Why are post-MBA associates so bad?

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The title of this post was meant to stir controversy. I don't think all post-MBA associates are bad, but there are more than a few bad apples that make it through the internship. For background, I am a 3rd-year analyst in a banking coverage & execution group in NYC at one of the BBs. I think when I sit down and discuss with other people (in my circle from college, work, rec sports, etc.) their biggest gripes about their analyst job is the post-MBA associates they work with. Now people do complain about other stuff but I think the type of complaint is different, it goes from "this sucks that I have to do this in the middle of dinner" to "I can't believe I have to deal with this idiot". Please ignore my grammar and spelling mistakes. I naturally wrote this in a state of frustration, and I never learned proper English because I don't have an MBA.

A few examples:

1) Alpha Male-ing Type Behavior

Nothing more frustrating than working with someone who has less experience in almost every way on the job who likes to insert themselves into the hierarchy. People who've been doing the job for less than a few weeks who need to see stuff before it goes out to the team when I've been working on the team for several months already. When I do comply and send it to them, it takes them forever to check work and reduces the amount of time I have to sleep. If it takes you longer than an hour to check something, then you should not be a roadblock. Worst is when they demand to check something and then have no idea how the math works and bombard you with a lot of questions. I have no issues explaining something to someone who is "on the team" but coupled with other unsavory behavior, I lose my patience.

2) Assuming Some Work is Analyst Work

I get that modeling work is generally analyst work, but why can't some of these people be bothered to send out a dial-in or send out a PDF saved on the drive. Just cause you spent $200k to party, travel, and learn who Michael Porter is for two years doesn't mean your time is more valuable than mine. Don't call me to do something you can do yourself. Doing "analyst" work every once in a while is very easy to way to get a great reputation amongst analysts which does pass down. People keep in touch, they tell each other who is good to work for and who isn't across multiple years of analyst classes especially when our group tends to hire from the same schools over and over again.

3) Pretending to be busy on something else and then being offline

If you are going to tell me you can't do something for our project like put together an all-text page and instead make me do it then I expect you to be online while I do it given you are a junior employee with a few weeks of training.

4) Don't create unnecessary work

If you aren't exactly sure what our D/ED/MD wants to see, don't give me formatting nits that just waste time. Learn to realize when your comments are important vs when they are stupid vanity to tell yourself you added-value to a book.

During quarantine, everyone including analysts and associates is getting crushed with work. The market is roaring, work from home is live at work, and the hours have gotten longer. Let's just try to make it to the end of the year while trying to get some sleep along the way. I don't know who needs to hear this but post-MBA associates have been difficult for me to deal with when I was a second-year analyst and again now as a third-year, I am doing the same dance again. If someone has advice on how to level-set expectations with these jokers I'd be all ears. Yes, I know calling them jokers is probably not a good start, but I try to not to be a dick to their face since I have to work with them everyday.

Comments (74)

 
  • Associate 2 in IB - Ind
Sep 6, 2020 - 3:14pm

Your firm (or group) does a poor job at assessing and evaluating talent at the graduate level. Full stop. MBA associates that pull this kind of behavior should be shown the bottom bucket and then the door. No intention of disparaging your bank but summer associates must be evaluated on their humility and willingness to learn, ability to drive forward a process, and communication skills. With that said, I can certainly empathize with your experience. 

I'd try to lock down time on the MBA associate's calendar for a touch point during which you discuss some of the opportunities for the MBA associate to assist. Couch it as experience necessary for training future analyst classes, which will be imperative for the MBA associate assuming he or she wants to build a career in banking. 

 
Sep 6, 2020 - 3:34pm

My firm does a terrible job at evaluating MBA talent for sure. I think having that call couched the way you mentioned it makes sense, but I've always had trouble giving feedback upwards especially to post-MBA associate types because they generally are quick to take it personally (ego takes a hit). I could also be bad at giving feedback. I try not to be mean to anyone at work ever because I'm basically always the most junior person on the team and "culture" matters a lot here. I think more upward channels to communicated feedback overall would be helpful, however, honestly I just don't really care. I'm going to leave to MF PE at the end of my third year June and I'd rather let these people just continue to do poorly cause in a way that's all I really have against them - not helping them get better and continue to make mistakes. Maybe someone else will tell them to shape up, maybe not.

 
  • Associate 2 in IB - Ind
Sep 6, 2020 - 3:55pm

I wouldn't discount your ability to give feedback, especially considering your contributions to the group during your analyst stint. Ultimately, it is your decision to provide or withhold feedback, but if you do decide to speak with the MBA associate, I would recommend being direct in your recommendation for areas of improvement, allaying any concern that he or she may have regarding complaints made to your VP, and couching all recommendations as learning integral to their success as a banker. Good luck. 

 
Controversial
Sep 6, 2020 - 4:42pm

Worst associates have been analyst promotes in my opinion.  They are are the ones that think they are too good for analyst work and look down on the work because "I did my time".  More likely to slam comments down late and claim "i only have time to look at pdfs...cant touch the ppt".  More likely to haze the analysts too.  More likely to be bitter in general and grouchy because they failed in PE recruiting.  Sure they know more...but this isn't rocket science and it doesn't matter if the stupid theoretical deferred taxes are modeled correctly anyways.

 

Mba associates are at least hungry, eager to pitch in (even with analyst work in my opinion) and ready to soak in tons of knowledge. I like them way better (and I'm not an mba associate for the record). Plus they are LESS likely to have weird social deficits that caused the analyst to associate promote to fail out of PE recruiting despite knowing the technicals.

Array
 
Sep 6, 2020 - 5:03pm

I appreciate your input and it's unfortunate that the A2A promotes you have worked with have that attitude. My experience and the experience of many of the people I know has been different. However, it's a big industry that's only gotten bigger over the last 15 years so probably a lot of different kinds of people at different banks.

My experience with A2A's (and other analyst promotes) has been they usually know why they want to stay in banking (vs do PE), are super comfortable with the people in the group (which is why they haven't lateraled), and have experienced the plight of analysts (so rarely create extra work, usually push back as much as they can, do a lot less brown-nosing). I'm sure there are some other bad habits more senior bankers tend to notice though that I can't appreciate at my level.

 
Sep 6, 2020 - 6:45pm

I'm an incoming BB Summer Associate and this is both great feedback and in line with the responses of analysts and VPs in the group when I asked about MBA associates who they've enjoyed/not enjoyed working with.

Having gotten to know many MBAs, I think two factors lead to what you describe:

  1. An inability to be humble and realize analysts are experts in the work. Learn from them and share the work.

  2. An inability to transition out of a corporate management mindset where they don't need to understand the work, rather they are just there to manage people and report up.

 
Funniest
Sep 6, 2020 - 7:35pm

I'm an MBA associate and have been at my (mm) firm coming up on 3 years. I could have made the analyst send all the outlook invites, build all the models and slides and basically only have to provide comment markups to PDFs this entire time????? Fuck, I've been doing this all wrong.

 
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Sep 6, 2020 - 9:22pm

Currently a 2nd-year analyst and facing a similar situation. New post-MBA thinks he needs to manage me. Already caught him trying to gain brownie points for something he didn't do. Tells me he pushed back one of our deadlines but he didn't know that I talked to the VP already and mentioned that I finished my work just waiting for him to finish his pages so the VP said there's no rush for him to get the last two pages done. Minor lie isn't a big deal but if he didn't try to manage so much I'd let it go.

Analysts need to start calling out this bad behavior. I've heard from friends it gets really bad at the EBs where the direct hire (not laterals) post-MBA associate quality is lower than at BBs and their expectation is that they get weekends off and take random days/weekends off because they deserve the break while the rest of the team is working...

 
Sep 6, 2020 - 9:23pm

Will share my take and what I've seen as an analyst in basically your spot (analyst in BB coverage + execution team) and now observed as an MBA having joined some of the investment banking group meetings.

As an analyst I felt exactly the way you've described.  I actually don't think we had any analyst promotes as associates, so basically all of them were MBA hires.  There were a small number who had pre-MBA finance and relevant experience and were great to work with.  The rest was the full spectrum of tolerable to absolutely terrible.  The difference in quality in my view had a lot more to do with the softer skills (that presumably should have been developed during the MBA) vs. ability to build a financial model or any real intellect.  The best associates I worked with were able to manage up (without completely kissing ass) and not throw the analyst under the bus either.  They understood how to work efficiently, which analysis was really crucial and which were not, when something was urgent and when it wasn't, etc.  They would stay at the office late to get out a deck, and really worked alongside me in a "we're in this together," sort of way.  Honestly those were the exception and not the rule, but really great to work with.

The other probably 60-70% of associates I worked with were pretty unbearable.  I worked with a few who would always try to create pages different from what was requested by the MD (who in many cases they'd never worked with before) to show "value add." This would of course result in me as the analyst working an additional and unnecessary few hours for pages which 10 times out of 10 would be thrown out.  Then there were the associates who would just dump work on me as an analyst, specifically anything menial, which would take much longer for them to ask me to do vs. do themselves.  And then best of all the associates who think they've just done an MBA and want to only be a manager and not actually do any work themselves, which results in the analyst on the deal getting pretty destroyed. Some of them improved dramatically after 6-12 months, while others never really found their rhythm and left after 2 years. Most VP, Director and even MDs are former MBA associates, so obviously some are pretty good as well, but I absolutely agree that there are plenty of bad ones.

Now seeing things from the MBA side, my view hasn't really changed, except to say that I understand why MBA associates act the way they act.  MBA programs and investment banking clubs really prop up how valuable pre-MBA experience and the MBA experience is to being a successful associate.  They also paint the analysts (which is not  untrue) as youngsters who just know how to execute models and PPTs without understanding the big picture and are looking to bounce after 2 years.  After being told a million times that "you know how to think strategically," it's no surprise that MBA associates come in thinking they have a huge amount to add, instead of realizing that they are really at the bottom of the food chain and should first learn how to do the analyst work as well / better than an analyst, before anything else.   For what it's worth, I've worked with probably 10-12 MBA associates and only seen their pre-MBA industry experience add value 1-2 times. It is worth bringing up as some others have mentioned that the associate role is a fairly different role and associates come in with a very different mindset compared to analysts, with the intention for the most part of making a career out of banking.   

Just a final point, but I didn't really see meaningful difference in quality between MBA associates according to the quality of MBA program. We had a few guys from UNC's MBA program as well as Duke and NYU who were extremely strong, and MBAs from MIT and even Stanford who were not great to work with at all.

 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Sep 6, 2020 - 9:39pm

I think this is a great take and helpful background into why these type of people come about. Our group hires a decent number of analysts from undergrad business schools where they take classes with the MBAs as well. For most of these schools, getting into the undergraduate program is far more competitive than the MBA programs.

Feel like a lot of post-MBA associates think they are better at communicating, context, etc. Over the two years I've completed so far, I've been lucky enough to work on and close a number of transactions ranging from $200mm add-on up to $[X]bn in size and honestly no deal is that complicated. The complication comes in some of the tax / accounting related points for complicated deal structures but most of the time it's not that hard to understand. Analysts usually don't care bother thinking about context in banking because it's one more thing to think about on top of everything else they already do. Most of the kids in my class ended up doing PE and I waited an extra year to recruit. There's a few others who want to stay to be A2As. Across the board, I've never met someone who doesn't get the strategy, people just don't care more than they have to. They want to avoid their MD thinking they are stupid but otherwise it rarely translates to less work or more kudos to analysts. Strategy is really just not that hard from a conversational perspective. Executing on a strategy or diligencing one is what's difficult but we all know that's not what banking is.

 
Sep 6, 2020 - 10:13pm

My intention is to recruit for post-MBA IB. I have no prior experience in IB (military). 

I will never have as many hours as an analyst on the modeling/excel/ppt part of the job. Are doing the WSO/Wallstreetprep/trainthestreet courses the best way for me to fill that gap? Is there anything else you recommend to help me gain that mastery of the basics?  

Array
 
Sep 6, 2020 - 10:48pm

Those should be a good starting point.  You'll have access to a huge number of models once you start at any bank as well, so you can go through those in detail or spend a disproportionate amount of time in your first few months (put in extra hours) going through the models to make sure you are understanding them in full.  It's pretty easy to skate by as an associate and do a high level check of the models (balancing, numbers tying, etc) without really digging in deep.  For that reason, the range I've seen in associates is much much wider vs. analysts -- the top ones are much better than any analyst (both at the quantitative and qualitative aspects) and the weaker ones can be extremely uncomfortable even going into a model. 

Having worked with a number of ex-military, they were generally pretty strong.  Always got the technical pieces and did not shy away from going into a model / getting in the weeds.  Weaker aspects were understanding how to push back against an unreasonable VP/MD request in the right way, which is definitely more art vs. science, and there is a tendency for most new and MBA associates to say yes to everything, overpromise and under-deliver (or overpromise and unnecessarily have the analyst pull an all-nighter to deliver).  

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 2:25am

The ex-mil guys I've worked with are honestly my favorites, along with the MBA associates with who did IB before grad school and basically used B-School as a very expensive vacation from having a job and a way to lateral up with a year of ASO experience under their belt. While you guys/gals have less experience than the latter, I find yall to be the most human and willing to stick with the younger guys through the depths of a late night. I don't even think it really helped much on a technical/workload level, but this one MBA vet I used to work with when I just started out would just hang around to make sure I was OK and try to help out on questions I had, and that support really helped me get a footing in the job. I never forgot that, and still keep in touch with him two years after he left and would always have his back. Maybe that strong character and team attitude just ties into the guys I worked with but it has been so consistent.

Dayman?
 
Sep 6, 2020 - 10:55pm

Analyst 3 half checked out and doesn't want to wait for people to review / comment cause he has been around for solid 2 years but will quit soon and post MBA associate will figure life out by the time they make VP (which 30% do anyway) - happens all the time 

Array
 
Sep 6, 2020 - 11:09pm

Depends on how you define attrition, but my group class was 25%. MBA class was more like 22%. Didn't count whole bank class but probably similar. We all came up during the super bull market with weekend initiatives in place but it's not like people got fired. Most people got bad ranking / comp if they were weak and some figured out this is not what they want to do. Classes after us that had higher % eventually lost people even after getting promoted cause the title promotion was just that 

Array
 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Sep 7, 2020 - 12:12am

I see your point but it's not really them getting their bearings under their feet right? It's kinda just laziness, not willing to do even small things, not willing to admit they don't know how something works and save everyone time, not willing to acknowledge they are the new person on the team. It's more of a personality issue than a new banker issue. I feel like I've seen 3 classes of associates start now (this is the third time) and its immediately clear that the associates who play down are the ones you end up respecting. I worked with an associate who would send out every dial-in on our project, take care of diligence, and manage the data room. They would do it because they know I was busy on other work. Humility isn't hard and isn't part of the ramp-up you just are humble or you aren't.

 
  • Associate 2 in IB - Ind
Sep 7, 2020 - 9:47am

As an MBA associate, once staffings were released, I set aside time with the analysts on each work stream and explicitly asked them what I could do today, tomorrow, this week, and moving forward to lighten their load on each work stream. From there, natural fit with each respective team took shape. It isn't difficult. 

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 7:58am

As a VP and A2A, I'm keenly aware of how irritating some new post-MBA associates can be and do my best to intervene and level set expectations.

The reality is I know and trust the 2nd and 3rd analysts way more than them so whether they realize it or not they're at the bottom of the totem pole until they prove themselves 

 
Most Helpful
Sep 7, 2020 - 10:46am

The title of this post was meant to stir controversy. 

I'm going to take this opportunity to keep stirring.

1) Alpha Male-ing Type Behavior

Nothing more frustrating than working with someone who has less experience in almost every way on the job who likes to insert themselves into the hierarchy. People who've been doing the job for less than a few weeks who need to see stuff before it goes out to the team when I've been working on the team for several months already. When I do comply and send it to them, it takes them forever to check work and reduces the amount of time I have to sleep. If it takes you longer than an hour to check something, then you should not be a roadblock. Worst is when they demand to check something and then have no idea how the math works and bombard you with a lot of questions. I have no issues explaining something to someone who is "on the team" but coupled with other unsavory behavior, I lose my patience.

Unfortunately the Associate is the one who is going to take the blame if you make any mistakes. I don't care if you sent the model directly to the team, the VP is going to hold the Associate accountable, and "I thought he could handle it on his own" is not an acceptable excuse. Also, a new Associate, particularly one who has never done banking, needs to learn the ropes. The only way they are going to do this is to go through your work in painstaking detail and make sure they fully understand it because if a question gets asked and you're not in the room, the Associate needs to have the answer. Once again, the wrong answer is "let me ask the Analyst, he is the one who prepared this analysis." So if the Associate doesn't understand something, which is definitely going to happen because he is brand new, he should definitely ask you to clarify and continue to bombard you with questions until he understands. I agree, this is miserable, particularly when you're tired and the questions feel trivial. But if the questions aren't asked, the Associate won't learn, so this is necessary behavior.

Furthermore, checking work is a skill that is developed over time. Knowing where common errors occur, how to access particular information, checking not only what work was provided but also thinking critically about what might be missing. A new Associate is going to be slow at this, just like a brand new analyst is going to take forever to do what feels like a routine task for a third year. This is natural and is occurring on ALL the Associate's responsibilities, causing them to fall behind when they appear to not have a significant workload.

I've worked with 3rd year PE Associates who have multiple closed deals under their belts. I don't care how good they are, they make mistakes. Anyone can be thrown off their game if they are in a bad mood, rush through something, or even just assume one analysis is identical to one they've done before and therefore miss important nuances. Don't ever get mad at someone for wanting to check your work.   

2) Assuming Some Work is Analyst Work

I get that modeling work is generally analyst work, but why can't some of these people be bothered to send out a dial-in or send out a PDF saved on the drive. Just cause you spent $200k to party, travel, and learn who Michael Porter is for two years doesn't mean your time is more valuable than mine. Don't call me to do something you can do yourself. Doing "analyst" work every once in a while is very easy to way to get a great reputation amongst analysts which does pass down. People keep in touch, they tell each other who is good to work for and who isn't across multiple years of analyst classes especially when our group tends to hire from the same schools over and over again.

I agree that sending out dial-ins or PDFing files is ridiculously easy and can be done by anyone. I'm nearly 15 years into my career and I still schedule my own meetings, send out calendar invites, and often even plan my own travel. Can't really argue this one. That said, I encourage you to look at it as a "bonus" if someone does it themselves versus asking you to do it. Pick your battles. If the tasks really do take less than a minute or are brainless, just do it and don't let it get to you. There are more important things to worry about.

3) Pretending to be busy on something else and then being offline

If you are going to tell me you can't do something for our project like put together an all-text page and instead make me do it then I expect you to be online while I do it given you are a junior employee with a few weeks of training.

If you're saying that the Associate is literally lying about being busy -- sure -- this is a trait that can exist at any level within the organization and is not restricted to just Associates. However, it sounds like a COVID related issue with online/offline status being an indicator of whether or not someone is working? I'd encourage you to let this one go. I frequently step away from my (home) office to pace around my home while I take calls on my cell phone. Maybe the dude ran out to dinner because he knows he is about to pull an all-nighter and needs to stock up before stores close. Are you constantly keeping tabs on your Associates to make sure they are putting in the appropriate amount of hours? This makes no sense to me. 

4) Don't create unnecessary work

If you aren't exactly sure what our D/ED/MD wants to see, don't give me formatting nits that just waste time. Learn to realize when your comments are important vs when they are stupid vanity to tell yourself you added-value to a book.

How exactly are they supposed to learn? The learning process entails offering up ideas and watching how others react. I personally really appreciate when a junior employee makes an attempt to show an analysis in a more compelling way or creates a new slide, even if I completely discard the analysis in the end. As for formatting nits, I think the answer here is "it depends." I received some really good advice from a VP when I was a banking analyst. He said that whenever you serve up a document that doesn't look professional -- either poorly formatted or contains even a typo -- the reader immediately discounts the actual contents. Doesn't matter how stupid the typo or silly the formatting, nor the fact that the contents have absolutely nothing to do with color scheme / font choice / whether it is compliment/complement. For that reason the senior guys are generally incredibly compulsive about proper formatting.

Meanwhile -- if it is just some internal document or still at the initial drafting stage, then I think spending time formatting is ridiculous and agree with your comment. 

During quarantine, everyone including analysts and associates is getting crushed with work. The market is roaring, work from home is live at work, and the hours have gotten longer. Let's just try to make it to the end of the year while trying to get some sleep along the way. I don't know who needs to hear this but post-MBA associates have been difficult for me to deal with when I was a second-year analyst and again now as a third-year, I am doing the same dance again. If someone has advice on how to level-set expectations with these jokers I'd be all ears. Yes, I know calling them jokers is probably not a good start, but I try to not to be a dick to their face since I have to work with them everyday.

Your problem seems to be that you expect post-MBA Associates to be awesome right at the start. This just isn't going to happen. These people are hired because they are smart, hard working, and likely demonstrated success in non-banking roles. They aren't hired because they are going to add-value from day 1. The same exact thing is true of analysts or any new junior employees. Having rotated through PE Associates for years, I understand the frustration. The thought of: "Oh god, I have to teach ANOTHER new Associate the structural differences between an LLC and a C-Corp." But that's part of the job, and you grit your teeth and just do it -- because it isn't their fault they don't know and you cannot expect them to. The issue isn't level-setting their expectations, it is level-setting yours.

CompBanker

 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Sep 7, 2020 - 11:45am

I appreciate the input, I guess I'm just of the opinion that if you are new the expectation is you should be willing to send out a dial-in. I know Directors that do that for themselves so someone who is three weeks into their job not willing to do it is problematic. Furthermore, I totally agree with your general point about formatting. However, you know as well as I do from your time in a junior role that there are many ways something can look good to a client and one way isn't better than another. If the MD is going to inevitably give minor comments on formatting / text (which in my experience they often tend to do last minute), then again someone new giving me the feedback who doesn't know what's preferred doesn't really have much to add.

Largely, I don't think we disagree on any points. The work has to get done, how it looks matters to someone so it matters, it's OK to step away from your computer. However, I think throughout your post you are giving the post-MBA associate quite a bit of benefit of doubt. There are about 4 other people on the team that check the work, there's in fact more than one associate on the project. While an extra set of eyes helps, I think starting with some humility and admitting you don't completely know what you are doing because you are new is the right approach (maybe we disagree here, this is how I approached being a new analyst). Finally, with the being plugged-in thing, it's actually really easy to see. We use an internal chat software (Teams / Slack / Messenger) so it's very easy to tell who is online and who isn't. I get that maybe monitoring when someone I work with is online or not is not productive. However, this is not the status quo behavior. This isn't his first day, they've been on the job for three weeks. There have been numerous blunders along the way. You are right that maybe I need to adjust my expectations, however, all I expected of the person was to be a team-player, I never thought that would be too much to ask at a junior role in an investment bank.

The last thing I'd say is I totally agree that I could be more patient. However, I have no interest in doing so because of the other examples mentioned of the person not being a team-player. Frankly, if you think you (the post-MBA not YOU-you) are too senior to send out a dial-in, then maybe you don't deserve the benefit of learning things over time. You must be so good (since you can't be bothered to send out a dial-in) that you don't need the extra hours to check work right?

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 1:20pm

I appreciate the input, I guess I'm just of the opinion that if you are new the expectation is you should be willing to send out a dial-in. I know Directors that do that for themselves so someone who is three weeks into their job not willing to do it is problematic. Furthermore, I totally agree with your general point about formatting. However, you know as well as I do from your time in a junior role that there are many ways something can look good to a client and one way isn't better than another. If the MD is going to inevitably give minor comments on formatting / text (which in my experience they often tend to do last minute), then again someone new giving me the feedback who doesn't know what's preferred doesn't really have much to add.

The thing you have to remember is that we all have our own personal quirks and preferences. Some of them are incredibly silly. I've had colleagues who flipped out if something were printed double sided while others hated single sided ... others that flipped out if the double-sided rotation was horizontal versus vertical. Had another colleague who would never look at anything on screen -- everything had to be printed out -- including full financial models. Nobody ever sent anything to them that wasn't fully print formatted. This sort of stuff can be super annoying and does not add any real, tangible value. But in the grand scheme of things, I don't think it is appropriate to penalize this Associate for having his own quirks. If they have literally dozens of them, that is when it becomes problematic, but you cannot expect everyone to be a model citizen from day 1. Try to evaluate their overall contributions rather than focus on individual incidents or specific issues.

Largely, I don't think we disagree on any points. The work has to get done, how it looks matters to someone so it matters, it's OK to step away from your computer. However, I think throughout your post you are giving the post-MBA associate quite a bit of benefit of doubt. There are about 4 other people on the team that check the work, there's in fact more than one associate on the project. While an extra set of eyes helps, I think starting with some humility and admitting you don't completely know what you are doing because you are new is the right approach (maybe we disagree here, this is how I approached being a new analyst). Finally, with the being plugged-in thing, it's actually really easy to see. We use an internal chat software (Teams / Slack / Messenger) so it's very easy to tell who is online and who isn't. I get that maybe monitoring when someone I work with is online or not is not productive. However, this is not the status quo behavior.

Fair. You're right that I'm giving the post-MBA associate the benefit of the doubt. They are new, you have to do this. If you let the fact that they don't send out dial-ins influence your judgment, you're going to end up having a glass half empty approach to everything they do. Given how subjective job performance can be in the middle ranks of banking, this is a recipe for disaster. Don't get me wrong -- I think the guy should be sending the stupid dial-in ... it just isn't that difficult ... but I'm not willing to bury him over it.

As for the internal chat software, careful jumping to conclusions. I took a call on my cell phone this morning from 7:30am - 9:15am and then proceeded to shower and eat breakfast. I didn't boot up my computer until my 10:00am zoom conference. Any one of my colleagues that is monitoring my status might assume that I was a total slacker today and didn't start work until 10:00am when the reality is that I was on the phone while most of them were still in bed.

This isn't his first day, they've been on the job for three weeks. There have been numerous blunders along the way. You are right that maybe I need to adjust my expectations, however, all I expected of the person was to be a team-player, I never thought that would be too much to ask at a junior role in an investment bank.

I'm sorry, but this part made me smile. Three weeks? This might as well be his first day! For new employees, I generally treat them like a newbie for six months if not the entirety of their first year. This guy is getting inundated with information, new people, new processes, etc. and there is no way you can expect him to be settled within three weeks. If he is still behaving this way after 3-6 months I would say you have reason to be concerned.

The last thing I'd say is I totally agree that I could be more patient. However, I have no interest in doing so because of the other examples mentioned of the person not being a team-player. Frankly, if you think you (the post-MBA not YOU-you) are too senior to send out a dial-in, then maybe you don't deserve the benefit of learning things over time. You must be so good (since you can't be bothered to send out a dial-in) that you don't need the extra hours to check work right?

I'll refer to my point above at assessing contributions in their entirety. There are many ways to be a team player and it seems this individual has fallen short on one of the criteria that you highly value. Just note that you're taking the eye-for-an-eye approach to teamwork here. You have written this guy off as not a team player inside of three weeks. You're not going to like this assessment, but my guess is most senior bankers would say this reflects just as poorly on you as it does on your colleague. I say this as a means of being helpful. Not saying you intend to, but if you were to present your situation to your VP, I think you'd find him/her more upset with you than the associate.

CompBanker

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 1:14pm

You're overthinking this. Yes, a lot of them suck, but that's not as relevant as you think.

You're better at your job than they are, yes. Their job is actually slightly different than yours. Not much use in the comparison.

Contrary to what you think, they're also more senior than you, and their time is more valuable. You may not feel this way, but the firm does: the firm pays them a bit more than you, and expects them to work a bit less than you. If that isn't valuing their time more, then [insert joke about bad product to sell you].

A firm doesn't really know which analysts and associates are going to be good in the long run, but the probability game justifies the hiring of MBA Associates. Usually, the best analysts leave for the buyside. The worst are fired. The rest stay for an indeterminate number of years/promotions. As for Associates, it's simpler. The better ones often stay for longer. The worse ones leave. So few go to the buyside that it's statistically insignificant. So for Analysts, you have three categories, and you're unlikely to retain the best of the three. For Associates, you have two categories, and you're more likely to retain the better of the two. 

What happens after retention? Well, nothing revolutionary: a lot of pitchbooks, transactions and politicking. But there's a statistical reliable better chance that the Associate is friends with someone from b-school that will end up becoming a valuable client of the firm. It's not terribly high for each individual Associate, but it's attractive enough for the Associate "species" as a whole. Conversely, it's not zero for analysts, but it's definitely lower than for Associates. So there is potentially more business to unlock from retaining an Associate than from retaining an Analyst. 

Having said all this (and surely missing some things as I'm finishing the dump I'm taking while I type this out), absolutely, yes, a smart MBA Associate realizes that they need to spend their first 6 months learning how to be a passable analyst, while being expected to be an Associate. There's all sorts of ways to make this more viable if you adopt Analyst-friendly behaviors. Lots of analysts conflate this advantageous move with an actual obligation for Associates to somehow make analysts like them. Balderdash. It helps if they enlist your respect and cooperation, but it's not their job to kiss your ass. That's not why they were hired.

Again, see the big picture: you're both just grunts now. Most of you will leave. But picking the right marbles out of the bag (and it's a near-blind pick done over many years) is actually a little bit simpler and more efficient with MBA Associates than UG Analysts, for the reasons described above. 

 

 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Sep 7, 2020 - 1:20pm

2nd years are going to get crushed with work anyway. I have no clue what I'm doing (1st year) and it is incredibly hard to learn when WFH. I was asked to put together a skeleton and have no clue what I'm doing.

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 5:49pm

There are a few valid concerns pointed out in the OP, but this reeks of lack of self-awareness. At the end of the day, as Winnfield pointed out, you are still junior to the associate, post-MBA or otherwise. Your attitude is common with senior analysts, let's call it hot-shot 3rd year analyst syndrome. Don't forget that in the off chance you want to stay in banking, you will be judged just as much on your attitude as you will on your work product. My 2 cents from an A2A.

 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Sep 7, 2020 - 6:02pm

Yeah fair I guess I'll admit at the risk of getting a bunch of MS that I just don't really care anymore and I don't see a first year post-MBA associate as senior to me. I'll have to suffer through it for another year and at the end of the day I have more pull with this team.

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 7:59pm

For someone who "doesn't care anymore", you're spending a lot of time on this subject.

You have several people on this thread telling you that you're not seeing the complete picture. A few of them are helpfully letting you know that you're the one, more than the MBA Associate, who risks making a poor impression on senior bankers. I for one am getting the sense that this is quite personal with one particular MBA Associate you seem to despise, and you've decided to generalize on the entire class. 

It sounds like you need to take a chill pill and figure some stuff out, OP. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
 
  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 7, 2020 - 10:46pm

I can almost guarantee you're giving yourself a terrible reputation. Like ya, I get that you can quickly source old decks and put stuff together bc you've worked with xyz MD before, but if this is any indication, you're clearly giving off a shitty attitude to anyone you don't think is on your level. I'm a new MBA associate, we've already been asked to give feedback on 2nd years that we are working with, precisely because (and I'm sure you've been told the same thing by your firms) we are working from home and people in my position are trying to learn a brand new industry with no ability to just tap someone on the shoulder and ask a quick question. I have a feeling you're acting like a dickhead just to be an asshole. I will tell you - this does not go unnoticed. It usually doesn't matter bc the 2nd years are gone next summer but you're staying and pulling this shit??

They get the benefit of the doubt on their work quality, you don't on your attitude. 

 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Sep 7, 2020 - 11:38pm

I'm really glad I don't work with you. You seem like an absolute tool. I'm only a dickhead to people who treat me poorly. If what I said doesn't apply to you, then don't take it to so personally. I'm guessing from your response I've struck a chord and you are the type of person who makes an analysts life miserable.

I think I mentioned earlier in the thread I'm not staying and if you think feedback doesn't go both ways you are delusional.

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 10:17am

I've been both an Analyst and an Associate in BB IB, and I've definitely seen (and felt) both sides of what you're describing.

Let me suggest a way of thinking about this: analysts and associates have different motives and different end goals in BB IB, so they have different incentives. Their behavior is shaped by these different incentives.

Analysts have a short-term and a long-term goal. Their short-term goal is to own the model, own the deck, process the technicals in an efficient and error-free way, so that they become the "go-to guy (or gal)" when a big deal is in the offing. Their long-term goal is to parlay this experience either into a PE job or an MBA. But other than that, deals and pitches just materialize... analysts have no responsibility for originating or developing business. And why should they? They are playing a 2-3 year game.

Associates also have a short-term and a long-term goal. Their short-term goal is similar, but not the same as an analyst. Their long-term goal is to become an MD at the bank. To do so, they need to know the basics (ie. what the analyst is doing), have experience shaping the pitch, building a core base of MDs they work with regularly and who in turn want to work with them, and ultimately developing the skills needed to sell the deal to the client. Deals and pitches don't just materialize out of thin air... someone has to sell them to a client willing to fork over millions of dollars for it. The "analyst oversight" bit is a part of, but not all, what the associate is solving for. Why? Because whether or not the client goes ahead with the deal has very little to do with the technical robustness of model or the prettiness of the slides but rather strategic presentation of the deal rationale, and let's be honest, no small about of schmoozing and ass-kissing in relationship-building. They are playing a 10-year game, and unlike analysts, they do not have a ripcord into PE or MBA to pull.

And by the way, MDs also have diverging goals. Their primary goal is to sell more work to clients, who are willing to pay their fees. Their secondary goal is to maximize their operating leverage, i.e. get the deal done with as little manual intervention from them as possible, so they can focus all of their time on the all-important task of persuading clients to pay them. That means MDs would rather prioritize working with associates, who are in theory in this as a "career", versus analysts, who are in theory going to rotate out after 2-3 years. As a senior banker with hundreds of things on your mind at the same time, it's a natural incentive to focus your time on a small corps of constant players, vs. a constantly rotating cast of junior guys who who have to start from scratch every year.

It's extremely unfortunate that this dynamic exists, but it is how professional services as a whole has developed. To make this work out, and not devolve into the frustrations of the OP (which I understand, having been through it myself on both sides), the best analyst-to-associate pairings I've seen are ones where there is mutual understanding and respect of the different motives and incentives of both sides, vs. analysts dismissing associates as "churners trying to show value-add" or posturing or trying to demonstrate authority. Likewise for associates, it's understanding that analysts may not have or appreciate the big picture dynamics of going on, and are often uber-focused on their "next job" and from that have a short-term outlook, often from no fault of their own... it's simply how the industry is structured. It means genuine understanding that both parties are solving for different things, on different timelines, and that their respective careers will advance on different criteria - and potentially even helping each other do so.

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 12:52pm

^Very well said.  

That's how I feel about our associates at my BB; associates plan to stick around in banking for the long haul if possible whereas the analysts always have an eye on the door.  Sad but we already have a very good sense on who's leaving for the buy-side and who's pursuing something else.  Either way all analysts will likely be gone this time next year if not sooner and the next wave of analysts turn the wheel.  While there are MD's who started as analysts around (none in ours though), I'm pretty sure there will be less in the next generation b/c of this understanding that for almost all analysts, banking is just a short train stop.

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 2:46pm

A friend of mine who interned at a MM this summer as MBA associate said a couple of times how much he hated about the hours, the work, etc. Guess what, the firm gave FT offers to all interns, and he accepted it (prob because of lack of other opp in this market).

Will revisit this thread next year re how he will perform on the job.

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 7:45pm

Remind your friend that even if he/she doesn't love investment banking once they return full-time, it's in their professional interest to put forth sufficient effort. No use burning personal bridges or relationships between the bank and your friend's alma mater. 

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 6:16pm

Hot take on your point about "analyst work". It doesn't sound like this is the case with your group, but in mine it is, if I'm slammed I need the analysts to step up and actually do analyst work. Needs to happen late at night, early in the morning, and on weekends, whenever necessary. They should be doing it without being asked but don't seem to. Maybe he/she is trying to make a point to you to get your shit together...

--$$--
 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Sep 8, 2020 - 7:53pm

I can't tell if this is a joke or not. The expectation in my group or any group is that analyst's do analyst work, but a brand new Post-MBA should do it as well "around the clock, 24/7" as you say. I guess my broader point is if they need something done ASAP and they can do it themselves then they should just do it. After they get 6 months under their belt they can fuck analysts and their work life balance as you suggest.

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 8:55pm

and I never learned proper English because I don't have an MBA.

Lmao I spit my drink out. Fuckin' gold.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn

 
Sep 9, 2020 - 11:40am

Was thinking the same thing.  Most underrated line on this thread lol.

As an A2A who likes to spend a lot of time looking out for analysts, I have nothing but disdain for 9/10 MBA associates.  This job (IB) is important to a functioning economy, but we are not saving lives and most folks in the industry could use a good ego check.

Array
 
Sep 9, 2020 - 12:04am

I used to be an analyst and associate. I understand that you are frustrated, but get over yourself. When you started as a first year analyst, you didn't know your head from your ass either. But some senior associate put up with you until you got it. And when you go into your next job at MF PE, some VP will be wondering why he got stuck with you. So have some empathy and learn to send the elevator back down after you have ridden it to the top. 

 
Sep 10, 2020 - 3:16pm

Disagree with sentiment of OP. Have worked with tons of great MBA associates. In my group I actually can't think of a bad MBA associate.

VPs that create work however....don't even get me started

 
Sep 10, 2020 - 10:30pm

I agree, that VP is the worst role you can imagine. On one hand, they are too far removed from the model or the deck to really get into the numbers. On the other hand, they are still too far from being able to originate business. They are expensive and expendable. This creates all sorts of perverse incentives to both 1) churn the A&As, and 2) suck up / kiss ass / steal credit to the MDs. I sometimes think of VP as a sort of a Hunger Games-style winnowing device to thin the ranks and see who can play the politics and survive.

 
Sep 11, 2020 - 8:48pm

There are plenty of VPs that dig into the numbers, manage the process well, push back on work given from MDs, staff people appropriately, don't steal credit, loop in their junior people and give credit to them in front of clients, etc.

It's baffling how people at every level feel so toxic toward each other when you're all on the same team. What's wrong with you people? Be nice to each other and help each other out.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
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