Saturday Night In Investment Banking: How To Ruin A Dinner

41 Comments | Investment Banking - Random Misfortune & Mistakes

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10:40 p.m. – I am at my friend’s apartment, pre-gaming with Tuaca, Grey Goose, and other fine spirits. The clock strikes 10:45, and we are now “Rolling Hard” – banker lingo for partying.”

-A Night In The Life, The Leveraged Sellout

I’ve received a lot of emails lately on lifestyle and what the hours are like at all levels in finance, from Analyst to MD.  Many of you assume that Managing Directors have a great lifestyle, filled with massages on tropical islands, tours to exotic paradises and more models and bottles than you could imagine.

But even Managing Directors can have their weekends ruined.  And Analysts very frequently have their weekends ruined.

The Time: Roughly one year into my time in investment banking, on a Saturday night.  I was burned out already, but bonuses were coming up and this was back when they were actually good, so I had something to look forward to.

The Setting: A restaurant near my place.

A friend from out of town was visiting and about 20 of us had gathered at this restaurant.  No one had seen me in about 11 months (since training ended and I actually started working), so that alone caused quite a bit of shock.

“Wow, he’s still alive!”

“I though you were in jail, did you get out early!”

“Shouldn’t you be at the office?”

Things were off to a good start…

6:00 PM – We order 3 rounds of drinks.  Still waiting on friend.

6:30 PM – Friend gets there.  Several more rounds of drinks ordered.

7:00 PM – We order enough food for 60 people.

7:30 PM – As we’re eating, I get a series of Blackberry messages from my team.  I try to avoid looking down, but the red light starts flashing… and flashing…. and flashing, drawing me toward it like a homing beacon.

So I have no choice but to give in and look at the emails.

One of our clients has a Board Meeting the next day (Sunday) and needs analysis on an offer from a potential buyer.  The email chain shows the CEO emailing my MD, who in turn emailed the VP on the deal, who in turn emailed the Associate… and finally it has arrived in my inbox.

Why would you ever have a Board Meeting on a Sunday?!

7:35 PM – I reply and tell the Associate I will be back “shortly” and get to work on the presentation.  He tells me he has a “previous engagement” so he won’t be able to help out or look at anything until “later.”

7:45 PM – Say goodbye to my friends, tell them not to expect to see me for another 11 months or so, and head to the office to work on the presentation. 

8:15 PM – Immediately realize that we don’t have the necessary financial information to do anything.  Decide to twiddle my thumbs and wait around for Associate/VP to respond to my emails while I chat with friends online.

9:30 PM – Finally hear back from the Associate after his “previous engagement” has ended.  He instructs me to use “ballpark” figures (fake numbers) for the entire presentation and that he would look at it “in the morning.”

2:30 AM – Finish up and head home.  Friends are sitting around my place drinking.  The hookah is out.  I know there’s a 50% chance I will be woken up the next day at around 7 AM, so I head to sleep.

Sunday

7:30 AM – Associate calls my cell phone repeatedly to wake me up.  I finally get up and explain to him (again) that we don’t have any of the numbers.  He informs me that the Board Meeting is at 2 PM and we need to finish by then.

9:30 AM – The client finally sends us the necessary financial information.  I re-do the entire presentation.

1:55 PM -  After email exchange back and forth between me, the Associate, the VP and the MD over several hours, we finally send the presentation to the client for their Board Call.

2:30 PM – Call goes by without client looking at presentation or referencing it at all.  Head home.

Got weekend?

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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41 Comments to “Saturday Night In Investment Banking: How To Ruin A Dinner”

Comments

  1. ikemen says

    that’s very similar to private bankers, 24/7 on call from clients – a lot of times not even about work..
    at least yours is about real work, not waking up at 3am solving your client’s daughter’s personal shit she left somewhere at bahamas~!

    • says

      In this case it was real work, but I’ve often been pestered for some of the dumbest stuff… not sure on solving a client’s daughter’s personal problems, though :)

  2. says

    Probably a dumb question, but in a situation like the one you had on Saturday night, do you have to first go back to your place and change into a suit, or can you just go straight to the office in jeans, a t-shirt, and flip-flops?

    Also, what would happen if you just acted like you accidentally left your bberry at home and missed the emails? Does anyone ever do something like this, or do people not attempt this because they want top bucket?

    • says

      No you don’t have to wear formal clothes on a weekend… if no clients are around you don’t need to dress formally.

      If you pretended like you didn’t see the emails, you would get in a ton of trouble and might even get fired unless you had a REALLY good reason e.g. near-death experience or something.

      I’ve never seen anyone attempt this unless they were already on their way out.

  3. Sydney Banker says

    Haha! So true!! I remember having to get 20 books printed, bound and sent to the clients on a Sat. Of course, I found out about it in the midst of a 20km hike about 4 hours away from the city with intermittent mobile reception… the excitement never stops!

  4. West Coast Banker says

    I just started my last year of school after doing a banking internship on the West Coast and reading this made me realize how happy I am to be here. This couldn’t be any more realistic. And the worst part is the last line: “Call goes by without client looking at presentation or referencing it at all.” You come to find out that this is the norm. For anyone thinking the West Coast will be a better lifestyle, the people might be a little more chill (i.e., they talk instead of scream), but you still do just as much work.

    • IBK says

      I’ve worked in investment banking for the last 25 years and although I rose to a pretty high position I still was hands on on major deals and board presentations as was my boss who headed he division. This was at a top tier US investment bank. I don’t see any of the dedication I used to in young Analysts and Associates. The remarks about the financials and not having them are pretty lame. Perhaps this sort of laid back attitude is why all of the number crunching is being sent offshore to India – I doubt they sit around texting waiting to be told what to do.

      • says

        There’s a thin line between “dedication” and “stupidity.”

        A scenario like this where the client wants a last-minute job on something and hasn’t even given us the right information to do it would be called “stupidity.”

        Since I now own my own businesses and work with clients, I see this type of behavior every day. The nice thing about what I do now is that I can always say “No” – at a bank, though, when a $10 million fee is on the line it’s hard to do that.

  5. says

    This is as true as it is common. So glad I quit banking within a year to take a hedgie job. The hours aren’t the worst thing – it’s that your work is marginal at best and meaningless de rigueur.
    I absolutely love it too when some MDs talk about how IB analysts today don’t have any sense of honor (which is what my old MD said when I told him I quit effective right now), but have no problem laying off a bunch of hard-working and loyal kids (after telling them they graduated the accelerated analyst problem to avoid paying severance) instead of taking a smaller cut of the fees so they can afford to keep them for another year.
    Any notion of white gloved investment banking died long ago, but it started rotting at the top, not the bottom.

    • says

      Well, someone liked their time in banking. :)

      But yeah I definitely agree with you, things aren’t what they used to be… these days it’s kill or be killed.

  6. IndianinNY says

    Loved all the information on your website! Made me realize that all that money you may make in IB is going to come at such a great tradeoff that it might not be worth it in my case.

    I just completed my MBA which I did right after my undergrad at a non target school in Long Island. Probably not the best idea, but at least I’m not saddled with loans and that stuff.

    Currently debating between an internship to full time track offer at a botique IB firm or a Wealth Management gig at a much larger shop.

    Hoping the Wealth Management gig can provide me with some great networking chances with HNI’s and also unlimited pay potential if I get enough clients. Would you agree that It all boils down to a numbers game in Wealth Management down the road? aka if you manage 100mm you get a net of 1-1.5mm depending on fee structure.

    Or would you recommend IB due to the greater flexibility and exit opportunities it offers? Especially since its so early in my career.

    • IndianinNY says

      Another quick question:
      So if I start of at this boutique as an Analyst and work there for 2-3 years do you think it is feasible for me to jump to a BB but at an associate position since I already have my MBA from a non target?
      Just asking because I know if I start off in Wealth Management Im probably going to be stuck in that field for good.

    • says

      It really depends on what you want to do. IB does give you more options, but PWM has a better lifestyle and potentially high pay as well. I would go with IB if you don’t know what you want to do yet.

  7. Double D says

    So, you were drinking that night. You can show up to work functionally intoxicated, but not drunk?

  8. b for beautiful says

    Hi,I would like to know if the london school of business management is a suitable place to obtain my mba?and is it recognised in top investment banks such as JP Morgan?

      • flower says

        Hi, beautiful’s question caught my attention I am a south african student and want to study with the cti college whch offers a london school of business management qualification.I’m going to study for my bba nxt year and I was wondering whch college to go to.I’m in south africa and cnt exactly go to harvard,oxford,etc. Which colleges are recognised as top colleges in south africa that you know of?and do is a UNISA(university of south africa) a target university for top investment banks? Plz help me I’m in desparate need of assistance

  9. Ayganish says

    Maybe its a personal question or you have already answered it billion times, but where do you work now?

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