"Hardos"

“Hardo” is the term used to describe students that go hard to break into banking. They are the students that by second semester freshmen year (give or take a semester) know they want to go into banking, they know everything there is about how to walk the walk and talk the talk. They know their technical questions inside and out, they are extremely polished with their answer’s to why IB?, their resumes look impeccable (including freshmen year hedge fund internship at family friend’s fund in Greenwich), they discuss recent deals like they actually understand what deal rationale is, and they’ve networked with every banker you know.

“Scrub” is used to describe the complete opposite of a hardo. Someone who has no understanding of banking and it’s culture. Often times, signs of a scrub are having no idea what technical questions are, has never networked with a banker before, posts on Linkedin when they get a an internship offer, has a very low GPA (sub-3.3, as yes, there are still phenomenal candidates in the 3.3-3.8 pool, although elite boutiques and bulge brackets aren’t really paying attention to them anymore), has no relevant finance internship experience, resumes are mis-formatted, and the list goes on.

Essentially, the big differentiation is that hardos are typically the ideal banking candidates on paper* (checking all of the boxes), and they already have a relative understanding of the culture, while scrubs are considered bad candidates both on paper, and for behavioral reasons.

Hardos, although it would seem would make for shoe-ins, today, it can be either a compliment or a negative. Hardos were typically considered good candidates for banking because they took the time to understand the job and its people, and work very hard to get there. It took some of the guess work out of the equation when considering hardos because they had done a lot of the work tailoring themselves to fit in ahead of time, working hard in and outside of school, and wanting deeply to be great at the jobs... However, today being hard can also mean that you are too cookie cutter, have a bad attitude, or are a psycho because all you do is live and breathe for finance.

Junior bankers often times don’t want to be in banking for life, so when they see students that have no relative interests other than finance, it is a red flag of someone you would not want to work next to, at the desk. Additionally, because of the influx of Instagram and Snapchat accounts that propagate and mock the worst parts of banking culture, students are clinging onto and making this culture their gospel. Most junior bankers don’t smoke juuls, use the terms “deal sled” to describe their loafers, go to the Hamptons every weekend, or use MD speak in normal conversation. It’s not uncommon to see hardo college students speak to each other using language like “circle-back,” or to see college upperclassmen have attitudes as though they were MDs; these are the very kids who are the most desperate for prestigious jobs and treat bankers as the pinnacle of human society - they can be seen treating their peers with MD like attitudes and with attitudes of entitlement that most bankers absolutely despise. The very things that most bankers hate about banking culture can be caught influencing the next generation of would-be bankers in the most negative ways.

A friend of mine, who works at an elite boutique, sent me a screen shot of a text he received from a college student I had introduced him to, and whom he had spoken to once. The text was wishing him a “Happy Thanksgiving.” Moves made by college students that are not genuine but clearly made to endear themselves to bankers are easily spotted. This also wasn’t the first time anyone had sent me screenshots of a would-be banker doing things that junior bankers loathe - everyone talks and being a hardo or a scrub sends signals across the street.

Many bankers involved in recruitment note that nothing replaces being considerate, genuine, and working hard. That candidates that are over-polished with their emails and in conversations are beginning to be ruled out because hardos have taken things too far and sometimes are being simply referred to as too insane, psychos, or having bad attitudes. Diversity in interests is desired and the elevator test is still king - today’s hardos just aren’t the kind of people most bankers want to sit next to at the desk.

The High Finance Guide to LinkedIn [don’ts]

Linkedin can be a great resource for anyone looking to break into high finance, but recently many have been made it into a Facebook for the back-office bound.

Here is a list of the 7 most common mistakes as assessed by our team and contacts across street:

Posts about your “great experience” at an internship or Signing an offer

Now that summer internships are wrapping up many college students are posting about what a great experience they had at their internships, and the value they were able to add…here’s the truth, as an intern you did not add any value. You might have helped ease the burden of tasks but in terms of actual value creation, no matter what you created or worked on, it was not a value-add and more importantly, no one in high finance thinks you did. Posting about how you are #blessed to have had the opportunity to intern at Morgan Stanley is more impressive to those outside of banking, than to those in it. Your work experience listing and headline are enough and do not require a post to supplement.

Posts about signing an offer are equally as bad for many of the same reasons as above. Bankers often ding kids who have posted about getting and signing offers.

Listing school clubs as work experience

If you are in your junior year internship this can be dropped from your work experience. It’s tolerable to keep your role as Portfolio Manager for XYZ Student Managed fund while you still don’t have actual industry experience. If you’re a rising senior or later in your career drop this from the work experience section to the club and activities section of your school.

Writing a Bio | Using Buzzwords in your Headline

No one cares how you would like to blend your poly-sci major with your passion for finance. Bio's are useless and lead to more laughs and jokes because of how unnatural and awkward they sound, than actually helping you stand out. You know how cover letter’s and purpose lines on resumes are useless in banking – your bio is the same as that.

On that note stay away from listing buzzwords in your headline - be direct about what role you are in or if you are a student. No “Investment Banker | Problem Solver | Thought Leader” style sensationalism - it just adds to more laughs at your expense.

Using InMail instead of email

Here’s a rookie mistake in networking. If you want to reach anyone in banking, email them on their work email. Don’t InMail. InMail is for sketchy salespeople and people you already know or don’t need an immediate response from. LinkedIn should be used to determine whether an alumnus works at a specific bank so that you can then go and find the email convention (WSO has a great compilation of these) and send a message straight to their work email.

Listing participation honors on your profile

Listing participation in conferences as a Forbes 30 under 30 “Scholar” or going to GAME conference as an honor or award is the equivalent of telling everyone about your participation trophy from intramural soccer. If you absolutely want to keep them on your profile, most definitely do not write a post about them or add them to your headline - include in extracurriculars and activities.

Writing a post about a lateral move

Unless you are a part of the founding team of a new startup, there is absolutely no reason to write a post about moving from one shop to another. When you change your current work experience, LinkedIn will automatically share the update.

“Incoming Investment banking summer analyst”

NEVER make your headline “Incoming Investment Banking Summer Analyst.” This is easily the biggest peeve of junior bankers. You’re not an incoming investment banker, but an intern. The only reason anyone does this is to flex on their peers - while the junior bankers across street will have had a laugh at your expense. If you need it for networking purposes, as previously mentioned, network via email and use the subject line and body of email to explain where you are going for the summer.

If you are an incoming banker, this too is typically unnecessary, you can update your headline once you start at the desk, but it’s much more acceptable here...if you absolutely must do it. A good way to think of it, is that people who are secure in their self worth don’t need to flex on their peers.


Essentially, a lot of this speaks to the idea that LinkedIn is to be used sparingly and not as a professional Facebook. Use it to compile contacts and to provide an up-to-date virtual copy of your resume, not to open yourself up to critique, or to look amateurish and out of depth. Why is it some hedge fund founders’ profiles look like a child put them together using a blackberry? Because they don’t care what anyone knows about them – they’re too busy working. Obviously don't make your profile that unprofessional, you aren't at the point where you can completely give zero hoots, but you can at least limit your exposure to criticism and mockery. Limit sharing posts to monumental achievements, and yet again that is not your internship at Morgan Stanley. Less is more.

Disclaimer: these notes are regarding usage of LinkedIn for the purpose of breaking into banking. If you are interested in the back-office or are not in the industry, please feel free to break all the above rules. Notes are also regarding high finance in the U.S. – these rules may not apply to other cultures and locations. Finally, the harshness of the tone is meant for equal parts comical relief and gravity. These are most definitely, things that are not kosher for banking but don’t beat yourself up if you have done any of them, just reverse course and correct!

Elite Boutique, Bulge Bracket, Middle Market...what does it all mean?

As sophomores (or anyone interested in Investment Banking) look into various banks they will surely come across terms like bulge bracket and elite boutique. Most outside of the field have no clue how to parse through the various categories of banks and what makes them different. We have created a comprehensive guide on differentiating between categories and finding out which is the best fit for you.

Origins

The term bulge bracket comes from the fact that on deal prospectuses the leading investment banks would have their names printed largest on the covers - almost as though they were bulging off the pages.

The banks that were most often bulging off the pages came to be called Bulge Bracket banks. They were the top banks to work at because they were the ones who got active, leading roles on deals - more leading deal roles, more fees, more prestige. This designation has shifted a bit today.

Differentiators

When differentiating the different investment bank categories there are a few factors that are important to keep in mind:

  • Deal Flow - as previously mentioned Bulge Brackets were historically considered the most prestigious and best banks to work for because they had the best deal flow. Bankers would get the most experience, most fees (translates to highest bonuses) and most prestige. Deal flow is an important factor that most junior bankers need to consider when recruiting.
  • Exit Ops - typically the exit opportunities for junior bankers were private equity and the buyside. As the landscape has shifted over the years and grown more competitive, understanding which banks lead to the top exit opportunities is a huge factor in planning career trajectory.
  • Compensation - the banks with the most deal flow and lean deal teams typically pay out the highest compensation. Street wide compensation doesn't usually differ much between categories unless you focus on the top elite boutiques. Compensation just comes with the higher level of work in that scenario.
  • Culture - junior investment bankers notoriously work long and hard hours, but it doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be in a toxic environment. Banks are focusing more and more heavily on creating better cultures to attract the best talent. 
  • Prestige - banks with the strongest mega-deal flow are typically considered the most prestigious. This is a factor that is important to many junior bankers, but it is a person to person consideration.
  • Work / Life Balance - many times when focusing building out their long-term career paths junior bankers focus heavily on deal flow, exit opps, culture, but neglect to think of work/life balance as it is almost impossible to have one when working in traditional investment banking roles. However, for those who take this factor very seriously, there are options that exist however they compromise on other factors,

Bulge, Boutique, Middle Market, Regional...etc.

Typically the banks most talked about are Bulge Bracket - the Goldman Sach, JP Morgans, etc.- however the other categories of banks are important to look at based on individual differentiators. Something that is commonly is misrepresented is that Bulge Brackets are still the most prestigious to work for, when in reality it is elite boutiques. A deeper dive:

Elite Boutique

  • Deal Flow - predominantly M&A focused banks with smaller headcounts and the best deal flow. This translates to less meaningless work (endless pitch books) for junior banks and considerably more deal flow.
  • Exit Ops - the best exit opportunities. Megafund buy-side opportunities come to bankers at elite boutiques more easily than at any other tier
  • Compensation - exceedingly the highest compensation on street. All-in first-year compensation is on average 20% higher than rest of street
  • Culture - leaner headcounts and higher focus on creating a better top down environment for junior bankers - junior bankers can also be very competitive
  • Prestige - highest of all categories
  • Work / Life Balance - nonexistent

Who is this right for? - anyone looking to have the most deal flow, loves finance, doesn't mind working as hard as possible, and wants the most prestigious exit opportunities. For those who don't feel comfortable when others aren't hustling as hard as them, as well as for those that understand that they want to be at the top wrung of high finance.

Bulge Bracket

  • Deal Flow - predominantly full-service banks with balance sheets that handle M&A, Equity Offerings, and Debt. Bulge brackets want to win every single deal, both the mega deals that elite boutiques chase and the smaller deals lower middle markets will attack - this means junior bankers will have a healthy mix of deals and meaningless work. Overall strong deal flow.
  • Exit Ops - great exit opportunities for the top producing groups at specific banks (target groups) and significantly less opportunities for non-target groups at Megafunds. Strong opportunities for middle market PE
  • Compensation - uniform with street
  • Culture - overall bank wide efforts to create better culture make a difference but the culture is difference bank to bank, and group to group. Sometimes you can be just a number because bulge brackets can have large deal teams and larger headcounts in groups, while in others you can be actively engaged with senior bankers and have strong culture...
  • Prestige - 2nd to Elite Boutiques - greater name recognition outside of high finance.
  • Work / Life Balance - nonexistent when staffed on active deals, but usually have 1-day a week off during slow periods

Who is this right for? - anyone looking to have strong deal flow, a great learning and training experience, and enjoys having name recognition for where they work.

Upper Middle Market & MM Boutiques

  • Deal Flow - mix of full-service banks with balance sheets that handle M&A, Equity Offerings, and Debt, and M&A focused boutiques that work on middle market sized deals. Overall deal flow is strong but focused on smaller deal sizes.
  • Exit Ops - opportunities for middle market PE
  • Compensation - uniform with street (MM boutiques may pay slightly above)
  • Culture - leaner deal teams and overall bank wide efforts to create better culture make a difference, but the culture is different bank to bank, and group to group.
  • Prestige - MM Boutiques are as prestigious as a bulge in many instances however the name recognition outside of high finance doesn't exist. For other upper middle market banks the prestige doesn't come from the bank name
  • Work / Life Balance - nonexistent when staffed on active deals, but usually have 1-day a week off, and can have long slow periods with great hours (< 80hrs / week)...MM Boutiques may work as much as elite boutiques with no work / life balance

Who is this right for? - anyone looking to be an investment banker, and have a great learning and training experience, wants a slightly better work / life balance, but doesn't care as much about the prestige or closing big mega deals...MM boutiques will have stronger deal flow, but not the work / life balance

Lower Middle Market

  • Deal Flow - full-service banks with balance sheets that handle M&A, Equity Offerings, and Debt. Overall deal flow is not as strong because they compete with both other MM and BB banks. Can expect to spend at least 10% more time on meaningless work than at a bulge, either pitching for work or on deals in passive roles (bank collects a fee for being on a deal but the bankers don't actually add any value in terms of advisory)
  • Exit Ops - opportunities for middle market PE
  • Compensation - uniform with street
  • Culture - leaner deal teams and overall bank wide efforts to create better culture make a difference, but the culture is difference bank to bank, and group to group.
  • Prestige - not really prestigious in terms of the bank names
  • Work / Life Balance - nonexistent when staffed on active deals, but usually have 1-day a week off during slow periods and can have long slow periods with great hours <80

Who is this right for? - anyone looking to be an investment banker, and have a great learning and training experience, wants a slightly better work/life balance, but doesn't care about the prestige or closing big mega deals

Regional Banks & "Banking Lite"

  • Deal Flow - full-service regional banks with balance sheets that handle smaller regional M&A deals, and specialized Equity and Debt Offerings. Overall deal flow is not comparable to EB, BB, or MM in terms of deal type.
  • Exit Ops - opportunities for regional PE (usually involves a pay cut)
  • Compensation - uniform with street or sometimes 10-15% below street
  • Culture - leaner deal teams and overall bank wide efforts to create better culture make a difference, but the culture is difference bank to bank, and group to group.
  • Prestige - not really prestigious in terms of the bank names or title
  • Work / Life Balance - great. 70 hour weeks are average with occasional weekend work

Who is this right for? - the person who wants to earn twice as much as the other finance graduates and similar to street with a great work / life balance, but doesn't care as much about doing traditional investment banking work


Networking as a Second Semester Sophomore

As junior year internships are the foundation to securing full-time investment banking roles, to prep for the internship recruiting cycle, sophomores need to begin preparing and networking earlier and earlier. Second semester sophomore year is a good time to begin cultivating and building networks ahead of the junior year fall recruiting cycle, which has actually been accelerated at many investment banks to begin NOW and have superdays as early as this April (read the article we are quoted in, on the new recruiting cycle here). We have received lot’s of questions of how to approach the networking at this stage and have curated the best here as a supplement to our Networking Guide

Q1: How do you suggest approaching Investment Bankers, if I don’t have previous industry experience? 

A1: Ask for an informational interview, say that you are interested in investment banking because of x club you are in (or any other reasons why IB is a genuine career path you want to pursue) and would like to ask if they could squeeze 30 minutes out to talk about their experiences…the key is to show that you have validated your interest in some way, and are now looking for more information.

Q2: What are some of the tips you would give to best prepare for Informational Interviews?

A2: Know the basics of banking. The purpose of the call is to expand on your knowledge not to start from scratch. What does an investment banker do, what the roles of various positions are, etc. Prepare questions that are focused on the banker’s own recruitment process and current experience. Ask what it's like working on a deal versus being staffed on pitch books and marketing materials. What are big standouts about xyz bank, what makes it special?

Q3: How would you suggest finding where in Investment Banking I want to work in? 

A3: Explore and conduct informational interviews with bankers across product and coverage areas. This will also help make your pitch for an info call much more precise as well. Saying hello I’m very interested in investment banking because xyz (experience in IB club, time spent shadowing a relative in IB, books read on the topic) and would love to learn more about the M&A space when networking with an M&A banker is a much better pitch than, just wanting to learn about banking. The more targeted you can be the better. This will also help you understand the nuances of the spaces. Additionally, if you already are involved in a student-managed fund maybe a sector you have explored there can be a good guidepost. This doesn't need to be the answer for what sector you end up in for the rest of your career because you can't know, or plan that out at this stage.

Q4: How would you go about reaching out to a senior level individual (VP or an MD) at the investment bank? 

A4: Same avenues you would use when approaching an analyst - friends, family, alumni base, or you can go completely cold but do your research into what about that MD’s role is of interest to you - this is the same kind of diligence we mentioned in a previous question (you can find a break down of how IB roles are staggered here). Do they have extensive exp in a specific coverage area you are interested in and would love to connect? Do not be creepy with this and list out a person’s work history, just briefly mention that you saw they worked in FIG and you want to learn about FIG. … Linkedin requests will typically go unaccepted by senior level staff so learning a bank's email convention and shooting a direct email is the best way to get on their radars. As with any form of networking, remaining humble and persistent will go a long way.

Q5: What types of questions would be appropriate to ask a VP or an MD? 

A5: What their rationale was in breaking into IB? What they wished they knew when they were in early stages of banking? Why they stayed on when there is typically a lot of turnover? How they make decisions on which banks to work at? What they feel are the qualities that make their best analysts? 

Q6: What are some of the resources I can utilize to learn more about deals that the bank has done, and get insight into those?

A6: Dealbook usually puts out recent deals with language that isn’t very technical, and you can use that to keep abreast of new stuff. If you find a deal that looks interesting then look into SEC docs like 10-ks and S-1s and merger prospectuses to see what role the bank played and more about the deal rationale.

Q7: How do you go about politely making the “ask” after the end of an informational interview? 

A7: The ask at this stage should be if they would be willing to stay in touch, maybe review a resume or give advice as you go through your process or connect with you with someone else in their group to learn more. After a second of third interaction (email or other) it is ok to ask for advice on approaching the recruiting process at their bank. This is different from asking for an interview and is more about how to look at things. If you were recruiting after your summer internship this would be very different and you would go for the ask in your first interaction, and usually if your first call went well enough they will proactively ask you to get involved in their process. However, as a sophomore, do not push the subject in your first call unless the banker does.


The Golden Handcuffs

Why do people get stuck in their jobs? Why do bankers go from IB to private equity? Why does the person who dreams of running a bakery do high finance at all? The simple answer to all of these questions is the Golden Handcuffs

What motivates you?

I was asked this question 4 years ago when I was interviewing for a role in one of the top groups in IB globally at the time. The MD sitting across from me had asked all of the typical interview questions you’d find on a number of resources online (as well as here) and finally looked at me and asked, “what motivates you?”...

This wasn’t a question I had prepped for and was caught just alittle bit off guard. I thought for a second and said that I was a person that was committed and passionate about anything that I got involved in. That my passion motivated me. Not competition, not money and not anything else, my passion. I was going to give an example when she cut me off and said, “well, what if you aren’t passionate about something? What if you aren’t interested in what you’re working on, or your interests change?”

My immediate response was that I was passionate about the group I was interviewing with. That I had gone out of my way to understand everything about the sector because it really interested me, but then again she said “yes, so you are interested in this sector, but what if you are working on something that isn’t in this coverage space.”

I was starting to sense that I wasn't giving the answer she wanted to hear and I also didn't know what else to say because I was being honest. I said that once I commit to something I put my head down and just do it, even if I’m not interested in it. As I was about to give an example, she didn’t seem to have found that response to her liking and instead of listening, sat back and asked me if I had any questions for her - effectively wrapping things up.

I left that interview thinking that the question had been about accountability and reliability, and thought I had covered those topics as best that I could by trying to discuss commitment.

Now that I’m no longer in investment banking and have spent the past year starting my own sparkling wine cocktail brand, I suddenly understand what the question really was about. 

Passion is a fickle mistress

I get so many people who tell me how great it is that I’m doing something I love, now that I work for myself. How it must be so much easier to put in the 80-100 hr weeks now than it was as a banker...

They are wrong.

...having been both an investment banker and now an operator I found that motivation isn’t something that you can't leave up to passion or interest or something you love. In entrepreneurship, like in banking, there are days when I ask myself, why I am I working these 80 hr weeks? Sometimes, why subject myself to the unknowns of entrepreneurship instead of the job security, trajectory and paycheck of IB? There are days I hate what I’m doing and I completely lack any interest in my work. There are days when everything goes horribly wrong and there is no one senior to me to ask how to fix it. Does my passion keep me from being overwhelmed? I have to ask myself is the time commitment worth not doing as much socially? Does commitment to my goals solve the issue in these circumstances? Does the love for what I'm doing make things easier?

No.

e.g. I actually loved being in investment banking, too. It was a career that was by all regards just what I wanted. However, when I was working at the desk, there was a period when I was having problems in my personal life, my health and I was distracted. I wasn’t motivated to be at work. I forced myself to go in because I had committed to it, but that passion had disappeared and I was focused on the other aspects of life and I honestly didn't give 100% for those last few weeks.

Over the past year, I was forced into the same motivational dilemma again, but this time I had to find another way to respond. I was dealing with health issues and laying in a hospital bed, a few weeks after leaving banking. I decided to start working towards getting my business off the ground at that inflection point. At first, I had the drive that this is my passion, it's going to get me through anything. However, as I spent the next 6 months laying in that hospital bed for about 20-22 hrs a day, and the next 6 after that trying to adjust to the new normals of my life and getting slowly readjusted to society from the almost complete isolation, I learned that my passion for my business wasn't going to help me get it off the ground. I had so many other extreme situations that were so much more pressing, from health to personal life, that why should this business be even any sort of priority? I had no commitment to force me to work on it? Add all of the other questions I listed above, you'll see how there was no reason for me to pursue a new business let alone anything... So I reflected and remembered the MD that asked the question, "what motivates you?," 4 years ago. She was right in seeing that commitment, passion, or even being surrounded by individuals who will make me want to be my best wouldn't hold up in the more extreme situations (this is especially important, when for most, banking already is an extreme situation and burnout is common).

What I learned is that motivation when left up to anything outside of yourself, is a fickle mistress. If you need passion, which many think is the ultimate happiness and driver, you still will be lost. Passion is still an external driver, as is money, or needing those around you to push you. You’re asking an interest and circumstance to unlock your drive and help you get through tough situations. Motivation needs to be an active choice, right here right now, that “I will give 100% everyday, irregardless of what the task and what the circumstances”. It’s a choice of who you are, and not a situational application based on interest or external circumstance. Once I started applying that lesson to my life and creating the habits around it. Even the wildly devastating and heart breaking life situation I was in, wasn't as overwhelming anymore. I was able to choose to give 100% to not only my business but to everything else around me as well. I started actively choosing to be here, right now instead of applying partial attention to all of the things that drew my attention and motivation.

This brings me back to if you're dependent on something to drive you, it will inevitably make you feel overwhelmed. If even for a second your motivator is lost or not to your expectations, you'll lose any and all ability to respond to the situation and to give to it anymore. That's burnout...beat it by creating your own motivation.

What motivates you?

If you are looking to go into investment banking or entrepreneurship or any career, ask yourself what motivates you. Go deeper than the superficial topics of, "this is what i'm interested in", or "the people around me and competition", or "long-term job security" (let's be honest this means money). Maybe if you peel back a second layer you'll realize what motivates you is the idea that hopefully everything you are doing today will make you happy, and allow you to be who you want to be one day in the future. It's your pursuit of happyness.

Once you find that it's all about getting to something in the future you'll realize that you can make that choice today. If you aren’t giving 100% in things that don’t interest you today, you won’t be able to give your all, when you do have everything, but are faced with a tough situation. No amount of your passion or hope for a future will help you, you'll have to make a choice to get up and give your all. This isn't to say that slave away and revolve your all, around the things that make you miserable, or that you shouldn't chase your dreams - it's to understand that if you rely on something to drive how much you give, you are dependent on that circumstance to determine your level of involvement. You're still shackled, but now its to interest and passion, and burnout will still happen, albeit in other unexpected ways; usually when you're overwhelmed and it gets toughest to juggle your career, personal life, etc. That's when your motivation gets tested and that image of the future gets murky (and it inevitably will be tested). If you don't need something to drive you, but you drive yourself, that's freedom. That's motivation of your own choosing. That will give you sustainability to run through walls and respond to situations, to beat out the burnout and being overwhelmed, and be the best you want to be, whether it's in banking, or whatever else it is that you're passionate about...

Your one line take-away:

Marry your motivation to your passions; don't make your passions, your motivation.


Anish Patel founded ValuationUniversity.com when he was an undergrad and wanted to build a better, more candid resource for his peers who were breaking into banking. This post is a step away from our general advice to give you a firsthand account on an important aspect of banking, and career development - motivation. If you enjoyed today's post remember to like, comment, share and subscribe!

What questions should I ask my interviewer?

  • Why did you choose this group/bank when you were going through the recruitment process?
  • How much pitching vs execution work does this group do?
  • When on live deals what type of role does the group take, ex. do you only take book running roles, as leads or do you take passive and co-managing roles as well?
  • What is the mix of deal types (M&A vs Equity vs Debt)?
  • Do you do the modeling in house or is it farmed out to the product groups?

The above questions show the banker interveiwing you that you understand what it's like to be on the job and the burning desires of first year analysts. Many analysts complain about being at banks where all they do is pitch work and never get to work on deals, or that they don't get enough experience doing financial modeling. When looking for Private Equity jobs after banking two of the big things that PE shops are looking for is your deal experience and modeling expertise. 

How Do Bankers Put up with the Boring EXCEL Hours?

Question Originally answered on Quora:

WHERE DO INVESTMENT BANKERS (GOLDMAN SACHS ETC) FIND THE WILL TO DO THE INSANELY LONG AND BORING HOURS OF EXCEL AND POWERPOINT?

“Excel” and “boring” should NEVER be used in the same sentence!

This means you have never had the high of banging out a model or building a very simple yet elegant formula to derive some complex piece of information from a massive data set. I feel sorry for you my friend.

In terms of day-to-day banking…Banking isn't boring. Having multiple competing deadlines and senior bankers breathing down your neck, while you stress over whether you'll be able to make it to dinner with your girlfriend (who you haven't seen in weeks), and knowing that you’ve got an ulcer bleeding out your intestines*, is anything, but “boring”.

Having an interest in what sector you are covering, camaraderie with your co-workers in the bullpen, making over 100k straight out of university and an idea of where you want to be in the next couple years, all make the 80+ hrs lifestyle manageable…especially considering bankers are driven, and hardworking by nature and also know exactly what they are getting into when they sign-up.

*ulcers are not a regular part of the job


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