The Best Day In The Life Of An Investment Banking Analyst

23 Comments | Investment Banking - Day in the Life & Week in the Life Accounts

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So I realize I’ve taken some heat from some who have said that my original “Day In The Life Of An Investment Banking Analyst” back in December 2007 was an unfair portrayal of the job.

It can’t always be that bad, right? There has to be some upside. You can’t always have days where you pull all-nighters and are yelled at by 5 different Associates for 10 different things while being forced to fix printers and provide tech support, right?

Right.

I admit it; not every day is like that. That was indeed one of my worst days ever. So I’ve searched through old emails, talked to friends and former colleagues, and have pored through my own personal journal all in a quest to find my best day as an investment banker.

And I think I’ve found it.

6:30 AM – Wake up. Not because of the job, but because a friend staying at my place is leaving on vacation and has to get to the airport.

7:00 AM – Get in and begin going through emails for the day. We’re in the final stages of an M&A deal and I’m setting up some calls between the buyer, seller and other parties like the lawyers and accountants.

This sounds mundane now, but at the time I felt like I was kind of a big deal.

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM – Join an update call with the rest of my group. Associate asks me to go print a couple hundred pages of material during the call and deliver it to them. Hey, not every part of this day was good.

9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Internal call with our banking group to decide on whether or not to take on a large, but highly speculative new deal. Remember, this was back when the market was frothy and times were good. Today, this probably wouldn’t happen.

Afterward, one of the Managing Directors pats me on the shoulder.

And you thought Analysts got no respect.

10:30 AM – 11:00 AM – Extended Starbucks break. Extended breaks can always be brushed off as, “I got caught up in a meeting” or “I was in X’s office chatting about Y deal.”

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Customer due diligence calls throughout most of the day. These are always amusing, because they usually consist of the private equity firm asking customers questions like, “So, what other alternatives did you consider and why did you pick this one?” and the customer responding with, “Actually I don’t even know what this company does, but it was cheap and we had already been using it for 10 years.”

In the background, the Associate on the deal and I are chatting over instant messenger and trying to decide which customer has made the dumbest comments thus far.

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Lawyers on both sides have made 0 progress on the Purchase Agreement in the past week. This is concealed because the language throughout the agreement has changed significantly.

However, everyone is brought to their knees when one young Associate at a well-known, prestigious law firm, points out that all the legalese is in fact 100% equivalent to what it was last week.

We decide to chat again tomorrow. Mocking of the lawyers over instant messenger proceeds in parallel.

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Another call held with private equity firm to discuss timing on the deal. Luckily, the Associate (and not me) sends out the incorrect call information so everyone is late and blaming him. Meanwhile I observe and smile with glee as I plug away in Excel in the background.

What, did you think this time slot was going to be me eating dinner? No sir, go to your 9 to 5 job for that.

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM – The deal is falling apart because of legal issues. When it happens, this is great because all you can do as an Analyst is merely sit back and watch. You don’t have to do any work. Client calls us to complain for a few hours and we listen and pretend to care.

Meanwhile, another deal in our office is also falling apart due to similar legal issues.

This might sound like a bad day. It certainly was a bad day for the firm, but it was great for me since I wasn’t really doing anything other than listening to calls and Internet surfing.

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM – The Grand Finale. Just as I’m getting ready to sneak out early, the CFO (I use that term with reservation; he was more of a glorified Controller) of the company in question calls me and asks my views on the process and what is going to happen.

Yes, you read that correctly. A quasi-CFO called an Analyst to ask for my thoughts and not just my Excel. I mentioned this was a very, very screwed up deal, right?

I’m sure stranger things have happened. Just not very frequently.

I get to ramble on for awhile while the CFO listens intently. Afterward I proceed to run around telling all my peers of my accomplishment.

9:00 PM – Go home extremely early and watch a TNT rerun of “A Perfect Day.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Rob Lowe and The West Wing, but this movie… just wasn’t good, even for a made-for-TV movie.

It is a fitting title though, even if my day wasn’t quite perfect.

So that’s a good day as an Analyst: laughing at other peoples’ misfortunes, not having to do any real work, talking to the client on the phone over something they view as important, and leaving early to watch a bad made-for-TV movie.

Are you living the dream?

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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23 Comments to “The Best Day In The Life Of An Investment Banking Analyst”

Comments

  1. says

    Hey mate, i found your site through google and it is excellent. I have started a somewhat parellel site except that i do not actually work in IB. I will continue to read your site over the coming months and i will organise a link to you on my blogroll.

    Keep it up…

  2. 1st Year says

    Wow, that was ridiculously accurate. Good to know someone’s giving a real perspective to prospective analysts.

    • says

      Thanks – glad you enjoyed. Yeah I’ve never been able to find anything else that gave an accurate portrayal of junior banking life, which is why I started this site.

    • says

      Thanks. Yeah my attention to detail has atrophied as my time in banking draws to a close… hopefully the VP won’t notice that mistake (just fixed it).

  3. Kaushik says

    I just want to know if the working hours will reduce through years of work (2-5). Is it always 12-14 hours a day or will it gradually reduce?

    Thanks.

  4. Carla says

    Since IB life sounds so horrible…why do you do it? Is it strictly for the money or you like the challenges? I mean from what I’ve read so far, I don’t feel like even you like your job.

    I am interested in doing an IB internship soon in fact…but I’m ready to discipline myself but now I’m a bit fearful after reading this. haha

  5. David says

    Unrelated question here, but if you’re cold calling, how do you follow up on someone who tells you they’re not hiring? Thanks in advance!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Follow up and tell them you’re still interested in their company if anything pops up. Try to engage in a conversation with them and find out what they really need. Find out if your skills/experience can fill that need.

  6. Hai Nam Nguyen says

    Hi,

    I find your website very interesting and informative.

    I’m a student at Johns Hopkins University. I’m in my junior year right mow. My major is Bachelor’s in Science of Business. My GPA is 3.4. I can speak 3 languages perfectly ( Vietnamese, English, Czech) and keep my German at a conversational level. I have found an internship in a start-up company, I work as a business intern, doing administrative works (filings, answering calls, data entry). What’s my odd of getting into IB company, because I heard they require Master degree.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Your odds would increase if you have some sort of IB experience. I think most analyst roles don’t require a Master degree; it really depends on the role!

        • M&I - Nicole says

          If you don’t have any IB experience, you’ll be competing against people who do have experience in the field. You’ll have to find a way to demonstrate your knowledge of and passion in Finance. Furthermore, having a GPA >3.5 is a must for most first rounds. I’m not quite sure if a Masters will help. Your odds are so-so, but I may be very wrong because I have not spoken with/met you before

  7. AHS says

    Hey man, great site. Just a quick question on an unrelated topic. What’s better for breaking into IB- Doing Bsc. actuarial science from london school of economics or an engineering/computer science/physics/math major from new york university with minors in finance and business-related topics etc(undergrad). Please consider the job opportunities,respect, earning potential ,chances of getting an ivy MBA and social networking in your reply. Thanks in advance.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Both schools are of equal calibre to be honest. It might be better if you are going to Stern (NYU). You may want to ask yourself if you’re more interested in NY or London geographically. I’d say NY may offer better prospects because the economy in Europe isn’t that great.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Good question. I haven’t seen too many bankers that stutter but I may be wrong. Many stutter from time to time, but if it is a bigger issue than that, it may affect how people perceive you. However, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Try your best to work around the problem by working on the way you speak and come across to others, and focus on networking and other things to get yourself a role in the industry

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