Q&A: Consistent Top Bucket IB Analyst
Hi WSO Community,
I've recently gotten a lot of PMs from prospects/SAs on this forum asking for advice, so I'd like to open it up to a discussion. A senior banker once told me that banking wouldn't be anywhere without top bankers passing down knowledge/skills to junior bankers.
A bit about me- I came from a non-target in the midwest and recruited heavily to get into IB. During my time in IB, I picked up a lot of skills from the top analysts and associates, and finished top bucket the past two years.
I'm going to share some top bucket advice below, but please feel free to ask me any questions. Some of this advice I'm going to reuse from my prior posts, but it's always worth hearing a second time.
Overall as an analyst, your job is to make your MDs, VPs, and Associates job easier. If you apply this general principle to your everything in your work, you'll finish top bucket. Don't be a kiss a$$, but I usually ask my VPs or associates what I can do to make their life easier every night before they leave. I have a great culture in my current role so this may not work out for you, so take this with a grain of salt if you like
Be everyone's "go-to" analyst. Whenever associates or other analysts have questions about something they haven't done before, get them to ask you and not others. I do this by learning the ins and outs of models, understanding debt, becoming a great data analyst, learning the industries you cover, understanding legal and credit agreements, and many more. Look through past deals that you weren't on at some of the financial analyses performed, terms of deals, etc
Triple check each email sent out, especially to clients. If I'm sending critical emails, I'll always type "XX" in the cc bar so it stops me from sending it. That makes me read it one last time
Print out all your decks and deliverables and read through them without any music playing / no distractions
Ask for more speaking roles, and prep for each one. This will earn you respect and prep you for your next career progression
Treat every excel output like you're reviewing it before you send it off to the associate / VP. Alt + M + D should be your best friend. Build more checks than you have to. Treat your work as if you just received it from a junior analyst and have to review it before the MD sees it. Everything should make sense
When sending excel outputs to your associates of VPs, use Alt + W + I and print them as PDF and send the PDF to them as well. They love to see this, especially if they're on their phone and trying to look at the output
By hyper organized as an analyst. This takes the form of creating dozens of folders for your deals, labeling different turns of purchase agreements in separate folders, etc.
Be hyper attentive to your email. Atold me that you could be the smartest analyst alive but not respond to emails in a timely fashion, you're less useful than an averagely smart analyst that's always responding as quickly as possible
Be a mastermind in excel and. This should be a given, but you should be completely hands free in excel and 80% hands free in powerpoint. Create your own quick access toolbar- this cuts down on keystrokes rather than using shortcuts
Learn how to model, even if you're just starting out and it's the associate's job to model. F2 the formulas and see how things flow through the model. You should learn how toas well, especially if you're considering buyside opportunities. I build models from scratch in my downtime rather than mindlessly scrolling through the internet. You either get better or worse everyday, I choose to get better
Understand credit agreements purchase agreements, and other legal documents. I can't tell you how many times we've been on internal calls and a VP asks "what was XXXX prevision in the purchase agreement, let me look it up" and I have an answer for them on the spot. You definitely won't understand everything at first, but this will be a crucial role as you move up in banking, PE, etc. Obviously there's lawyers that ultimately handle this, but you'll be very valuable to your client / internal team
Understand debt. I don't know why debt gets trashed on so much on WSO, but it's such a large influence on the markets, especially M&A. You should know the industry's leverage levels, typical lenders that cover the space, covenants, etc. Pull public comp credit agreements and read through them. You should also learn how to model debt, even though PE shops do it on their own (especially if you're recruiting buy-side)
Learn how to say no. You can't be on every deal and help out everyone. That's how burnout happens. You need to manage your workload. It's a marathon, not a sprint
Manage your expectations. Come into everyday thinking you'll leave the office at 11 pm at the earliest. If you leave at 8 pm instead on a Thursday, it makes your week. Being an analyst will be a grind and you need to have the right mindset if you're going to make it. Establish the "survivalist" mentality
Always take detailed notes, no excuses. Your notes should be heavily relied upon, especially when your higher ups can't be on every call. Always put the meeting attendees, action items, and the body of the meeting. We've all been in calls when we feel like we don't need to take notes and be on our phone, I'd say put the phone down and take notes instead. It'll pay dividends in the long term
For health purposes, eat salads for lunch and less carbs for dinner. You can get in exercise everyday, no matter what. This can be running a 7 minute mile right before bed. Prioritize sleep. Don't drink alcohol during the week
If you've made it to the end, feel free to ask away at anything you'd like