Tips for catching careless errors

What are your tips for catching careless errors?

I just finished my first year and all good marks except every time I send over work it has a few busts. They are never big / change the answer, but my VPs are tired of pointing these out. I have a hard time spotting them as they happen and never did banking so don't have good habits for checking my work.

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Comments (10)

Most Helpful
Apr 5, 2021 - 7:53pm

When I was in the office, I'd sometimes print out my presentations and review the hard copies before sending. I'd make sure to tick through each bullet that my mid-levels provided over email after I reviewed the deck to see that I incorporated the relevant suggestions. 

Sometimes when there's no major time rush, it's helpful to step aside for 5-10 minutes (go to the bathroom, get a snack, take a quick walk, etc.) and then review your work afterward with a relatively fresher set of eyes. Take a few minutes to think through some of the numbers. Without trying to re-run the math, try to determine whether the numbers make sense (i.e., are numbers moving directionally the right way / at the magnitude you'd expect?).

Spell check (F7) always helps.


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  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
Apr 5, 2021 - 9:41pm

Sometimes its even better if its right after sending something you know has mistakes in it

Apr 6, 2021 - 7:19am

Certainly not something I've mastered so I'm curious to hear other's ideas. Two things that have worked well for me:

1) Printing and reading through on paper

2) Building in automatic checks in excel. Simple stuff such as checking that numbers sum correctly, or numbers tie across sheets. These will look ridiculous when building them as they'll all be true but when you're making a hurried change somewhere and one turns false because you broke something, they're a life saver.

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
Apr 7, 2021 - 9:47am

Do you have any advice if the types of excel mistakes I'm making wouldn't show up on checks? I do (most of the time) check to see if my changes make sense directionally and if they tie across sheets, but the biggest issues are when I've been working on the same thing for the majority of multiple days and change a formula but forget to do something basic

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  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Apr 6, 2021 - 9:41am

Specifically on model-related stuff, I found it also helps to just step back and gut check any changes you've pushed through.  If I make xyz changes, I would expect returns to go up/down; is that the case?  If I give mgmt. a _% option pool, I would expect their proceeds to be $_ at exit; is that the case?

Apr 6, 2021 - 1:01pm

Always check against the previous versions. This includes checking your most recent March Update v10 against the v9 that the VP made comments on and against February Update vF. Alt-tab between the two and look for all the changes you expect to be there and for any that shouldn't be there.

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