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Day in the Life of an Investment Banking Analyst

My name is Josh and I’m a second-year Investment Banking Analyst in TMT in New York. It’s a pretty brutal lifestyle, but the exposure we get to deals is strong (everyone seems to close at least a deal per year). The sacrifices we make early on create opportunities that may be life-changing.

8AM

My alarm clock is shouting at me… When I click snooze I see I have 11 unread emails. Damn. I fight the sleep and open my mail. Most of it is news, alerts and other non-urgent stuff.

I read two emails from my European counterpart, as we are working on a cross-border deal. When I get in I have to tweak a couple of things on the financial model and ensure it gets translated into the PowerPoint. But not right now, now is the time to snooze.

In the mornings I tend to take my iPad and read news for about 30 minutes to an hour at home. I find it relaxing to not immediately jump in the shower, put on a suit and rush out the door.

930AM

I hop on the subway to my office. It’s a small benefit, but my team tends to start late. This means I can avoid the armpit-breathing levels of rush hour.

10AM

Arrive at my desk. Wow, the floor feels so empty. Over 80% of the people on the floor are mid-senior. Most of the analysts aren’t here yet. I walk over to one of my buddies and suggest we grab a coffee.

Coffees always lead to gossip. The topic of the day is which Private Equity or Hedge Fund we are shooting for recruiting wise. For most people, Investment Banking is just a stepping stone to a career in investing. Luckily, my buddy and I have very different preferences. He desperately wants to join one of the “hot” activist hedge funds (think Greenlight Capital or Pershing Square). Personally, I’m more of a Private Equity guy. The data shows PE returns are better!

11AM

I get to work on the financial model for the cross-border transaction. Crap. I REALLY underestimated the amount of work. I didn’t read the entire email because of my early morning drowsiness. Basically, I have to make pro forma adjustments to the financials of a bunch of entities and then show how this affects the consolidated financials. The deadline for the new model and deck is 3PM.

For this to succeed, I create a list of actions I need to take and whether it’s XLS and/or PPT. Then, I speed down to get myself a Triple Espresso and I put my head down. Let’s do this.

1PM

Couple buddies ping me. “Wanna grab lunch? Five Guys.” My unhappiness makes me want FG even more! I can’t and am SURE I will fall asleep if I eat one. Nope, I’m going for a light Mexican wrap instead. Fast and light.

2PM

I shoot my work out to the Associate who has set me the 3PM deadline. His reaction? “Will look at later today in meetings until 5PM. Tx” I’m pissed. Missing FG and this guy won’t even look at it for hours… He owes me. Should come in handy when I need some cover for recruiting season!

This does allow me some time to work on a few things I’ve neglected for the past days. I’m responsible for Telecommunications trading and transaction multiples. Some of the companies have already reported, so I need to update the files. This involves the joyful work of scrubbing the financials and adjusting for items that our seniors think are (non-)recurring or (ir)relevant for valuation purposes.

4PM

After updating a few companies, I decide it’s time for a break. I ping my buddy at Industrials and ask if he wants to go for a quick stroll. Nope, he’s swamped on a deal. It takes me six people before I can find someone who has time. Everyone is so busy this time of the year…

When we’re outside for about 10 minutes my phone starts ringing. It’s my Associate. He tells me he’s looking at my work and has a few things he wants to discuss. I thought he was going to be busy until 5PM??? I apologize to my buddy and get back to my desk.

Sooo, I get back to my desk and guess what? Associate is nowhere to be found. I ping him. He responds: “back in 5, just grabbing a coffee”. It takes more like 20 minutes… Apparently, he ran into a Managing Director (MD) and wanted to make some chit-chat. Hey, politics are important in banking.

We finally get to it. My work is 95% there, he just has some visual changes he wants me to make. It takes me about 10 minutes and POOF, the ball is now back in the European court.

6PM

Seniors are starting to seep out of the office. Most of them don’t walk out without asking a Vice President (VP) or Director to “think about the meeting with X, Y, Z”. This means the VPs and Directors immediately start spinning their wheels, creating outlines and shooting them off to Associates who are asked to sketch a draft and send back “by tomorrow morning pls”. The sense of urgency is ironic.

At this stage, I’m reading news and brushing up on recent deals in my sector. Unfortunately, many of the deals are private-to-private transactions. This means there is very little information in the public domain.

7PM

No new work coming my way. I decide to club together with a few of the analyst for a dinner order. Steak night it is. Well a small one, because the days of big dinner expense budgets are long gone.

Because it takes about an hour for the food to get here, I quickly pop in the gym for a HIIT workout.

830PM

I got lucky. The order was late, so I had enough time to shower and change without having to rush. We tend to have dinner in the boardroom and discuss weekend plans, general office gossip, and which senior has the best ability to wilfully destroy junior people.

10PM

There is a bit of work to do on my deal. It’s not urgent, but I know that if I don’t do it tonight I might get squeezed tomorrow (we have a series of expert calls). It involves processing some of the Due Diligence findings into Q&A materials for the Board. It’s slightly mind-numbing stuff, so I put on my headset (it’s OK, all seniors are pretty much gone at this stage) and get cracking.

1AM

Music is magic. I’ve worked so fast I’ve finished all the work in one go. I print it out and have a “dry read”. Looks fine after some minor edits. I shoot it off to the Associate who thanks me for the quick work. He’ll look at it in the morning.

I order a cab and head home.

2AM

Crash into bed. Lights out.

Roundup

Crazy day you say? Not really. Of course, there are quieter days, but 10AM-1AM is pretty standard for my group. Some guys, even Associates with 4-5 years of experience, stay consistently later because they have so much work.

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