Thoughts after getting promoted to Asso as AN1

First of all, I'm based in APAC. Location is HK/China/Singapore. The context is different from American and British counterparts. For example, modeling is not as important in APAC, and relationships are extremely important.

I'm not a wealthy kid who has connections. Broke into banking through tough grind. 

Background:

Today, MD had a year-end review with the team. Told me I would get promoted to Associate and good job in general. All co-workers like me --- I do get along with everyone, a couple of them on the surface --- and work product quality is consistently good. Occasionally I make typoes but that didn't matter much. 

I got laid off <6 months on a non-IB job, and spent 8 months unemployed. Landed the current analyst gig through an online application. I'd say I was extremely lucky because my MD wanted someone who studied mathematics and went to the U.S. for an education. That's me.

I'm one of the two analysts who do most of the grunt work in the group, and get staffed the msot. In general, hours are not terrible. Tbh, I don't have a schedule say like 9:30-11pm everyday or whatever. It just varies too much for me to have that. Although this week it's bad. I average 9am-2am every day so far and I plan to pull an all-nighter Thursday through Friday because my current Associate is a total douchebag (female, clueless, hyporcite, incompetent, you name it, yet knows how to kiss ass).

Thoughts:

Plenty has been covered on WSO. Things like print your work, triple-check, read deal materials to make sure you understand things etc.

I was thinking how I could contribute from a different angle. Here are a few:

  1. Politics is THE most important thing in this industry, and probably 99% of industries. 

In this context, politics sometimes equals relationships. Aformentioned Associate doesn't even calculate a Net Debt/Equity ratio correctly. However, she passed all CFA exams and leveraged that as her capability (to study? certainly not modeling because she cannot model at all). That being said, Asso knows how to kiss ass to MD and VP, so she's in a pretty sweet spot where she does 0 work and gets most of the credit. 

If you know how to kiss ass while being competent, people will like you, you can have great relationships with colleagues, AND you get promotions fast. If you don't get along with people and know how to play politics towards your advantage, sooner or later you might get stuck somewhere unless your highest supervisor is clairvoyant or omnipotent or you know, just GOD to tell the good from the bad.

Although, if you hebave like my Associate all day, eventually no one wants to work with/for you and in the long-run, you put yourself in a very bad position. People will stop passing deals to you, juniors won't want to work for you, and you stop being a rainmaker or "star performer".

  1. Extend your boundaries.

This can be in many aspects. I work in a healthcare coverage teamand I do a lot of IPO deals. I talk to people in M&A, IPO execution who cooperates with my team, other coverage groups, DCM, lev fin, etc. Literally everyone in the office knows me and I can talk to all of them on a 1-to-1 basis. Maybe I'm lucky because my MD is not a hardo and creates meaningless pitches all day --- definitely sometimes, like this week --- and people are generally nice in my office. 

Ask questions and even more work from your co-workers, or even people from a different team. I know a couple of people in IPO execution and I helped them out a couple times. If I have questions I make sure I ask them in a respectful way, and demonstrates my knowledge and understanding at the same time so they know I'm competent. 

My group is a non-modeling group. That's okay. I practice LBO and operating models during my downtime, limited as it is. Even if your group doesn't model, it's no excuse for you to not know how to do a LBO modeling test or a DCF or how to make balance an operating forecast model (this one is always a pain in the ass because you deal with all those line items). You don't need to build super-complicated models, but when an opportunity comes up, you can volunteer to be the lead analyst on a certain part of modeling --- e.g. build up revenue projection, finish balancing the 3 statements, do an illustrative drug pipeline DCF, a simple LBO model for a pre-IPO company if they choose to sell to a PE firm. You choose what you do at the end of the day. 

If you don't like modeling, learn something else. I am learning coding right now and I can say I'mm already a programmer, inexperienced as I am. I read a ton of non-finance related books, mostly literature, economics (well this doesn't count), biographies, and non-fiction. Maybe you like photography, weaving, swimming, whatever. Find something that can both enrich you as a person and help you as a professional. 

  1. Think about seemingly good things from a different perspective.

Am I happy? Not really, and I'm not saying that as a humble brag. I truly mean it. Promoting people this fast is a sign that the bank does not have a determined progression structure. Fast tracks are way too subjective, depending on your MD's personal opinions. That is not great when you don't click with your MD, and that makes a poor meritocratic environment on a macro level. Sure, I have enjoyed the good side of this, but I have seen people who climbed up through kissing ass solely.

  1. This is just a job.

Know your priorities. You career doesn't necessarily equal your job. Plan enough time for your family, challenging as it may be. Don't let lrestige whoring get to you. Make friends with other bankers when you have a chance, during conferences or networking events. They are not your enemies. You work for different companies, that's it. Maybe you work at GS TMT NYC and that guy works at no-name boutique nowhere. That guy could be a great person who in 10 years makea Partner in Sequoia. You just don't know. 

  1. Next step

Due to other reasons like meaningfully below-market pay, I'm looking for a lateral/exit, and don't plan to stay here long term. 

If there is one thing that you find helpful from this post, that'd be great. Hopefully I contributed something to someone reading this. 

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