Stuff Investment Bankers Like: Trophy Wives, Talking About Cocaine, Pls Do, Buenos Aires, Making Empty Threats, Lying, and Reminiscing

68 Comments | Investment Banking - Lingo, Culture & Staying Alive

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Let’s skip the witty introductions and get right into it.

#1 Multiple Trophy Wives

trophy_wivesFor the investment banker, trophy wives are required due to both pride and necessity.

Pride: What kind of rich, successful guy only has 1 wife? Come on, even in third world countries polygamy is common place, so why can’t you get yourself another wife or 3?

Necessity: Bankers always need to replenish their wife counts. Excessive drug usage, long hours, and constant travel means that multiple divorces are just as common as multiple wives.

With hard luck falling on many financiers these days, some senior bankers have resigned themselves to a mere 2 or 3 wives rather than the 5-10 that were common in years’ past.

Don’t let this fool you, though: underneath their calm exterior, these bankers are secretly running detailed Excel spreadsheets mapping the rise in bonuses as the economy recovers to the number and quality of trophy wives they can procure with their new-found plunder.

#2 Talking About Cocaine

cocaineYou might be under the impression that all investment bankers actually do cocaine on a regular basis. Hey, I don’t blame you, but there are 2 main flaws with your theory:

  1. With the way bonuses were last year and this year, most bankers are more worried about affording their mortgage rather than buying an extra hit or two.
  2. Fundamentally, bankers don’t do things. They talk about doing things. It’s just like how they don’t actually create value – they just help other people sell value, and take a cut of it for themselves.

There’s no subject that bankers and wanna-be-bankers love to discuss more than doing drugs – and cocaine is the perennial favorite.

Just be aware that if someone starts talking about doing cocaine or recounting a story about cocaine, he’s just lying to make himself look better (see #6 below).

#3 Pls Do

pls_doBeing creatures of sloth, investment bankers love taking shortcuts to avoid actual work while making themselves look better in the process.

This leads to giant email chains between your deal team, the Managing Directors, and your clients that always end with someone senior emailing you the infamous “Pls Do” request.

Typing, “Please spread these comps for Brazilian mining companies with between $100 Million and $1 Billion revenue and look at EV/Revenue, EV/EBITDA, and P/E” would take far too much effort – why not just rely on the email below and attach a simple “Pls Do” request above it?

Just as senior bankers enjoy whipping out the “Pls Do” on junior bankers, so too do junior bankers enjoy crushing interns with a strong dose of “Pls Do” whenever there’s work they really don’t want to do (Converting PDF to Excel, I’m looking at you).

#4 Buenos Aires

buenos_airesYou might think that Rio or Amsterdam are the leading destinations for former bankers with a lot of time on their hands now, but you’d be wrong once again.

The winner is neither of those places – it’s Buenos Aires, the city in the developed world with the best ratio of models to cheap bottles (and cheap models too, but let’s not go there).

And yes, I know Thailand, India, Eastern Europe, and other places are “cheaper,” but those destinations are not “developed” and are therefore unsuitable for bankers.

Even Playboy Magazine came to the same conclusion recently: Buenos Aires is the preferred destination for newly unemployed bankers, especially those who have a nice nest egg saved up and ready to spend on beautiful Argentinian women.

The only problem with Buenos Aires is that there are so many other bankers there now, you’ll probably want to kill yourself when you walk into certain bars.

But you can still live like a rock star on $30K per year.

#5 Making Empty Threats

empty_threatsIf talking about cocaine and plotting to move to Argentina are second-nature to bankers, “making empty threats” has to be #3.

The most common empty threats are variants of the following:

  1. “I can’t stand [Insert Name of MD/VP/Associate Here]! If he gives me one more stupid assignment, I’m going to quit even if I don’t get my bonus!”
  2. “This place sucks so much, I’m going to move to [Insert Name of Competitor Here] tomorrow!” (more plausible in boom times)

These threats are typically made either late at night in fits of anger, or during one of the 10 daily trips to Starbucks that are required in investment banking.

You can glance at these for 2 seconds and realize that both are empty threats, because:

  1. As mentioned above, bankers like to talk a lot without taking action and are extremely risk averse – they don’t like doing anything that might be remotely interesting if it could result in full or partial failure.
  2. Even if bonuses are a measly $10-$20K, no banker in his or her right mind would give up money just to prove a point. It’s all about the dollars.

There are countless other empty threats indigenous to banking culture, of course. But threatening to give up money or prestige – the only 2 things that any banker really cares about – are at the top of the list.

#6 Lying to Make Themselves Look Better

Wanna Make A Bet?There are a number of standard items that bankers lie about, but here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Bonus #’s. Notice how this year (2009) there haven’t been solid, widely reported and consistent bonus numbers anywhere – that’s because the numbers were so low that bankers felt compelled to lie to each other simply to cover up their misery.
  2. Girls (or guys if you happen to be the lone Banker Chick). Sure, she was a Top Model… and she spent the night at your place… and, and… oh wait, you just got drunk and passed out on your couch once again, I forgot.
  3. Future jobs. Sure, you got the offer at KKR but you didn’t want to accept it due to “lifestyle reasons.” Yeah right, you just screwed up your modeling tests with your meager technical skills and got hosed by that guy at Goldman TMT.

Lying to make yourself look better is essential in many fields, but bankers do it better than most anyone else.

#7: Reminiscing About the “Good Ol’ Days” or the “Bad Ol’ Days”

reminiscingIf it’s 2008-2009, senior bankers love to talk about “the good ol’ days” when deals were actually happening and when they were actually getting paid more than plumbers.

If it’s 2005-2006, senior bankers love to talk about “the bad ol’ days” when nothing was happening in 2001-2003 and when they were lucky to get 1 closed deal for every 100 pitches.

And as soon as you get interns, you’ll be reminiscing and feeding them the same stories of how many trophy wives you had, how much cocaine you did, and how many trips you took to Buenos Aires back in the good ol’ days.

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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68 Comments to “Stuff Investment Bankers Like: Trophy Wives, Talking About Cocaine, Pls Do, Buenos Aires, Making Empty Threats, Lying, and Reminiscing”

Comments

      • Chris says

        Hey! I’m from Buenos Aires. All that about the models is true haha but i cannot assure you that you could live like a rock star with a 30K-dollar salary! Actually, the cost of living is one of the highest in the world, competing with London!

  1. remo says

    haha great article. after reading your stuff im not even sure how to approach interviewing (if there is any) this fall. am i still supposed to pretend that i think banking is the shit, that ill be closing deals, etc (like i thought when i was a freshman)? im not that great an actor haha.

  2. AC says

    That Playboy Article you linked to paints a dark picture of things during a down market.

    I’m still not so clear as to the long-term repercussions of being fired in IB. Is it the “kiss of death,” does it mean that your chances of ever getting a job in IB again are very slim?

    Or, on the other hand, would having the IB experience put you in a good position to get back into industry once the market hits an upswing and firms start hiring again (provided, of course, that you were originally fired due to the down market and not because you punched your supervisor in the face before applying the ol’ “dragon death lock”)?

    • says

      It depends what level you’re at… the younger you are, the less serious getting fired is. Senior bankers who get laid off typically find it extremely difficult to ever get back into the industry, and if they do it at all they usually have to go to smaller / start-up firms.

      Having the experience definitely helps you, but typically if you want to jump back in after doing something else you will need business school or something else to re-position yourself first.

      It all goes back to something quite basic: there is no guaranteed way to make a lot of money without risk and work. Any job is a tradeoff between risk, work, and money… and banking involves a lot more risk than most people think.

  3. Sam says

    The irony here is that Buenos Aires is where SC Governor Sanford had his affairs. Apparently it’s not just ibankers spending time there.

    Interestingly, his wife was formerly a banker at Lazard.

    • Eve says

      Yep, I hear stories like that all the time: “She was a cool banker/PE/Hedge fund employee, quit her job to start a family, and then that jerk left her for a 20-year-old model/stripper/immigrant”

      Gets me into thinking whether it’s even worth it for a well-educated hot chick to start an IB career… Or should one just start collecting similar benefits right away as a trophy wife instead?

      Ideas and suggestion highly appreciated;)

      • says

        Are you saying that you are a well-educated hot girl (I never use the word ‘chick’), Eve?

        ; )

        Don’t bother trying to be a trophy wife to anyone. Find the right boy that makes you feel special and when you are sure that he cares more about you than he does about himself… marry him. I promise it won’t go wrong if you live your life that way.

  4. Summer Analyst says

    Haha. Good one. But then, again, it comes with the job. Crap we do for our clients boils down to those 7 things too. lol

        • tim says

          Actually the cocaine thing with clients is true, I have a friend working in wealth management in Geneva who gets his clients almost anything, (as long as the money they bring in is greater) cars, sex, cocaine…
          He has a no limits credit card (which has essentially the bank’s worth)

  5. jojo mukherjee says

    Hi Brian,
    I have a question completely unrelated to cocaine (lol!). Are equity research analysts at a disadvantage while applying for PE positions? Also, is it relatively easier to get into Equity Research as opposed to banking. How hard is it to switch from a research analyst to a banking analyst?

    • says

      Yes, research analysts are disadvantaged when applying to PE because they’ll assume you don’t know anything about LBO modeling etc. It can be done, but it’s much easier coming from IBD.

      I don’t think it’s any easier to get into equity research because there are fewer positions to begin with – they also rarely hire at the entry level, and most banks have been cutting back in recent times because research does not generate revenue.

      Switching from a research analyst to banking analyst can be done, but it’s 100% dependent on the economy at the time… if it’s back on an upswing it won’t be that difficult, but if places aren’t hiring much then you’ll face a lot of competition from former bankers.

  6. Nick says

    I’m currently doing an ibank internship. Is there any risk that they could find out that I’m meeting with other firms/getting lunch, etc..would they be pissed?

    Also, do they track your internet usage to see how much time you waste on other activities?

    • says

      I don’t think internet usage is tracked rigorously, or if it is they never really look at it / care unless you’re literally doing no work.

      They could find out that you’re meeting with other banks, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it… just don’t do anything obvious, like meeting with someone who knows everyone at your bank.

  7. Intern says

    I’m at a MM firm with a few interns. Do MM firms always give their FT offers at the end of summer or is there a chance I’ll get done and find out they won’t decide for a few months? If they don’t make this decision then can I ask where I stand before I start FT recruiting?

    • says

      Hardly anyone gives out FT offers to everyone. They may take awhile to decide, and if that’s the case I would go into FT recruiting under the assumption that they will say no, just so you cover your bases. I would only ask once at the end of your internship and if they don’t say anything there’s not much you can do besides waiting.

  8. Bottles says

    Could you maybe do a post about bottle service? I keep reading and hearing about the ridiculous nights bankers have, including hanging out with celebs and taking models home with them. Assuming I’ll be a banker that can still afford this, this is something I’d like to experience. Can you tell us more about this?

    • says

      Hahahaha that is such an exaggeration. At the junior level you’re more likely to go to sleep early than you are to get celebrities.

      But hey, if it helps motivate you, you can keep on thinking that way.

      As a junior banker your life is 90% work, 9% sleep, and maybe 1% fun if you occasionally get to leave early.

      I went for bottle service maybe twice in bank, and it was stupid and overpriced both times.

  9. Inzaghi says

    Argentina a developed country? How did you reach this conclusion?

    It has amazing women haha, but it is not “developed”. It is actually quite poor if compared to other major countries in Latin America.

    The only major players are really Brazil and Mexico.

      • Rohan says

        Argentina is not developed , maybe developed as a holiday destination.Many blonde chicks there thats why many go there to have fun , plus many speak english

  10. Rich says

    Brian, #2 had me in tears – only thing that came to mind was Patrick Bateman from American Psycho in the phone booth. Enough said.

  11. FLH says

    You should definitely go to Sao Paulo for models and bottles as it is the largest financial center in Latin America as well as the largest fashion one….Buenos Aires is rather decadent these days..kkkkk and then you can head to the beaches in Florianopolis (south Brazil) and you’ll get the models+bottles+beaches, the holy trinity ;-) the only downside is that Brazil is definitely more expensive than Argentina…….

  12. D says

    I’m amazed you mentioned Buenos Aires in your blog! (I mean, many people don’t even know where Bs As is) But I’m not so surprised by the way you describe it. It is really like that: a lot of hot women, the best red wines (Malbec), terrific places to travel around Argentina and one of the most awesome’s nightlife.

    I’m from Bs As!! And an example of the beauties you can find in these lands haha Feel free to e-mail me, Bri ;)

    The issue about developed or underdeveloped depends on who is making the statistics and what you may define as development.
    From my POV, people here are happy and passionate, no matter they social status. There are great gaps in terms of wealth, but that doesn’t affect IBankers who come here (unless someone robs their BB)

    BTW, talking about Argentina, how do employers see Argentineans? I’m going next spring to study in a Ivy league school for an exchange program. I study business. Do you think that I might get through the selecting process and make it into IB in Wall Street to do a summer internship? How can I get interviews? Anything on campus that I might take advantage from, like clubs, talks, informational interviews?

    Thanks in advance!
    Your blog is amazing!! I totally love it!

    • says

      Haha ok I’ll let you know if I make it down there at some point. I don’t think banks view Argentineans in any particular way – it depends on your work experience, grades, and so on, just like it would for anyone else. You should definitely tie your background into your story – maybe spin something about wanting to move back there and start your own investment firm or boutique bank.

  13. Confused says

    “That’s what corporate America wants. People who seem like bold risk takers but never actually do anything. Actually doing things get you fired. ” – Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother.

    Your words on how bankers like to talk and not to do reminds me of Barney!

  14. Alisa says

    Hey just writing to say I really enjoy reading your blog! But just wondering, do investment analysts have time for girlfriends? I know I know, they haven’t even got time for themselves much less date. But surely they too would like to have gf, unless even having a gf is too time consuming for them.

    Ah and you wonder why I’m asking this. I dig this guy who works for UBS. Dropped him a text a week ago. Have yet to hear back from him. Not sure if 1) too busy 2) no interest in girls 3) too busy to have time for girls

    Also, trophy wives aside, is there like a certain type of girls bankers go for (also models aside). I work in media (yes yes we love to hate Wall Street).

  15. Jenna says

    Only dumb, hot chicks marry rich men. The smart, hot ones just sleep with them for the gifts and other such spoils. Then we go out, make our own money and find a man who loves us, genuinely. BTDT.

  16. PE stud says

    This is yet another question irrelevant to the article. I started in an insurance company’s PE arm right after my bachelor graduation. Now I have been there for 3 months. I now really understand why people say PE is the promising land. Small team, a lot to learn (unlike IBD), bankers and others kiss ur ass, a nice boss (that depends) whom I would love to see myself to be in a few years. But the question is, a lot of people have been telling me that it’s better to start on sell side then jump to buy side like PE. But given the current situation in IB, and even if i manage to get an offer to start in IB and stay there for a few years, I might not be able to squeeze into PE. Or I would simply be doing what I am doing now. So what is your thought on this? Should I stay or leave for IBD?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d do what you’re doing now if you like what you do, your boss and think you’re learning a lot. I agree that it might be better if you have had sell side experience but it depends on your circumstances!

      • PE stud says

        Thank for ur answer, nicole. First let me clarify a bit about the name. I wanna make it “PE student” instead of stud. But somehow I missed out “ent”.

        In terms of exit options, what can people with PE experience do after a couple of years besides staying there for the rest of their lives? Is it possible for people to move from buy side to sell side?

  17. Rohan says

    off topic stuff about bottles-
    Do most american women look beautiful because of silly makeup and plastic surgeries? Do most of them marry i-bankers knowing they’d get divorced later and get a chunk of their husbands assets?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I cannot comment because this varies according to the individual. Makeup and plastic surgeries can make women look more attractive. Some marry bankers and some don’t. Trophy wives etc are all just generalizations – varies according to individual case.

  18. JL says

    I wish you’d write your articles while taking into account women that work in this field as well. There are plenty of female bankers to merit a consideration for our own mileu in the industry. Making money isn’t based on gender, plenty of wealthy women bankers making a fortune for their companies. So, instead of talking about trophy wives, let’s talk about trophy husbands. Like how to bag that head of global equities after he gets a divorce from his wife.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Good point. Well head of global equities isn’t exactly a “trophy” husband – depends on how you define “trophy”. Perhaps say a George Clooney or Ryan Reynolds type? ;) Just kidding. We appreciate your input and no, I definitely agree with you that plenty of capable and successful female bankers make a fortune for their companies too.

  19. Mark says

    that Playboy article is total Bullshit, i know the guy it was written about…does not paint an accurate picture of that country or the scene for finance types from US who go out there, just a bunch of baseless, exaggerated nonsense.

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