Moelis response to junior concerns

Call lead by Navid Mahmoodzadegan and Jeffrey Raich (co-presidents, just below Ken)

General initiatives:

  • Buy-in from seniors to sign off on a shell before actual work is done on content to avoid wasted time
  • Shorten pitchbooks for non-live deals
  • Minimize weekend work, and especially Saturday work
  • Hire more laterals to fill gaps and increase incoming class sizes

WLB policy changes:

  • Pencils down policy (sounded like Friday evening/night and Saturday evening/night)
  • Weekend meal stipend increased to $60
  • $2,500 quarterly payments for 2021, retroactive. So $5,000 / $2,500 / $2,500. Meant to be used on things to improve mental/physical health, but no restrictions on use.

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Comments (83)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 10:58am

said it below but I'll repeat it here since this is the top comment -- 

They specifically said on the call there is no framework for accountability and they "trust their bankers" -- meaning, this will not have any real or lasting impact to how the work gets done / culture 

That said, the only tangible benefit really is the $10k "stipend" - which is paid out quarterly, and is only half of the $20k bonus portion that CS is paying out in lump sum

Plus CS is giving raises and an unspecified "health benefit" (peloton?) 

There's no actual limit on pitchbook length, it's a soft suggestion to "try to limit length" -- same for weekend work "unless it's a live deal or client request, try to avoid weekend work" -- the bankers who were scheduling 8am catch up calls Saturday morning for meetings weeks away don't view weekends and non-essential work the way the rest of us do and that won't change 

Again, no real standards / limits = worth nothing, and no accountability for those vague and flimsy standards = doubly worth nothing. 

0 * 0 = 0 

Controversial
  • VP in IB-M&A
Apr 1, 2021 - 2:03pm

said it below but I'll repeat it here since this is the top comment -- 

They specifically said on the call there is no framework for accountability and they "trust their bankers" -- meaning, this will not have any real or lasting impact to how the work gets done / culture 

That said, the only tangible benefit really is the $10k "stipend" - which is paid out quarterly, and is only half of the $20k bonus portion that CS is paying out in lump sum

Plus CS is giving raises and an unspecified "health benefit" (peloton?) 

There's no actual limit on pitchbook length, it's a soft suggestion to "try to limit length" -- same for weekend work "unless it's a live deal or client request, try to avoid weekend work" -- the bankers who were scheduling 8am catch up calls Saturday morning for meetings weeks away don't view weekends and non-essential work the way the rest of us do and that won't change 

Again, no real standards / limits = worth nothing, and no accountability for those vague and flimsy standards = doubly worth nothing. 

0 * 0 = 0 

I don't post a lot but was curious to see if there was any reaction online to the initiatives and felt I had to respond to this. I think you are spreading significant misinformation and as another analyst pointed out below, your cynicism threatens to undermine any real attempt at change. I'm not an MD but I'm fully on board to doing my part to support the initiatives, as are the many MDs, directors, VPs, associates, AND analysts who all had significant input. I can only speak for the LA/NY offices but the banker committees all had input in forming a solution forward as did subcommittees prior to that.

I'm not sure where you heard that there was no input from junior bankers - that is completely false. There was wide input across a number of meetings with bankers at all levels and executive team members. I somewhat agree Navid/Jeff can sometimes come off as a little insincere, but they are on board with shifting the culture/actively involved in the process and there have been separate MD meetings to set new expectations as well (the call was not the first time they were briefed). 

I've talked with a number of bankers across multiple levels and they expressed optimism around the things being put in place. Time will tell if it holds true but I hope you're willing to defer your cynicism and actually work towards improving things. You're right though, nothing will ever change if people don't want to even consider it

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2021 - 4:45pm

Odd to have two different timezones. Are you sure its not 7pm on Fri to Sat at 12pm regardless of office timezone? 

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Mar 31, 2021 - 3:15pm

I think this beats the other packages from GS, CS, etc. This has every piece that you'd want as a junior

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Mar 31, 2021 - 4:12pm

CS already has all the above as well. Aside from the beefed up meal credit.

Apr 2, 2021 - 1:36pm

Actually think this is kind of brilliant - introduces some information uncertainty on the side of the MD's (are they really away or just the status?) that I imagine leads to less meaningless pings / option to defer work to when its convienient.

"one for the money two for the better green 3 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine" - M.F. Doom

  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 10:52am

except any framework for accountability.... 

If you believe any of this, then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you - I'll give you a great price! 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Mar 31, 2021 - 3:46pm

Also saw on the litquidity post that they're turning off if you're online or offline on Skype. I find that's been a major issue in my group. It's impossible to step away for an hour without the dread of appearing away and getting called out. We've all resorted to leaving a book on the spacebar and hoping no one messages us. If that's real that Moelis is turning off Skype status, that is biggest quality of life improvement for an analyst. Even if I have a free moment during the week I've found it very difficult to go out for a run, or go to the grocery store. Even just stepping away without appearing to look busy has become not an option. If this is actually enforced at Moelis I hope all firms adopt a similar stance.

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Mar 31, 2021 - 7:54pm

Set your status to offline or permanently away. People will give you shit for a week and then get over it.

Mar 31, 2021 - 11:49pm

This has to be a joke. What group's seniors have enough down time to check Skype status?

Array
  • 2
Apr 1, 2021 - 3:34pm

Associates and VPs certainly look analysts' statuses.  My Skype status has been "away" for 6+ months - I assumed everyone had been doing this and if they're not they should.

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov
Mar 31, 2021 - 5:38pm

As in hire additional grads this year or increase their class size going forward?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Mar 31, 2021 - 6:04pm

Moelis is the GOAT bank of sweatshops.  Dont believe this will do anything.  If an analyst jumping from the 30th floor apartment after multiple 100hr weeks wasn't enough, zero chance this will do anythjng.

  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 10:50am

100% agree, this was a sad attempt -- not actually developed in consultation with the junior bankers as far I am aware (nobody I spoke to was included in any discussions or asked for feedback) and will maybe have a small impact for a few weeks, but with no concrete limitations in place and no accountability framework planned, will quickly revert to the same old 

Hoping EVR / PJT announce something much better to turn up the pressure on Moelis to match -- they already have higher base pay and signing bonuses at the junior level 

Apr 4, 2021 - 9:02pm

I thought they all paid the standard 95k for first years with 10k bump/year? 

Array

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Mar 31, 2021 - 6:45pm

This package is overall pretty promising, but in reality, I think there's only so much you can promise. You can't promise a deck will be shorter because it's situational; turning comments up until the meeting is pretty common (don't expect this to go away); you can't really enforce pencils down policy if you work in a group with great deal flow. 

Do I think senior level bankers will become more aware and sensitive to overworking juniors? Yes. Will that fizzle out to some degree over time? I think so. 

The money is just a "here, this should make dealing with the pain a little more worth it"

Sadly, I think the most promising item listed on this package that will actually produce meaningful change to WLB is increasing headcount with laterals. My group recently increased headcount, and my job definitely felt easier in most ways relative to the year before. Just having an additional person to knock something out simultaneously or to handle the more administrative tasks really does help. Unfortunately, you also have to think about how this will affect staffings, performance reviews, bonuses, etc. 

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2021 - 7:22pm

Strongly disagree. Laterals are not for double staffing deals, it is so there are people available for excess dealflow. Plenty of groups are turning down deals.

I think the interesting thing here which is TBD on if it produces meaningful change is that the policies apply to all bankers. If VPs and EDs are forced to be pencils down as well Friday night and Saturday morning, a few might realize things can just wait or are not ASAP. The acknowledgment of an MD having to sign off on the shell of decks can also help prevent ambitious hardos from imagining anything and everything the MD may want to see.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Mar 31, 2021 - 8:05pm

Increasing headcount helps regardless whether that's a double staffing (which happens), excess deal flow (to your point), or any BS one-off tasks from a VP that's non-deal related. 

To your second point, I don't think most seniors will be thrilled to change up their work flow, so I don't see much change happening or sticking around

  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 10:46am

people gunning for promotion with quasi-revenue generating / client development responsibilities ain't gunna go pencils down Friday night for themselves just because the firm said so -- they ultimately need to deliver results to advance and get paid, so either they're the type where they have better things to do on a Friday night and manage their time well so they wouldn't have been working anyway -- or they aren't, in which case they'll still be plugging away Friday night catching up on reading / strategizing / marking stuff up 

Mar 31, 2021 - 10:09pm

Crazy people don't realize that increasing head counts like this will definitely impact compensation going forward.

Array
Mar 31, 2021 - 10:45pm

phillyboy

Crazy people don't realize that increasing head counts like this will definitely impact compensation going forward.

Not like they are paying crazy now, no?

  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 10:41am

Jeff and Navid were specifically asked on the call about any framework or standards for accountability to ensure that the weekend work is minimized, pitchbook length is kept short (for which there's no actual limitation, just encouragement to keep it "shorter") --- they laughed it off and said they trust their bankers... the same people who schedule 8am calls Saturday morning for a meeting a few weeks away  

This will MAYBE have a tiny impact for a week or two and then back to the same old same old - there's no accountability and so it won't mean anything 

Honestly, the people posting above about how great these initiatives are must either (i) not have realized there's zero accountability (by design) or (ii) just be really naive to unquestioningly drink all that cool aid (or are you anon Moelis PR accounts?) 

CS doubled the bonus (in lump sum), and also is giving out unspecified raises and "health benefit" -  I'd rather the extra cash money (vs 10k payable over 2021) during a year we have record revenue and deal flow than the empty hot air policies they announced 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 1, 2021 - 11:12am

All smoke and mirrors..any idea if the NY office is any better from that point of view since it's more removed from the old-school senior partners?

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Apr 1, 2021 - 12:11pm

Moelis pays a lot more than CS. Much more than $20k more even at the analyst level.

Your pessimistic take likely has a lot of realism and truth in it. I think there is some optimism warranted though. I can only speak from my experience, but part of the book length trimming initiative is being done for purely business purposes due to some research indicating clients are less receptive to longer books delivered over zoom.

  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 12:28pm

The part above wasn't to say that CS analysts / associates will net more than their counterparts at Moelis in total -- I think these bonuses / perks should be evaluated in a vacuum as covid burnout relief, since the expectation for the $85k base + higher year bonus at Moelis is fully baked in (and comes with its own set of tradeoffs that people consider as far as where to work including brand recognition in and out of finance, overall bank resources, etc).

Point is +$10k over "baseline" comp expectations is still less than +$20k over expectations, and that's how (at least in my opinion) people's emotions respond in situations like these, and so telling the Moelis initiative falls short of CS as far as making the employees feel appreciated, "seen" and giving them the extra motivation during this stretch, especially when CS is there as a comp and kinda set expectations. 

FWIW, I'm not disagreeing that a purely rational person would look at overall comp and say you're better off (comp wise at least) at Moelis than CS, I just don't think that's how most people on the ground feel when comparing the banks' responses.  

Also, IMO Moelis is due to give out raises anyhow since base pay and signing bonuses lag PJT and EVR so it wouldn't be farfetched 

  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 12:32pm

re book length, the people who took comfort in book length until now are still going to want to take solace in having lots of pages. Maybe it won't all be walked through on a call, but you can bet it'll show up in the appendix or in a separate addendum sent to the client as follow up reading materials or just for the MD's "back pocket" reference 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Apr 1, 2021 - 12:38pm

They didn't laugh it off at all. They repeatedly emphasized that they were committed to the guidelines being followed and would monitor the situation and adjust as necessary. They also said that they don't want to implement a bureaucratic big brother system because there are absolutely situations where shit just has to get done. The point is to shift culture, not stick it to seniors.

If anyone wants to know why most banks basically shrugged all of this off - read this guy's posts in this topic. There's virtually zero reward for making an earnest, relatively thorough, and well thought out attempt to address concerns. You're still going to get shit on and people will still whine. So if you're a senior at some other bank, you sit back and think "maybe they're just whiny little bitches, I bet it's just their generation". Not true, but that's the thought process. And it should be obvious as to why. Honest efforts to fix shit need to be met with an appropriate, measured optimism. Cynical bitching helps literally nobody, and actively hurts the cause for everyone.

  • Analyst 2 in IA
Apr 1, 2021 - 12:49pm

I don't mean this sarcastically at all - but according to you, they're going to "monitor the situation" -- they specifically said they don't know how they're going to monitor this, and when the direct question about monitoring this / accountability came up, they said they are going to trust the bankers.  

Why wouldn't they at least implement a protocol to document exceptions to the friday night rule, similar to what exists for the "protected weekend" policy? It exists for protected weekends, so that undermines your point that it would be overly bureaucratic to implement and unnecessarily hamstringing situations where things just need to get done (since there's an exception protocol) 

Maybe we sit in different spots, but the people I've spoken to around the firm have all had similar reactions to the announcements (and nobody was asked for input / feedback on developing these initiatives) 

trust but verify 

thanks for the MS

Apr 1, 2021 - 12:44pm

At the end of the day this is all fine but if the client is hard driving the analyst will be working whenever requests come in. I have yet to see our team request something and a bank say "sorry, Saturday's are protected".

Apr 1, 2021 - 1:42pm

So, exactly the status quo but increased weekend meal stipend and $10k? I don't believe any of the other changes because they're not tied to any oversight. I laughed when I read this first on Instagram... and people are taking it seriously? It's just "promising to do better."

Not trying to shit on Moelis, they pay a lot better than my bank. But this is a common theme I see across a lot of banks' "response" to the Analyst survey and I think it needs to be called out everywhere.

Compare the Moelis proposals to the original GS13 deck proposals, such as:

* Client meetings requiring materials should be scheduled at least 1 week in advance of the meeting date

* For client meetings, teams should be pencils down 12 hours before the meeting

* Junior bankers should not be expected to do any work after 9 pm Friday or all day Saturday without a pre-approved exception

... see how the GS13 proposals are like SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound? Now compare it to "shorten pitchbooks for non-live deals" and "minimize weekend work." You have to measure what you want to improve.

There would of course be exceptions to the above, but if EVERY deal is an "exception" what you actually have is a systemic problem. 

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 11
Apr 1, 2021 - 6:18pm

Well, judging by the response here, it sounds like Moelis analysts are actually content with this. I guess it really is easy to keep junior bankers working hard. 

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 1, 2021 - 4:09pm

Moelis analyst here. Thought we were gonna get $0 and nothing was going to change with policies, so pretty happy with this. Do I think the policies will be strictly adhered to? No, not all. BUT, just like I sometimes get my protected weekends, if I sometimes get this it'll be a massive improvement as the work life balance is pretty bad rn. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Apr 1, 2021 - 7:08pm

I do agree here. While just like protected weekends, it won't be 100% protected but for sure will allow for more planning and probably limit Friday work to some extent. Also realise there is consciousness of WLB issues across the board at the senior level and EDs/MDs are actually trying to improve it (starting from a really bad starting point). This is not perfect but still a welcomes improvement and good to see the situation has some recognition

Apr 2, 2021 - 9:42am

Good to see some progress, but a fully protected Saturday would go a long way - many other banks have adopted this policy. Recently, some banks have even specified pencils down from 7pm Friday to 10am Sunday. Provides junior bankers with some dedicated time for rest, mental wellness, do something fun, play with the dog, drop with the boys, etc.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Apr 3, 2021 - 3:53pm

Honestly, I'm just happy that they are actually doing something rather than sweeping everything under the carpet. We have so much deal flow and they could have just said stfu and do deals, but them at least trying to do something is a good sign and senior leadership will take a look at the current volume of work. Of course how it implements is a different idea in a current bull market but let's see.

Apr 7, 2021 - 1:18pm

This kind of reminds me when Moritz Erhardt died in 2013. 

I wasn't at BAML but my employer (BB IB, based in London) adopted a strict pens down policy covering Friday night to Sunday. This was hard enforced for like a month, maybe 6 weeks, and things went slowly back to normal thereafter. Cudos to my COO who went around the floor at 7pm on a Friday and was sending people home as well as checking weekend activity logs in the beginning ; MDs needed to fill out forms if they were incurring work during "restricted" times. 

All this faded though as there were no real incentives to enforce such rules. And when there are no tangible incentives in this business, nothing ever happens. On the contrary, bankers/deal makers get paid per deals closed ie. work incurred. It will probably take another revolt/death for things to be discussed again and change temporarily "Imposed". But as long as there is only talk, and no walk, things will structurally stay the same...and unfortuntately most of my VP/DIR colleagues, who were ANL/ASO not too long ago, have quickly become part of the problem that they too were hating and "protesting"...

Jun 30, 2021 - 2:12pm

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