Scheming IB as an Analyst

First year analyst checking in - have been on the job for around 6 months now. Considering I intend to leave after 2 years, I'm almost 1/4 through the stint. I'd like to share some thoughts on how I have maintained a good WLB in a sweaty group while building goodwill with all my colleagues:

-WFH is great. I wake up around 7:30 and the hit the gym almost every morning. This gives me two hours to workout, shower, read the news and hang out until work begins.

-Usually, half my day is filled with Zoom meetings, which I never have my camera on for. A lot of these don't require my full attention, so I hit the dab pen and scroll through Twitter, or read up on interesting subjects.

-I try to to be as vague as possible when describing workload to my staffer. This has allowed me to maintain a reasonable load of staffings; only have worked past midnight a handful of times.

-I am very fast to respond to emails or Teams messages, which gives the facade that I'm constantly working. I programmed my computer to make my Teams appear online at all times. Most of the time however, I'm lying in bed or out somewhere else. I usually take twice as long to hand in a deliverable than it actually takes me. Quality work that takes longer is better than work littered with mistakes handed in quickly.

-I make sure to have light-hearted, personal conversations with MDs, VPs ect, and have good friendships with most of the analysts. It's very important to have a good attitude and bring a sense of humor when appropriate. When your colleagues see you as a good human being, they are less likely to throw unreasonable requests your way, and treat you better overall.

My philosophy is that it's better to be competant and in middle bucket, than being the top bucket bitch boy for incremental after-tax pay. Serve your time as pleasantly as possible, and then exit. Curious if anyone else has similar tips to expand upon in the comments.

Comments (82)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 19, 2021 - 7:37pm

I very much agree with your outlook and approach here particularly over that other hardo analyst that frequents the forum and wrote that ridiculous write-up on being "top bucket" recently. The only issue you have here, and maybe you have a good solution, is what the hell are you going to do if we have to head back into the office or more likely hybrid? 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 19, 2021 - 7:47pm

This is so far in the future with covid ramping up

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 19, 2021 - 8:16pm

I have had to go into the office for around a month, which obviously is worse. However, facetime culture is over - I still have time for morning gym and get to leave around 6 or 7 every day. In this case, I try to maximize productivity for a few hours in the afternoon and leave the deliverables sitting until later in the evening to send out. Hopefully wfh continues tho lol

Dec 20, 2021 - 5:03pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If anything, he's better off than the stressed, sleep-deprived, head down grinding analysts

Image of My presence in that office can only hurt my chances.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 19, 2021 - 9:11pm

If you have time to hit the gym every morning, you aren't in a sweaty group.

Dec 19, 2021 - 9:13pm
puppydoge, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This has future rainmaker MD vibes. Not even kidding, good for you!

  • 9
  • 1
Dec 19, 2021 - 11:00pm
Wsomonk1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have you thought about going A2A? I'm in a similar situation, like my group a lot plus it hasn't been as sweaty since we've ramped up hiring. Also trying ~70% as much I did when I started which has been huge for my health. Feeling very content. The pay as an associate is great, WFH has provided a ton of flexibility, and overall the job just seems less stressful and more stable than some of the potential exits. It's not as interesting obviously but I don't really care that much about finance, it's just a job not a passion. Though it does seem like very few associates really get to coast like I am now, but that could be because most are MBAs trying to figure it out. Feels almost too good to be true at the moment. Defintiely comes in waves and there are periods that suck, but overall its been fine. Would appreciate any perspectives 

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 20, 2021 - 1:21am

I've been coasting a bit as well after the A2A promote and have personally had the best months workload wise and in terms of actually closing deals. No interest in leaving at the moment if the pay keeps being this solid.

Dec 20, 2021 - 10:04am
DevGru23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you enjoy your job in IB, then stay. PE is hell.

A2As are paid really well. You'll also have a leg up competing against the MBA Associates; will take them a full year to get remotely as competent as you.

Make sure you don't slack when you become an A2A though, I see this a lot. Still keep producing good quality work, and keep strong relations with the senior folk.

Array
  • 2
  • Analyst 2 in PE - LBOs
Dec 20, 2021 - 2:36pm

Why do you say don't slack? What does keeping good relations with senior folk vs. coasting make it worth?

I think doing good work for say, 1 MD that you actually like / is a good relation for you and slacking on the rest is a much better deal. Focus on the 1 and go easy on the many tbh.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Dec 20, 2021 - 11:38am

This is me too. My group hired a bunch after every analyst quit last year.

We're all staffed on 4-5 deals and have work but it's been reasonable. Hoping it stays like this.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 19, 2021 - 11:00pm

100% agree with you on the culture part and getting along with colleagues - makes everything so much more bearable 

Funniest
Dec 19, 2021 - 11:08pm
HashtagBLM69420, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Im not as fortunate as you (VP at Apollo), since I'm an actual big boy and not some invisible Excel monkey nobody wants to see or speak to. So I actually have to talk during meetings and keep on camera on so the women see my pretty face and are motivated to do their best work.

I have taken the liberty of working from home from Ibiza, which makes my entire work "day" during the night. Frequently, I am clapping some 9s and 9.5s while "working". 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 6, 2022 - 8:56pm

i swear bbh says the funniest shit ... but is there actually any correlation between saying funny shit and having high NW in the future ?? only time will tell i guess

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 19, 2021 - 11:50pm

You think you are clever, but you just haven't been staffed with assholes or staffed on a hairy project yet (I pray you don't during your stint).

Staying up past midnight is the result of a bad manager and or culture. It's not something you can weasel around like you describe. Although you can pushback eventually as a second year and some of what you describe is correct, it's not always in your control and more often than not isn't. Just a few examples:

  • Had one deal where I stayed up till 1am once throughout the entire process-had a great VP who was A to VP and top bucket the entire way. The guy would give heads up on deliverables like weeks out, as in-hey we are going to need this completed in 3 weeks on Friday and I would like to review it that Tuesday-please manage accordingly/ don't want you staying up or working weekends, just chug through it each day. If you get confused at any point call me. Here are 3 references of prior things I've done that match exactly what I am asking for. Everyone on the deal team knew what they were responsible for and there were no surprises. Even when the client threw unexpected stuff our way, everything else was on lock so it didn't matter and frankly he usually picked up the slack/ stayed up late or worked a weekend to churn through the deliverable.
  • Had another deal with a very nice VP, who had no clue what he was doing. He and I pulled constant 2ams because the MD didn't really understand the deliverable we were creating and the VP had no clue, so it was endless iterations almost every day without an end in sight really. He would apologize and acknowledged it was a bad situation, but constant 2ams for a month. In that situation, you're not going to leave the guy hanging (who was afraid for his job because he didn't know what he was doing) and it was miserable for him too, but not much you can do there. The only thing you can do is eventually say, "enough, I need to sleep I will start on this again tomorrow."
  • Worked with a team that had a very bad culture. Regular requests/ pings at 1am+ from MD all the way to associate, unreasonable timelines without much warning, demands to complete deliverables that were likely not my role, lack of respect of weekends, really a significantly different experience. 

Point being, yeah, what you say is true. Be middle bucket try to craftily dodge work, but also count your blessings my man. You clearly aren't working with wildcard MD's who demand 6am calls and ping analysts individually at odd hours in the night and fully expect responses/ will cc the entire team after you don't respond at 1am with things like, "it shouldn't take this long for me to get an answer" From my experience, this isn't most MD's, but every shop has 1 and if you have to work them it's hell.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 20, 2021 - 12:08am

I was in FAS and had a similar experience to your #3. My then manager would constantly require me to sit in the office until 11pm or 12am after he agreed to me working from home. I think it's a bit unusual to see FAS analysts pulling 85-90 hours constantly on a live deal. That dude made one ex-analyst bring a sleep bag to the office (ex-analyst's a girl). Eventually seniors told the manager to dial it down a bit because you know, FAS is not investment banking. 

Now I am in banking, no people don' ask me to sleep in a bag. That was pure bad culture. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 21, 2021 - 10:48pm

You have so much to learn and I'm both excited and sorry for you. Not trying to be patronizing, just this is a question anyone with banking experience will chuckle and be like "what an amazing question."

First off, the structure of an investment bank's employees:

Intern 

Analyst

Associate 

VP

Often, analysts begin right out of undergrad and there are sometimes, depending on a banks structure, 2nd or even 3rd year analysts. Being a 3rd year analyst doesn't mean you are bad, it might mean your bank just has different levels they draw experience for new titles (think Citi might be like 2 year promotes with centerview and evercore being like 3).

Now a 3rd year analyst likely faced a very competitive undergrad interview process and had a 3.7+, learned the technicals, and now has 2+ years of working at the bank they have been at.

A VP might have had not great grades, gotten a job at a random consulting or accounting firm for 3-5 years, gone to business school (bottom of the m7) and became an associate at the investment bank, worked there for 2 years and got early promoted because the bank has a hard time keeping associates. 
 

The analyst understands the industry better than the VP due to being there longer and is naturally just smarter. You also can have a situation where people lateral in from worse banks where they maybe have seen less processes, so they aren't as aware of what goes on or lack confidence, so they defer to the analyst. Lastly, as an analyst, all the work eventually falls on you, so it's easy for a vp to just say, "hey analyst 3, I want you to create a rough draft of the model and I will review it." The analyst then might create the model and the VP not actually know how to model, but just sanity checks everything the analyst did. 
 

In theory, you are exactly right! How the hell did the VP end up making almost a half a million dollars a year, while not really understanding how investment banking works. The truth is, banks and many large organizations promote on seniority not understanding or effectiveness. So, VP's are often just people who have been in the organization post MBA for 3 years and who haven't left. Personally, my view is generally really talented people eventually leave and the people that don't are the people who are equally as surprised as you are that they are making a half a million dollars a year because they know they aren't really that sharp or clever. 
 

But also, VP is a weird role because at that point the job begins to switch from being an analysis person to a salesperson. The directors and MD's are tasked with talking to people and bringing in business, not really understanding the model or helping the execution of a deal get done. So a VP might be crap at doing the execution, but eventually a very strong director or MD because they can bring in clients. 
 

So in conclusion, how the hell does a VP get to VP without knowing how to do their job? 
 

Off the backs of the competent analysts and associates who carry them and make sure nothing goes wrong. And this skill set is what an M7 MBA teaches you.

Dec 23, 2021 - 6:32pm
Jeff Skilling, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've seen it in new VPs that lateralled from a different bank. Makes sense when you think about it - a VPs main job is to know what an MD is talking about / asking for, when he/she makes really hand-waivey comments like

"yeah, let's use that page, from the deal with the thing? you know what I'm talking about?

-Sent from Motorolla Razer"

To which the VP replys

"oh yeah, page 39 from that Blockbuster Online book we did back in Q3 '98. No problem" 

Imagine there's a period of growing pains or "bad VP-ing" when they're just getting onboarded and going in the first 6 months

Dec 20, 2021 - 7:56am
suitup23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just curious to see if this tactic would fly if you planned on staying at the bank long term? Would you try and be more available for more work to get promoted or would what you are doing now not change how you would be looked at from a promotion or bigger bonus ?

Dec 20, 2021 - 10:11am
DevGru23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Middle buckets get promoted to Associates, as well. As long as they are producing good quality work and keeping up relationships within the team, they'll have no issue getting a promotion.

Array
Dec 20, 2021 - 8:16pm
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Top performers usually leave to the buyside

Array

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 23, 2021 - 11:31am

At top group at LAZ/EVR/PJT, maybe 10% of analysts in the group want to do PE. The rat race is pretty clear and most of us don't want to do banking 2.0 with even bigger assholes managing workstreams. I'd rephrase and say the analysts who are most "prestige" focused and still have personal insecurity despite at being at a top IB are the ones focused on PE, the rest of us are focused on optimizing personal interests / money

Dec 20, 2021 - 12:32pm
maplesyrup334, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How do you keep your computer on at all times so it doesn't fall asleep? I have a rotating fan attached to my mouse and probably do 4 hours of work per day at most.   

Dec 20, 2021 - 1:18pm
Rotterdam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All companies are different with their rules obviously but if you can download third party software then try "nosleep"

Dec 20, 2021 - 12:32pm
David Aames, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"I programmed my computer to make my Teams appear online at all times" - can you share how? 

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?
Dec 20, 2021 - 12:42pm
FellowTraveler, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm not an expert on the PE/HF exit landscape - it waxes and wanes - but since your plan is to exit, where are you planning to go, and is it feasible if you aren't top bucket? It might be, or you might not care. 

  • 2
Dec 20, 2021 - 6:38pm
red_bandit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Pretty sure most competent institutions these days have methods for tracking productivity outside of simply is your Teams bubble green or not. My company does at least. Wouldn't bank on that method for hiding for anyone FYI.

Dec 21, 2021 - 11:36am
red_bandit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There's software that monitors your desktop activity, lot's of it. Some take screenshots of your desktop and deduce productivity from the various screenshots throughout the day, some monitor mouse activity and applications opened/closed, etc.

The mannerism "if it's too good to be true it probably is" definitely applies to simply shaking your mouse and keeping your bubble green. Now maybe your bank doesn't have any of that software but tbh most companies do have that. Everyone knows the green bubble trick.

Dec 21, 2021 - 11:38am
red_bandit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

They take screenshots of your desktop throughout day on some and others track mouse movements, keyboard strokes, and applications open/closed. It's fairly simple stuff and if you're just shaking your mouse to keep it green it'll easily show up

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 20, 2021 - 7:53pm

You would be stunned how inefficient Wall Street banks are. The lack of knowing a concrete output and endless boundary of client services means there's no way to track output. Additionally, even if there were, senior bankers are way too stubborn to learn new technologies, so as a result most banks operate with the same tech that existed 10 years ago bar a few incremental improvements analysts could push through. 

For context, there are numerous senior individuals at my firm that brag they have never opened ppt or excel. It's just a joke really. 

Dec 21, 2021 - 11:40am
red_bandit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't disagree on manager incompetence but these software packages are pretty basic, cheap, come along with some security suites so HR could share some productivity scores with your manager around review time. It definitely exists at many places and if your bank doesn't currently have it they eventually will

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 20, 2021 - 8:00pm

Please lol…Banks have enough trouble making sure the shared drives don't crash. I think their only

way of tracking (realistically) is your status on teams or whatever else is used. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 20, 2021 - 7:39pm

Turn that shit teams bubble to white and never worry again lol. Tracking whether you are busy or not based on some status icon is the dumbest thing ever. as long as you complete you deliverables well and on time, who cares whether you are "online" or not

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 21, 2021 - 7:14pm

Probably just not in a sweaty group or you work with really considerate people. At least in my group, there is no way to "scheme" your way out of a heavy turn of comments dropped off at 9:00pm for a meeting the next day. Or working with a client across time zones with early morning meetings. Or an associate that turns comments at 11:00pm consistently. I've met people that can dodge more staffings, but just one staffing with the wrong person can derail this whole plan. Hope you are able to maintain this though--very envious. 

Dec 22, 2021 - 11:59pm
Quick N' Dirty DCF, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Dec 26, 2021 - 2:36pm
NOIncome, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jan 11, 2022 - 2:55pm
yoyoyoyeah, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jan 13, 2022 - 12:15am
fwadjwadj, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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