Making the transition from the exam based culture of university to the corporate culture of investment banking is not as easy as it may seem. Success means applying the technical knowledge acquired during training from outset. It also means remembering that there are not necessarily black and white answers to everything: banking is an advisory business; you will need to use your judgement.
If you want to spend the next year as more than a gopher with a degree, you will also need to bear in mind the following:
1. Attention to detail
Analysts spend a significant amount of time putting pitch books and profiles together and running comps and associated valuation models. You need to take responsibility for making sure that these documents are client-ready, free from error and presented in line with the bank’s presentation protocols. This is your main role.
Banking is a tough industry, the time pressure can be intense and the hours can belong. It’s very easy for the job to become just a number crunching role. To make a difference you need to go beyond the numbers. Question their implications. How would you sell this idea to a client? What is the background equity story? Become more than a processor.
On the desk, tiredness, deadlines and general workload can be serious issues. Find time to stop, push your work away, go for a walk, grab a coffee and then come back and take a few minutes to stand back and view the bigger picture. This will help you identify errors you may have made in your own work.
Every analyst must ask questions. It is extremely aggravating to have an analyst who’s unclear about the task in hand and who then spends hours trying to work out what they are trying to do in isolation; when a quick question would have sorted the problem.
More often than I can count, firms that I train have complained that analysts walk into their institutions like they own it. “They want to be the associate, the vice president from day one.” However, without doing the nuts and bolts work down there in the analyst pit, how are you going to know how the deal dynamics work? Be aware of your role, its importance and its fit within the overall process – it’s a rite of passage but it’s also a fundamental function within the bank.
To a large measure, your likeability and your ability to “fit in” with the existing group dynamics will contribute to the extent of your success or failure. Remember this. It’s not all about how hard to you can work – it’s about how well you work with the people you work with too.