Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Valuation: more art than science, more bullshit than art

You’re manically tapping away at your keyboard, working on a valuation for Terence Chang, an MD in M&A from the New York office (alarm bells should be ringing when you hear MD, double hard when you hear M&A and off the scale when New York goes on top of that). You’re scared shitless coz everyone says that New York is the shit. They know everything and then some. They are ruthless, and they don’t give a flying fuck about the fact that you’re five hours ahead of them on this side of the pond. To make things worse, the fact that your old man is a Yank doesn’t earn you any brownie points there, unlike your English accent did with Rupert. So all you can do is tap away and give Changie the best fucking valuation he has seen in his life. No pressure!

Rob Tucker, an analyst 3 and well knows superstar of his class walks casually by your desk, stops in front of your screen, takes a quick peek and says:

“Modelling, eh? How’s it going?”

“I’m so stressed” you reply. “I’ve got to do like all the comps, precedent transactions and a full blown DCF analysis for this MD in New York M&A and then he wants me to use the valuation I get to figure out what is the lowest price his private equity client can pay and still get the deal. Shit, I’m fuckin’ stressed. I’m on my second redbull and damn. I can’t talk now. Gotta work man!”

“Chill little dude. When’s your deadline?”

“Like, tomorrow morning New York time! There is no way I can make it if I don’t work straight through the night and into tomorrow morning! Aaaargh!!!”

Rob motions for you to stand up, which you reluctantly but obediently do, and sits on your machine. He asks you to run to Starbucks and get him a black coffee and a packet of cigarettes and call him on his mobile when you’re standing outside the main entrance. Reluctantly, you go to Starbucks.

Having called Rob once in front of the entrance, you see him coming out. You give him the coffee as he motions for you to give his a cigarette. He lights up and begins walking casually. You follow, annoyed at the way this asshole is wasting your precious modelling time and making you buy him coffee and smokes, and then wastes your time while he has his coffee and smokes, when the clock is ticking on Changie’s valuation!

“Chill little dude. You’ll be fine, you’ll see.”

The smoke coming out of the corners of his mouth makes him look like a Chinese dragon as he says.

“We really shouldn’t be smoking this shit. If you knew the kind of crap they stuff into these smokes, you would never smoke again.”

Rob worked on a tobacco deal, and knew all there was to know about tobacco. He also took no shame in demonstrating this knowledge. Come to think of it, he took no shame in anything. You first got to know Rob as you were leaving the office at 3AM one morning, and a voice behind a mountain of smoke hollered.

“We don’t pay interns to sleep. It’s only thee buddy – whatever happened to face time?”

Your fellow intern buddy explained that that was Rob, the analyst he was staffed with, who let him go home early that night and offered to wrap up his share of the work. Wow! “What a nice guy – let me leave at 3!”.

Rob proceeds to give you advice on how to play office politics, with each sentence being interrupted by him saying hi to someone coming out of the building. How many people does this guy know!?!

You are torn between a sad admiration for how plugged in this kid is and the increasingly uncontrollable desire to strangle him for wasting your precious modelling time.

He finally puts out his cigarette and motions for you to follow him up.

Once you guys make it back upstairs, he sits back down on your machine, checks your email, where a you have an email from a dude in leveraged finance. You glance at the email traffic and here’s how it reads:

From: Cartwright, James (FIN)
To: Moncrieff, Michael (IBD)

Terry and Michael,

We've done the best we could at such short notice. I've had three of my guys running around like headless chickens trying to get this done, but the result is still a little rough and readfy. Still, it should be correct give or take US$5m. We think your sponsor should be able to raise US$150m for Bollocks Industries

Hope this is ok.


James Cartwright
Managing Director
Leveraged Finance
T: +44 20 7641 2791
F: +44 20 7641 2777

>>From: Moncrieff, Michael (IBD)
>>Sent: 31 October 2006 15:49
>>To: Cartwright, James (FIN)
>>Chang here. My analyst needs the debt capacity for Bollocks Industries for a meeting with a >>sponsor ASAP. I'm waiting on you by his machine. I expect a number in 15.
>>Terry Chang

The bastard emailed the co-head of LevFin pretending to be Terry Chang from YOUR MACHINE! Shit! You panic, wanting to beat the crap out of this arrogant shit sitting on your machine, only to realise that he’s just saved you six hours of benchmarking analysis that will anyhow be ripped to shreds in a day’s time. So what if his methods are a little unconventional, right? Shit! He can get you fired! Arrrrrgh! You don’t wanna be the dude that got fired before actually getting hired. As you continue freaking out, Rob looks back at you and calls.

“Your analysis is done little buddy. All you need to do is send this to graphics to make a few nice slides and pack your shit, coz we’re going for a few beers to celebrate.”

You look at Rob in amazement. He has finally gone mad! Pulling a prank on the LevFin co-head is one thing, but you still have midnight oil to burn on the rest of the valuation. As if he just read your thoughts, rob points to the screen and says.

“Don’t worry little buddy. It’s all done, and I’ve even made little comments for you in the spreadsheet, so you can freshen up on how we cheated Changy tomorrow morning. And now, it’s beer time.”

You take a quick look at the magic solution to your all-nighter problems that seems to have materialized on your screen, before you send it to graphics as instructed. Tomorrow morning, you’ll have the slides Changy wants way before he gets up in New York and you will rock.

You pick up your stuff and head to the pub with Rob. You begin to understand why he’s a superstar. Not because he is so much better than anyone else alive. Far from it, it’s just that he’s a tad less stupid than the rest of the crowd, and smart enough to have learnt that in i-banking, form beats substance. Every time.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Review time (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours)

You’ve been around for long enough to participate in the firm’s 360 degree review process. This is where people you have worked with get to review you, saying what you’re good at and what you need to improve on. The beauty of the game is that you also get to review them. HR thought up this sophisticated review system that should make sure that reviews are objective and that juniors are able to voice their opinions on the performance of their seniors. However, unlike the art of gift giving, in banking, it is not only the “thought that counts”. The 360 review process is really a large-scale exercise in the age old strategy of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

You have been asked to review Gianfranco, an associate you have been working with very extensively on a merger the past few weeks, who is also the most incompetent and lazy individual you have met in your life. You sit looking puzzled at the assessment form, scratching your head as to how you can come up with anything even remotely warranting a positive comment from your experience of working with Gianfranco.

“What are his key strengths (name five)? Note any areas for development:”

Key strengths? Like finding any strengths wasn’t enough of a challenge, you want me to find the key ones?!? Areas for development – p-leeeeease! You can list everything under the sun and then some and you wouldn’t even be close. Start from the fact that he cannot write (and to a large extent speak in) English if his life depended on it. He can’t do numbers (which can be a strength because he wouldn’t be able to spot a fuckup in your models ever), he dresses like a Sicilian mafioso and uses more cooking oil to slick back his greasy long hair that all the kebab shops in London do in a year. What more can you say than this individual simply sucks?!?

You look up to your screen, and hey presto, not even five minutes since HR has informed you that you and Gianfranco will be reviewing each other, you have an email from Gianfranco in your inbox.

“Ciao buddy. You wanna go an have a coffee? I buy, ok”

You reply saying sure and five minutes later, the two of you are sitting in Azzurro, the Italian cafĂ© round the corner with two espressos in front of you. After no more than the bare minimum needed to vaguely resemble a polite conversation opener from Gianfranco (not that he’s being rude on purpose, but the dumb shit can’t speak any damn English), he cuts to the chase.

“So, e, I ‘a see ‘a dat ‘a you an me are ‘a gonna’ do’a the 360 degree, no?”

For a moment, you aren’t sure if he’s referring to the 360 review process or trying to proposition you! Admittedly, the greasy hair, half unbuttoned shirt, and sleazy look he constantly has about him don’t help here, but you decide to give him the benefit of the doubt on the back of the fact that he is consistently sleazy (this decision being reached with a rather hefty amount of hope that you are right on this one).

“Yeah, so, eh, ‘a I ‘a explain ‘a ‘ow ‘a this ‘a thing ‘a work, ok?”

“You ‘a want an offer, no? Ok, so, I a’ ‘elp you and ‘a write ’a you a good review, ok. So, an ‘a you, ‘a you ‘a ‘elp ‘a me too, no?”

Before you have time to catch your breath at this highly inappropriate proposition, he pre-empts an answer.

“Ok. Super – duper, e’. Allora, now ‘a we ‘a enjoy ‘de espresso. No more ‘a talk ‘a da work.”

Back at your desk, you get back to work. In no less than half an hour, you complete Gianfranco’s review and submit the following to HR.

“What are his key strengths (name five)? Note any areas for development:”

Gianfranco is an excellent banker, and an individual I have learnt a great deal from over the past few weeks. I have had the pleasure to learn from him and observe how the work he does wins the respect and confidence of clients and senior bankers alike. He is diligent and knowledgeable in the fundamentals of valuation. He strives for perfection and is an excellent communicator. His ability to clearly and concisely make complicated points understood is unrivalled and I am certain that this characteristic will make his an even better banker in the future. Whilst an individual could always be said to have an opportunity to develop, it would be most unfair to point out any areas for development in Gianfranco’s case, as he exceeds the expects in every aspect of investment banking. In everything he does, he takes on the responsibility (and delivers the results) that would be expected for a banker at VP level or above. He is a truly exemplary individual and I am proud to have the pleasure to learn from and work with him.

I used to be a nice guy – and now I’m a banker

It’s the weekend, and by some stroke of luck, you have managed to get your Sunday afternoon free. Nobody’s called you and no emails popped up on your blackberry for a full three hours (you actually called IT and got them to make sure that everything was ok with the company server and that all that important email traffic from your associate wasn’t getting clogged up somewhere between his blackberry and yours only to find that everything was a-ok). You are a free man for the evening. After making a few calls to your intern buddies, only to find out that they are stuck at the office, you sit on your couch and stare at the TV. You switch to Bloomberg out of sheer guilt – even though your presence is obviously not required at the office, you can make productive use of your time by keeping up to speed with what’s going on in the markets. No luck here either. Bloomberg is doing a show on how traders spend their bonuses. Flash cars, helicopters and lots of blingedy-bling-bling-bling.

Shit. What are you going to do? You’ve been an intern for a week and you don’t know how to productively use all this spare time. After surfing channels in search of something to stimulate your financially minded braincells, you decide that the TV is not the solution. You decide that the best way to serve the greater i-banking good is to use this time to build your network. You dial a few numbers and get a group of fellow interns to meet for a few drinks at the Eclipse on Walton Street. The dude from Lemming Brothers actually had the nerve to suggest meeting at his (upmarket) corner pub instead – a suggestion which was quickly shot down as no self respecting i-banker can be seen in a pub! Your two other buddies from Moron Stanley beat you to the gun on that one, leaving no doubt that Eclipse was the place to be seen.

You have a shower, gel back your hair in true American Psycho style, put on a crisp starched Polo shirt, beige Polo chinos, brown Church’s laceups, and a light blue Polo jumper (with a perfectly colour co-ordinated soft green polo player) and you’re good to go. You strap your Swiss Army watch to your wrist and wipe the drool off your face as you imagine the way everyone’s jaws will drop when you replace it with your very own Patek Philippe. You are ready to go. You walk outside, hail a cab for the three and a half minute journey to Eclipse and walk in to find the banker boys at a cushy table and a drink waiting for you.

There’s the Moron Stanley IB boys, the Italian from Lemming Brothers fixed income and his Lemming flatmate. The flatmate looks completely harmless. He’s wearing the standard Polo dominated outfit and thick rimmed glasses. He comes across as the rocket scientist that every graduating class has a specimen of. A truly odd species, who has traded in his chequered short sleeved shirt and calculator holster for a pair of miu miu pants, Prada loafers and a Polo shirt and jumper. Nonetheless, you can’t imagine him harming a fly. You can picture him diligently tapping at a discounted cash flow model, trying to make right the $0.0001 by which the balance sheet is of in 2015. Your image is shattered as you pick up a fragment of the conversation, where the Lemming flatmate, with steam almost coming out of his ears says ”…so then I told my associate to fuck off!”, after which he almost downs the remaining half of his Long Island Iced Tea. You slip back into your thoughts and go over what this harmless looking creature is living through. A person who could not harm a fly, flapping about how he told a superior to fuck off. One glance and you wouldn’t have imagined that he ever even had the nerve to complain about anything, and here he is shootin’ his shotgun like this was his daddy’s ranch in Texas. You realize that you are not all that different. You think about this for a second and conclude that you “used to be a nice guy, and now you are an i-banker”.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Taking your i-banker hat off

A bit of cocky confidence and your fantastic ability to make shit smell like Chanel No.5 (see Working for Rupert McMuppet) gets you invited to pitch with Rupert to Company A, all on the back of your groundbreaking mini combo analysis. Well, actually, you did really try to do the same bit of “what would it look like if Company A tried to buy” every single one of its competitors, but nothing else worked. Ahem. Let’s be honest here, what you really mean is that every other potential acquisition was even worse! So Rupert triumphantly decides to go with the best of the lot. You’ve got the presentation all worked out, printed, bound and checked. The introduction slide sets out the agenda for the meeting, and summarises the work you have done. You proudly look at it with your newly acquired investment banker viewpoint and glance over it to make sure it all ties in, makes sense and that the firm (through yourself and Rupert as its channel) is delivering top notch advice to Company A. Ahem!! What you really mean to say, is that you check for typos.

Your slide looks something like this.

For a brief moment, you step back, take your investment banking hat off and take a fresh look at the slide. You can hear the voice of your mentor saying “remember that our clients aren’t bankers and you must always put yourself in their shoes whenever you present to them. See the pitch the way they would see it.” You decide to put your client hat on and take a fresh look at the slide.

You put your i-banker hat on again and pack up the books and think you yourself: “Heh, aint no way these Company A guys are going to see through this. If they were so smart, they’d be i-bankers.”

Friday, October 27, 2006

i-Bank Rock

(Sung to the tune of Jailhouse Rock)

The analysts were parting in the 12th floor jail,
The cleaning staff were there and they began to wail,
The print room folks were jumpin’ and the joint began to swing,
You should’ve heard those knocked out banking monkeys sing.
Lets pitch, everybody, lets pitch
Everybody in IBD
Pitch so Rupert can get rich.

Associate 2 said to analyst 3,
You’re the cutest banker chick I ever did see,
I sure would be delighted with your company,
Come on and do this mega pitchbook with me.
Lets pitch, everybody, lets pitch
Everybody in IBD
Pitch so Rupert can get rich.

The summer intern was a sittin’ like a block of stone,
Modelling on his keyboard in his cubicle alone,
His associate threw his presentation marked in red,
‘N yelled boy if it don’t balance you gonna wish you were dead!
Lets pitch, everybody, lets pitch
Everybody in IBD
Pitch so Rupert can get rich.

The balance sheet was off and the intern started to cry,
He tried to trace the problem and on the second try,
The spredsheet started reffing at a quarter to twelve,
He knew it would be an allnighter for this pitch from hell.
Lets pitch, everybody, lets pitch
Everybody in IBD
Pitch so Rupert can get rich.

Working for Rupert McMuppet

Ok. It's your first week on the job and it so totally rocks. You get to hang out with some of the best people in the industry, and the firm is so good, that they make these good times last well into the night! On your first day, you went home at 2AM, and there plenty of investment banking megabrains that enjoyed each other’s company so much, that they stayed even longer! Not only do you hang out with such fantastic people, who shape the face of the financial markets with what they do on a daily basis, but the firm also provides you with free food each night, to make this fun filled time even more pleasurable. At 7PM on the first night, your whole floor gets together and you order some Chinese takeaway. WoW! And the whole office sits around a few desks, from Analyst to Director and has deeply profound conversations about the business, colleagues, competitors and the like. How much does this rock! They're all sitting around talking about the financial markets, with you, a day into the job intern, being part to conversations loaded with so much confidential information! How lucky are you to be an investment banker. One of the junior bankers (an analyst 2, how cool) attempts to give you some advice. After telling you how to do this and not to do that, he stresses that by no means should you willingly get in the way of Rupert McMuppet! "Whatever you do, if you see him down the hall, go to the water cooler. If you see him coming to your desk, hide under it. You do not, by any means, want to work for Rupert McMuppet. You just don't!" You cannot understand what he's on about. Rupert is a great guy. He interviewed you. Granted, a bit strange, quirky dress sense, funny accent and all that but a decent guy no? You dismiss the advice whilst politely nodding. What the hell does this doochebag know. He's only a 2nd year. He's not gonna last. If he doesn't like Rupert, he wasn't made to be a master of the universe. You go back to your cubicle, a 2x2 metre box in a remote corner of the floor, where you pick up your mini combo analysis that Rupert actually asked you to do. hehe. If that muppet 2nd year knew that you were already Rupert's boy he'd eat his heart out. "Eat my dust sucker". The mini combo aint looking good. Earlier in the day, your mentor explained to you that the mini combo is one of an i-banker's best friends. It's a banker's way of justifying anything to the nmanagement of a company who are meant to protect the interests of its shareholders. The particular combo you are doing, shows that if Company A (Rupert is advising company A) buys Company B, the shareholders of Company A are worse off. That is, the'ye better off just sitting on Company A. The beauty of the mini combo is, thought, that even though a deal is shit, you can make it look good, by using debt to pay for the company you buy. Yes, you guessed it - OTM. Other People's Money! It's like if you wanna buy your 107th Hermes tie (the new one with the little clouds that are nothing like anything they have come up with before), but you don't wanna cough up the £80. See, bad deal. But if an i-banker comes up to you and says "look dude, you just cough up £20, and get payday loans for the remaining £60" it's a lot sweeter. Except, it's even better than that. When you're the management of the company, it's not you who gets into debt, it's the company. So, if things turn to shit, you bail and they lose. If all works out, you're the hero. See? It's a win, win situation. that’s what i-banking is all about. The only problem with the mini combo you're doing, is that Company A (Rupert's client) is like 20 times smaller than Company B, and no matter how much freaking debt you use, the fuckin' thing won't work. Shit! You can't go back to Rupert and tell him his idea sucks! He’s an MD and a BSD! He's the man and he thinks it rocks. You've gotta make it work man, make it work. What if you don't pay any fees for the deal. Ok, yeah, that makes it better. And, and what if your debt is really cheap, yeah, yeah better as well. And what if the price you offer for Company B is a lowball, aha, this is getting there. Aha, and what if you can get some funky accountants to help you pay less tax, aha, there you go, this baby is starting to fly. Aha, and then what if your company's earnings are say 10% higher each year. Wow, this really works now. You are the man! Rupert is gonna love this. You've just shown that his deal is a slam dunk if you can avoid tax, pay nothing for acquiring Company B, double your earnings at no cost, pay no interest and fund all of the acquisition with debt. Its 2AM and time to go home. It feels good to be in the driving seat of the financial world.

The world is your oyster*

*WARNING: Please ensure you are not allergic to oysters.

It's your first day at the firm and you're feeling so damn good about yourself. Damn right man, you're an investment banker now. Master of the universe. Big swinging dick. King of the capital markets. You'll be able to have conversations where when asked about what line of work you're in, you reply in sheer American Psycho "muders & executions". The world is your oyster and your heart is beating way too fast to read the health warning. That's for losers anyway. Let the dude in GIR read the fuckin' health warning... hehe. Health warnings are for wimps, not masters of the universe.

You give it a week. Ten days tops, before very single MD will be begging for your advice. You feel like a kid before Christmas as you walk triumphantly into the firm's London headquarters. You can almost hear the Christmas carols in your head.

"Twas the nigh before banking, and the markets were still
waiting for the intern who will make the big kill,
he'll advise on disposals and sponoffs and such,
he'll even get a bonus coz they'll love him so much.
his models will roll and his pitchbooks will rock,
boy all the MDs will be in for a shock,
he'll get jumped to VP just a week in the ranks,
and his name will be feard by the other i-banks"

You open your eyes and absorb the grand reception of the firm's European headquarters. Green marble left right and centre, tall ceilings, a long reception desk to which you start walking triumphantly. As you walk the long stretch of floor between the entrance and the marble, you can feel the beat of the heels of your shoes against the marble floor. It's almost like a song you've heard many many times before. The closer you get to the reception desk, the more clear it becomes, and there it is, just as you are about to reach it, you look around and you know it. It could be the firm's theme song. The sterile smell of freshness, the beat of your soles, the blingy green marble and bang. The christmas songs are replaced by the smooth beat of Jenny from the block.

Almost hitting the reception desk, dazed in bling of "the rocks they got", you come to a stop, ready to grace the firm with your presence. It's the moment they have all been waiting for.

"Can I help you sir?" blurts the receptionist with a smile on her face. "Can she help me?!? WTF?!?" You feel like exploging into a "Don't you know who I am? I am the guy that will be this firm's youngest MD. I will be the guy that will bring in more deals that all the officers combined. I will be" STOP! You realise that she must be new and obviously the fact that she should be expecting the new interns has slipped her mind. Nobody is perfect. You calm down and let her know politely your name, rank and serial number. Your have been welcomed to the world of the individual.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lunch with Rupert McMuppet

You sober up from the big milkround event the night before (obviously from the intoxicatingly pleasant conversation of the bankers you met, rather than the plentiful and free flowing alcohol at the Plaza bar, and the afterparty at Po Na Na where you went with your mates after the Plaza, only to bump into a sleazy group of the investment wankers from presentation, who appear to be on the pull). Thinking back, this is your first experience of what investment bankers are like in a non-work social setting. They all rocked up with their silk print ties, cuffed shirts with monogrammed cufflinks (apart from the DCM guy who was wearing a top of the line, but still off the rack pair of mother of pearl beauties from last season’s Dunhill range) and cashmere coats and scarves. You look at them and know they were wearing Acqua di parma, but deep down inside you just know that what they really smelled like was money.

The beat is piercing the dimly lit club and as you swing back a shot of tequila to wipe clean the image of how cool you will be in clubs when you are a hotshot investment banker, all you can see before your eyes is Christian bale with his slicked back hair and dressed to kill buying a drink in American Psycho. You wash down the tequila with a beer and with your baker wannabe buddies, buy a fresh round of tequila and walk over the banker boys. “Hey, you guys are from Goldmen Suck, aren’t you? I was at your presentation. You guys rock so much more than Lemming Brothers!” Slam. One more round of tequilas – they buy – followed by another round of beers, and then tequilas. Damn. You feel on top of the world – not only did you score lunch with Rupert McMuppet (more excited about it than your date with Camilla deBoobieland on Saturday) but you’re also scoring buddy points with the IBD boys (little do you know that your scoring brownie points with these boys is as close as they have been to scoring in any way, shape or form since they joined the firm). Can life get any better?

Shit. You realise you need to quit daydreaming and get ready for your lunch with Rupert. Shit. Shit. Shit shit shit shit. You bounce around your flat and manage to dress yourself in five minutes, tie your tie in the cab and hop off (leaving the puzzled cabbie an extraordinary tip coz hanging out with the bling boys last night really made you feel like da man) and get taken to a table where you are happy to find that Rupert is not there yet.

Rupert arrives before you know it, wearing a double breasted wide pinstripe suit, pink cutaway collar shirt (mis)matched with a silk print tie in pale green. You try not to stare in amazement at this sartorial combination that after a few deep moment of thought at to its deeper significance, you realise that there is none other than the statement “Fuck you – I’m wearing this because I can. That’s right, I’m such a BSD and I want (feel the need for) everyone to know it.”

Exchanging pleasantries, you realize that Rupert is an old Etonian (not because you are paying attention to what he is saying, or because of the ring he wars on his left finger – this is a more profound, deep realization, stemming from the fact that the ridiculously coloured and definitely faux pas socks he is wearing are in keeping with some long dead tradition of matching one’s socks to one’s tie, and the fact that he speaks of the days before the Americans entered the City with an accent that feels like he has a piping hot potato in his mouth and is trying desperately hard not to burn himself while he speaks). Good, you think to yourself. The little you said so far was in your English accent (a bit of a gamble as the decision to stick with that was based on the little of your conversation – where you were daydreaming – with Rupert you had the night before, that wasn’t wiped away by the 8 tequilas and countless beers you slammed at Po Na Na the night before with the banker boys). Well done. Talk about your English upbringing (you know only too well not to mention the fact that daddy is a Yank). When Rupert asks you about your political views, you remember quickly your interview experience at the Socialist Republic of Cambridge (aka Cambridge University) where you voices a rather conservative political tone (which is why you are now reading bullshit here instead). Cautiously, you fire back a well rehearsed answer that pigeonholes you as a business friendly, tax hating, globalisation loving conservative. Kaching. You just know that you fit the bill by now. You’ve hit the nail right on the head. Now all you need is to ace those silly motivation questions and you’re through!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tailored suits and silk print ties

You're 20 years old and studying for a business studies (aka bullshit studies) degree on a day like any other on campus, with overcast skies, pouring rain and the odd lecture during the day, except the circus is in town today. It's the start of the milkrounds, the recruiting season for the investment banks, where armies of London based bankers make their way out of town, dressed to impress and guns a'blazin, firing more than 100 pieces of bullshit a minute (bpm is the industry norm, and 120 is the world record).

You're in the banquet room of the Plaza hotel, surrounded by the London suits, sipping on beers and wine, huddled around signs with flash corporate logos, below which you read "ECM","DCM","IB","FICC","GIR"...and you're just thinking "WTF - I just wanna get a job with them and get my suit done at the same tailor coz it looks sooooooo good". Sunndenly, you get cornered by one of the half-drunk sleazy chaps from GIR (equity research) and think to yourself "dude, not only does your breath stink, but you're wearing a off the rack four button suit, your shoes are fit for a stag night in Newcastle and you work for a department that sucks more than the infamous equity sales in Dallas". Unfortunately for you, the GIR dude can't read your mind (or the look of desparation on your face) and gives you a limp handshake and asks "So, why do you want to work for GIR?". You fight the urge to resopond candidly and explain why you do not see yourself as a loser and actually wanna be one of the BSDs (big swinging dicks) in the investment banking division, so you politely ask him if he wants another drink (phew...that's why you will be a cut-throat banker...thinking on your feet...give the baby some milt and it aint gonna cry no more...oh how you will put that sharp brain of yours to use when you become an (drool) investment banker! Your coworkers will stankd up in silence every morning you walk onto your floor, managing directors will queue in front of your office asking for advice on how to defend their client against a fantastic hostile offer they have just received, and you will walk out of pitches with a standing ovation following you out of the boardroom. Ah, the world will truly be your oyster, when you become one of the few (and eventually the undisputed leader of the) masters of the universe.

Wake up! Bugger. Whilst you were daydreaming, Rupert McMuppet, Managing Director in the investment banking division has been telling you about what a great opportunity becoming an investment banker is, and after a ten minute template spiel on why I-banking is the best thing that could ever happen to you, he is about to stuff your hand with his business card and an invite to lunch the next day. You wake up just in time to catch the eggshell white, thick paper business card with the bank's logo elegantly embossed in an understated rectangle in the top corner, and Rupert's name triumphantly embossed with a glossy black ink finish, below which the letters spelling managing director unmistakably allude to his BSD status. "Holy shit!" you think to yourself. Lunch with Rupert! All that bla bla you gave him about wanting to push the limit of what is achieveable, addign value as part of a team, working with the best people in the business, loving the work, being motivated by the prospect of reading about your deals in the FT...all that crap and he bought it!

As you politely thank Rupert, you swiftly make your way to the bar, as you know whilst there is no such thing as a free lunch, there definitely is such a thing as a free bar at the Plaza.