The Work Always Gets Done

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This is the kind of BS that MDs absolutely LOVE to tell themselves: "I am hardworking and tough, sure, but I'm also really fair and I let people have lives when they tell me about it. This would never be my analyst."

I've seen the latest sad news posted in this forum, and I've felt the need to comment again. Unfortunately, these are well publicised stories, but I've seen it happen too many times in my career.

As some of you know, I'm an M&A MD in my mid 30s and have effectively worked my entire career in investment banking since I was a first year analyst, so I think I have a good perspective on workload issues. I also consider myself one of the hardest working people in the industry, so I approach these issues from the perspective of a tough SOB, but I will give some advice that I hope will help some people.

1. The work always gets done.

I mean the real important work of giving the client the right advice. My job as an MD is to deliver that advice, and while i rely heavily on the analysis and presentation work that you do as analysts and associates, I'm experienced enough to do my job without perfect presentations or analysis. So rather than drive yourself to exhaustion creating the perfect work product, discuss with me (or whoever your MD is) how most efficiently to use the time that we have.

2. Exhausted junior people are not useful junior people.

Go home, get some sleep, take the weekend off. Never let yourself burn out or let us burn you out. Raise your hand when you need a break. We do complicated and challenging work, and it gets done badly when you're exhausted.

3. Plan, coordinate and communicate.

Good reviews are not about how many hours you work, it's about how well you communicate with your deal team and coordinate work. The best people I've worked with were responsive, creative, efficient and communicative, not grunts.

4. Never equate your personal self esteem with your professional success.

I've been laid off, I've been passed over for promotion, and was able to bounce back up even higher because I never took it personally or felt it was a reflection on me. This industry is equally exhilarating and cruel but you have to detach yourself personally from the successes and failures

5. Don't miss the big ones.

Weddings, family events, etc. I never understood why someone would miss a big personal event for work. There are always better solutions.

6. Your family, friends and partners are very important.

Don't take them for granted.

7. Sometimes, it's just not worth it.

If you're unappy at work and it persists, find another job or something else to do. There are many paths to happiness and professional success, and there's no reason to make yourself miserable.

8. Communicate.

This isn't the 1980s. The industry is a kinder, gentler place and that's a good thing, If there's a problem, there are a lot of resources that can help.

9. Don't forget how much we rely on you.

I was discussing last weekend with another senior MD how valuable a good junior team member is. You have leverage. Use it carefully when you need to.

Hope this gives some perspective.

Comments (95)

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 7:27am

While I think this is very reassuring to hear, a lot of MD's don't have this attitude. Higher up's view analysts as a commodity, i.e. they can easily be replaced. And the counter to that is probably something like 'well, you're not working for the right people', but then the question as an analyst/associate becomes 'where do I find the right people'? And really, that just seems like luck. This is the first time I'm hearing of an analyst having any sort of 'leverage', but maybe I only have interacted with douchebag MD's. Nonetheless, great advice + post.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 12:40am

I recently attended a presentation in which the MD stated that all their analysts were replaceable and should therefore remain modest.

Glad to see that there are MDs out there who view the work product as a team effort.

>Incoming Ash Ketchum, Pokemon Master >Literally a problem, solve for both X and Y, please and thank you. >Hugh Myron: "Are there any guides on here for getting a top girlfriend? Think banker/lawyer/doctor. I really don't want to go mid-tier"
 
Jun 3, 2015 - 2:39am

Almost all analysts are replaceable and you should be modest. That is absolutely the truth.

That having been said, replacing even average bankers always has a cost and disruptive element to it, and should be avoided if at all possible.

My point of view here is that about 30% of analysts should be replaced, and we would be better off for replacing them asap (and they would be better off doing something else asap). About 50% of the analysts are replaceable / interchangeable, but they are doing the job well enough that it would be very annoying to have to replace them. And about 20% would have a real business impact to replace them (of which the top 10% are truly exceptional).

But this calculus does not replace the need for a bit of humanity when dealing with one's team.

Red3:

I recently attended a presentation in which the MD stated that all their analysts were replaceable and should therefore remain modest.

Glad to see that there are MDs out there who view the work product as a team effort.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 2:34am

In the ordinary course, I may well be the douchebag MD. I'm focused on delivering for my clients and making money for the firm and my team. My team works very hard, and they are expected to deliver high quality work under pressure. Everything needs to be done on a fast deadline.

But that doesn't mean if there is a problem, I won't be sympathetic.

I think this is true for a lot of the "douchebag" MDs you may deal with. Even if they are 100% focused on delivering work, they are likely to be cognizant of real problems with their team members, including exhaustion. And even if they are real assholes, they operate in an institutional framework. No one wants to be the MD explaining to management why their turnover is unnecessarily high, or why people on their team have medical problems, or other HR issues. I've seen promising MD careers go sideways because of this. So even if they are not particularly nice people, they have real institutional incentive to behave properly.

And if some MD is being truly unreasonable, and its affecting your health / personal wellbeing, you have to be able to tell them to go pound sand. Trust me, you will be better off for it, and your career will recover.

NESCAC:

While I think this is very reassuring to hear, a lot of MD's don't have this attitude. IHigher up's view analysts as a commodity, i.e. they can easily be replaced. And the counter to that is probably something like 'well, you're not working for the right people', but then the question as an analyst/associate becomes 'where do I find the right people'? And really, that just seems like luck. This is the first time I'm hearing of an analyst having any sort of 'leverage', but maybe I only have interacted with douchebag MD's. Nonetheless, great advice + post.

 
Jun 2, 2015 - 11:44pm

You sure you're not my boss? Because you sound like him: Tough but fair, stoic, and measured. The best MD I've ever worked for for sure.

There's a closer meaning to my user name. Try reading it quickly. Perhaps you will then understand ;P
 
Best Response
Jun 3, 2015 - 6:00am

This is the kind of BS that MDs absolutely LOVE to tell themselves: "I am hardworking and tough, sure, but I'm also really fair and I let people have lives when they tell me about it. This would never be my analyst."

Maybe you are as good a guy as you claim. Maybe you're not. Either way, you are the senior executive in charge, and it should be YOUR responsibility to ensure that your team is having a sustainable life. Your entire missive is basically telling 22-year olds: 'hey guys, we know that we're trying to destroy your life, this is your first job and you have basically zero social capital and if it doesn't go well you can kiss the career you've been dreaming about goodbye, but stand up for yourselves! have some self respect!" Seriously, it's like watching some sadistic shit out of game of thrones. "The work will get done" -- what the fuck does that even mean? Does it mean that you won't ask a really passive aggressive comment about why the presentation was fucked up, that the VP won't go ape-shit on the associate who will then go ape-shit on the analyst and crap all over them during review season? I mean, one of your pieces of advice is "if it's not working go find a new job".

The reality is that most of you guys are self-deluded pricks who genuinely don't give a fuck about the people who work for you, and only tell yourself that you do so you feel like slightly less of a dick when you go home to your family and vaguely remember in the back of your mind that your 2 year old toddler may one day go through the same thing.

You sound just like the rest of them. There's a reason that banking can't hold on to any of its analysts these days and loses tons of talent to tech...and it's because of people like you.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 7:06am

xqtrack's comments may be brash, but he makes a valid point here.

Analysts fresh out of college/university don't really know how to say "no". Everyone who's ever been in that position (myself included) can testify to that. For a bright eyed bushy tailed fresh grad who's keen to impress, it is hard enough to turn down capacity requests let alone "tell an MD to go pound sand".

Hence I don't think it is enough for senior bankers to simply say "I'm tough but fair, if you have a problem come and find me and I will be sympathetic". They must actively try to improve the work-life balance for analysts. It is their job (as much as it is the VP/assoc/analyst himself's) to know when an analyst has pulled consecutive all-nighters and is on the brink of collapse.

Yes, analysts need to learn to stand up for themselves, but that takes time. So please be pro-active in the meantime and don't work them to death. Otherwise, simply saying "you would have been sympathetic had they approached you," will not wipe their blood off your hands.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 11:39am

xqtrack:

This is the kind of BS that MDs absolutely LOVE to tell themselves: "I am hardworking and tough, sure, but I'm also really fair and I let people have lives when they tell me about it. This would never be my analyst."

Maybe you are as good a guy as you claim. Maybe you're not. Either way, you are the senior executive in charge, and it should be YOUR responsibility to ensure that your team is having a sustainable life. Your entire missive is basically telling 22-year olds: 'hey guys, we know that we're trying to destroy your life, this is your first job and you have basically zero social capital and if it doesn't go well you can kiss the career you've been dreaming about goodbye, but stand up for yourselves! have some self respect!" Seriously, it's like watching some sadistic shit out of game of thrones. "The work will get done" -- what the fuck does that even mean? Does it mean that you won't ask a really passive aggressive comment about why the presentation was fucked up, that the VP won't go ape-shit on the associate who will then go ape-shit on the analyst and crap all over them during review season? I mean, one of your pieces of advice is "if it's not working go find a new job".

The reality is that most of you guys are self-deluded pricks who genuinely don't give a fuck about the people who work for you, and only tell yourself that you do so you feel like slightly less of a dick when you go home to your family and vaguely remember in the back of your mind that your 2 year old toddler may one day go through the same thing.

You sound just like the rest of them. There's a reason that banking can't hold on to any of its analysts these days and loses tons of talent to tech...and it's because of people like you.

I seriously cannot agree with you more. My former BB group head was a giant douche. He'd say "hey, take the weekend off, get some rest!" and within not even 30 minutes, he would email you asking for some additional "analysis" with made up numbers. An ideal team, your associate would be the buffer to VP and VP as buffer to the MD. Often times than not, that VP will have no problem throwing the Associate under the bus, and Associate in turn will throw the Analyst under the bus. What the fuck?

That accretion / dilution model you just had your analyst pull 2 all nighters on? Useless. Guess where your nicely bound pitchbooks go after you leave? The recycling bin. Great you can deliver "advice" to your clients without books, but 99% of MDs can't or won't.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 9:26pm

No matter how good of a boss you are, most people who work for you won't like you. Most will think they could do your job easily, even if they can't. Most will think you're a dick because you want them to do certain things to a certain standard. Even if everyone could leave the office at 5 pm (as in most jobs), people still hate their boss. It is absolutely universal. I wasn't exactly Mr. Popularity myself, believe it or not.

That being said, everyone is still human and most bosses will be at least somewhat understanding of someone who is nearing some sort of breaking point.

Reread this post in 15 years. If you're honest with yourself (most aren't), you will probably see that the OP is correct (maybe you are as well, if that's even possible) and most junior people will think of you the same way you think of him.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 9:36pm

Nope. I work in a job right now where I love all of my bosses. Are there things that annoy me about them? Sure. But they are genuinely good people who make sure that both I and all the juniors below me have sustainable lives, and I do the same for those junior people under me as well.

Saying that bosses are going to have characteristics that people dislike is totally irrelevant to the discussion at hand; to wit, I would remind you that we are talking about an industry that has had 2 suicides in the past 2 weeks, in a very public manner. No matter what self-rationalizing craziness you may indulge in, that is not normal.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 9:48pm

Typically I agree with your posts and at a high level I agree with what you are saying; however, I think if one gets banking specific and looks at the culture relative to the alternatives that exist one will find the top talent either staying away from banking all together or leaving at the first chance they get. Banking culture is downright horrible. Its rooted in bad management / organizational structure. At the junior level a fear based culture is manifested and perpetuated. Given that environment and the power dynamics at play the recommendations by the OP are out of touch with reality.

 
Jun 8, 2015 - 2:47am

I think you were abused pretty heavily as an analyst and are letting out some deep personal issues.

But anyway, even if all this were true (and I work very hard to make sure its not), why do you care so much about a) a passive aggressive comment from me, b) a VP or associate shouting at you, c) a bad review. Is your self esteem so tied up in your work performance? If you're not performing or you are performing but working in a toxic environment, isn't it in your best interests to just get out? I don't see how you equate getting a bad review with destroying your life.

And, "the work will get done" means, use some common sense. If you're too tired to do the work, go home. We will figure out a solution. You're not that important in the scheme of things. A pitch was never lost because an analyst did two extra pages at 4 am.

xqtrack:

This is the kind of BS that MDs absolutely LOVE to tell themselves: "I am hardworking and tough, sure, but I'm also really fair and I let people have lives when they tell me about it. This would never be my analyst."

Maybe you are as good a guy as you claim. Maybe you're not. Either way, you are the senior executive in charge, and it should be YOUR responsibility to ensure that your team is having a sustainable life. Your entire missive is basically telling 22-year olds: 'hey guys, we know that we're trying to destroy your life, this is your first job and you have basically zero social capital and if it doesn't go well you can kiss the career you've been dreaming about goodbye, but stand up for yourselves! have some self respect!" Seriously, it's like watching some sadistic shit out of game of thrones. "The work will get done" -- what the fuck does that even mean? Does it mean that you won't ask a really passive aggressive comment about why the presentation was fucked up, that the VP won't go ape-shit on the associate who will then go ape-shit on the analyst and crap all over them during review season? I mean, one of your pieces of advice is "if it's not working go find a new job".

The reality is that most of you guys are self-deluded pricks who genuinely don't give a fuck about the people who work for you, and only tell yourself that you do so you feel like slightly less of a dick when you go home to your family and vaguely remember in the back of your mind that your 2 year old toddler may one day go through the same thing.

You sound just like the rest of them. There's a reason that banking can't hold on to any of its analysts these days and loses tons of talent to tech...and it's because of people like you.

 
Jun 8, 2015 - 3:35pm

xqtrack:

This is the kind of BS that MDs absolutely LOVE to tell themselves: "I am hardworking and tough, sure, but I'm also really fair and I let people have lives when they tell me about it. This would never be my analyst."

Maybe you are as good a guy as you claim. Maybe you're not. Either way, you are the senior executive in charge, and it should be YOUR responsibility to ensure that your team is having a sustainable life. Your entire missive is basically telling 22-year olds: 'hey guys, we know that we're trying to destroy your life, this is your first job and you have basically zero social capital and if it doesn't go well you can kiss the career you've been dreaming about goodbye, but stand up for yourselves! have some self respect!" Seriously, it's like watching some sadistic shit out of game of thrones. "The work will get done" -- what the fuck does that even mean? Does it mean that you won't ask a really passive aggressive comment about why the presentation was fucked up, that the VP won't go ape-shit on the associate who will then go ape-shit on the analyst and crap all over them during review season? I mean, one of your pieces of advice is "if it's not working go find a new job".

The reality is that most of you guys are self-deluded pricks who genuinely don't give a fuck about the people who work for you, and only tell yourself that you do so you feel like slightly less of a dick when you go home to your family and vaguely remember in the back of your mind that your 2 year old toddler may one day go through the same thing.

You sound just like the rest of them. There's a reason that banking can't hold on to any of its analysts these days and loses tons of talent to tech...and it's because of people like you.

I think this is a bit of a bitter/disgruntled response but generally agree the OP sounds naive (at best) or disingenuous (at worst).

When it comes down to it, yeah, maybe OP doesn't chew out analysts but he certainly does it to the associates and VPs, and that trickles all the way down. So maybe OP is super nice and understanding from 9am-6pm, but that doesn't matter to the staffers who need to protect their own necks.

Look, this is just the culture in banking. Some people can handle it and some can't. If you can't, just stick it out for a year and quit! Chances are you went to a good school, had a good GPA and now have at least a year of solid work experience under your belt. You'll find something else. I just really can't understand how someone can feel that suicide is a better option than quitting. I mean, we're talking about 22-year old analysts here -- not 40-year olds who need to support a family. And shame on the parents who pressure their kids into careers for which they are unprepared or uninterested in.

For what it's worth, I did not have a bad cultural experience in IBD (I actually had a much worse one in PE).

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 9:17am

Good perspective, but I wish every manager (both in and out of finance) had the common sense you do.

Question I have is:

A: How the hell do I work for you? As an army officer I was always huge on finding the most efficient way to do things (as opposed to many who just wanted "face time" or to use established, safe, procedure they couldn't get yelled at over) so I like the mentality I'm seeing here.

B: How do I get a good idea for scoping out and finding bosses who think like you do?

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 9:26am

What should be just as important is instilling this mindset into the entire chain of command. I've worked for MDs with the same philosophy, however on every live process I've encountered (and most pitches), it comes down to a VP running the process (who is looking to do nothing but impress his MDs and clients). This ultimately often leads to very inefficient tasks as the VP may not be entirely sure what an MD is asking for or (almost always) wants to over deliver when it's just not necessary.
So while the mindset of the MD is great, I've found it just as important to impress upon the ranks below (namely Director/VP) that the world keeps turning if you do exactly what is asked of you and not burn a junior team for a product that was either a. Never asked for, b. Not what the client wanted or c. "Additional insight" that will likely never be considered.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 10:33am

The most shocking aspect of my experience as a first year analyst, by far, is that my MDs will actually say things like "Ok. Go have a beer now" if the group has been grinding for a while. So, while 100 hour weeks happen, and clients come first, my MDs seem very cognizant when they're killing us. The firm also experiments with different work arrangements and asks our opinions on what makes for a better work environment (ex. analyst pits, rotations, hybrid) before the new hiring cycle begins. This was probably unheard of before the London death in 2013, and it is definitely not the experience I read about before starting this job.

The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.
 
Jun 3, 2015 - 11:34am

I must admit, I was on board with mergersandacquisitions78 post before reading xqtrack's follow up.

Now that I think about it, what good intentions MA78 had, he post is really clueless to the realities of being a jr banker - too much time has passed. Furthermore, this in all likelihood leads to being a bad manager, which is probably even compounded by assuming he is a good one. Even if you remove MA78, because really who know about him specifically, the underlying mentality is at issue. Being in MD shouldn't being just about getting clients its also about being a good leader/manager. These bullet points shouldn't be on an anonymous message board but in the bullpin. Maybe they are for MA78 but they definitely are not across the board.

A good manager creates an environment where the subordinate is "protected". A good manager has a pulse on his staff and knows who is over worked and who isn't. Under no uncertain terms should the ownness of this responsibility be placed on 22 - 24 year old kids who don't know up from down and are constantly paranoid of under performing. I remember having a medical emergency when I was an Analyst - my first though was what is my MD gonna think not how will this procedure will turnout. That is fucking insane. Yet its the mentality instilled into jr bankers by the culture that is created and perpetuated by senior bankers. It is crazy to expect in an environment of massive power imbalances that the weakest one is going to stick up for his/her self. This is why finance is losing to tech. Why the most talented kids flock to the buyside. Brain drain in banking is a real thing. Sr bankers and their culture are at fault.

Think sports, it's the coach that benches thestar qb that is slightly injured despite saying "no coach I can play". The star pitcher dominating through the 7th with a high pitch count is taken out by the coach despite wanting to finish out the game. It's on managers to make these calls not the players.

All Analysts want to do is please and its is naive to assume otherwise.

 
Jun 8, 2015 - 2:53am

I tend to agree with this in normal situations, and I work very hard at ensuring that my team is protected.

My original post was focused on extreme situations. if you are in an abusive team (and I've seen those), no one is going to help you. You need to take it on yourself to get out. Trust me, I know, I worked in one and there was no way out to but to stop doing ridiculous things and eventually quit.

ke18sb:

I must admit, I was on board with mergersandacquisitions78 post before reading xqtrack's follow up.

Now that I think about it, what good intentions MA78 had, he post is really clueless to the realities of being a jr banker - too much time has passed. Furthermore, this in all likelihood leads to being a bad manager, which is probably even compounded by assuming he is a good one. Even if you remove MA78, because really who know about him specifically, the underlying mentality is at issue. Being in MD shouldn't being just about getting clients its also about being a good leader/manager. These bullet points shouldn't be on an anonymous message board but in the bullpin. Maybe they are for MA78 but they definitely are not across the board.

A good manager creates an environment where the subordinate is "protected". A good manager has a pulse on his staff and knows who is over worked and who isn't. Under no uncertain terms should the ownness of this responsibility be placed on 22 - 24 year old kids who don't know up from down and are constantly paranoid of under performing. I remember having a medical emergency when I was an Analyst - my first though was what is my MD gonna think not how will this procedure will turnout. That is fucking insane. Yet its the mentality instilled into jr bankers by the culture that is created and perpetuated by senior bankers. It is crazy to expect in an environment of massive power imbalances that the weakest one is going to stick up for his/her self. This is why finance is losing to tech. Why the most talented kids flock to the buyside. Brain drain in banking is a real thing. Sr bankers and their culture are at fault.

Think sports, it's the coach that benches thestar qb that is slightly injured despite saying "no coach I can play". The star pitcher dominating through the 7th with a high pitch count is taken out by the coach despite wanting to finish out the game. It's on managers to make these calls not the players.

All Analysts want to do is please and its is naive to assume otherwise.

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 1:14pm

BobTheBaker:

This thread took a quick left turn, lol.

Meh, what did you expect? There are good bosses and bad bosses, good analysts and bad analysts, yet both sides routinely generalize and act like their experience is the end-all.

Commercial Real Estate Developer
 
Jun 3, 2015 - 2:18pm

I wanted to go on a rant about how senior bankers were responsible for fostering such a terrible culture (at the very least, they had not taken the initiative to change it), but I figured I would make a constructive comment instead..

So thank you MA78, for at least acknowledging this situation and taking the time to share with us ur thoughts (unlike some of your MD chumps who probably don't give a rats ass about this).

But hopefully you've realised by now that the view can be very different at the bottom, and you might perhaps go back and convince some of your MD chumps to make a more serious effort at changing the situation.

 
Jun 8, 2015 - 2:48am

London-Monkey:

I wanted to go on a rant about how senior bankers were responsible for fostering such a terrible culture (at the very least, they had not taken the initiative to change it), but I figured I would make a constructive comment instead..

So thank you MA78, for at least acknowledging this situation and taking the time to share with us ur thoughts (unlike some of your MD chumps who probably don't give a rats ass about this).

But hopefully you've realised by now that the view can be very different at the bottom, and you might perhaps go back and convince some of your MD chumps to make a more serious effort at changing the situation.

Working on it

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 4:52pm

Learning to stand up for yourself and more importantly how to do so is important, but it's a sign of piss poor leadership to not take the initiative and look after your subordinates.

 
Jun 4, 2015 - 4:11pm

So much misinformation in this thread. OP's advice is a manifestation of blatant preference falsification (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference_falsification) and as such is actually harmful for young bankers when taken at face value (as @xqtrack stated). That said, calling out MDs and telling them to "look out for the well being of the team" is also unhelpful and impractical advice.

The issues here are rooted in organizational dynamics and the nature of organizations (particularly finance organizations) themselves. I may break this down in a future post, particularly for the benefit of young analysts / associates since they typically don't understand these dynamics nearly as well as VPs and MDs do.

 
Jun 4, 2015 - 12:02pm

labanker:

So much misinformation in this thread. OP's advice is a manifestation of blatant preference falsification (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference_falsification) and as such is actually harmful for young bankers when taken at face value. That said, calling out MDs and telling them to "look out for the well being of the team" is also unhelpful and impractical advice.

The issues here are rooted in organizational dynamics and the nature of organizations (particularly finance organizations) themselves. I may break this down in a future post, particularly for the benefit of young analysts / associates since they typically don't understand these dynamics nearly as well as VPs and MDs do.


+1. Finally someone who understands I/O - please do a post on this, would love to hear your thoughts as I know I could never explain it as succinctly.

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P) Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)
 
Jun 3, 2015 - 9:53pm

I see both sides. I come from a firm with pretty good work life balance and I've always been good at managing my work flow (I'm working on x, y, z for so and so, should this takes priority? I'm happy to handle this task can the deadline be pushed to x? if it needs to be done ASAP would this alternative approach be sufficient? etc). Obviously the less often you push back the more valuable you are. The problem is that I think most people don't develop this skillset until they're at least 2-3 years on the job and have a rapport with their managers (which may never happen). It takes some encouragement that this behavior is OK for new employees to feel out how this dynamic is appropriate.

Nobody wants to blow their first performance review because the guy next to them is a workaholic. But if you find that you're the last person in the office on a consistent basis, you're either slow on the job or not managing your workflow well. That being said, walking into your bosses office and saying your overworked is obviously not a great approach. Most overachieving young men and women who end up in finance come from an aderrall fueled academic experience where you always need to get the A. This drive is important for financial firms but how to apply it when new deadlines are always oncoming and existing deadlines are fluid is a much different mindset.

I came from hospitality where you'll ALWAYS end up working later than your "shift", often 10-12, less often 14+ and sometimes 18-20 hour days (for a fair comparison: probably averaging 60-70 hours a week but with surges that are 80+, less than banking but still way more than your average joe schmoe, but with the downside that your days and nights get flipped frequently), but at some point the work is done or shifted and you can go home without a looming deadline - you didn't need to be back 4 hours later to pick up where you left off.

So the transition was difficult for me but I adjusted quickly. That might be somewhat due to my staff management experience where I could take on a lot myself but also dole out tasks to underutilized employees. I take that 'resource maximization' view myself in finance, and always try to ensure that both I and the team am being best utilized. That's led to my being involved with some pretty amazing projects, because I prioritized the work that got me onto those teams and then excelled, sometimes at the expense of more mundane items, all without burning myself into a rut. Perhaps most valuable - it also makes your superiors more likely to view your time as valuable and not blow you on transactional tasks.

That being said, I'm in PWM where the work/life balance is better (and I work for a team on the better end of that spectrum); so my comments may not correlate with the IB experience. I'm considering the associate path once I finish my MBA, if I do pursue than we'll see if I still believe in my comments 4 years from now!

Ramble over!

 
Jun 3, 2015 - 10:25pm

In my experience, those with authority that proclaim themselves as the Work Hard/Play Hard type, are usually just Work Hard/Work Hard. Nobody works through weddings, family events, etc. because they got denied the time off, they do so because there is pressure among their peers and higher ups that you can't miss time no matter what. You have to remember that most of these kids are 21 years old, and have never had a real job - when faced with pressure at a job they worked impossibly hard to get they aren't just going to risk their reputation, recommendations, bonus, and rating on a day off. Obviously, they aren't going to be fired, but when you're less than a year into the job it feels like it.

This happens all the time in different settings. In my opinion the bankers that push kids to this extent are no different than a psycho middle-school football coach giving a player heat stroke, or a senior in a fraternity sending pledges to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Theres a certain psychological limit people reach and symptoms of them reaching it. If there are analyst walking around the office in a daze, having been up for days, and you as a MD don't do anything about it - your probably not a "tough MD that understands you have a life" your just an asshole draining every ounce of life you can get out of them for your own benefit.

As you say, "The work always gets done", and it certainly doesn't get done by the MD with a wife and kids, even when hes being "chill".

 
Jun 4, 2015 - 11:42am

Here's the problem with firms and MDs talking a good game but not actually playing it (Robin Ely, HBS Professor):

Ely acknowledged that these would be hard changes to make. For years, employees at financial firms have achieved success largely by working around-the-clock. In fact, when the researchers told the company they were investigating that the firm leaders would need to rethink their work practices beyond simply offering more work-family accommodations, the firm discontinued the study.

Ely argued that making these adjustments could benefit firms in the long run. It would save them money, she said, because fewer employees would leave after a few years when they could no longer tolerate the culture of overwork.

"If a few brave firms stepped out there and changed their work cultures," Ely said, "they would attract and retain more employees."

I honestly think a conscious decision needs to be made to institute a very simple rule. In ancient Israel, the Law stated that on Saturday, everyone needed to stop working for 24 hours. No picking up sticks, no jogging, just rest. And anyone who violated the law was put to death. It's a ~3000 year old rule. And it works. People often get more done during the other 5 or 6 days if they rest on the other 1-2.

If you really care about your subordinates' non-work lives- if you really want to make work sustainable, prove it:

Institute a policy where security shows up at 10PM on a Friday, collects everyone's blackberries and RSA tokens, and shoos everyone out of the building until 5:30 AM on a Monday. (Everyone can work around the clock the other 5 days.)

 
Jun 4, 2015 - 7:25pm

Firstly suicides are not caused by too much work they are caused primarily by genuine mental illness or addiction. Further, I have seen no evidence that suicide is more common amongst investment banking analysts then amongst the general population, and if I had to bet on it I would bet that suicides amongst banking analysts are rarer then in the general population. So I am not sure the issue of suicides unique to/caused by banking hours is a real issue.

On the issue of whether bosses should be proactive in monitoring their employees workload I am very conflicted. At 22-25 years old you are young, but you are still very much an adult. The analogy of a crazed high school football coach or freshman hazing in college do not apply. Those are children as defined by law and common sense. Of course in a perfect World everyone's boss would go out of his/her way to prioritize their employees' mental health, but in the real world the truth is that if you don't stand up for yourself you often will get railroaded in all facets of life. Also, I am not a banker, but as someone in a production role in finance I can tell you that your 32-50 year old MD boss is most likely just as crazed about results as you are about being "top bucket"...otherwise he wouldnt be there.

I think a lot of people here need to realize that your own mental and physical health are your own responsibility in the real world...nobody is paying 50k/year to make sure you are safe like in university. Your parents and teachers should have taught you that a long time ago.

 
Jun 4, 2015 - 7:41pm

Bondarb:

Firstly suicides are not caused by too much work they are caused primarily by genuine mental illness or addiction. Further, I have seen no evidence that suicide is more common amongst investment banking analysts then amongst the general population, and if I had to bet on it I would bet that suicides amongst banking analysts are rarer then in the general population. So I am not sure the issue of suicides unique to/caused by banking hours is a real issue.

On the issue of whether bosses should be proactive in monitoring their employees workload I am very conflicted. At 22-25 years old you are young, but you are still very much an adult. The analogy of a crazed high school football coach or freshman hazing in college do not apply. Those are children as defined by law and common sense. Of course in a perfect World everyone's boss would go out of his/her way to prioritize their employees' mental health, but in the real world the truth is that if you don't stand up for yourself you often will get railroaded in all facets of life. Also, I am not a banker, but as someone in a production role in finance I can tell you that your 32-50 year old MD boss is most likely just as crazed about results as you are about being "top bucket"...otherwise he wouldnt be there.

I think a lot of people here need to realize that your own mental and physical health are your own responsibility in the real world...nobody is paying 50k/year to make sure you are safe like in university. Your parents and teachers should have taught you that a long time ago.

Amen.

 
Jun 4, 2015 - 8:07pm

Bondarb:

Firstly suicides are not caused by too much work they are caused primarily by genuine mental illness or addiction. Further, I have seen no evidence that suicide is more common amongst investment banking analysts then amongst the general population, and if I had to bet on it I would bet that suicides amongst banking analysts are rarer then in the general population. So I am not sure the issue of suicides unique to/caused by banking hours is a real issue.

On the issue of whether bosses should be proactive in monitoring their employees workload I am very conflicted. At 22-25 years old you are young, but you are still very much an adult. The analogy of a crazed high school football coach or freshman hazing in college do not apply. Those are children as defined by law and common sense. Of course in a perfect World everyone's boss would go out of his/her way to prioritize their employees' mental health, but in the real world the truth is that if you don't stand up for yourself you often will get railroaded in all facets of life. Also, I am not a banker, but as someone in a production role in finance I can tell you that your 32-50 year old MD boss is most likely just as crazed about results as you are about being "top bucket"...otherwise he wouldnt be there.

I think a lot of people here need to realize that your own mental and physical health are your own responsibility in the real world...nobody is paying 50k/year to make sure you are safe like in university. Your parents and teachers should have taught you that a long time ago.

Most 22 year year olds in banking have not learned to be adults. They had their tuition and living expenses covered by their parents in college, haven't had to balance a full time job with personal relationships, don't always know how to express themselves to superiors (they've had a lifetime of working with peers, often times being the strongest performer of their group). They're definitely not kids, but there are some things not learned in college.

 
Jun 5, 2015 - 1:15am

IBD analysts are [supposedly] smart, having attended the best schools and receiving offers from institutions priding themselves having such students, which means those same analysts likely had many career opportunities but still chose IBD. Sure their superiors may very well be douchebags, but they wouldn't be there working alongside those douchebags if they hadn't made the choice to pursue a banking job in the first place; the experience of the GS analyst, according to the article, doesn't sound atypical at all in the industry. The banking industry has been around for a very long time and changes to lessen work-related stress has seen limited effectiveness. The work-related stress that exists now is unlikely to go away; they may be able to reduce the weekly work hours, but it'll likely still feel like 80-100. Instead of blaming your superiors and the industry, remember that you made the decision to take that job, which really emphasizes the importance of doing proper due diligence of the job and understanding what it entails. In the end, there's two perspectives into this: the industry setting more reasonable work standards and the analysts really undstanding what they're getting themselves into.

 
Jun 5, 2015 - 2:28am

I definitely think there are Chinese, Koreans, Indians, etc. and to a lesser extent whites that are pressured into a prestigious job like IB. Look at this kid's dad - encouraged him to return to GS, right? Yes, people make decisions to enter IB and thus accept responsibility, but for a lot of these kids, their whole lives have been spent doing things and being pressured by parents and peers to prepare for this position. It's hard to turn away from the money/prestige if it isn't right for them considering how their lives were focused on making it into IB. Though I don't know if this applies in this case, some kids have nothing else in their lives besides prestigious school/prestigious job. That is what is sad, unhealthy, and needs to be changed by the parents and the kids.

 
Jun 5, 2015 - 10:05am

Not really. That GS analysts dad pressured him to stay likely because he just didn't want him to quit his job. It's quite possible his dad just didn't know how difficult working in IBD is, and wanted his son to learn to accept responsibility. Even though it's not uncommon for analysts to leave in less than a year, leaving any job in that short a time is still irresponsible.

As far as peer pressure goes, that's uncertain. I doubt these kids grew up wanting nothing more than joining Wall St.; it's more likely an opportunity presented to them during college, while they're all desperate to find some job to pay off student loans and other stuff. I had a friend who suffered 3 years all because of peer pressure, believing that everyone at his school wanted to do IBD and just have into the temptation to want to fit into a social circle. But IBD isn't the only "prestigious job" that exists and anyone who is valuable enough to secure an IBD offer must also have another job in mind; most people going for one don't get it all of be foolish not to have a backup plan.

Regardless it still falls outside the responsibility of banks and the industry to cater towards a the analysts.

 
Jun 5, 2015 - 3:02pm

Some good discussion in this thread.

I have sympathy for the view that a lot of MDs who talk this game rarely actually show that much care. I'm not saying this is the case for @mergersandacquisitions78, but it is for a lot of the wannabe empathetic MDs.

My experience of IB is that I spent 95% of my anxiety on worrying about myself, my relationship with the exec directors I reported to and self preservation. I was lucky enough to not be on a budget and responsible for origination. If that was the case, likely 150% of my angst would be about my position and job security.

When I got home and couldn't sleep, I was losing sleep over my own professional anxiety. I didn't have the time to worry that much about my juniors.

The incredible pressure of that in an IB job means an MD usually doesn't have the mental bandwidth to think much about their juniors other than:
- "I need this work done"
- A few platitudes about work/life balance, maybe take someone out for coffee/development chat at the rate times when the MD is not under the gun - typically only after MD has scored a recent victory and has a little spare time to stop worrying about self-preservation in the afterglow
- "This guy is not doing what I need. We need to replace him."

It's not because MDs are intentional arseholes (although they often are). It's just an entirely rational and understandable product of the pressures they are under.

And understanding that doesn't make the experience of an analyst or associate any better.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 
Jun 5, 2015 - 3:42pm

Addition to my last post - I did a fair amount of staff development work with juniors through my in front office IB career, including planning and running training programs for analysts and associates on my own initiative.

The juniors loved it (or so they told me).

None of MDs through EDs gave a shit.

No praise for the programs, no mention in performance reviews, nothing.

They had other things to worry about.

It's probably a good litmus test for how much MDs practically care about developing their staff. Ask them what the training budget for their team is and how much they've spent. Likely most MDs have no idea, think that someone else is responsible for planning and tracking that, rarely recommend their junior staff do any training beyond the compulsory stuff.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 
Jun 8, 2015 - 2:55am

This has been my experience as well. I don't particularly like it.

SSits:

Addition to my last post - I did a fair amount of staff development work with juniors through my in front office IB career, including planning and running training programs for analysts and associates on my own initiative.

The juniors loved it (or so they told me).

None of MDs through EDs gave a shit.

No praise for the programs, no mention in performance reviews, nothing.

They had other things to worry about.

It's probably a good litmus test for how much MDs practically care about developing their staff. Ask them what the training budget for their team is and how much they've spent. Likely most MDs have no idea, think that someone else is responsible for planning and tracking that, rarely recommend their junior staff do any training beyond the compulsory stuff.

 
Jun 5, 2015 - 5:27pm

It's interesting to see how practically nothing has changed in investment banking since I was an analyst back in the mid-1990s (yes, 20 years ago!). And even back then, from what some of the more senior bankers mentioned to me - the life of an analyst/associate in the 1980s wasn't all that different. The only difference was the technology: from using slide rules before spreadsheets, to pre-Internet (Windows always crashing/blue screen of death), to now. But the org dynamics are the same.

And to what another poster alluded to, what's broken is the incentive system and org structure.

Simply put, MDs are salespeople. They are paid by their sales (bringing in deals) - and not paid to manage people. And yet, they are given a team to manage. Oftentimes, deals get staffed on a deal by deal basis so you don't always have the same team of people from one deal to the next: analysts/associates/VPs get staffed like slaves at a market, with MDs picking over who they want (or who they can settle for, given that MDs also have their pecking order a la Glengarry Glen Ross; some are closers, some are chumps)

Ultimately, whether an MD manages a team well or not becomes secondary to the MD as long as there is no incentive for them personally to do so. Under the current system, whether they burn through their staff or not has little to nothing to do with their performance (hitting their numbers). And the junior staff are like slaves, because the more prized they are by the MD, the less leverage (paradoxically) they have, since the most powerful (rainmaker) MDs have the most say in terms of whom they want, and the most prized slave would be even more afraid to speak up, since no one wants to churn pitch books all day for a lesser MD. It's all about deal flow, from top to bottom.

The more dealflow an MD has, the more power at his/her disposal to staff their deals how they choose, without worrying about the consequences. If the kids get burned out or complain, you the MD can always pull staff elsewhere.

Now, you can say "well these kids can just leave." That is true. But remember when you're working 80-100 hour weeks, your entire world and bubble is that office. It's like leaving a cult in some ways - if you leave, there is this deep seated fear of heading into an abyss, being ostracized, and this pressure (spoken or unspoken) of being seen as a loser, quitter, apostate, etc. You are part of a highly structured and rigid system that while it's theoretically easy to just leave, psychologically there is a huge chasm if you are knee deep in the bubble. You hate your world, but it's the world you know.

Like Reek/Theon in Game of Thrones being under the thumb of Ramsey. It's not easy to simply go back to being Theon if you can no longer envision what that kind of life will be. But as Reek you have learned to cope with Ramsey long enough to be afraid to just leave.

I know that's hyperbolic, and plenty of bankers just pick up and leave, but simply quitting your job isn't as easy as it seems, especially if your identity is tied to what you do for a living, even to some degree (it's a career and not just some summer job stocking shelves at Target). While it's nowhere near the same as being in an abusive relationship, there are similar dynamics at play.

This isn't to excuse bad MD behavior at all. But that systemically, there is little incentive given how banks are structured for MDs to give a shit about managing people when they are ranked and paid according to their sales.

In my experience, what I found essential was the VPs (or senior associates). They are often the only people who can protect you, as they help manage the day-to-day on a deal (at least with larger deal teams). And yet, like the head slave, they can also be the most abusive if their ambition and fear get the best of them. It's harder for bad news about analysts and associates to filter up to the MD if the VP is trying to cover his ass, saying that everything is fine.

Alex Chu www.mbaapply.com
 
Jun 5, 2015 - 5:28pm

MBAApply:
Simply put, MDs are salespeople. They are paid by their sales (bringing in deals) - and not paid to manage people. And yet, they are given a team to manage.

This was an enormous problem at the top commercial real estate brokerage where I worked. My principal had a long history of deals, but good lord was he an awful boss and team leader.

Commercial Real Estate Developer
 
Jun 8, 2015 - 2:58am

True to a degree, but you underestimate the impact retention makes.

I substantially attribute my team's commercial success to the fact that even if we've moved firms over time, the people are the same. That means we are so much more effective than a hodge podge team, and clients recognize this too. We won a multi billion dollar sell side and the client told us that it was because they had known me but also known my junior team for a long time.

The most successful teams keep their people.

MBAApply:

It's interesting to see how practically nothing has changed in investment banking since I was an analyst back in the mid-1990s (yes, 20 years ago!). And even back then, from what some of the more senior bankers mentioned to me - the life of an analyst/associate in the 1980s wasn't all that different. The only difference was the technology: from using slide rules before spreadsheets, to pre-Internet (Windows always crashing/blue screen of death), to now. But the org dynamics are the same.

And to what another poster alluded to, what's broken is the incentive system and org structure.

Simply put, MDs are salespeople. They are paid by their sales (bringing in deals) - and not paid to manage people. And yet, they are given a team to manage. Oftentimes, deals get staffed on a deal by deal basis so you don't always have the same team of people from one deal to the next: analysts/associates/VPs get staffed like slaves at a market, with MDs picking over who they want (or who they can settle for, given that MDs also have their pecking order a la Glengarry Glen Ross; some are closers, some are chumps)

Ultimately, whether an MD manages a team well or not becomes secondary to the MD as long as there is no incentive for them personally to do so. Under the current system, whether they burn through their staff or not has little to nothing to do with their performance (hitting their numbers). And the junior staff are like slaves, because the more prized they are by the MD, the less leverage (paradoxically) they have, since the most powerful (rainmaker) MDs have the most say in terms of whom they want, and the most prized slave would be even more afraid to speak up, since no one wants to churn pitch books all day for a lesser MD. It's all about deal flow, from top to bottom.

The more dealflow an MD has, the more power at his/her disposal to staff their deals how they choose, without worrying about the consequences. If the kids get burned out or complain, you the MD can always pull staff elsewhere.

Now, you can say "well these kids can just leave." That is true. But remember when you're working 80-100 hour weeks, your entire world and bubble is that office. It's like leaving a cult in some ways - if you leave, there is this deep seated fear of heading into an abyss, being ostracized, and this pressure (spoken or unspoken) of being seen as a loser, quitter, apostate, etc. You are part of a highly structured and rigid system that while it's theoretically easy to just leave, psychologically there is a huge chasm if you are knee deep in the bubble. You hate your world, but it's the world you know.

Like Reek/Theon in Game of Thrones being under the thumb of Ramsey. It's not easy to simply go back to being Theon if you can no longer envision what that kind of life will be. But as Reek you have learned to cope with Ramsey long enough to be afraid to just leave.

I know that's hyperbolic, and plenty of bankers just pick up and leave, but simply quitting your job isn't as easy as it seems, especially if your identity is tied to what you do for a living, even to some degree (it's a *career* and not just some summer job stocking shelves at Target). While it's nowhere near the same as being in an abusive relationship, there are similar dynamics at play.

This isn't to excuse bad MD behavior at all. But that systemically, there is little incentive given how banks are structured for MDs to give a shit about managing people when they are ranked and paid according to their sales.

In my experience, what I found essential was the VPs (or senior associates). They are often the only people who can protect you, as they help manage the day-to-day on a deal (at least with larger deal teams). And yet, like the head slave, they can also be the most abusive if their ambition and fear get the best of them. It's harder for bad news about analysts and associates to filter up to the MD if the VP is trying to cover his ass, saying that everything is fine.

 
Jun 11, 2015 - 11:47am

MBAApply:

It's interesting to see how practically nothing has changed in investment banking since I was an analyst back in the mid-1990s (yes, 20 years ago!). And even back then, from what some of the more senior bankers mentioned to me - the life of an analyst/associate in the 1980s wasn't all that different. The only difference was the technology: from using slide rules before spreadsheets, to pre-Internet (Windows always crashing/blue screen of death), to now. But the org dynamics are the same.

And to what another poster alluded to, what's broken is the incentive system and org structure.

Simply put, MDs are salespeople. They are paid by their sales (bringing in deals) - and not paid to manage people. And yet, they are given a team to manage. Oftentimes, deals get staffed on a deal by deal basis so you don't always have the same team of people from one deal to the next: analysts/associates/VPs get staffed like slaves at a market, with MDs picking over who they want (or who they can settle for, given that MDs also have their pecking order a la Glengarry Glen Ross; some are closers, some are chumps)

Ultimately, whether an MD manages a team well or not becomes secondary to the MD as long as there is no incentive for them personally to do so. Under the current system, whether they burn through their staff or not has little to nothing to do with their performance (hitting their numbers). And the junior staff are like slaves, because the more prized they are by the MD, the less leverage (paradoxically) they have, since the most powerful (rainmaker) MDs have the most say in terms of whom they want, and the most prized slave would be even more afraid to speak up, since no one wants to churn pitch books all day for a lesser MD. It's all about deal flow, from top to bottom.

The more dealflow an MD has, the more power at his/her disposal to staff their deals how they choose, without worrying about the consequences. If the kids get burned out or complain, you the MD can always pull staff elsewhere.

Now, you can say "well these kids can just leave." That is true. But remember when you're working 80-100 hour weeks, your entire world and bubble is that office. It's like leaving a cult in some ways - if you leave, there is this deep seated fear of heading into an abyss, being ostracized, and this pressure (spoken or unspoken) of being seen as a loser, quitter, apostate, etc. You are part of a highly structured and rigid system that while it's theoretically easy to just leave, psychologically there is a huge chasm if you are knee deep in the bubble. You hate your world, but it's the world you know.

Like Reek/Theon in Game of Thrones being under the thumb of Ramsey. It's not easy to simply go back to being Theon if you can no longer envision what that kind of life will be. But as Reek you have learned to cope with Ramsey long enough to be afraid to just leave.

I know that's hyperbolic, and plenty of bankers just pick up and leave, but simply quitting your job isn't as easy as it seems, especially if your identity is tied to what you do for a living, even to some degree (it's a *career* and not just some summer job stocking shelves at Target). While it's nowhere near the same as being in an abusive relationship, there are similar dynamics at play.

This isn't to excuse bad MD behavior at all. But that systemically, there is little incentive given how banks are structured for MDs to give a shit about managing people when they are ranked and paid according to their sales.

In my experience, what I found essential was the VPs (or senior associates). They are often the only people who can protect you, as they help manage the day-to-day on a deal (at least with larger deal teams). And yet, like the head slave, they can also be the most abusive if their ambition and fear get the best of them. It's harder for bad news about analysts and associates to filter up to the MD if the VP is trying to cover his ass, saying that everything is fine.

This is true in all of banking, I've definitely seen it in PWM. Those who bring in assets or revenue are those given management responsibility. It's very counter to a lot of other industries which promote those that are competant but look for people skills. I feel like 95% of the time the person promoting someone to MD doesn't even give a thought to "will this person motivate and engage others? will they support training?".

Of course you make a lot in banking so you should expect to manage self-starters etc. But it's still sadly prevalent to find total jerks in these roles for just that reason.

In addition - people don't manage others in banking for a LONG TIME. Some people take their first true management roles in their mid to late 30's. Before then it is all support structure which is a MUCH DIFFERENT dynamic. Other industries start future managers out much earlier. I've seen 40 year old men struggle with how to give performance reviews for just this reason. Because they're 40, noone trains them on how to manage others and they don't want to ask. So they just sit in their own pool of suck.

 
Jun 5, 2015 - 9:29pm

Top Ten Jobs If You Love To Travel

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(2) Oceanographer
If you love traveling by sea and have a passion for learning more about it, then there is probably no better career for you than that of an oceanographer. Oceanographers often split their time between laboratories and research ships, where they can spend months away from home visiting remote regions of the ocean.

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Jun 6, 2015 - 2:18am

If you care about your employees, mergersandacquisitions78 , prove it. Institute a 6-day workweek policy, regardless of the situation, and fire any SVP, VP, associate, or analyst who violates it or asks someone else to violate it. Or (my ideal policy) have security show up at 10 PM on a Friday night, have them confiscate blackberries and shoo everyone out of the building, and refuse to allow anyone back in until 5:30 AM on Monday morning.

The goal of every company is to maximize profit. But where does that end? And when do the short-term objectives of this optimization come into conflict with the long-term ones? What are the constraints on that optimization? As the MD, you have the ability to set the constraints on that optimization- the employees really don't- some will do anything to work more and advance, and that's actually bad in the long run. One option is a six day or five day work-week. People can work 24/5 during the week, but everyone gets the weekend to rest and recuperate.

 
Jun 6, 2015 - 2:45am

IlliniProgrammer:

If you care about your employees, @mergersandacquisitions78 , prove it. Institute a 6-day workweek policy, regardless of the situation, and fire any SVP, VP, associate, or analyst who violates it or asks someone else to violate it. Or (my ideal policy) have security show up at 10 PM on a Friday night, have them confiscate blackberries and shoo everyone out of the building, and refuse to allow anyone back in until 5:30 AM on Monday morning.

The goal of every company is to maximize profit. But where does that end? And when do the short-term objectives of this optimization come into conflict with the long-term ones? What are the constraints on that optimization? As the MD, you have the ability to set the constraints on that optimization- the employees really don't- some will do anything to work more and advance, and that's actually bad in the long run. One option is a six day or five day work-week. People can work 24/5 during the week, but everyone gets the weekend to rest and recuperate.

Your suggestion is based on the assumption that the demand for work comes exclusively from the MDs, when a lot of times clients and unexpected circumstances are the ones forcing last minute changes. Every attempt at limiting work days ex-ante is futile, as workload is lumpy and unpredictable.

When every bank out there offers pretty much the exact same service to clients -- outside of the matchmaking that this MD has over that other one -- and switching costs are low, then all of the bargaining power is in the hands of clients.

 
Jun 8, 2015 - 2:41am

IlliniProgrammer:

If you care about your employees, @mergersandacquisitions78 , prove it. Institute a 6-day workweek policy, regardless of the situation, and fire any SVP, VP, associate, or analyst who violates it or asks someone else to violate it. Or (my ideal policy) have security show up at 10 PM on a Friday night, have them confiscate blackberries and shoo everyone out of the building, and refuse to allow anyone back in until 5:30 AM on Monday morning.

The goal of every company is to maximize profit. But where does that end? And when do the short-term objectives of this optimization come into conflict with the long-term ones? What are the constraints on that optimization? As the MD, you have the ability to set the constraints on that optimization- the employees really don't- some will do anything to work more and advance, and that's actually bad in the long run. One option is a six day or five day work-week. People can work 24/5 during the week, but everyone gets the weekend to rest and recuperate.

Just got back to my apt after a weekend in the sticks so will respond.

This is a pretty ill thought out post for a number of reasons, not least that M&A transactions are most often announced before start of business on Monday morning. Not to mention that everyone has different work dynamics, and I'm not going to be the one to impose a certain set of work patterns on other people.

But the overarching point that I have come off as self-serving and hypocritical in the thread is noted. My initial thinking was to just walk away and chalk it up to a hastily written post, but I have derived a lot from this site (its like reading an opinion poll of junior bankers with context - very valuable to know what people are thinking in anonomity), and I'd rather provide some value.

I do happen to think that I run a pretty tight ship as far as my junior bankers, so I thought I would put out how my team works, because I think its a good, albeit imperfect model, for how the business should run. I have felt that banking has become a considerably worse environment since I started; the lifestyle hasn't changed, but analysts are far more disconnected from their teams and senior bankers and it is a more bureaucratic, less functional environment. I'm doing what I can to address that within my team and the firm more broadly. So here are some things that about my group that seem to work well, and a few that don't. Maybe this is a useful template.

  1. It helps that we are highly profitable (probably the second in investment banking at our bank on a per head basis), and that in the market in which we operate, we are seen as the leader. This means that a) we can be selective about the deals we decide to do; b) we rarely have to pitch for new business; c) most of the time is spent in live deals; d) we have internal leverage on compensation and promotions.

  2. Everyone associate and above has worked with me at this or previous firms for at least 4 years and some much longer. Each of the associates, VPs and Directors have investment banking analyst experience (a couple did PE or got their MBA along the way). This means that there is a very high degree of camaraderie in the team and that we all know each other's work styles. There's very little ambiguity in communication, and people know exactly what they have to do. The key to getting there is retention, which means that you have to run a team that people want to stay in. And I think there are a few steps to achieve this.

  3. We get our people well reviewed and paid. Before reviews, I make sure a plan is developed for each team member to get them top bucket. A story is created, and key messages for each individual are sent to each stakeholder. We ensure that we get to our people on the committees. And we call in all the favors we've built up at other teams over the year (since support from "neutral" parties is the key to top bucket rankings). It works.

  4. I keep a parallel team only system of reviews, so people know how they are actually developing. But we have a rule that however tough we may be on each other, in the external review process, there is only positivity.

  5. We manage our people's careers carefully. I have an unwritten compact with my team that if they want to leave, they should talk to me first. In return for giving me the advance notice, I will go to bat for them at all my top contacts. There is a great track record of exits so its worth it For the ones that want to stay, we make sure (as above) they are well ranked and have a fast track career. About 50% of the analysts who we want to stay do stay. The others are very valuable sources of insight and business. At least one deal a year is sourced by a former analyst.

  6. We try to limit BS work to the absolute minimum. We simply don't have time for it. So I've set the following principles.

(i) No presentations for general marketing, unless there is an exceptional reason. We do books on live transactions and for bake-offs, but I don't need a book for a general catch up with a CEO or CFO.

(ii) All presentations have a pre-agreed outline. No changes without exceptional reasons.

(iii) No internal memos unless required for compliance or committee purposes

(iv) Presentations limited to 20 pages unless there is an exceptional reason

  1. We give everyone on our team including the analysts very significant client exposure. There's no room for junior people whose only job is to sit in the office cranking out models and presentation work.

  2. Everyone is actively expected to develop idea generation and presentation skills. If you do the work, you are expected to present the work.

  3. We do try and have fun. There's not always a lot of time but I'm thoughtful about when it can happen. For example, I was in Hong Kong a few weeks ago on a deal with an analyst. I had to fly back I insisted that he take a day off and spend the three day weekend enjoying the pleasures of Lan Kwai Fong (I am led to understand he also enjoyed the pleasures of Wan Chai instead, but that's a different story). I also got the majority of my team

  4. We fire people who don't cut it. The high performers like being part of our team, but its in everyone's interests that there are no low performers. I've fired analysts, associates and VPs in six months, and I don't regret it.

  5. We are sympathetic to personal lives. One of the benefits of being a very close knit team including the analysts is that its hard for things to slip out of view, and we make it appoint to keep things sustainable (retention is very important). We've also instituted a system where if people need to take time off, others will cover and vice versa. That way, vacations are never cancelled and important life events are never compromised.

I don't think our culture is perfect. I think we can be a sink or swim environment, and I think we can be overly harsh on those who don't swim (btw, I try to be sympathetic but its my senior analysts and direct promote associates who are the worst). I also think there is a wariness of outsiders (again, most heavily perpetrated by the junior bankers). But I think that for the good performers, its as good a culture as you can get as an analyst.

 
Jun 13, 2015 - 2:49am

3. We get our people well reviewed and paid. Before reviews, I make sure a plan is developed for each team member to get them top bucket. A story is created, and key messages for each individual are sent to each stakeholder. We ensure that we get to our people on the committees. And we call in all the favors we've built up at other teams over the year (since support from "neutral" parties is the key to top bucket rankings). It works.

4. I keep a parallel team only system of reviews, so people know how they are actually developing. But we have a rule that however tough we may be on each other, in the external review process, there is only positivity.

I'd love to hear more about this bullet point. The story and key messaging approach sounds really interesting.

 
Jun 19, 2015 - 4:58pm

mergersandacquisitions78:

IlliniProgrammer: If you care about your employees, @mergersandacquisitions78 , prove it. Institute a 6-day workweek policy, regardless of the situation, and fire any SVP, VP, associate, or analyst who violates it or asks someone else to violate it... One option is a six day or five day work-week. People can work 24/5 during the week, but everyone gets the weekend to rest and recuperate.

Just got back to my apt after a weekend in the sticks so will respond.

This is a pretty ill thought out post for a number of reasons, not least that M&A transactions are most often announced before start of business on Monday morning. Not to mention that everyone has different work dynamics, and I'm not going to be the one to impose a certain set of work patterns on other people.


Goldman imposes six day workweek for interns, tells them to go home by midnight

Thanks for your opinion and disagreement, and it looks like GS just followed my advice for their interns. Will be interesting to see how this experiment works out. I have a feeling they got the idea from this thread, lol. :D

I'm happy for everyone weighing in and creating a lot of controversy around my post- it means a lot for an HF guy who has worked crazy hours as a desk strat but never in IBD to get an idea for IBD out there.

In any case, it's always awesome when the smartest guys in the business ignore all of the naysayers and try an experiment with your idea. Maybe a hard rule on a six day workweek will mean a little more sleep for interns. If it works well, perhaps the six day workweek rule will extend to FT and change the business for the better.

I'm claiming credit and responsibility for this- and the success or failure of GS's new rule for interns.

 
Jun 10, 2015 - 10:27am

This should probably be the real 10 commandments of Wall Street (and I realize it's only 9, but who's counting?). I agree with everything that is said here with an additional caveat: be able to take a step back from work and life. Understand why you are where you are and what you're doing. People who are able to look at themselves and say, "I need to do something else" rather than "I want to do something else" end up happier, and potentially successful.

Understandably, some people are in the game to make as much money as possible and retire as early as they can, but they know why they are doing what they're doing. I'm in this for the long haul, so it is especially important for me to take a step back, see the bigger picture, and successfully juggle what is a demanding industry and personal obligations as well as time for myself.

--Death, lighter than a feather; duty, heavier than a mountain
 
Jun 11, 2015 - 10:58pm

OP is very disconnected... You have had sincerity in writing this, but it was probably a moment of emotion...

My first week, my MD told me to take the weekend off. I didn't, got a ton of stuff done that needed to be done without him knowing I worked the weekend. I came in Monday, and was said "that's all you got done this weekend?" - first week, no training, told to take the weekend off...

 
Jun 13, 2015 - 9:46am

As much as people might like to think it's otherwise, banking is largely ruled by a culture of fear, especially if you're in a revenue generating role and have a budget. People are made 'redundant' left and right, and you never know whether you're next. You might be a top performer one year, and out of a job the next. People get blindsided all the time, which might be entirely due to external reasons.

An analyst will never speak up for himself in such a culture, nor will anyone higher up. Everyone is only out for themselves, because that's how they're incentivised. Besides, why would an MD treat an analyst better than he himself is treated by the bank?

Finance and the culture surrounding it quickly becomes your only culture. The long hours, the high demands and high pay, and the fear of losing your job isolate you from the real world. We might think that the culture in banking is perfectly normal or the only way real work gets done, but if you look outside of the bubble you'll see we're the odd ones out. You'll find yourself rationalising the culture, and even adopting new behaviors that aren't the most pleasant, but if you take a long look in the mirror you can see it's all a bit silly, to say the least.

Some banks and groups are worse than others, but in general, the current incentives are not aligned with a healthy work/life balance or a supportive and cooperative culture. Unfortunately, as long as the many incentives that cause this culture stay the same, the resulting behavior will stay the same as well. You can ban working on a Saturday, but seeing as the underlying incentives are unchanged, it'll mean people work longer on Sundays, etc, etc.

One way of solving some of the current problems and aligning incentives from MD to analyst to client might be to go back to the smaller, more specialised and non-publicly traded partnerships that were common before the 1980s. Of course this will only work if all of today's megabanks are split up as well. It would also quickly solve the whole TBTF problem. However, the current leadership is not particularly incentivised to do this, which means it'll never happen without external influence.

 
Jun 13, 2015 - 10:12am

Monkeyfaces:
...

One way of solving some of the current problems and aligning incentives from MD to analyst to client might be to go back to the smaller, more specialised and non-publicly traded partnerships that were common before the 1980s. Of course this will only work if all of today's megabanks are split up as well. It would also quickly solve the whole TBTF problem. However, the current leadership is not particularly incentivised to do this, which means it'll never happen without external influence.

The EB are smaller (and some private partnerships). Yet many of the EB have reputations for the worst work-life balance: Lazard, Moelis etc.

 
Jun 13, 2015 - 10:26am

UKUndergrad:

Monkeyfaces: ...

One way of solving some of the current problems and aligning incentives from MD to analyst to client might be to go back to the smaller, more specialised and non-publicly traded partnerships that were common before the 1980s. Of course this will only work if all of today's megabanks are split up as well. It would also quickly solve the whole TBTF problem. However, the current leadership is not particularly incentivised to do this, which means it'll never happen without external influence.

The EB are smaller (and some private partnerships). Yet many of the EB have reputations for the worst work-life balance: Lazard, Moelis etc.

I suppose it might be because they have to compete with the megabanks, and because most EBs were founded by people who 'grew up' in the current IB culture. It is strange that the current culture only started to emerge when investment banks became bigger and publicly traded companies. Anyways, instead of only complaining about it or coming up with random solutions, I do think it's just as important to first look at and fully understand how and why today's culture came to be.

 
Jun 19, 2015 - 4:56pm

Very constructive discussion going on here. As a lot of people here have pointed out, well yeah maybe MA78's views can be challenged in some ways but it's still a great chance to have an MD taking the time to express his perspectives.

The career in IBD is truly demanding and not everyone can handle it for sure, but the story from the Senior at Bain is a great highlight of why "unnecessary" work can sometimes be dealt about, meanwhile respecting a meaningful balance among all team members.
I support the OP for his great time management & team efficiency tips; for sure people working with him can be proud to be there.
Regarding the talents moving elsewhere, the pool of grad applicants is large enough that it's likely there'll always be an equilibrium of great people in every industry.
As we all know it's not become easier to break into IB these days than before and implicitly selects those most likely to perform well before they even start (about the analyst turnover).

 
Jun 19, 2015 - 6:33pm

Ehh I don't know.. Xqtrack did make an interesting post early, one that I think helps explain a lot of what's going on in this thread.

I see an MD talking up how well he treats his employees. Meanwhile he brags about his weekend vacation and shoots down an idea that can make life better for his analysts by potentially giving them the weekends he enjoys... only for a better-managed firm to experiment with it a week or so later. Honestly all I see from this guy are a bunch of vague assertions with little to back them up.

So that's the MD. And then there are all of the predictable investment banker responses- seeing someone with money and power and sucking up to him. Which is probably why the MD is the way he is and why anyone with an ounce of wisdom would stay the heck away from this guy. And stay the heck away from the suck-ups too.

There are a lot of things wrong with this thread and the culture in banking. I'm glad people are trying to make at least a few small changes to make it better. And GS is proving that it cares about its employees.

There are clearly honest people in this business who care about the people working for them. I don't think this guy is one of them. He gives a smooth party line but the details either aren't there or perhaps paint a very disturbing, contrary picture when you put the pieces together. At the very least, my own personal rule as a stat arb quant (as well as my boss and his boss) is that if people are working on a project for me, I'm there, too. This guy doesn't seem to follow that rule.

 
Jun 21, 2015 - 8:38am

Its a bit ridiculous discussing this with some guy who has never worked in investment banking and has no real clue about the industry, but why not.

  1. The GS intern announcement was foolish, basically just a PR move. Interns aren't really necessary to do the work, so its easy to do.

  2. GS doesn't pay its junior people particularly well. They can afford to overstaff situations. I am 100% certain every single person on my team gets paid more and learns more than their respective counterparts at GS. You don't become an investment banker for the lifestyle, you do it for the exceptional work experience and for the compensation.

  3. My compact with my team isn't about lifestyle; I expect them to work very hard, and they expect to work extraordinarily hard. In return, I ensure:

- I bring in the business and make sure it is executed well. This is my job. Everything else is gravy.
- I get them paid at the very top of the street and I invariably get them promoted (in multiple cases, early).
- They close a lot of deals. Everyone analyst on my team will close a minimum of four M&A deals plus financing transactions this year. And these are transactions they are the sole or lead banker on, so they are doing the real work.
- They learn a ton. Any single member of my team could walk into any relevant buy / sellside shop and perform very well. The fact that there is about 50% turnover at the analyst level and 0% voluntary turnover above, and that they followed me when I joined a new bank is a reflection that they don't really want to.
- They don't work on bullshit. We've done two pitchbooks as a team in the last three months. Everything else is live business.
- They get substantial travel and client exposure.
- They have a direct line of communication with me 24/7 and are not disintermediated. If there is a problem, I know about it.
And yes, they do work their asses off. But being good isn't easy, and doesn't switch off on weekends.

  1. It is idiotic to suggest that I need to be in the office when they are. My job description is different. I do my job well, and expect that my team will do theirs well. Where my work gets done, and their work gets done is irrelevant. And after a decade and a half, a weekend of sport and leisure is more than justified. As it happens, it cuts both ways. This weekend, I'm far away from home in the middle of an SPA negotiation (along with a Director), and as far as I can tell, only about 20% of the junior team is working.

IlliniProgrammer:

Ehh I don't know.. Xqtrack did make an interesting post early, one that I think helps explain a lot of what's going on in this thread.

I see an MD talking up how well he treats his employees. Meanwhile he brags about his weekend vacation and shoots down an idea that can make life better for his analysts by potentially giving them the weekends he enjoys... only for a better-managed firm to experiment with it a week or so later. Honestly all I see from this guy are a bunch of vague assertions with little to back them up.

So that's the MD. And then there are all of the predictable investment banker responses- seeing someone with money and power and sucking up to him. Which is probably why the MD is the way he is and why anyone with an ounce of wisdom would stay the heck away from this guy. And stay the heck away from the suck-ups too.

There are a lot of things wrong with this thread and the culture in banking. I'm glad people are trying to make at least a few small changes to make it better. And GS is proving that it cares about its employees.

There are clearly honest people in this business who care about the people working for them. I don't think this guy is one of them. He gives a smooth party line but the details either aren't there or perhaps paint a very disturbing, contrary picture when you put the pieces together. At the very least, my own personal rule as a stat arb quant (as well as my boss and his boss) is that if people are working on a project for me, I'm there, too. This guy doesn't seem to follow that rule.

 
Jun 22, 2015 - 10:32pm
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