Monday, July 30, 2007

Games for investment bankers

Getting ready for the conference call:

Step one:
Prepare a four by four square, randomly filling each cell with one of the below phrases / words.

bottom line
double check
margin expansion
impressive growth

Step two:
Tick off each block when one of the phrases is mentioned

Step three:
When you have ticked off four boxes in a row, column or diagonally, stand up, bang your fist on the table and shout "BULLSHIT!"

Value added in investment banking

Working for a client on the buyside is always fun. You’re in a kickoff meeting you’re your client, for whom the firm is a house bank, and you’ve just been handed a presentation the client received from an investment bank hired to sell the company your client wants to buy. The first thing you can think of, is trying to pick at little bits and bulbs that don’t add up in their numbers, spelling errors, bad formatting, and other high value added remarks.

Having spent some fifteen minutes on the slides, one particular page looked like this halfway through the meeting.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Douey, Cheatham & Howe

Friday, July 27, 2007

How investment banking is like royalty

Funny thing, you think to yourself, crouched over a discounted cash flow model on your screen on a Friday evening, that investment banking is so much like royalty. And not progressive royalty like a number of European countries have today. No. This is the old fashioned Marie Antoinette kind of shit we’re talking about here.

Thinking about why you’re sitting over an excel model for a project you’re not meant to be working on, for a client who you don’t even know and with a team that is in the pub having pints, brings you to this amazing realization. Why is it that you are here, and they are all there, and the guy that’s meant to be doing what you’re doing is the one in the middle of it all, having fee shots left right and centre.

Zap – flashback and it dawns on you again. Because he’s the intern and it’s his “half-way-through-the-internship-(yay he survived four whole weeks of spoon fed and sugar coated investment banking ass kissing)-drinks”. He’s a fucking intern! Fucking intern? So why are you here, doing his work, and he’s there, doing your drinking? Oh, And PS, who the fuck has heard of “half-way-through” drinks? So, back to the point, why? Well, because he’s part of the investment banking royalty programme, more commonly known as the “I’m an investment banker cos my daddy got me the job” programme. In his case though, it’s even better. both of his parents are managing directors and his uncle is a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, so go figure. There a programme where children of the employees and clients can intern for the summer (only one phone interview required versus the 3 plus who knows how many superdays that other mortals have to endure).

So why is it that these Bob Kings, Robert Mack, Francesca Paulson and Henry O’Neals (that’s right, check the internal databases and find out that the monkey is not cruel enough to name the real individuals) of the world get hired?

Well, to a certain extent, for entertainment. To do jobs, even jobs that are impossible to screw up, and screw them up, so everyone can discreetly laugh after congratulating them on a job well done.

But jokes aside, these individuals get hired for the same reasons that the royals of the past wanted male children – so that the firm can secure its next generation of leaders. It is only exceptional people, with no leadership skills, extensive ass kissing ability, no scruples, and an ego the size of the city of London, but no discernible skillset as such (MD’s) that are truly fit to run the firm. See the resemblance? Yes. Incompetent? Useless? Ignorant? True investment banking managing director material.

So that’s how investment banking is like royalty, you think to yourself, looking at the screen. You keep looking, when a comforting though puts a smile on your face, as you think of what happened to mademoiselle Antoinette.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Application to become an investment banker

(Click on the image to enlarge)

This is how a real investment banker applies for a job.





Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deadly Hours

Two investment bankers meet in front of the lobby of the firm in the dark of night. Not a sound is made, and in an instant, like cowboys in the Wild West, they whip out their blackberries, pointing them at eachothers’ chests. In a few moments. They recognize eachother and make their way quietly into the lobby of the firm.

As they approach the elevators, the doors open, and a managing analyst comes out of the doors. He is wearing thick rim glasses and has straight black hair, dropping over his forehead. His hair conceals a good part of his forehead, probably for the better, hiding from the casual observes the scars of a frustrated childhood that have through time made their mark – for this is, truly an investment banker. His name is Harry.

As Harry emerges from the shadows of the elevator, he is followed by two more bankers. The first is a jolly ginger haired young man, who would have been called Dufus has his name not been Ronald (“Ron”). Ron seems to be oblivious to the fact that it is 3am and that the trio is going out for some fresh air before continuing with some value added excel “magic”.

The third character to emerge from the lift is a brown haired girl, who in one hand has her blackberry, and in the other a handful of computer printouts from her magic excel model. She has obviously chosen to sue the fresh air break to continue working. To those who know her, her name is Hermione, but for most of the firm, she is “that chick in IBD”.

It is so that this group of excel wizard walk out into the fresh air. As they sit under the moonlight, the continue to zap magical spells into their blackberries, sending email commands to the lesser wizards that are still upstairs in the office working.

They take a moment to observe their surroundings and suddenly, they all turn still at the sight of shadows moving across the street. They see a light flicker in the distance – must be a cigarette being lit by the followers of the house whose name on must dare not speak.

Harry is well aware of the grave dangers that the firm and all its excel monkey wizards face in the wake of the house of Goldimord as he readies his blackberry for battle.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Investment banking and efficient markets

...continued from "The kind of shit that (often) happens in investment banking"

Having met Mike at the lifts, you head down to get a coffee. None of that cappuccino bullshit the silly little monkeys drink, and then ask for three shorts to make it stronger. You order an espresso - double. Mike has had a rough time - went home at four and was back at nine - he orders a tripple shot espresso.

"Oh, wait, make that a tripple shot macchiato - don't want to go overboard with the coffee"

Typical mike to hit it with a 200% and then retract to a conservative 100%.

Mike also notices the unwipeabl;e smile on your face, and smiles back.

"So, you're quitting or what?"

You chuckle as you think to yourself how great it is to keep everyone guessing. How can they all be so foolish. All they can think of is the measly exit! Amateurs. The lot of them. Don't they realize that there is a lot more to be had that a simple exit to anoter investment bank or some hedge fund? Haha.


You reply, amused at the puzzled face looking at you following your answer.

"So what's the deal then?" asks Mike "Why are you being so smug?"

"Mate, if you knew what I know, you would be smug too. What I know is going to make me Rupert's number one man, get me an early promotion, and basically everything I wan't, because I'll have little Rupert eating out of the palm of my hand"

"Hehe. Nice one, for a moment there I thought you saw Rupert with one of the secretaries or something and I didn't want to burst your bubble because that's common knowledge. But hey, sounds to me like you've got something good going here. I won't ask, coz it doesn't sound like you're going to tell. Good luck pal."

And that is how, as often happens in investment banking, you come across a dealbreaker and you're back to square one, as you start wondering who those voicemails on your desk are from.

...and the kind of shit that (often) happens in investment banking

... continued from "The kind of shit that (not so often) happens in investment banking"

You waltz into the office at around 10:30 am, feeling like you own the place in light of the information you acquired the night before, on your way home from work. You get to your desk, drop your things onto loudly, look at your phone, where the red indicator light is blinking indicating that you have voicemails, and choose to ignore it. You pick up the phone to Mike, one of your buddies in the industrial manufacturing group and arrange to meet him at the lifts for coffee. You take a stroll around the floor, saying hi to fellow monkeys and the secretaries, and stopping by to exchange a few (condescending, given that you are now a pro forma master of the universe) words with each of them.

"Don't you have work to do man?"

Asks one of the summer interns, who is religiously compiling annual and quarterly reports for the comps he needs to do.

"My man, you will learn. In time, you will learn... not to ask silly questions like that"

As you pass more and more people in the office, blatantly demonstrating the fact that you are really doing nothing, more heads start to turn, and you can hear the puzzled whispers as you pass each desk.

"Is he quitting?"

You barely make out the words coming from behind you, as you make your way to the lifts.

You chuckle, as you make out the words. Little do they know what is really on the table, you think to yourself and picture yourself turning around, walking over the the little naive monkey who asked the question and saying:

"Little man, quitting is for amateurs. For the guys that aren't good enough to stay. I am by no means quitting. Mark these words, as you are talking to the future department head... and when you know the kind of shit that I know, that won't be in the too distant future".

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The kind of shit that (not so often) happens in investment banking

So you’re leaving the office late. It’s 1am as you get into a cab to take you home. Bonus paid, money in the account and no offer at hand, so you decide to drown yourself in workaholicism, in the hope that you will forget that seven of your fellow analysts quit today and there are a good few more to come over the next few days.

You can’t believe your luck as your taxi driver dims your lights, and when you give him a puzzled look, he turns on the intercom to the passenger cabin and says:

“You looked like you wanted some peace and quiet, so I figured I’d turn down the lights so you can get a kip guv”

You thank the good man and doze off with the views of the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and other central London attractions swiftly passing beside you.

As you wake up to see the cab sitting in front of your Chelsea, flat you dig into your firm branded gym bag for your keys. And again. And again, and with more agitation at each attempt. No keys. And again. Nothing.

You must have left them at the office. Damn it. When things are going so well, here you are, having to go back to the city, get your keys and lose another hour of sleep. Damn it in deed.

You politely ask the cabbie to take you back and you try to catch a few more winks of sleep which prove to be difficult as the cabbie decides to take you Through Mayfair towards the City.

You watch the crowds of party goers outside the cab, when a familiar looking face catches your eye. You look again in disbelief, and yes, clear as daylight, it is Rupert, hailing a taxi coming in the opposite direction. With him is… Noooo! It can’t be.


You think to yourself. The rumour potential of this is tremendous. It’s Rupert and Melinda, getting into a cab together. At 2 am!

Forgetting those keys in the office wasn’t so bad after all. Now this is how an hour of sleep can gain you an incredible amount of leverage. Who said that working late doesn’t have it’s benefits?

Monday, July 16, 2007

A New Beginning

Ok. So the news is out. Bonuses have been paid and the annual game of musical chairs is about to begin. You look around the floor, trying to guess who will quit in the coming days. You observe the analysts’ faces for signs of an upcoming resignation.

A few cubicles away, Pete Flannigan is a substantial deal more joyous than his usual chain smoking, grumpy, sleep deprived self. He’s sitting on the edge of his desk, merrily joking around with Friedrich von Blondehaare, who is actually engaging in non-work and promotion related conversation – also very out of character and suspect. What are these two monkeys upto? Whatever it is, it can’t be any good. It also surely is not the fact that they have been paid a lot of money just now, as once the cash is paid, everyone gets busy thinking about the fact that it will be a whole year of work before next bonus comes along – not a merry thought. No, indeed Pete and Freddy are up to something.

Thinking back, you recollect that both boys had pulled a few sickies over the last two months – Freddie had the flu and then a bad cough, followed by a leak in his shower which a plumber had to fix three times, each time, of course, requiring him to skip work for the day. Pete interestingly came up with the measles and also had plumbing problems. Pete also started coming to work in a suit, and even on days when he didn’t have a client meeting.

Ok, you think to yourself, so what. They went for a few interviews. Can you blame them? You interviewed with Blunderstone, didn’t you? So why should they not be allowed to test the market.

You smile at your open mindedness as you take another look at them chuckling away and firing funny glances around the office.

Damn it, enough of this “love thy fellow banker” shit. You take a dose of reality and remind yourself that these monkeys are probably sitting on offers from top tier rival banks or even a hedge fund or PE shop and here you are, sitting on your loyalty to the firm with diddly squat but your bonus.

You take another dose of reality and reassure yourself that you wouldn’t have even wanted to hold an offer from what are likely the third rate institutions they are going to. You work for the city’s premier investment banking firm. You are the best of the best, and the competition only tries to poach the best (you) and ends up with rest (them). Haha. They couldn’t even get to you, that’s how much of the best of the best you are. Haha you monkeys, chuckling there in your little corners, thinking that the three months of gardening leave and full bonus in your pocket plus the sign on bonus from the firm you jump to plus the possible one year early promotion you are likely to have gotten. Haha, you think you’re special. Well ha, you haven’t got loyalty have you, and as the firm says, you can’t put a price on loyalty.

You stop for another moment and realize that you are consoling yourself for your lack of an offer with the firm’s propaganda. How very, very sad. This means, there is only one thing to do. Shine those hand made shoes (or preferably get someone to do that for you), get a new suit done, new shirts, new tie and start interviewing.

Why can't investment banks take the shortest path from A to B

Failsafe Interviewing Techniques for Investment Bankers

Theres a great deal of paranoia when an analyst goes for interviews. This stems from a combination of the fact that ibanks promote a misplaced sense of loyalty to the bank you work for (lets face it, this is not a word that is in an ibankers vocabulary) and the fact that jobs open up and thus interviews happen shortly before bonus time, and no analyst wants to ruin their bonus by being seen as jumping ship (in which case they automatically drop to bottom bucket).

The first interviews are the toughest to deal with. Excuses like dentist, doctor, registered home delivery, plumber, electrician etc are common, and whilst they do arouse some suspicion, they are very plausible things that can happen to everyone.

The difficulty is in coming up with a credible excuse or rather, a set of excuses, when you need to do follow on interviews in a short period of time. Lets face it, three doctors appointments, two visits to the dentist and a broken boiler, fridge and blocked sink in the course of the two week period for you to meet every single member of the team at Goldman who is looking to hire you, is not an option.

Analysts, being the masters of bullshit that they have been trained by their bank to become, have through time developed more elaborate and effective tactics to avoid detection. So here are a few gems for your next interview. Enjoy.

a) Complain about back pains from sitting in front of a pc all day. Ibanks are paranoid about law suits of this kind and will immediately bring in a guy to replace your chair with a more comfy one and adjust the height of your desk so you feel just fine. Keep complaining and you get HR to pay for chiropractist sessions and not only that, but stress to the staffer that this is something he needs to let you take a few times a week. Bingo, you’ve secured yourself the ibanking equivalent of a hall pass.

b) Take up smoking, and go for regular cigarette breaks. Once you have developed a reputation for being away from your desk for the 20 minutes it takes to go down, light up and come back on a regular basis, when you disappear for 40 minutes to grab a quick meeting with a headhunter or interview, everyone will simply assume you are treating yourself to a ciggie and coffee.

c) Another benefit of taking up smoking is that you can catch bad colds when smoking late at night in the cold. Once said cold is established, you get up to two days to do interviews – yes, maybe with a bit of a runny nose, but it works.

d) In their second and third year, what is known as ‘managing analyst syndrome’ kicks in. This is when an analyst has illusions about being something in the banks and starts wearing a suit to work instead of a shirt and chinos. Whilst laughable, this attitude is a perfect smokescreen for going to interviews undetected – when you show up in a suit day after day, it will be much tougher to spot that youre interviewing (and thus wearing a suit) as this will be blamed on ‘managing analyst syndrome’.

For the less proficient interviewees, unexplained (or badly explained) absences, showing up in your best suit and you don’t have a meeting that day, smiling (ok, smiling on a regular basis) are all very good ways to spot a first time interviewee / leaver, so beware.