by Brian DeChesare Comments (56)

The Best Day in the Life of an Investment Banking Analyst

I’ve taken some heat from those who said that my “Day In The Life Of An Investment Banking Analyst” article 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 be pulling all-nighters while 5 different Associates are yelling at you for 10 different things and forcing you to fix printers and provide tech support, 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 pored through my journal 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.

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; 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 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.” 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.

But it is a fitting title, 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?

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. What would an ideal progression look like, i.e. starting as an investment researcher and ending up becoming an investment manager/banker? What are the steps in between? How many years does it take?

  2. Hi, I’m from Singapore, graduated with a Statistics degree and i’m looking to get into Investment Banking in the US. I’m currently working in a consumer bank, in the Analytics department.

    I would like to know what’s your thoughts in me breaking into Investment Banking? And other than getting a MBA, which it’s in my plan, what kind of courses would you recommend me to do now to gain some IB related skillsets?

    1. It depends on how many years of work experience you already have, but past a certain point, it is nearly impossible to move from the middle office into a front-office IB role. If you’ve only been out of school for 1-2 years, maybe think about a top Master’s in Finance program (not an MBA) in the US or UK. If you’ve been out of school much longer than that, then you’ll probably need an MBA to get in and a pre-MBA internship related to finance.

  3. Do you have any tips for someone who wants to survive in Investment banking?

  4. is breaking into investment banking in canada harder than in America?

  5. Avatar
    Jonathan sidwell

    Hi, I am currently studying finance at the university of Toronto and I am hoping to score an analyst position after I finish my undergrad. is it easier to break into investment banking in canada after undergrad as an analyst or after MBA as an associate? Also do banks typically recruit people from university of Toronto for analyst positions>

  6. Alright, this is a little unrelated but I saw you replying to some comments here so I’m hoping for an answer. I’m a sophomore at NYU Stern and I am having a really hard time at finding an internship for the upcoming summer (GPA is above 3.9, previous work experience, college athlete). Be completely honest with me, is Stern prestigious? I thought it was when I went here but now I feel like we aren’t that top-notch.

    1. Tons of banks recruit from Stern, so I don’t think your school is the problem. Your GPA is fine, so my guess is that it was something to do with your previous work experience, story in interviews, or networking.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I think I definitely have to work on networking. Luckily I have until this fall to network before banks are looking to recruit for next summer. Have any articles or links that you recommend for learning how to network?

        1. Have you done a search on this site or looked at everything under “Articles” at the top?

  7. Avatar
    Casey koomson

    Which group at investment banks have the most quantitative work?

    1. None, because most of what you do in IB is arithmetic. It’s a stretch to call that “quantitative.” Restructuring and Leveraged Finance probably do the most financial modeling work, along with top industry groups.

  8. Avatar
    kevin williams

    I have a few questions to ask but before I start let me introduce myself, I am currently studying finance as University of Toronto in my second year and I would like to go into investment banking. More articles on investment banking in canada will be extremely helpful :)

    1: Do investment bankers in Canada work the same hours as in America or is it shorter or longer?
    2: What are some of the target schools for investment banking recruiters in Canada?
    3: Do people in leveraged finance work the same amount of hours and get paid the same as the people in M&A
    4. How much math do you actually need to know to do investment banking or PE

  9. Avatar
    Casey koomson

    Could you please do a day in the life of a Private equity associate? I found the one on investment banking particularly interesting

  10. hello sir,
    i m a 4th year law student, i have done diploma course in M&A and further i want to work as an investment banker.
    i have no work experience, should i go for MBA or do master’s in corporate and financial law.
    please suggest me how can i break into investment banking

  11. Hello,

    I have read a few of your articles on this page and I am planning on going into Investment Banking in the future. I am currently 17 years old in an International School outside of the USA. I was wondering what major (or major/minor combination) you would recommend, or advise as the most suitable to later pursue this career path. What would you say is the most common major amongst Interns and Analysts?

  12. Avatar
    Karan Rathod

    i have a few queries. Before i shoot them, i’d introduce myself, i am an MBA in Finance, currently working as an Equity Analyst. I have an interest in IB.
    1) am i correct in assuming that IB would give me an opportunity to give me a front ending plus finance based work, since interacting is really a keen attribute i wish to see in my work.??
    2) about the long hours, out of 30 days a month, how many have such long hours?

    waiting for ur reply very keenly, and, thankyou for your insights. Hugely helpful!!!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1) Yes but most IB analysts end up doing grunt work. You don’t get to interact with clients till a few years down the line, though you may get to go to roadshows, events to meet companies and accompany management, but this is not usual. You will still have to do grunt work
      2) Probably 30? Depends on the month and cycle.

  13. Avatar
    Alex Bresh

    With regards to breaking into IB, is it a rough route to get into a good IB firm after spending 1-2 years with a public accounting firm? Even though I have a CPA and specialize in financial services clients, is that something IB firms are interested in hiring? Also I would have the opportunity to laterally get into IB or MA within the accounting firm and then hop out

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it potentially be somewhat useful, depending on what you’ve been doing at the accounting firm. If you’ve been involved in financial advisory / TAS, this maybe useful. This link may help:

  14. Avatar
    Paresh Khandelwal

    Hi. First of all I found your website really understanding. I want to ask that I am Persuing Chartered Accountancy and Bachelor of Commerce as well. I want to get into IB. Please guide me how should I get it started?

  15. Hi! Thanks for the article! Just a quick question here, I am very interested in investment banking and hope to find a job in the finance sector. I currently have an offer from Imperial College London to do Bsc Mathematics, and an offer from the london school of economics to do Bsc Actuarial Science. Would like your opinion on which is better! Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think both are good choices. If you want another option, Actuarial Science maybe better since you can be an actuary having a degree in the field as a backup. LSE is also a great school, and plenty of banks recruit there.

  16. Can people who stutter be successful in investment banking? I am interested in a career in banker but I stutter.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      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

  17. 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.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      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.

  18. Avatar
    Hai Nam Nguyen


    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.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      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!

      1. Avatar
        Hai Nam Nguyen

        What’s my odd of getting an internship at an IB?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          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

  19. 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!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      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.

  20. 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

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Both? People who excel in the industry generally like what they do.

  21. 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?


    1. It gets a bit better over time but you will never have a normal life, even at the MD level your weekends are always interrupted

      1. Yup. I’ve had VPs tell me in interviews that they hadn’t cleaned their desk in 5 years !

  22. Are there any books you would recommend for people who are interested in an investment banking career.

  23. Not to be a jerk, but in the spirit of “Attention to Detail”: in your fourth paragraph, you didn’t pour through your personal journal, you pored through it.

    Love the site, thanks for putting so much useful information out there.

    1. 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).

  24. Avatar
    1st Year

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

    1. 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.

    2. hahahaha i couldnt be more specific than that.. reminded me of my days as intern/jr analyst.
      well.. now that i am out its all about laughing hahah

  25. 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…

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