Worst slides ever

Share your worst - I've had a lot shitty PPT work this week, and want to commiserate.

My worst in banking:

MD thought it would be value-added to show a slide summarizing all the equity research analyst takeaways on the recently announced M&A deal -- company in question was fairly big public co, so lots of research coverage.

We had to fill a slide with little boxes, each box containing the top quote from the research analyst (you can bet we turned those MANY TIMES) and a little arrow up or down with a % showing the change in the analyst's expected price target to now (basically their response to deal). 25+ little boxes.

At the end of the day, MD decided it didn't fit with the messaging and was removed from the appendix... womp womp.

Mod Note (Andy): One of the posts of 2017 that have the most views .

Comments (90)

Mar 22, 2017

You haven't seen terrible PPT slides until you've moved to corporate. I cannot tell you the poorly-formatted mess that people send me on a regular basis. I almost would rather just create all internals presentations from scratch.

Don't even get me started on Excel files. Spacer columns? Check. Randomly hard-coded numbers? Check. Adding numbers across a dozen tabs? Check.

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Mar 22, 2017

Lol gotta love corporate Excel files... why this number is hard-coded - no one knows...

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Mar 22, 2017

It's hard-coded because you didn't get it from corp dev :)

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Mar 22, 2017

Nothing beats the hardcore that is causing an issue and the genius that punched in the number did not think to try dragging the fill handle down.

Mar 22, 2017

Worst / most painful slide in banking though? The one that took a small piece of your soul with it...

Mar 22, 2017

When I lateraled over to my MM, it really seemed like I left the crappy slides behind. My MM group loved re-using slides and rarely created anything new, which of course resulted in us only using tried-and-true slides.

The boutique that I started at was a completely different story. We had no templates, and I had an associate who never provided concrete feedback. This resulted in some pretty crazy slides. One that I particularly remember is this product slide for some company. The company was not an IT company, but my MD wanted to spin it as such in order to get an IT multiple (2-3x revenue at the time). I was tasked with creating a slide that showed the company's technology and how it related to IBM's Internet of Things. Again...this wasn't even an IT company, so the idea of the slide made no sense. Imagine if you were trying to spin CVS as a pharmaceutical company because it operates pharmacies and were tasked with creating a slide showing CVS's supposed drugs and what stages of development they are in.

Anyway, I did my best, but my associate was not having it. We went through ten turns, and every time his only feedback was "we have the steak, but not the sizzle". I tried getting some more out of him and even asked frankly what was wrong with the slide. Still nothing. I eventually gave up, went to IBM's investor relations page, copied one of their slides, and edited in our company's logo using Adobe Pro. The associate loved the formatting, and we moved on. What a nightmare.

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Funniest
Mar 22, 2017

When I was at a boutique consulting firm, I kept a printed-out deck of about 12 slides in the bottom of a drawer, hidden under some other decks. It detailed the "iteration journey" that a single slide took, from my first draft, through each one of the partner's suggestions/edits, to the final product at the end. As you may have guessed, despite the volume of turns and the wild changes in the middle, the final product was markedly similar to my first crack.

I kept it both as a reminder of the soul-crushing banality of the work I was actually doing and as a way to torment new analysts. They thought it was pretty funny right up until they found out it wasn't a joke.

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Mar 22, 2017

Do most banks not use spacer columns?

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Mar 22, 2017

No. An Excel model should be easy enough where anyone with a basic understanding of valuation can open it and know what is going on. Spacer columns make it impossible to easily copy over formulas, another step that needs to be audited (e.g. the associate needs to check if the analyst properly set up formulas), another step where the model can bust, etc.

On another funny note, I had a VP who would run out of his office screaming "WTF. WTF. WTF." whenever he got financials with spacer columns. May god have mercy on your soul if you were the analyst who inserted spacer columns.

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Mar 22, 2017

This is a stupid question.

Mar 22, 2017

I feel like you see spacer columns a lot more from older Excel users. And it is fucking annoying.

Mar 23, 2017

Gridlines... gridlines everywhere, as far as the eye can see. As though they were some sort of crypto-currency that the user was stockpiling for the end of days.

Mar 23, 2017

Gridlines where? Excel? PowerPoint?

Mar 24, 2017

I once received a model with a sum of 60+ separate IF statements. Mind blowing.

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Mar 24, 2017

As in 60 IF's in the same cell or across the entire model?

Mar 24, 2017

Didn't know about lookups or index/matching during my first internships, I still feel bad about those first models.

Mar 24, 2017

That's awful. 7 is the max t/f statements within a single IF statement according my coworkers - praying I don't ever write a formula that bad.

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Mar 24, 2017

On a beautiful Sunday, as part of a 'fire drill' / MD hunch for the deal of the year, we were asked to put together a slide with an overview of all major banks on our continent, key figures, ratios - one massive benchmark - all on one page. "For the appendix. Let's do a first turn of the whole book first thing Monday morning!"
Should be ok, we can pull all the info from existing material and the summers were all assigned a FIG sector and had the pleasant task of actually monitoring all listed companies in their sector and maintaining a magnificent file with every single imaginable ratio / figure captured. Great!
8 am, rock up at the office, dial into the call. 8:32 am, opened the file, everything is there, time to think about going home by midday, have a barbecue and get hammered.
8:34 am, take a closer look at some of those figures. Odd, Bank A 5% NPL ratio. Bank D 64% NPL ratio?!? Easy, probably just a wrong decimal. Let's trace back the numbers. Ah, our interns are trained well - all cells are commented and sourced.
Interesting, when you zoom out a bit, this file looks awfully symmetrical. Central bank deposits are equal to net income for this bank. And for this bank. And for the next three. What do the comments say? "PDF pg. 121/233 AR 2014". The entire column. All cells. All the same comment.
Ok, maybe in some intern-friendly world, these banks have put all relevant figures on one page. Annual reports should be saved in the folder, let's get them out.
No. They're not.
At this point I realize I am most likely royally screwed. None of these figures can be trusted. 9 am. It's manageable, fill out the database, pull together the other slides. Forget barbecue, dinner and a movie is the goal.
6 pm. This is the worst. This is the most mundane work I have ever done. And I'm not even done, yet. I keep hammering away. Second round of seamless is coming. 9 pm. Database is corrected. This "aspiring young banker" has virtually copied and pasted across random numbers in the hope that no one would ever notice. (Needless to say he thoroughly removed himself from any hopes of scoring a return offer)
Now that the data is correct, I start putting together the charts the MD had asked for. And there's a lot of them. Play around with the font a bit. OK, font size 4.8. There are over 80 charts on one page.
11 pm, e-mail from the MD: "We got inside track, can you put together engagement letter and send across. BB-friendly. Txs".
1 am. Letter sent.
Finish the book. Print. Proof read. 4:30 am - final bits.
5 am, print for MD, leave the book on his chair, drop him an email.
Taxi, nap, shower, shave, taxi. Back in for 8 am, small mark up on my desk, not a problem. Send to printing. Final flip through, get stuck on that benchmark slide. This is the definition of a numbers cemetery. Blocks of bar charts at half inch width.
Long story short, the mandate went to three other banks.

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Mar 24, 2017

I just left banking (VP level) and moved back to VC. This is exactly why I left.

Mar 22, 2017

Ugly slides? My summer analyst gig, I was too stupid to ask for the pitch book template and used MS paint to draw the United States with the paint brush tool (instead of calling our own graphic design team). I also used the line tool to make boxes and labeled its subsidiaries with comic sans.

I was yelled at while simultaneously being praised for my creativity. They never let me work on another pitchbook again (more modeling experience for me yay)

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Mar 22, 2017

Any chance you still have that paint image? I always get a kick out of shitty paint drawings.

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Mar 23, 2017

haha would have made for a good laugh, unfortunately it was too cringey to keep on my hard drive :(

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Mar 22, 2017

"Immaculate except can you move this a little bit to the left." And remove these four slides. I hate power point.

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Mar 24, 2017

"This is too long, cut it down."

Next turn...

"Can we beef x, y, and z up a bit, it's a little light?"

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Mar 22, 2017

When I was at a liner shipping company I often had to map out trade routes on maps. Naturally there was a template for the company routes. But for internal discussions on competitors... Had to draw perfectly curved lines (tens of points on a curve line in ppt) over and over and over again. And place dots where I assumed a city was as there were no country lines on this map.

Or trying to "visualise" a slide based on extracted AIS vessel tracking data to try and work out their average transit time and port calls. Stuff would never add up! Tokyo to Suez doesn't take 3 fucking months no matter how slow you steam.

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Mar 23, 2017

Who would have thought pre-banking? Cartography is a KEY skill. Nice work Jekyll

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Mar 26, 2017

It turns out buster bluth really does have what it takes...

Mar 24, 2017

That sounds absolutely horrible!

Mar 22, 2017

I don't have any good horror stories on models or slides. Numerous iterations gets annoying, sure, but I have nothing comparable with these other guys.

I will say that I hate my firm's colors, and naturally, I hate our pitch decks because of those colors. It reminds me Eric Cartman's poop swatches....

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Mar 22, 2017

Lol - just slow agony by colors over time

Mar 23, 2017

Not a slide per se but the best comment I ever got was a markup that at the end said, "Make all these pages and then delete the slide."

The point was the MD wanted to slim down the book and have the redone slide ready to go in case we needed it in the future. Needless to say, we deleted it without making the changes and never saw the slide again.

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Best Response
Mar 23, 2017

I was an analyst at a boutique with no graphics department so we had to do all of the brutal "dots on a map" charts from scratch.

One day we were putting together a book for a publicly-traded industrial distribution company with 100+ distribution centers around the country and our MD wanted to show a standard slide with dots on a map to show the locations of all their DCs. I swing onto their website and find that the only way to find the locations of their DCs is to input zip codes on their website - their website then shows all of the DCs within a 50 mile radius of that zip code. I spent hours putting in random zip codes from state to state until I was pretty sure I had canvassed the whole country and captured them all.

In the meeting with the client, we flip to that page, their CEO stares at it for 10 seconds, points to the page and says, "you're missing one in central Ohio".

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Mar 23, 2017

this is great.

Mar 24, 2017

Kidding or not, that is such a shitty thing to say as a CEO

Mar 24, 2017

I recently left banking and have finally recovered from the PTSD to start reading this site again. Classic, bless your soul for not yelling "WHO GIVES A F&%#K?!!"

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Mar 27, 2017

Piggy backing on your comment for a similar experience. When I was an SA we were working on an O&G deal and had to put a dot on the map in various shale regions representing ALL companies operating there and their rig locations. So each company had a different "dot" - some had triangles, squares, rectangles etc. Needless to say I am now very good at Texas and Oklahoma geography.

Dec 2, 2019

Massive waste of time. Might have been a resourceful thing to just ask the client for the location addresses in the needs list.

Dec 3, 2019

Finished an entire CIM for an IT outsourcing company and we showed it to the client who then remarked "Oh, we've changed our colors, website and presentation theme" ...spent the better part of a day recoloring shapes and slide backgrounds in ppt. Junior level banking is a glorious profession

Who decides to change their corporate look in the middle of a fucking M&A process

I hit the ball as hard as I can. If I can find it, I hit it again - John Daly

Mar 23, 2017

These are great. Keep em coming.

Mine: Pre-banking, I was responsible for developing a budget for our company for the next 5 years (anyone who's ever done this knows these types of company budgets are completely blown up and revised every 6 months). Any way, most of my data on expenditures is gathered from our subject matter experts. However, there are certain, smaller expenditures that you knew would be incurred as projects moved forward, but had little certainty on when (never mind that you didn't know the schedule on which the project itself would move forward). Keep in mind these were fairly small expenditures - nothing larger than $200K, sometimes as small as $20K, in the context of $15-20M in annual spending.

Also I was sh1t at Excel, so every time I pasted my excel budget into PPT, it look several minutes of PPT formatting to get it to look right. When I discovered my bank had a ribbon function for paste enhanced meta file, I was floored.

Anyway, I fire off a first draft, get called in. "Why are we spending 50K in 3Q12?" This is 3.5 years away. I go back to excel - I have us funding a new study in that quarter. "You idiot. We'd never fund that until 2Q13. Redo it". Repeat this not less than 10 times, with the always-classic 'thing that has survived 5 turns now being called completely unacceptable'. Even though most summary numbers double digit millions, he had it formatted down to the thousands, and was drilling into the 4th/5th digit. Probably 2 days of my life being berated over forecasts no one had any certainty on.

The slide was open the meeting for maybe 15 seconds. Board members looked at the bottom line for the next 2 years, said "yup that seems reasonable" and moved on.

Lesson for everyone: Unless you work for NASA, no one (not even decision makers) needs more than 3 significant digits.

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Mar 23, 2017

False precision = my fav.

Mar 23, 2017

lmao, great post.

i don't do a ton of PPT work now but we've had portfolio companies past excel into PPT and half of a graph is cut off. gotta love this one - had a board meeting a few days ago, deck didn't have page numbers. i'd say this is the associate's fault (me) but when i previewed the final PPT, it had page numbers. LOL

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Mar 24, 2017

Great post.

I always hated Powerpoint, not as a program, but for what it did to me as a person. I went from being a "cut through the BS" guy to a person who would spent so much effort antagonizing over whether a slide would look better with a slightly different shade or a rounded rectangle instead of a normal rectangle. When books shifted from word docs to Powerpoint, it seems that more time was spent on design than on content.

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Mar 24, 2017

1) My company insists on using a black background powerpoint template and at every meeting, they ask us to bring copies of the slides for everyone. The amount of money we waste in ink is unreal.

2) One of the directors is big on being "directionally correct, not 100% accurate" so every single slide I've ever seen his team produce has no data labels, no axis labels, nothing to indicate what we are looking at other than a chart title and how the bars or lines are "directionally" moving. He then will spend 10 mins on each chart explaining WTF we are looking at and telling the numbers for each bar. Watching the teams sit there with pens writing all of the numbers/labels on the printed slides as he talks is pretty funny but also a huge PITA if you are the one tasked with it.

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Mar 24, 2017

This is hilarious. Always good being directionally correct

Mar 24, 2017

This sounds like a business communications class I took last semester. Our teacher was a strong believer in the "directionally correct" and hated axis labels and chart titles. Also, if there are more than 10 words on any given slide, we would get an automatic 0. What made it frustrating was that we were assigned to do a business plan presentation and part of it was the revenue and expense forecast. However, because he hated tables, we couldn't even put a simple table from yrs 1-5 on the slide. Instead, we had a line chart without any axis or chart title, and we were expected to "talk" about it to the audience for five mins. It drove me nuts!

This teacher was focusing on "zen" in the presentations, and I think the director you talk about probably read the same book; might work for marketing, but not for finance.

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Mar 28, 2017

How do you even take notes on slides with a black background? Trying to cram everything into the .5in margin is the most brutal part of that

Aug 8, 2018

At that point why not just buy black paper?

Mar 24, 2017

I don't know what is worse: this or getting conflicting feedback from different partners on the same slide

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Mar 25, 2017

When I get a situation like this I have a very simple priority list:

1) The partner who'll remember the markup he made
2) The partner I have more interest in pleasing
3) The change I think is best

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Mar 28, 2017

This - managing the conflicting needs of diva partners / MD's is all about figuring out which path will lead you to a higher bonus at the end of the year.

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Mar 26, 2017

When I was an intern, I had to help put a book together for a bake-off to win a sell-side mandate for an airplane repair company that was trying to sell itself.

The book included profiles of all the big players in the space who could be potential buyers. For Each profile, I had to make world map with labels and little red circles for each location where the company had a repair shop. This sub-segment within A&D was a relatively new coverage area for the bank so there was virtually no materials off the shelf, so making all these profiles from scratch was shitty, but definitely not the worst part.

One of those repair companies is a subsidiary of a major airline and has at least 1 repair shop in every city in the world that that airline operates in (i.e. over 250 dots and labels). My first attempt took more than 6 hours. VP gave me two comments: (1) :Learn how to read a map because your Des Moines, Iowa dot/ label is closer to Iowa City, Iowa than Des Moines" ( two cities that are ~100 miles apart within the context of a fucking world map btw), and (2) "why don't you go through the book, and replace all those little red circles with slightly smaller blue squares" - something which I only knew how to do manually as a 3rd week summer intern. Took me another 4 hours.

End of the day, the profile for the major airline subsidiary was cut from the deck because they decided it wasn't a potential buyer and we also lost the mandate to another bank.

Mar 26, 2017

Future Interns:

Pay attention. Helping out on a shitty sellside bake-off pitch is the CLASSIC intern experience - although usually not with maps that terrible.

Mar 26, 2017

When I was an intern, I had to help put a book together for a bake-off to win a sell-side mandate for an airplane repair company that was trying to sell itself.

The book included profiles of all the big players in the space who could be potential buyers. For Each profile, I had to make world map with labels and little red circles for each location where the company had a repair shop. This sub-segment within A&D was a relatively new coverage area for the bank so there was virtually no materials off the shelf, so making all these profiles from scratch was shitty, but definitely not the worst part.

One of those repair companies is a subsidiary of a major airline and has at least 1 repair shop in every city in the world that that airline operates in (i.e. over 250 dots and labels). My first attempt took more than 6 hours. VP gave me two comments: (1) :Learn how to read a map because your Des Moines, Iowa dot/ label is closer to Iowa City, Iowa than Des Moines" ( two cities that are ~100 miles apart within the context of a fucking world map btw), and (2) "why don't you go through the book, and replace all those little red circles with slightly smaller blue squares" - something which I only knew how to do manually as a 3rd week summer intern. Took me another 4 hours.

End of the day, the profile for the major airline subsidiary was cut from the deck because they decided it wasn't a potential buyer and we also lost the mandate to another bank.

Making maps is by far my least favorite formatting-related part of the job.

Mar 26, 2017

My personal favourite was when I gave email comments to an analyst (while flying London to Singapore) which included: [add their market cap here, and where they sit in the FTSE 100].

When I land, go to meetings all day, blah blah blah, get back to the airport to see the version of the book the analyst has turned, includes, verbatim: [add their market cap here, and where they sit in the FTSE 100]. So clearly the analyst copy and pasted the text from my email, never looked, and printed for the MD. Just gross, fucking gross.

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Mar 28, 2017

We had this intern who pasted the excel output in the powerpoint sideways / flipped 90 degree. never seen a funnier finsum page

Apr 1, 2017

Some that come to mind;

  • A Partner in consulting that loves adding Apple iPhone like graphics to ppts. For example, the compass from Safari on anything geographical, the red circles with numbers in them when you have unread mail/push notifications/etc. to indicate steps in a process, and--my favorite--the Settings logo (gears) on any slide that had calculations.
  • An Analyst that embedded a pivot and a sensitivity table inside a ppt slide, then the whole model embedded as an icon in another. Tried sending a ppt that was north of 20mbs. Thankfully our email server stopped him

Not necessarily bad slides, but they were a ton of work;

  • A VP that asked for a Gantt chart at the top of every slide through a sell-side deck to show a potential client what the lifecycle would look like. We suggested a roadmap summary and then a slide with a detailed Gantt from MS Project or equivalent. Nope; each new slide had to fill the Gantt bit-by-bit as the deal progressed with milestones called out, holidays circled, and potential 'waste day's as he called it (think Monday after the Super Bowl). So we filled it out and during the pitch when the client saw it he goes, 'why can't this just be a summary with critical dates?' and then our MD shot daggers at us for the rest of the meeting. Good fucking times.
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Dec 30, 2017
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