What is the life of a junior investment banker really like? What skills do you need to thrive or even survive? And if you do, what do you look like on the other end?
We spoke to three former Tier 1 investment banking associates, two of whom have recently left the company and one who has stayed with and has just become a managing director. Two went to business school and entered investment banking as an associate after their MBA; the other started as an intern and went from analyst to partner before leaving the bank. We cobbled together their stories to profile a junior investment banker – the good, the bad, and the ugly of an average day. We then asked them for advice for those thinking about the career path.
6 a.m. – 8 a.m.: the alarm goes off
The time you wake up and arrive at the office depends entirely on the day – and the night before. If you’ve been working late at night / morning to complete an assignment, arriving after 9 a.m. is usually not a big deal. But if you’re at the top of an active deal or haven’t completed what you were working on the day before, you better be in the office before your bosses arrive.
9h00 – 12h00: Clean up and (maybe) move on
Believe it or not, the mornings of an average day as a junior investment banker tend to be more standard and less chaotic. Managing Directors, Vice Presidents, and Senior Partners will typically spend part of the morning going through the work you and your team did the night before. Unless you screwed up something wrong in their eyes, you’ll spend part of the morning tweaking any numbers, presentations, or pitchbooks you’ve already created.
Take advantage of that time if you have it, advises a former partner. âBe efficient from the start of the day and never put off what can be done immediately,â he said. “Ask members of your top-level team that you trust [wonât dump unnecessary work on you] for as much foresight as possible so you can prioritize and eliminate things before deadlines. Otherwise, when emergency fires do arise, it puts all your other work on the back burner and snowballs when you can’t touch it.
No one wants to hear that you weren’t able to complete an assignment because you had to move on, the current GM said. âI make a point of watching what people do when things are not hectic,â he said. âThe people who are waiting and waiting are the ones who will not be here in a year. “
11 am – 2 pm: Meetings
As for meetings, they are the best opportunity to sit down and learn the characteristics needed to step out of the junior ranks: social skills. âTo be a good enough lower level investment banker, all you really need are analytical skills and the ability to put in the hours. But to eventually generate income, you will need to have the social skills to acquire business and gain the trust of customers, âsaid the partner.
I don’t think a lot of people agree that certain âsuperstarâ analysts and first-year associates are used often, added the analyst-turned-associate. âThey’re good with numbers and never miss deadlines, so people are offloading more work to their desks,â she said. But if they can’t talk to clients or freeze in meetings, that’s all they’ll go for. Beware of becoming the “Excel dude,” she said. âThe real favorites of my team were sheltered from a lot of the heavy work [that bled into the mornings]. “
2 p.m .: Lunch
While you will often dine at your desk, try to get out of the office for lunch. âSeeing some daylight is always nice,â said the former male partner. Whether it’s leaving the office for lunch and especially for the night, try to make it a group trip. Solidarity in numbers.
2 p.m. – 7 p.m .: Get started
âThat’s when the day really starts,â said the former male partner. New assignments and priorities are assigned, meetings end, and feedback from clients or the CEO begins to flow. âIf you haven’t taken your Adderall yet, now is a good time,â said the CEO.
7 p.m. – unknown: hope for the best
The three associates said they spent many nights eating sushi delivered for dinner to their office, but it was not a daily thing. “When I was a [junior banker], people would absolutely dump their work on your desk when they walked out of the office as a test or some form of hazing, âthe CEO said. âIt doesn’t happen that often now,â he said, while acknowledging that a lot of real work is still being done at dusk. Make sure you sleep and shower before the next day, he said. “No one is going to promote a sloppy mess.”
The former intern and analyst said she stopped having practical sleepless nights once she became a sophomore associate. âI knew I wasn’t long for work at the time,â she said.
âNever complain. If you don’t like something, you have to highlight the problem and come up with an alternative,â said the male associate. âOf course you don’t like doing 3 o’clock pitchbooks. morning, but unless you can complete the project more efficiently, you have no choice, so find a better way or manage it. “
The associate added: “Never, ever ask for more work.”
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