Reasons NOT To Do Investment Banking: Models And Bottles

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

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“I just purchased my third pair of Ferragamo loafers, and I think my wardrobe is nearly complete! Looking into my closet makes me harder than I get when I smell the deep, earthy ink aroma of a fresh WSJ.”

-My Wardrobe, Leveraged Sellout

I get a lot of questions on good reasons to say you want to be an investment banker. The good news for everyone out there is that the list of reasons to do investment banking is fairly standardized. There’s not a whole lot you can say that I haven’t already heard before, and to be honest, standard answers like “I want to learn a lot” are still good ones.

But as an investment banking analyst, there is typically more downside than upside in most of what you do.

The same goes for interviewing and especially superday interviews. It’s easier to give a bad answer than to surprise someone with a brilliant answer, because there are no brilliant answers: just good answers, mediocre answers and terrible answers. Today I’m going to focus on the downside: mediocre and terrible answers. Reasons NOT to do investment banking.

Models And Bottles

This is one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen on “banking lifestyle” (ok, I guess there haven’t been all that many videos on this topic), but it doesn’t mean you should say “models and bottles” when asked why you want to do banking. I don’t think anyone’s actually foolish enough to answer with this exactly, but any variant of making money/living the high life/getting beautiful women is a bad answer.

A lot of (most?) bankers are actually in the job for this very reason, but it’s not acceptable to admit it or suggest that’s why you’re interested in the field. Yes, investment banking salaries are legendary, but it’s taboo to discuss that.

Sometimes they try to put you on the spot in stress test superday interviews and get you to admit this under duress. In one interview they asked me, “Are you motivated by money?”

How do you answer such a question without admitting that you are motivated by money but also letting them you know you are in fact motivated by money?

“I’m not motivated if you just hand me a pile of money. I am motivated to work hard and earn money through my efforts.”

Plus, if you actually admit to doing it for the models and bottles, you’ll probably be fired (like A.J. here in the video once HR found out).

You Want An Entrepreneurial Work Environment

This one is a bit more controversial. I’ve heard interviewees say their long-term goals are to start their own companies or do something independent, and they’re just using banking as a stepping stone. Even if this is your actual goal, I would strongly recommend against saying so in an interview.

Working at a bank, especially as an investment banking analyst, and doing something entrepreneurial are completely different. As Samuel L. Jackson might say, “ain’t the same ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same sport.” At the very top levels of banking, what the Managing Directors do is somewhat entrepreneurial because they have to build the business and bring in new clients. It’s not the same as building a business from nothing, but it’s closer than an Analyst will ever be.

The other issue here is that investment banks want to see that you are committed to the job for at least 2-3 years. Even if you don’t want to stay in banking, they would be much more comfortable knowing you want to go to private equity or join a hedge fund, because at least those are still in the realm of finance.

To Say You Could Hack It

This one, again, falls under the realm of something you wouldn’t say, but might have in the back of your mind if you want to do something completely different eventually, such as public service.

Although you can learn a lot in 2 years of banking, it is not worth the pain and suffering you go through if you just want to show people “you could hack it.” If you really do want to do it and then go off and do something unrelated, it would be most rational to be an Analyst for 1 year and then leave for other pursuits. I know of several people who have done something similar. While it’s still painful, 1 year is better than 2 (as long as you’re not at UBS LA). And you still get to take advantage of those investment banking bonuses.

Most of your learning occurs in the first 6 months – 1 year period, so you won’t be missing out on much if you leave after that; the main drawback will be fewer closed deals to discuss.

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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77 Comments to “Reasons NOT To Do Investment Banking: Models And Bottles”

Comments

  1. Joe says

    This is a question every prospect is bound to get. I always hated the idea that my “why do I want to do banking” answer would be the same as a lot of others (in a general sense), but I suppose there are other areas that I can shine in (talking about my resume, experiences, etc.).

    Once again, great article. Keep up the good work.

  2. says

    Joe, thanks – glad you enjoyed the article. Yeah I personally hate the “why i-banking” question and avoid asking it when interviewing people, but you’d be surprised just how many candidates have poor responses. Standard answers with your own personal touch tend to work best.

  3. Eric says

    Once I land an investment banking job I will _always_ show up at the club with the appropriate arm candy. Models and bottles eh? I now have something to look forward to.

    • Elyau says

      I can tell you the ex I-bankers at b-school STILL think they’re hot shit and just as attractive when they left college…NOT. I am at a top (or the top – always debatable) MBA program straight out from undergrad, and it’s a little pathetic how these guys still think they can bag girls my age. They could get a stupid one, probably – which, hey, if that satisfies you, go for it!

      Not hating on I-banking itself (I’ve considered it often). I don’t disrespect I-bankers I know for what they do – I didn’t respect them BEFORE they even took the job. Unfortunately they usually weren’t the brightest people in college and didn’t have much of a personality – never really the ones who were going to shake things up.

  4. says

    I got away with talking about how I wanted to build a company in the future and create value. Really got into the nitty gritty of how I thought the team I would launch with would be more important than the idea. Talked about using banking as a stepping stone to either VC or smaller PE shop to get connected. After getting connected building a team of 4 to 5 people then raising the capital we would need for a venture.

    Most interviewers want you to be honest about what your aspirations are. They don’t want you to say “yeah, yeah, yeah investment banking”. They know that no one interviewing in front of them right out of college really wants to be or knows that they are going to be a BFL (banker for life). In the end interviewers are just trying to see if you get it and your view of what banking is about is realistic.

    As far as Cain, Joshua Tree, Marquee, etc. They are fun for awhile but after 2 red-eye flights and a 135 hour work week the only thing you want to do outside of the office is sleep.

    -The Prince
    http://www.princeofwallstreet.com

  5. says

    Prince: I actually used similar tactics and it worked fine. Still, when interviewing candidates I am definitely more comfortable hearing someone wants to do “business” or “finance” or is really interested in the markets vs. wanting to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, because he/she could just leave at any point and do that.

    Honesty is important, but so is telling them a unique version of what they want to hear. :)

    And yes, NYC “banker” clubs generally get old very quickly.

  6. mlbanker says

    I’m a second year analyst at a bulge bracket firm and am going to a top 5 PE firm in August. Still find hard to get sufficient arm candy to come with us to cain, usually end up just buying bottles and meeting the candy there..sigh.. oh well

  7. says

    So where are the models? I see subpar girls……….

    Real models hang with the big boys like Donald Trump, the type of guy that can fly a bunch of women around in his private helicopter touring buildings he owns in Manhattan. And even Trump is poor amongst the wealthy, just check out Forbes most wealthy list and Trump doesn’t even make the cut.

    As a first year Analyst, you need to learn something about humility. Even in a hot economy, a first year Analyst can’t afford much after tax and Manhattan rent. You don’t see hedge fund guys in Fairfield County, CT making silly videos like these. Because real wealthy people don’t want to bother with this non-sense. They would rather spend their time enjoying life rather than showing off.

    Not trying to hate as the kid probably have potential, but it’s worth pointing out that the kid is being an immature jack-ass. I wonder what his banker friends were thinking when they saw this rookie first year Analyst out with his Sony camcorder trying to look cool….

    • Kevin says

      Couldn’t agree more. Those girls are terrible and was that boxter he was driving? I see high school kids with those…

  8. The_Economist says

    I-Banking exposes you to an unreal environment; where your only real sustenance is cocaine, caffeine or some comparable amphetamine. Money is great, but does not neccessarily motivate everyone. This aspect seems to be over-emphasized in just about every MBA program (at least the one I attended). An MBA is the most senseless master’s degree the education system offers. Give me a break. Porter’s 5 forces is speculative bullshit, as well as every other “theory” in Organizational Behavior, Marketing and Organizational Decision Making and Design. In those studies, their samples are not representative and skew the results; even though the solution falls in the 5% confidence interval, and appears to be statistically significant (I’m sure those researchers fail to acknowledge Type I or Type II errors).

    The point is that money is not a universal incentive. The United States is a superficial society. Has anyone ever read “Theory of the Leisure Class” by Thorstein Veblen? A great majority of people suffer from relative depravation and compensate their insecurities through conspicuous consumption (i.e. Ferrari’s, Rolex’s, houses that they can never fully occupy even at their best party, etc.). M&A’s, hostile buyouts, liquidations and spin-off’s are all Shumpeterian economics. A Capitalistic economy is supposed to be self-corrective (in which Creative Destruction exists), but a proffession is not to be exploited from this principle.

    “The family which takes its mauve and cerise, air-conditioned, power-steered and power-breaked automobile out for a tour passes through cities that are badly paved, made hiddeous by litter, blighted buildings, billboards and posts for wires that should long since have been put underground. They pass into a country side that has been rendered largely invissible by commercial art. They picnic on exquisitely packaged food from a portable icebox by a poluted stream and go on to spend the night at a park which is a mennace to public health and morals. Just before dozzing off on an air mattress, beneath a nylon tent, amid the stench of decaying refuse, they may relfect vaguely on the curious uneveness of their belssings. Is this, indeed, the American genius?
    -Friedrich August von Hayek: “The Road to Serfdom” (Prologue)

    Does a bigger yacht or another car really improve the quality of life?

  9. Jonathan says

    So what are some standard answers that are good? I hope to be interviewing in a few weeks and my answer was gonna be something along the lines of: “I’m really interested in investment banking because doing large deals that drive the markets seems very exciting. I’ve always had an interest in business, as I started my own business in high school… and I have an appetite for challenging and rewarding work.”

    Is that a pretty good answer? What other standard reasons do interviewers like to hear? Thanks.

    • says

      There are no “standard answers that are good” because everyone is different… the key is to make your answer personal with an anecdote about yourself or your background, and use that to explain your interest. The own business angle that you have could be good to use.

  10. just wondering says

    If they ask why I-banking, what if you say it’s because you want to rule the world and that it’d be a good place to start?

  11. Dave says

    What if I don’t care about “models and bottles”?
    I badly want to break into IB. I don’t care about the hours, or any of the other ‘bad’ stuff involved, but I also don’t care about the “models and bottles”.
    Don’t get me wrong – I want to make a lot of money, and a Ferrari wouldn’t hurt either… but the models and bottles thing – not really me.
    Does this mean I won’t be suited to the job?

    • says

      No, it just means that you may not get along with everyone else. You can still do it, but a lot of people will be very focused on wasting money on bottles and girls.

  12. DavidW says

    So I have a dilemma- I’m a Senior EE major Finance(minor) at Berkeley and these are the reasons I want to do IB: 1) I want to do product/biz dev for a growth tech companies, and a lot of the positions I want require an engineering degree & either 2-5 yrs of IB or StratConsult, & strat is for losers (jk, but seriously). 2) I MIGHT be beneficial/look good in becoming a GP (no interest in being jr guy (aka cold calling monkey, I want to run the show, hop around to board meetings, and blog my ass off haha)) at a VC firm 10-15 some odd years from now. 3) I’ve been obsessing over it for the last 2.5 years. 4) Wrk and hrs don’t bother me, getting to tell people that I work for BB easily makes up for it. 5) Not going to lie I want the prestige, and some models and bottles would be nice for a while ;-).

    I have a exploding offer at a BB IB for next summer, which if I don’t take, it would make it tough to try again next fall. I’m interning at a small VC firm right now, but its exactly where I want to end up/spend the rest of my life. Its just four founders & they really are passionate about being part of the tech community and not just trying to pump money into it. They think my time would be much better spent operationally as a engineer. I wouldn’t have problem at all with that: the upshot is 1) Actually getting to create value, be creative, entrepreneurial 2) Where my sneakers everyday 3) Enjoy my friends and family|Downside 1)A little sketchy stability wise 2) Much less money 3) Much more Chocos & much less models and bottles 4) I don’t get to wear sweet suits everyday.

    Practically, I should just start working at a start up here: I’m plugged into the community, get to use the degree I worked my ass off for, get to actually make something, I’ve already made tons of great hookups in the tech world. But I just cant let go of the golden streets of WS, especially with my offer, I feel like f*&#ing Gollum from LOTR ha. Do I need to just snap out of it & realize you can still be important in life without being an IB analyst?

    Sorry for the book. You have substantial experience in both worlds so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

    • says

      Honestly if your ultimate goal is to be a Partner at a VC firm, your best bet is to work at / found a successful startup because operational experience is way more important than finance.

      Your current VC firm sounds ok, but I would actually recommend moving to a startup instead if you really want to be a Partner one day.

  13. Maria says

    I get that models and bottles might be the motivation for lots of guys- but lets talk ladies here. What about women in investment banking?? Are we automatically taboo given that we’ll probably turn into mothers (way) down the line? Seriously. Or does the fact that we ARENT interested in ‘models’ mean we’re out of the club?

    • says

      You can go drinking with everyone else if you want, just be aware that you will probably become more tom boy-ish in the process because it is a male-dominated field.

      Lots of female bankers I knew were very aggressive or became that way after starting.

      • dont want to be tom boy says

        how aggressive?
        You say “Lots of”, then does it mean that there is still some female bankers who behave “in normal ways”? How do they achieve that level?

        It would be great help if you could write an artical about females in IB.

        Thanks!!!!!

        • says

          I stay away from this because people get offended very easily.

          There are always normal people, but investment banking does tend to attract lunatics / serial killers or make people that way…

          • C.J. says

            Strong analytical skills are imperative for an execution investment banker. However, while I’m not an Ibanker, hence cannot attest to this first hand, I strongly believe, especially in these time’s (in which Ibankers have been vilified) emotional intelligence to be a character trait, marked by intuition which is an inherent female trait, imperative for an origination Ibanker to possess. Empathy is a talent, undervalued if not despised by many within the confines finance; however, it is one of the most powerful negotiating tools. Empathy and compassion, derivatives of EQ, do not depict weakness, but rather strength, in turn the ability to shut down one’s ego, and immerse oneself in the shoes of your conquest, giving one the ability to understand the other’s motives, weaknesses, and strengths, both personally and professionally. Furthermore, if one is able to accurately assess their subject, not only as the officer of a company, but from a humanistic stance, one can develop a strong intuitive sense, that will give one the foresight of of what will be necessary to foresee any challenges, in turn mitigate and resolve them, and ultimately, if approached with conviction close any and every deal. Resilience, confidence, and tenacity, are also a must; however, while women do not possess the genetic make up of a man, no woman should ever try to change herself, in an effort to mirror such qualities of a man, as women’s attributes will give her a notable edge, which I believe will prove to be a sought after commodity, in industry’s like Ibanking, where there is a scarcity of such traits. As women, we have to have thick skin; nevertheless, it can still be soft.

            Could you please share some examples of some positive female Ibankers, and perhaps your experience working with them? I can only think of one prolific female investment banker Carla Harris, at Morgan Stanley.

          • M&I - Nicole says

            Great insight! Yes I agree. However I think what you mentioned of is relatively rare not just in banking but in the business world in general, in men and women. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much experience of working with female ibankers so I can’t comment on this one. I worked with male ibankers most of the time.

          • Queen of banking says

            Just stumbled on this by accident. I do like this site however I feel some of the comments are so skewed and so not what banking is about. I’ve worked in banks like JPM and Morgan Stanley, and have met or worked with women who are heads of say, China investment banking or chairman of apac investment banking, and they are really just normal women outside of work. With families and other commitments, Sunday lunches with friends, and so on. Surely there are better things to be involved in than models and bottles and better things to be motivated by than materialism. Seriously banking doesn’t even pay like it used to, if you’re in it for the Ferrari and yachts you’re just not in the right industry anymore or you’ll get fired way before you make your first million.

  14. LPR says

    First time watching “models and bottles.” I hope this isn’t a realistic illustration of a young i-banker. Without money, that kid would still be a virgin… probably because he’s never been invited to a real party.

    Are all young i-bankers socially awkward out of the office, especially around girls?

    As an analyst, does anyone skip the clubs to go drink and socialize at a bar with normal non-fakelosercokehead adults?

    Maybe it’s my four years at a southern university, but I wouldn’t be caught dead at a club with my co-workers, partying with call-girls who are grinding on me just to get enough cash to buy one more 8ball.

    • says

      Most people are ok, but there are definitely some awkward ones.

      I rarely went to clubs (and still rarely go) because I don’t find them fun + the music is usually bad. People are always up for going out to eat / drink though.

  15. adil says

    wow, that kid in the video is such an obnoxious dork. and the girls are average – they’re not hot. aspiring ibankers – i hate to break it to you but everyone is in finance in NYC – it’s not a big deal. if you want to get girls, you have to focus on getting in shape, dressing well and being more confident, not making lots of money.

    • Matthew D. says

      Have fun with your nice clothes and confidence because that’s the only “love” you’ll ever have without $$$

  16. Derrar B. says

    Being an investment banker has been a dream of mine since my senior year in high school. I know the hours and hard work that comes along with it and admittedly, the models and bottles (minus bottles cuz I dont drink haha) would mean Ive reached the pinnacle of my goals. I dont want to work a mediocre career because I feel like it’s not my destiny. Would this have any credibility as an interview answer? Thanks in advance for a reply.

  17. boondock says

    hello,

    will this particular part of my answer be accepted in a negative manner? ‘my dad is involved in xyz industry, he hates his job, just sort of ‘fell into it’ etc’ and then ill go on to expand upon how its really rare to find a job you like etc.

    cheers!

      • boondock says

        maybe i should elaborate on it- my dad never initially wanted to go into xyz but was forced to for family reasons- his ‘sacrifice’ as some might label it gave me the opp. to pursue a career that i have a strong passion and interest in ie finance.

  18. Michael says

    Why do you clowns hate on this guy in the video, he’s having a great time and doesn’t look like an IBD Analyst after working 16 hour days.

    I’m a Yr1 analyst a top firm in London and models and bottles isn’t really a prevalent culture but when we do go out bringing a couple nice girls, abit of money and free entrance to a nice place/club isn’t exactly hard to pull off.

    Didn’t you guys make friends with chicks at University or were you all obssessing with getting into Goldman TMT?

    Not exactly hard to have a good time in a City with just cool people minus $500 bottle service which is going straight down the toilet anyhoo.

    • says

      Actually he looks constipated to me, plus those girls are far from hot. Anyway this video is ancient history now, came out years ago, so who cares

  19. candyflip says

    The best place to do models&bottles is Moscow. It may sound unpersuasive, but the video posted above doesn’t make an any imperession if you visited an average moscow nightclub. I can’t even imagine what is happening in the vip clubs of Moscow.

    Unfortunately, lots of people in Moscow, who make a lot of money, do it only for models&bottles, and it is obviously true when you go out at saturday night and take a look around.

    • says

      You might be right, though not everyone wants to go to Russia… it’s less glamorized in the media compared to places like Dubai.

  20. percolator says

    That dipsh!t in the video “Models & Bottles” doesn’t have an effin clue. Those girls are just using him for his money, but he thinks they actually like him. IF he was a real player those girls would be buying him drinks.

  21. Bob says

    This might sound stupid for someone entering this field, but what if I don’t want to do models&bottles. I’m not a huge drinker and I’m pretty happy with my girlfriend. How can do I balance not seeming lame and just wanting to spend downtime at home relaxing?

  22. A says

    I want to do investment banking but due to my religious/moral beliefs, I don’t want to drink, go out to late/non-company organized parties, sleep with someone before I get married, spend beyond a 100 dollars on my outfit and over 5000 on a car. Is that possible for a banker in the West? Or should I just bank in the Middle East or India and then hang out with the religious guys?

    • says

      You can do that but it will be difficult to fit in at times. If you want to do that I would look at working in a city outside NY/London as the culture is not as hardcore elsewhere.

      • A says

        What’s a good excuse that hints at my moral beliefs when people ask me about “why I don’t want to hang out with them”? How would you phrase it? That is, if I’m an intern who’s working in NYC?

          • A says

            That’s a really plausible excuse.
            I never thought of that…
            Thanks, you’re pretty good at this! :)

  23. lux says

    You must be kidding me, that guy in the video is a complete idiot! :D.

    “partying hard”, and he sits there stiff as a corpse, throwing around money with a couple of whores that will barely give it to him at the end of the night.
    That’s not partying and much less so is it fun!

  24. lux says

    And damn, sorry if I insist on the topic, but this thing just seems so plainly stupid to me.

    If “models and bottles” are the final goal, hell, you don’t need to be an investment banker and spend thousands euros a night to do that.
    Why do you need to pay that mach to drink and dance with a lady, and possibly bring her home??
    It’s so nerdish!

    I’ve been an Erasmus student in Poland and we all had a great time dancing and partying till dawn with… 10 Euros or something!

    • says

      Yes but that is the point of the article above: don’t say this in an interview, or decide to get into banking for this.

  25. Marcel says

    My family has a business and I was raised to become a workaholic when I grew up. I like working hard, socializing, selling and doing business. I don’t drink,I am happy with my girlfriend, I don’t care about having a Ferrari, Yachts, or expensive houses. Thanks to my family I always had food on my plate, I could go on vacations and I lived a good lifestyle, but I was taught It was the result of hard work, so I am not spoiled and I realize the sacrifices they made for me. All I care is about having a good career, doing what I like (Finance), go on vacations when possible, enjoy the free time, help my parents, and have a good amount of money for when I retire. I can go out with colleagues and I am social so I don’t have a problem with that. I find the process of doing business more satisfying than having a lot of money in my bank account. I am a very humble person. What approach should I take when I am asked the “Why investment banking” question?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      My question to you is then why are you going to investment banking? You won’t have the time to spend w your gf etc if you become a banker – your job becomes your life if you work in investment banking. If you don’t care about money and care about your free time, don’t think about IB

      I can’t answer your question for you – you have to do some deep thinking yourself. Why are you interested in banking, Marcel?

  26. Jmo says

    I’ll be honest, I want to do it for the money and use it as a ladder for a better career in the future. I want to earn a lot of money for 2-3 years so that I’m financially stable, given the fact that I’ll be supporting my parents once they retire. I’m not into the “models and bottles” because I don’t drink at all and I’m happy with my gf. So basically I want to do investment banking to make a lot of money in 2-3 years and use it as a stepping stone for “I don’t know what”. My question is what do most people do after investment banking? or what will investment banking help me get into?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It depends on the context. I can’t say though I’d be cautious because some many not find it funny

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