Thursday, June 28, 2007

Managing Analyst Syndrome

Now that it's bonus time, and every monkey (in many cases quite literally) gets a bonus. From top bucket to the bottom of the pile, a new generation of kids will be a few tens of thousands richer than they were a month ago. Investment banks in a bull market are very much like communist regimes in that sense - they don't really discriminate . Everyone gets a bonus and a pat on the back. The money is coming in, so why not? Sure, the top ranked get a few grand more, but then again, they get taxed more, and work more, so net, net it's all the same for every monkey.

Now here's the problem. When the i-bank does not discriminate between who deserves a bonus and who doesn't, and also, doesn't leave the option of no bonus on the table, every little monkey starts expecting a bonus. It is no longer a bonus, but part of the expected base. Anger, resentment and greed jump in when someone gets a bigger one than you do. Defensiveness or bragging (depending on the extent to which the given analyst lacks cultivation) kick in for the monkey in the top bucket.

In between all this wonderful emotion is born the managing analyst syndrome. It's a rather vile and most primitive manifestation of a junior monkey feeling like they have become a big bad ape by being able to say they're now an analyst 2 and not analyst 1 and can throw £1,000 on a night out. This is very similar to the "MD + Lambo = mid life crisis" syndrome, as the said MD is clearly overcompensating for the fact that when his wife left him (he was still a VP then), she told him he was a lousy father and an even worse lover before slamming the door in his face.

Enough words of wisdom for this beautiful Summer day and back to an i-banker one and only love - the excel spreadsheet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bonuses and Resignations

Bankers, for the most part, can be quite articulate people. It is a true shame that this particular one took seven years at a bulge bracket firm before sharing this talent with the world in a farewell email.

"Dear Co-Workers and Managers,

As many of you probably know, today is my last day. But before I leave, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a great and distinct pleasure it has been to type "Today is my last day."

For nearly as long as I've worked here, I've hoped that I might one day leave this company. And now that this dream has become a reality, please know that I could not have reached this goal without your unending lack of support. Words cannot express my gratitude for the words of gratitude you did not express.

I would especially like to thank all of my managers both past and present but with the exception of the wonderful Sanjeev Hairsprayhead: in an age where miscommunication is all too common, you consistently impressed and inspired me with the sheer magnitude of your misinformation, ignorance and intolerance for true talent. It takes a strong man to admit his mistake - it takes a stronger man to attribute his mistake to me.

Over the past seven years, you have taught me more than I could ever ask for and, in most cases, ever did ask for. I have been fortunate enough to work with some absolutely interchangeable supervisors on a wide variety of seemingly identical projects - an invaluable lesson in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium.
Your demands were high and your patience short, but I take great solace knowing that my work was, as stated on my annual review, "meets expectation." That is the type of praise that sends a man home happy after a 10 hour day, smiling his way through half a bottle of meets expectation scotch with a meets expectation cigar. Thanks Tracy!

And to most of my peers: even though we barely acknowledged each other within these office walls, I hope that in the future, should we pass on the street, you will regard me the same way as I regard you: sans eye contact.

But to those few souls with whom I've actually interacted, here are my personalized notes of farewell:

To Paul, I will not miss hearing you cry over absolutely nothing while laying blame on me and my coworkers. Your racial comments about Jack Cobain were truly offensive and I hope that one day you might gain the strength to apologize to him.

To Brandy whom is long gone, I hope you find a manager that treats you as poorly as you have treated us. I worked harder for you then any manager in my career and I regret every ounce of it. Watching you take credit for my work was truly demoralizing.

To Sarah, you should learn how to keep your mouth shut sweet heart. Bad mouthing the innocent is a negative thing, especially when your talking about someone who knows your disgusting secrets. ; )

To Bill (Mr. Cronyism Jr), well, I wish you had more of a back bone. You threw me to the wolves with that witch Brandy and I learned all too much from it. I still can't believe that after following your instructions, I ended up getting written up, wow. Thanks for the experience buddy, lesson learned.

Dan (Mr. Cronyism Sr), I'm happy that you were let go in the same manner that you have handed down to my dedicated coworkers. Hearing you on the phone last year brag about how great bonuses were going to be for you fellas in upper management because all of the lay offs made me nearly vomit. I never expected to see management benefit financially from the suffering of scores of people but then again, with this company's rooted history in the slave trade it only makes sense.

To all of the executives of this company, Jimmy Dumbass and such. Despite working through countless managers that practiced unethical behavior, racism, sexism, jealousy and cronyism, I have benefited tremendously by working here and I truly thank you for that. There was once a time where hard work was rewarded and acknowledged, it's a pity that all of our positive output now falls on deaf ears and passes blind eyes. My advice for you is to place yourself closer to the pulse of this company and enjoy the effort and dedication of us "faceless little people" more. There are many great people that are being over worked and mistreated but yet are still loyal not to those who abuse them but to the greater mission of providing excellent customer support. Find them and embrace them as they will help battle the cancerous plague that is ravishing the moral of this company.

So, in parting, if I could pass on any word of advice to the lower salary recipient ("because it's good for the company") in India or Tampa who will soon be filling my position, it would be to cherish this experience because a job opportunity like this comes along only once in a lifetime.
Meaning: if I had to work here again in this lifetime, I would sooner kill myself.

To those who I have held a great relationship with, I will miss being your co-worker and will cherish our history together. Please don't bother responding as at this very moment I am most likely in my car doing 85 with the windows down listening to Biggie.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Investment Banking Summer Intern Do’s

Wear a striped tie. Do also make sure that the stripes slope upwards. This is a bull market we’re talking about. None of that downward sloping off the rack limp ass shit.

Come in with a stubble after you’ve pulled your second all nighter in a row. Also, make sure that you don’t shower. This is the only way anyone other than the punk ass analyst who made you pull the all nighters in the first place (and got credit for your work) will notice that you haven’t slept and showered. Get noticed by a VP or above – just because you can’t be of use to these guys doesn’t mean you can’t try to get their sympathy.

Remember that you have not been hired for your ability to do mental arithmetic. If you need to calculate something, use excel. That’s what it’s there for. If you want to be a banker then start acting like a banker. Bankers can’t do maths. If they could, they would have been rocket scientists. 2 + 2 = EXCEL! For those moments you will not be at your computer, keep your trusted HP17B calculator handy.

Do impress your analyst, associate and MD by your ability to down tequila shots. You have a serious competitive advantage here. You’ve been practicing at university whilst they’ve been doing deals late at night, so you will outdrink them. This will remind them of the days when they went out with mates at university. You will thus remind them of the fact that they had a life before banking, and this will make them happy. So, drink like a true student, and you will be in your team’s good books.

Leveraged Buyout - a la Carte

No comment is really needed. Monkey will keep this in mind in the next private equity interview.

Do monkeys on the trading floor get a better deal

You get asked whether monkeys on the trading floor get a better deal than monkeys in IBD. Interesting. You think for a moment...

A typical junior banker will say that of course a trader didn't get the betetr deal. Come on, they wake up when its still dark, they don't get to make headlines and shape the futures of corporate America, England, Europe or wherever and they are far more likely to suffer from erratic moving eyeball syndrome from being glued to 12 constantly flashign screens which they need to monitor.

Ask the same banker five years later, when they have lost all preconceptions about being a master of the universe, and you will hear the recognition that despite getting up when its still dark, they do get to go home when its light (and not because they're leaving the office at dawn after pulling an all nighter).

Also, the 12 blinking screens are usually coupled with a Lambo or a Ferrari parked outside, so in that light, they don't sound so bad.

Also, you just need to look at the price of Trader Magazine - £10! £10!!!

Last time you checked, Financial News was going for a third of that.

So there's some food for thought.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

…and Some More Investment Banking Summer Internship Donts

Don’t diss the competition:
Many a smartass summer intern (see “Don’t be a Smartass”) try to impress their loyalty to their chosen firm by putting down the competition. Don’t. You never know whether your analyst who thinks quite highly of you is waiting for his bonus before moving to shitty, Goldmen or Moron Stanley. Don’t ruin your chances of getting a call to move once they jump ship just because you dissed the competition.

Don’t aim too high:
An anonymous banker highlighted that you shouldn’t suck up to your MD or VP. Correct. You should aim lower, and suck up to your analyst, because it’s their job to suck up to the associate, whose job it is to suck up to the VP and so on. Don’t forget the hierarchy.

Don’t forget you’re there to support:
And that means support. Carry an extra tie with you, just in case your analyst get called to a meeting and the chino wearing shit needs one. Make sure you’re the same build as your analyst, so he can also borrow your suit if he needs one (if you’re more buff than said analyst, stop going to the gym – this will give you added points as you will soon lose your athletic build and become less intimidating to your analyst). Always carry shoe polish, in case said analyst’s shoes need a shine. Forget your blackberry holster – what you need is a coffee cup holder for more than four cups – this way, you’ll need only make a single trip to Starbucks each morning when you bring your team coffee.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Investment Banking Internship Donts

You sit thinking, what don’t you want to see in a would be analyst, running about the office during the summer, and you realize that you cant stop at a single thing. You’ve seen your fellow interns last year so things that made their analysts cringe, and you’ve head a fair share of analyst war stories to be able to draw up a comprehensive list of intern donts. Not from the goodness of your heart, of course, because as every prospective ibanker should know, now that you have permanently infiltrated the ranks of the investment banking full time professional staff, your heart was one of the first things you had to check in before they’d let you into the building. No, you do it in anticipation of getting an intern of your own, so you type up a list of things you don’t want, to save you the time of explaining it to some overenthusiastic (or more like overly confident little shit given the fact that firms are hiring every Tom, Dick and Rupert with a pinkie ring now that the market is booming) intern.

Don’t be a smartass:
Too many little wannabe bankers try to look smart. You were not hired for brains. Your job is to perform manual (excel, powerpoint, Xerox) labour. You’re getting paid a hell of a lot of cash for doing a hell of a little value add, so you’ll be expected to put in the hours, not the brains.

Know your place:
It doesn’t matter that you have tailor made suits. Don’t wear them as your analyst (who’s probably got a massive chip on his shoulder) doesn’t. Don’t go as far as a polyester wrinkle free from M&S, because then even the biggest schmuck with a massive dent on his shoulder will laugh at you. Never dress better than your analyst, but make sure to not dress far worse. If he wears Hermes ties, you go for Ferragamo. If he comes in on the weekend with a Diesel tshirt (bankers like to think they’re hip), come in wearing something from GAP. You get the picture.

Make them look good:
You should expect your analyst to take credit for your work, and they will do that. When it’s god, it will be theirs, when its wrong, it will be yours. Don’t try to make the VP see that you were the one doing a piece of work – because you will get the shit in any case once they figure out its wrong. Oh, and by the way, your work will always be wrong. At best, it will always be something that can be improved. Think of your analyst like a shot of tequila. Salt, lemon and you slam it. Again, and again and again. Look on the bright side, it’s only for the summer.

You will know you are not smart:
Know this in everything you do. Your analyst will give you shit because you messed something up. Say thank you, as you’re really not that bright. You will complain that you haven’t gotten much sleep. You’ll get told to be more efficient and it takes you too long t5o do stuff, because you’re not altogether that bright. Let’s face it. You’ve signed on to spend your last free summer before beginning a lifetime of work with a bunch of boring, arrogant, overworked and underlived cube monkeys for what ends up being minimum wage on an hourly basis. They know it, you know it, so live up to it.

Good luck.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Investment Banking Summer Intern Success Guide

By popular demand you have been asked to provide a summer intern success guide. As many of you know, recruitment season has long past and it’s time for the fresh monkeys to crawl down from their penultimate year university trees, put on their best suits, shirts and ties and walk through the doors of the investment banking powerhouses.

A voice in your head wants to say “shut up”. Interns are nothing like what they used to be. Hard work is replaced with networking. The kind of guy who worked hard and learned how to comp and do price charts with weighted average trading prices superimposed in the hope of eventually being given the honour of doing a DCF (to be read as if DCF was written in fort size 100, Arial Black and bold) – well, this kind of guy is replaced with the chimp who messes up any numbers job he’s given on purpose (even though he’s a maths and physics joint honours student)so that nobody will ever think of giving him anything numbers related to do. Instead, this guy has beers with Rupert in the hope of landing the full time offer by drinking him under the table with Tequila shots.

You think to yourself… do these guys really need an intern guide? I mean come on. These are kind that have read every single vault guide. Kids who pay good money to get valuation skills even before they step foot inside an investment bank. Kinds who wonder whether ones tie needs to slope upwards (if striped) given that it’s a bull market?

To cut a long story short – YES THEY DO. The market is more competitive than ever, that with all these little cowboys running around like a bunch of consultants, clocking higher BPMs (see glossary) than some VP level bankers, it will be the skill set one cannot learn from online valuation training or the vault that will land them the job. So, ladies and gentlemen, get ready for a new series of All Nighter posts on successful interning

Friday, June 01, 2007

What does £27k mean?

With the month of July slowly approaching, comes the anticipation of the first bonus. Man o man will you not be the envy of all your friends when you wake up on that glorious day in July, get ready for work and check your bank balance at the first ATM and wow. The numbers will go on and on and on and so will the smile on your face, thinking “it’s all worth it!” – that is, until your blackberry starts going off like mad, from the flurry of emails a client starts unleashing.

But that’s looking too far into the future. For the moment, you can just look forward to the cash. As you spend most of your downtime pondering on the cash, you run countless combinations and permutations of what this money really means.

Sounding your buddies at fellow bulge bracket banks, you know you can expect something like £45,000, before Gordon Brown slashes an automatic 40% off.

Ok, so £27,000 is not bad at all!

You can go to Selfridges and buy five Bang & Olufsen TVs (bedroom, dining room, bathroom, kitchen and study) and still have some cash to spare for a night out on the town. You can get yourself half a dozen good tailored suits and have some change for a pair of hand made shoes or two. You can take a long holiday around the world in first class (hehe, if you had the time) and have money to spare when you got back. Ok, you could do loads, but really, what does £27k mean?

Would you pay £27k for a full month of blissful, uninterrupted, mobile-less, blackberry-less holiday time? Sure. Wouldn’t anyone in i-banking. Gladly. You sit down to do the maths and realize the gravity of what you have just said.

Basically, as an i-banker, you are marginally better off than if you were receiving minimum wage, and not only from an hours point of view, but from a personal willingness to give good money to be left alone point of view.

Ok. Enough of these silly thoughts. You head to the bathrooms to splash cold water on your face and start thinking like an i-banker again.

Frank Johnson posts again

You can hardly believe that Frank Johnson posts again. Evidently disillusioned by the departure of his junior to Blunderstone. You never thought you would empathize with Frank Johnson, but on this one, you have no choice. You never thought you'd say this, but... "Frank Johnson, I hear you".

Reich Bank Equity Research

You are overjoyed to come across an equity research report on one of the companies you ahve been asked to research. Excited by the fact that someone in the research community has done your work for you, and to add to it, in an unbiased and objective way, you start reading...