The stereotypical banker is too busy smoking his Cuban cigars and oiling his moustache to care about details. However, anyone who thinks that banking is a relaxed career is very wrong. If there’s one thing a senior M&A banker cares about (after bringing in fees), it’s details. It takes a millisecond for a trained M&A banker to pinpoint font and style discrepancies which the average individual would consider as consequential as the defecatory habits of a dung beetle.
In a bank, the stakes are so high that stress levels are unusually high. Hence, the slightest error from a junior can unleash a torrent of abuse from a senior. It’s easy to understand the stress when you consider that a multi-billion dollar deal can mean millions in bonuses for senior staff.
What’s the worst that can happen? I once heard a managing director scream at an analyst because he discovered an eyelash on the front page of a presentation before a client meeting.
Senior bankers will also abuse juniors by giving them work literally three minutes before the weekend. I’ve endured this many times and I’ve delegated this kind of work to others too. I had to. It’s expected of you. And analysts and interns know very well that it’s part of the job. Where possible, however, I avoided this kind of last-minute delegation, and if the situation was such that 5 minutes to 8pm I asked someone to work on a project that would take all night to do then I also stayed and worked with them.
There comes a point, of course, at which analysts have to start saying no. If you don’t and you accept everything then people will start-offloading work on you. You develop a reputation and you’ll suffer big time. That’s how people’s health deteriorates and they end up looking like they’re 40 when they’re 25. Sadly, I worked with some of these people. They always said, “I’ll only do this for a few years.” But they’re still in the business and they’re headed for a massive health disaster.
If you’re a junior in an investment bank, your employer will be very unforgiving. An investment bank is fiery, possessive and demanding. It and won’t tolerate lack of attention. Accept that, but set some boundaries if you want to keep this relationship long term.
The ibanker is a former bulge bracket investment banker who founded a family office-backed investment company which provides specialised services to family offices and sovereign wealth funds across the globe. His debut novel will be released in early 2014. He is also producing a short film, A Lucky Guy, which will aim to show viewers the real face of investment banking. Its release is scheduled for mid-2014.