What is it like to be an investment banking analyst?

Alot of misconceptions exist regarding the life of an investment banker, from the day-to-day to overall lifestyle, relationships, and personalities. We decided to break down how things actually are for an Investment Banking Analyst.

Day-to-day

Let me give you an example of what kind of deliverables you may have at any given time,

Commands come from various Managing Directors along the lines of : “I need xyz pitch deck in a week”, “we need to update that merger model by tomorrow morning”, “can you summarize the notes from that 6 hour diligence call and send it out to the rest of the deal team tonight”.

So let's start with just the pitch deck due in one week from the above scenario. The MD will tell you and the rest of the team what he/she wants to see in the deck. You start working on it and then your work gets pushed up to the associate, who wants to see a draft of the deck before the end of the day. He then checks it and sends it back down. It then moves up to the VP and then it is sent back down to you, and the associate checks it again and then it goes to the VP again. Eventually it gets up to the MD (usually a couple days before the one week deadline is up), by which time you hope it's perfect but only to learn that the MD wants to scratch a 1/4 of the deck and do something different. The whole process of going up each wrung starts over again. As you can see because of the redundancies there is a significant amount of time that goes into checking and redoing, and as you wait for each person to check the work, you must know they will do it on their own time. Even if you finish your first draft of it by 3 pm for your associate, no one might send you comments till 7 pm.

Now add on the other two projects mentioned above (working on 3 projects at any given time is actually quite light in terms of workload), imagine the same up and downs of the work chain (more or less), and you can start to see the picture of how a day that should end at 5 pm ends up running till 2 am.

Non-work Related: Social & Lifestyle

Alot of people think investment banking is this sexy world of making lots of money at a young age, becoming an expert at understanding stocks, living lifestyles that include fancy cars, and bottle service at the hottest clubs…

This is all wrong.

Investment banking is long hours of un-rewarded hard work. You miss out on precious and important opportunities to spend time with your friends, family, and loved ones. People either think your bad-ass or think your a selfish a-hole based simply on your title. You make lot’s of money you have no time to spend. While living in beautiful cities you never get to see. ex. living in Manhattan for 3 months and only seeing Central Park while you ride in a cab to go drop off a pitch-book at an MD’s house.

Invisible Side-Effects

Investment bankers are typically type-A go-getters from the start, but investment banking fine-tunes there skills. You’ll meet some of the best young minds, who think about problems in a completely different way from the average person, and you yourself will refine your own skills.

  • You learn to stop procrastinating. No task on the job or off the job is worth putting off when alittle time now will put it to bed.
  • Picking up on things quickly. Investment bankers learn fast. They voraciously consume knowledge because it is a requirement for the profession, the ability to become an expert in something overnight.
  • Entitlement. This is something that is unfortunate but very common. When you work such long hours on multi-million dollar transactions you start to believe that your time is worth more than other peoples. The kid who is lolly-gagging on the metro while you rush into the office becomes your worst enemy because his time isn’t worth as much as yours, why is he wasting it…

Long-term Professional Effects

Investment bankers typically become friends with other investment bankers because who else understands what your life is like than someone who has walked a mile in your shoes.

Many of these connections they make will move on to private equity or hedge fund jobs, or corporate finance roles at Fortune 500 companies and unicorn startups…next time you see a job for corporate development at Google read the minimum requirements, it will read something like; “2 years of Technology Investment Banking or MBA from top university”… you’ll find alot of high finance roles in the buyside and corporate world are reserved for former investment bankers.

Conclusion

Long story short, banking is alot of hard work that helps you refine skills that will help you in all aspects of your life, however the cost is something that you need to think long and hard about, and not take for granted.