate should not be a reason to treat them so poorly.

May 13, 2021 - 7:31am

The thing I find most troubling is 1. Overkill! I find a lot of irony here as IB at the MD level is supposedly a high level sales gig and everything in this point is anti professional sales. I've been in sales at many levels and in many industries for over thirty years. Board room to back room. It's all the same. Discover what they want, what problem they need fixed, and provide the best solution. That's it. It's not a fishing expedition. Doesn't matter if it's jet airplanes or paper clips. There's a four step process to selling: 1. Build rapport, 2. Fact find, 3. Present solution / overcome objections, 4. Close.  That's it. 

These guys take the exactly wrong approach: the firehose. "Let's go in and be able to throw up on their desk". We'll have everything about everything prepared just in case". So unprofessional. Real sales people spend the time up front understanding exactly what the client needs to solve an issue. They lock in on that and present a very narrow set of solutions to accomplish the goal. Here's an example that may seem pedestrian but it literally is the same thing. If an investor wants to deploy the dry powder they've been sitting on, I wouldn't go in and say "We've got equity instruments, large cap, small cap, everything cap, oh and if you want something more conservative we have a suite of FI oh and if that doesn't cut it we have alts, and let me tell you about our PB channel who can handle this for you and , and, and..." I would find out what they want and WHY THEY WANT IT (that's key) and present A solution with a close alternative. In other words, I would find out their needs, find out what hurts, and solve the problem. I wouldn't ask my team to prepare a proposal or presentation that included all these other things that no one cares about.

As I see it, the real problem is they don't know how to sell.  Trust me, Boeing doesn't go to United Airlines and say, "we can make you this model and that model and these other ones, and oh by the way here's how the engine works on all three, and blah blah blah. They find out what United really needs, why they need it, and address that need with the best solution. They don't have all this extraneous meaningless crap that NO ONE cares about.  Selling is about simplifying complex issues and creating client confidence and clarity in order to implement solutions to their problems.  Transform Fear and Confusion into Confidence and Clarity. That's it. Nothing more. 

It's like the Banking industry never heard of the famous Xerox Sales Training system that was modified by IBM and used to sell billions and billions of X every yr for the past century. Amazing they don't teach their teams how to professionally sell.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
May 13, 2021 - 8:33am

I feel every word. It hurts. Great write up. What are you doing now? I'm thinking about leaving too. Can I DM you?

May 13, 2021 - 9:05am

Has anyone had experiences w/ rockstar MDs who are less fixated on continuous deck edits and more on crafting the discussion around solutions for a client? Generally speaking, have found an inverse relationship between the number of meaningless edits to a deck and competency. After the 100th meaningless edit, you realize this isn't about the end product, but the MD trying to gain some sense of control or power or exhausting themselves and their teams to feel like they've done "work". For a true mover and shaker with an all-star client base, there's no way they can justify going back-and-forth endlessly when they should be taking calls from their clients and figuring out the next move on their industry's chess board.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 13, 2021 - 10:55am

TMT_monkey

Has anyone had experiences w/ rockstar MDs who are less fixated on continuous deck edits and more on crafting the discussion around solutions for a client? Generally speaking, have found an inverse relationship between the number of meaningless edits to a deck and competency. After the 100th meaningless edit, you realize this isn't about the end product, but the MD trying to gain some sense of control or power or exhausting themselves and their teams to feel like they've done "work". For a true mover and shaker with an all-star client base, there's no way they can justify going back-and-forth endlessly when they should be taking calls from their clients and figuring out the next move on their industry's chess board.

Not the original poster, but had the long comment above. I think just employment at every level you will find this to be true. The people more nervous for their jobs and less confident always provide the most useless edits/ commentary. They also from my experience are usually the most aggressive as well. Those that are really moving and shaking have more important things to worry about and don't feel threatened or like they HAVE to provide comments on everything. I genuinely believe (minus client nightmares which unfortunately are decently common) IB could be a 9-9pm job if you have a VP who knows transactions and has nothing to prove, an associate who is willing to split workload, an analyst who can be trusted, and of course an MD who cares more about the big picture than making little nits and last minute changes.

We can keep dreaming...

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
May 13, 2021 - 11:37am

I quickly realized at my firm who that rockstar MD was and started rogue staffing myself on his projects. He'll have maybe 20-30 comments on a highly complex deck, 80% of those being comments on aligning our materials with an overall pitch or meeting strategy. This means I can deliver him high quality work instead of stressing over receiving a wall of useless formatting comments and random screens. If I know a wall of comments are coming, I'm going to half ass my first draft since I know for a fact its gonna get changed.

Rockstar MDs like this are rare so I'm glad I was able to find one.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
May 13, 2021 - 11:47am

My MD's are absolute studs, their asks are always pointed and direct, they don't go overboard on bullshit materials or sensitivities and know how to push back on clients, have a director who makes his own slides for me to just drop in, etc. "Nobody looks at this shit anyways, just make it look decent" My MD jumped in the model alongside me for 3 hours and it was actually fun, and another MD built his own sensitivity analysis last night.  Now the clown VP's... not so much, left the bar a few weeks ago to build a pointless bridge for him that had no urgency whatsoever and don't think ever even got used. Fortunate that most of my group gets it, they've made it clear they want me to stay past 2 years and have actually made it a point to not ruin my life.   

May 13, 2021 - 10:52am

Really don't appreciate fake deadlines, those are the worst

Instagram: @dickthesellsider | Substack: dicktoad.substack.com

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
May 13, 2021 - 12:11pm

I don't think the industry will ever change - in fact, it may continue to get worse as communication technology improves and the velocity of bullshit edits and comments increases.  MD's firing off edits from their iPad styluses like no tomorrow.

IB is such a commoditized offering - there's no rocket science going on at a BB versus a MM.  Just varying levels of resources and relationships.  As a result you have a race to the bottom in terms of over-promising and overworking juniors.  Hell, if I'm a self-serving VP/MD walking into the pitch and I know I don't have much more to offer then the next bank, it's no skin off my back to compensate with extra pages and useless analysis.

  • Associate 2 in Consulting
May 13, 2021 - 12:51pm

Great writeup and I feel somewhat vindicated for not choosing IBD during uni for these reasons. But even though I dont work in IBD I can tell you that points 1, 2 & 3 are common across finance from what I've seen.

Its a combination of insecure and lazy seniors who are unwilling to actually understand the numbers. There are plenty of higher ranked people who have simply outlasted others to get to their position and not through real merit.  Just leads to pointless work where you have to explain to them simple concepts, rather than let you actually take the reigns on certain things.

I wish you luck in your next role but fear you may come across some similar issues!

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
May 13, 2021 - 1:54pm

Have an MD who will make direct edits in the Ppt (sometimes the final edits); however, he highlights everything he changed and adds a strikethrough to anything he wants deleted.  Have literally gotten decks w/ a bunch of highlights & strikethroughs sent back to me asking that they be removed so it can be sent to client. 

May 13, 2021 - 2:22pm

devils advocate: maybe hes trying to show you how he would re-word stuff so you can learn?

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
May 13, 2021 - 2:51pm

Nope - guy is just a misery to work w/.  He also does this after saying that deck is needed ASAP, sitting on it for a week after he gets it, then sending back a turn at 10pm on a Friday which is so unintelligible that it's obvious he's fucked up. 

He also writes dog shit decks. 

May 13, 2021 - 2:09pm

You do realise everyone in PE up to MD level are still bootlicking cucks doing the exact same mundane shit?

  • 4
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
May 13, 2021 - 4:07pm

Crazy thing is if these mfs paid me more I'd just keep eating the shit they throw at me everyday. Instead I'm looking for buyside opps everyday and tbh I hate the recruiting process. I'd drop everything rn if the bank told me how it really is and upped these paltry junior comp numbers - I have to work 85hrs hours / wk avg (70 - 120 range) and put up with the things described in this rant (that I 100% agree with) but I get paid $80 per hour then sign me up for A2A. 

May 14, 2021 - 3:40pm

Thanks D

Your post was really good. It reminded me that I left my company 4 years ago for those same reasons. I started talking about the same things to my partners and employees to insure we do it differently. I am guilty of forgetting that sometimes now. I am going to be better at identifying the people who a junior and thanking them .

May 14, 2021 - 3:43pm

Every year I am surprised that most M&A bankers have not figured out how to sell and think inane changes to a pitchbook will win them work.  It reminds of primitives trying to link their actions to the responses of the gods.  Likely a byproduct of "group think" from a room of life long Bankers.

You would think sales people understand how buyers make decisions.  I do tend to see better use of time in specialty markets and boutiques where there are fewer true competitors and many people have varied backgrounds.

Another thing that I note from the more rational groups I see is that many leaders in these firms are hands on (yes I still model occasionally and often review the models of others) and many are not life long Bankers.  I had a C-suite consulting start and then after an MBA went to Banking then was Industry executive before Banking again as a partner.

Btw, I never got good work out of anyone who once he worked 70 hours in a week, and not past 65 per week if continuously working without some meaningful PTO.  It is not that I am generous or a softie, it is that I am demanding.  I want excellence for 65 hours a week, every week.  If I don't have you wasting time on font changes I only need you for 65 hours.

I recommend you look for firms with a diversity of experience in its VP on up, and you yourself should plan to have a diversity of experience over your career,  Look at all the different paths like corp development, buy side, consultancy, exec mgmt, and expect to move from one portion of the finance industry to another.  You will learn much by seeing Banking services from the other perspectives, that will allow you to understand your client and her needs much more authentically - really understanding what your client needs and how to realistically convince her that you can solve her problem is how you win mandates.  Moving between Banking and other related areas is a great way to become a senior banker and to make the industry more sane.

Jul 12, 2021 - 11:37pm

Spot on. Biggest dissonance in the industry is that so many senior bankers don't actually consider themselves to be primarily salespeople. But then again, with the experience of junior bankers stated above, it shouldn't be a surprise which skills remain under-developed and which bad habits start to dominate.

May 15, 2021 - 4:01am

Really well put. And, as you said, it always boils down to those senior bankers who are just not good at their jobs and need an armada of "material" in order to feel confident in succeeding. That is so frustrating. I've always found no one is opposed to grinding it out on the actual live stuff no matter the time it takes but the pitching activity / "discussion materials" creation is what makes the job so frustrating - and guess who does more of the latter... Really difficult structural issue to solve.

  • 2
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
May 17, 2021 - 8:02am

"Discussion materials" is the worst - still have no clue what that's supposed to mean. Basically a deck that has everything that's there that can come up during a conversation lel

May 15, 2021 - 8:58pm

Good read, thanks for sharing. Best of luck in the new opportunity!

Dayman?
May 16, 2021 - 10:42am

Do want to make the point that non-targets feel some of that same heat to achieve, as target is really an IB / finance thing, although with overlap elsewhere. Point understood though and awesome post 

May 16, 2021 - 12:30pm

Not in IB but work with a lot of ex-bankers and experience a lot of the same culture. Between this and a corpfin/valuations role I previously worked in, the worst part is the people. I've never seen such a high concentration of antisocial behavior (anxiety, aggression, neuroticism, workaholicism, general disagreeableness, etc), and it's no surprise that all of the other factors that make banking so miserable (overkill, fake deadlines, etc) stem from that.

I've definitely noticed a reverse survivorship effect in finance where the worst personalities make it to the top and gradually force the more well-adjusted employees out as they choose to focus on hobbies, health, and family rather than working and stressing themselves to death. Incidentally, out of about 15 or so seniors that I've worked with, the only two I've gotten along with weren't American, which is a further indictment on corporate culture here. 

May 17, 2021 - 11:04pm

What level of organization (or disorganization) is there for "template" slides that are equal to or similar across companies / deals? Is there any aggregation into 1 MASTER slide template deck to save time (not even taking into account the time spent creatively thinking about slide layout and formatting before you even begin a new slide..). Would love to hear from those in the space

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
May 18, 2021 - 2:19am

I think in most cases it's not really about spending time to come up with layouts / designing slides. Mostly it's the useless market updates / wording changes that eat up time. For instance, most would agree that a short profile would look like: i) Title: xxx at a Glance ii) sub-title: something like "UK-based consumer goods retailer with specialties in xxx iii) four quarter-slides, with business description (top LHS), key financials (top RHS), timeline / management overview (bottom LHS) / business lines / revenue split etc. (bottom RHS). But then there is the 'can we footnote xxx' or 'can we add xxx', 'can we add this event' etc. that can be a complete waste of time that adds no value.

May 18, 2021 - 9:37am

Plus you have to add in that all the data is absurdly manual to collect. Oh what to put in number of stores for said consumer goods retailer? You're going to need to look that up in God knows what place to figure out. 

May 18, 2021 - 11:55am

Eveniet optio mollitia dolor quos incidunt. Consequuntur distinctio deleniti ut et eius. Quibusdam beatae voluptatum vitae expedita aliquam in.

Omnis hic repellat optio eligendi. Facilis commodi eos dolor molestiae eum quia enim accusantium. Sunt in facere sed ut. Quia laboriosam quibusdam fuga quidem laboriosam veniam. Atque ut accusamus quibusdam harum itaque nesciunt.

May 19, 2021 - 11:44am

Aliquam laudantium blanditiis est tempore sunt non. Quo ad est sunt quae recusandae blanditiis est.

Voluptatem debitis mollitia reiciendis sed. Maxime soluta similique et quibusdam doloribus error ut. Numquam a dolor et odit occaecati nobis explicabo.

Iste non rerum id est dolor iure. Dolor et expedita dolorem molestias. Suscipit est autem quam quas. Debitis harum in aut iusto earum omnis ratione.

  • Intern in S&T - FI
Jul 13, 2021 - 9:59am

Distinctio quis voluptatem odio adipisci commodi eligendi eius et. Voluptas ut non nam et ipsa reiciendis.

Eaque id iure et ratione est. Cumque voluptatem similique autem porro. Sint doloremque exercitationem dolore incidunt autem molestiae. Numquam expedita necessitatibus omnis veniam praesentium veniam.

Molestiae et consequuntur ab sapiente rerum in sit praesentium. Excepturi est quia enim a sequi molestiae. Aut repellendus velit corporis. Consectetur libero rerum eligendi consequatur repudiandae.

Jul 13, 2021 - 11:37am

Labore quia iste fugit. Est incidunt eius suscipit aspernatur sit nihil. Vero laboriosam eius quos expedita commodi.

Dolore magnam reprehenderit consectetur nesciunt possimus impedit. Architecto facilis hic fugit in mollitia. Illum ut quasi nesciunt. Et et fugiat adipisci vero est ipsum perferendis. Rerum quae impedit reiciendis quaerat voluptatem blanditiis.

Qui et facilis et numquam quia vero. Inventore veritatis qui et quis vero voluptatem quidem consectetur. Consequatur pariatur error hic culpa. Ut qui quod et modi. Quasi eveniet omnis ut error. Totam sequi consequatur aspernatur quidem et qui qui.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

September 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (39) $363
  • Associates (220) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (135) $154
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (30) $147
  • Intern/Summer Associate (103) $143
  • 1st Year Analyst (487) $135
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (377) $82