Vent Some Wisdom to Incoming Analysts/Interns

I've seen a lot of Interns/Analysts on here lately asking for advice. Thought it would be nice to have a thread where everyone throws some quick, simple pointers out on how to not piss your bosses off and be a bottom bucket analyst (;

  • Never intentionally take your time on an easy task just to keep occupied and stay looking busy longer during what feels like a slow period to you. You never know the schedule of the reviewer of your work - they may get wrapped up with something after 4PM and now have to stay extra late to review your work when it could have been completed and reviewed by 3PM. 
  • Always, always, always overcommunicate. If somebody gives you a task then forgets about it and doesn't respond to your first email then follow up in person/with a call when their calendar is free. Once somebody assigns you work you take ownership and are responsible for keeping track of the deadline. Just because your boss doesn't remember doesn't mean it isn't your job to. 
  • Be respectful, kind and a team player who considers the impact his/her effort has on other team members

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Comments (44)

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jul 22, 2021 - 9:14pm

Counterpoint to your first bullet. Learn when you can take your time on tasks and when things need to be done ASAP. Some easy tasks can be pushed off until later and doing them too quickly will lead to more work down the road. People like to "add value" and finishing something too quickly will inevitably lead to iterations even if the work is perfect. Top bucket analysts in the class above me knew when sending a presentation out too early would blow your day up or weekend and compromise your ability to deliver on other deadlines. 
 

I think the big thing is just don't make any mistakes and the rest will follow. Mistakes slowly erode trust and overshadow everything you do. If you mistyped the multiple on page 15, who is to say you didn't switch a plus and minus sign in the excel backup? No matter how simple or insignificant the task, make sure the work is absolutely perfect. If people can't trust your work, you won't be put on the meaningful staffings. 

Jul 23, 2021 - 3:34am

I agree and thus disagree with the first point too. You really don't need to do all work super quick because more often than not that'll lead to more, unnecessary changes. I'd say the quality of it once you submit it is more important than how swift you churn through it.

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  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
Jul 24, 2021 - 7:18am

"Just don't make any mistakes and make sure your work is perfect" gee why didn't I think of that thanks bro

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jul 24, 2021 - 9:40am

You would be surprised. A lot of analysts are messy and blast work out with properly checking it when they want to go to sleep or think a task is so easy it doesn't require checking. When you're working on tight deadlines and sleep deprived, avoiding mistakes is easier said then done. 
 

You need to develop a system that works for you and reflect on the common mistakes you make in order to avoid them. A simple checklist and some common sense goes a far way in spotting and avoiding errors. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 30, 2021 - 2:36pm

I strongly disagree. 6-12 months in you can and should make judgement calls on when things are really due, however as a new started you have no conclue about deal dynamics, how your team work, and how long it will take you to do it.
 

Some of my interns take literally 2h to consolidate notes (when I would just send mines to team at the end of calls usually after maybe a 2mn cleanup), so ok to do this when you know what you're doing but would not advise to push work at the beginning.

However if your analyst/assoc says no pressure then don't stay up until 1am on a Sunday night when he's not gonna look at it before mid week. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 23, 2021 - 11:40am

Very insightful. I would never have thought of this myself and have never heard this before, even not all through elementary school.

Funniest
Jul 23, 2021 - 2:01pm

Ok. Would you like me to remove the comment?

Edit: lol to those SBing this as funny… I was and am being serious here :)… I'm happy to remove the post if it annoyed/bothered that commentator or anyone else. I am not sure if the above person is being sarcastic or not, I thought the poster was…

edit 2: alright guys… thanks for the SBs and all but def no need :)… not trying to pile onto some intern here….

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jul 23, 2021 - 10:03am

High level thoughts. I assume most people in this thread will talk about learning technicals, modeling, formatting, etc. but wanted to share some reflections as an Analyst (BB and top ranked analyst in the most humble way)

  • Take care of your body. Stretch constantly, get up every 30 minutes, exercise. Any health issues that begin arising need to be addressed immediately (back pain, wrist pain) as problems compound. Previous health issues will come to light with the amount of inactivity and hours you will work so be proactive on fixing things
  • Remember the job is temporary - don't beat yourself up over mistakes and working with rude people. 99% of Analysts will be gone after 3 years. Be stoic and keep a positive attitude and continue to learn / improve
  • On rude people: never retaliate as it does you no benefit and bankers especially are insecure individuals who will take things personally. Just respond "Will do" and end it at that 
  • Have 2-3 close people that can vouch for you. In terms of reviews / bonus, it is 70% politics and 30% work quality and humans focus on the negatives rather than the positives. You will need a couple mid or senior people who can truly vouch for you during reviews (your entire ranking is determined on what 3 people say on a 30 minute call with the staffer) and references when you eventually leave
  • Don't sacrifice things in life for this career (unless you want to be a psychopath MD). Keep your relationships healthy and if you have events to go to (birthdays, weddings, family, dates, etc.) do it. If you don't make time for it, then who else will?
  • Learn to be efficient by studying the 3rd years or Associates. This job is pure processing and execution which means a brain is not necessary to do it. Ask a lot of questions and find an Analyst who will show you the shortcuts
  • Use your resources. If you are at BB you will have off-shore teams. Leverage old materials and never create from scratch
  • Learn to be sneaky. I have never seen a top analyst that wasn't a sneaky individual (having delayed email on to send books at 1am knowing MDs will be asleep and won't give comments so you can go to dinner with your friends). Your incentives are not aligned to the firm, they are aligned to yourself. So learn to play the system and don't be a nerd
  • Be a fun person to work with. Obviously do a good job with work but if you aren't having fun or enjoyable then people will not want to work with you. Being an Analyst is boring so stick around the top performing people but also those who have a fun time
  • Find mentors. Apart from taking care of your health (which should be prioritized over anything), I'd say having mentors who will teach you, demonstrate good leadership, answer questions, be patient with you, will be the most important thing from banking
  • View every problem / challenge / stressful situation as an opportunity to learn and come out better than you previously were
  • Communication should be an obvious one but over communicate on things and ask about deadlines, pages, where to find information, etc. 
  • Review and check your work. But don't stress over 100% perfection. I see plenty of CIMs, books, RFPs, memos with mistakes, typos, numbers not tying, formatting issues all the time. It doesn't matter. Fancy presentations don't win deals
  • Final words: enjoy life and think about what matters to you! We are humans on a floating rock with problems so miniscule in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy the journey and don't stress. We are lucky to be in the positions we are in life and happiness is all around us as long as you believe it is 
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jul 23, 2021 - 11:58am

If ANY investment banking analyst has to read one thing, its the above.

This job and its title has absolutely no association with your self worth, so you should treat it as such. Never prioritize this job over your own basic needs, and make time to ensure you are still enjoying your life day to day. The moment you conflate your self worth with your job is the moment you lose all respect for yourself (and typically become a bit of a cunt). 

Unless the meeting is the next day, I've never seen something that absolutely MUST be done within a certain time frame. Typically, its the people above you wanting adequate time to review and try to figure out where they can add value. Adding "value" has never won a deal or a pitch. It solely relies on your MD's ability to charm a client. A good MD relies on their social skills to win a deal / negotiate terms / etc. and uses the materials as backup when needed. If your MD is relying on the book to sell the client, then you've already lost the deal... which in that case you may as well take your time on turns.

Jul 26, 2021 - 11:58am

High level thoughts. I assume most people in this thread will talk about learning technicals, modeling, formatting, etc. but wanted to share some reflections as an Analyst (BB and top ranked analyst in the most humble way)

  • Have 2-3 close people that can vouch for you. In terms of reviews / bonus, it is 70% politics and 30% work quality and humans focus on the negatives rather than the positives. You will need a couple mid or senior people who can truly vouch for you during reviews (your entire ranking is determined on what 3 people say on a 30 minute call with the staffer) and references when you eventually leave
  • Don't sacrifice things in life for this career (unless you want to be a psychopath MD). Keep your relationships healthy and if you have events to go to (birthdays, weddings, family, dates, etc.) do it. If you don't make time for it, then who else will?
  • Learn to be efficient by studying the 3rd years or Associates. This job is pure processing and execution which means a brain is not necessary to do it. Ask a lot of questions and find an Analyst who will show you the shortcuts
  • Learn to be sneaky. I have never seen a top analyst that wasn't a sneaky individual (having delayed email on to send books at 1am knowing MDs will be asleep and won't give comments so you can go to dinner with your friends). Your incentives are not aligned to the firm, they are aligned to yourself. So learn to play the system and don't be a nerd

These ones are the ones that stand out the most to me.  You have to play the game a little bit and you can have a significantly better life.  

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jul 23, 2021 - 9:15pm

Something that pisses every analyst/associate when working with someone new - gtfo of the backups if you aren't using them. Never, ever, ever stay in the PPT or XLS overnight if you aren't working in it - sometimes early morning meetings require early morning comments that you may not be awake for. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 30, 2021 - 3:01pm

Also, intern should definitely turn on auto save. Some day I went I to my deal folder and freaked out because all the docs were saved as of today 9am, so I freaked out as I wasn't sure when buyer logs were updated etc. Just learn to save docs regularly And when you're done close it 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 24, 2021 - 10:53pm

First year analyst here. Great advice. I have a dumbass question: How do did you guys check your work? Did you have a look at every cell in excel and verified the correct formula? Was it a checklist when going through decks? Sorry for the dumb q. Just want to hear what exactly worked best

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 25, 2021 - 1:36am

a great tip i got w/ ppts was printing it (if possible) or viewing the pdf on a diff screen/device after like 5-10mins of finalizing it

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jul 27, 2021 - 2:53pm

I find that actually checking every formula to be waste of time - your eyes tend to glaze over after repeatedly F2'ing each cell.  Focus on the key numbers tying out between sources and your intuition.  Does Revenue / GP / EBITDA match between pages/source files and is it directionally in line with other guidance and your own napkin math.    

Jul 24, 2021 - 11:21pm

Used to be a staffer and managed associates and analysts. My biggest advice to incoming associates /analysts / interns: get out of the bullpen and make yourself known. Yes, it's awkward and intimidating but, in the end, when we are sitting in roundtables deciding on whether to give you a return offer or year end review, people pound the table for people they like and remember. 

Jul 25, 2021 - 7:16am

Don't get too carried away like some douches. You're not making that much money. Not even at director level. A good cafe will definitely make more than you in a month 

Jul 26, 2021 - 12:53pm

A big piece of advice that I haven't seen yet is staying present and not looking too far into the future.  This is easier said then done, and I definitely wasn't able to take my own advice, but I think it's critically important for junior banker sanity.

For example, I'd destroy myself mentally when we got a new deal signed up because I'd be thinking about all the work that needs to get done.  On week 1, when I'd be putting together the WGL, KYC checks, and setting up deal team distros I'd be dreading the CIP iterations, buyer outreach, dataroom, DD, deal docs, etc.  Obviously those things are all coming down the line, but it serves no practical purpose to dwell on future work to the extent that you're depressing yourself.  It is just too overwhelming.

The best people I worked with were always (seemingly) able to stay present and not get caught up with future obligations.  Focusing on daily and maybe weekly tasks/milestones is very important for mental health.

  • Investment Analyst in AM - FI
Jul 26, 2021 - 12:57pm

Great advice. Overachievers like most of us here love to plan years down the road to maximize comp/title/happiness but staying present and doing the best job you can in your current role is most important. Opportunities will then follow.

Jul 26, 2021 - 1:22pm

slow down on everything. much rather have something that's an hour late and mistake free than two hours early riddled with mistakes. i usually double check my deliverable, get up and walk around for a few minutes, and review it again once more with a fresh set of eyes

Jul 26, 2021 - 3:24pm

The idea of this job being just a job is important, but that should extend beyond your work. Outside of folks in the incredibly small world of finance, no one cares where you work or how much money you're making. Within the small world of finance, you are at the bottom of the totem pole. The point is... don't make your job your identity. Out at a bar and someone asks what you do? Try to talk about a hobby or a trip you have coming up. You'll make higher quality connections this way and have more fun. 

Jul 29, 2021 - 4:05am

Hobbies? Trips? While working in investment banking? 

"Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

Jul 27, 2021 - 1:47pm

Strive to be a B+/A- analyst -- as long as someone is willing to speak favorably in a reference check you're fine. Marginal effort to try to be top bucket is never worth it. Check your work but don't overdo it because you're gonna get comments anyway. Push back if you think a page is stupid -- it probably is. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Jul 27, 2021 - 9:13pm

Don't focus on getting things done fast, focus on getting them done right.  Early on, you're not going to be trusted enough to be given any high leverage deliverables on a condensed timeline, so you're not under the gun.  Any associate/VP would much rather wait an extra 30 minutes for a deliverable than get something right away that has obvious mistakes.  And the only way you're going to gain trust early is by not fucking up the simple things, so take your time and make sure that you don't.

Jul 29, 2021 - 10:45am

My advice is to chill out on recruiting. I remember being a first year analyst in your shoes, thinking that I needed to immediately start preparing for buyside recruiting so that I would be ready for on-cycle 2-3 months into my analyst stint. I thought that all the good opportunities came during on-cycle recruiting as a first year, and that if I missed out on on-cycle during my first year, I would never make it to the promised land of PE/HF

BOY WAS I WRONG. Some of the most compelling opportunities I've seen, at firms that most people on this website would be absolutely thrilled about, have come during off-cycle recruiting during my first, second, and even third year. As an analyst three months into the job it's impossible to know what you want to do next. I came in thinking I was PE or bust, but now my focus has completely pivoted to other areas. As a first year, just know that the buyside opportunities continue to come through your entire analyst stint (even the super compelling opportunities) so don't put too much pressure on yourself to participate in on-cycle. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 31, 2021 - 10:40pm

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 31, 2021 - 10:42pm

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