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Diary of an IBD intern: Company Blackberries are like handcuffs

Intern pic

It is scary how normal such long working hours become. I’ve often been asked by people outside the bank just how on earth people are able to work such consistently long hours within IBD. Well, it’s easy. And it’s a vicious circle.

Competitive people drive competition, and the competitiveness inspires competitive people to go into banking. Your body, mindset and lifestyle all adapt remarkably quickly to the environment. And it fuels ‘typical banker’ behaviour. The one Friday night out a week isn’t just a casual unwind or time to relax. No, you feel the need to make the most of it, ‘live it up’, splash some of that hard earned cash and really just feel alive for a brief period. Not everybody within banking is like this, clearly – it’s just much easier to sympathise with the people who fall into those lifestyles once you’ve experienced the frustration and energy they bottle up.

I’ve begun working on my internship project. It’s a big project and really as complicated as you want to make it. I’ve had to draw in suggestions from people all around my team – with analysts helping me to model and associates helping me to plan and refine. People really are keen to give their time to us interns when they have some to spare – it’s a great environment in which to learn and get those questions answered. I give the presentation next week and will carry on refining it and practising until then – it’s like having a job interview all over again. It’s just a shame I have to continue doing client work alongside it all – it means that I literally never have a moment spare. The internship feels as though it’s building to a crescendo.

Related links:

Diary of an IBD intern: Analyst bonuses have gone through the roof, but there was no whooping

Diary of an IBD intern: Intern interest in banking careers is actually quite low

What’s really starting to strike me within the company is just how much of its tangible output is produced by its bottom-ranking employees – the analysts. It is the analysts who are the ones who actually produce the pitchbooks – they do all of the hard analysis behind them, slot them together and polish them. Associates decide on the structure of the pitchbooks alongside rough outlines they’re passed from above. They also have the most day-to-day interaction with client companies – at least with their less influential employees. VPs lead the organising of a deal. They are the ones to set up the conference calls, to manage the regulators, to set up internal meetings and oversee the project management of deals and pitches essentially. And then everyone above is revenue generating; visiting clients, finding out what they want, keeping them entertained, interested and ultimately, generating revenue is their job. They work to keep the team – and bank – busy.

And they normally do manage to keep the team busy. Although, when the office isn’t that busy, everyone just messes around and then crams the work into the final few moments before a deadline anyway. When you know you’re not going to leave early it barely matters whether you fritter time away during the day. I was in the office this weekend after a director decided that he needed a few changes to be made to a pitch. Company Blackberries are essentially handcuffs, and we interns are quickly realising it. On the first day, they’re really cool and almost feel like gifts. On the second day, you start getting emails – and it just feels cool to be able to work on the go, like you’ve made it. Then at the weekend the emails don’t stop. They just get more and more annoying. Although you won’t be called into the office for no reason at all, it doesn’t take much. And this weekend I was definitely called into the office by my director on a whim.

It doesn’t matter; only another ten years until I could be in his position…

Comments (3)

  1. Although it seems you are flying through the internship it may help to pause and imagine doing what you are doing now for another 5 years. Remember, you are experiencing what an analyst will have to do but you have the security of knowing it will all be over soon and you will be given some restbite. It is a very different mindset to when you are in the job full time.

    And you are absolutely correct about the chain of command, true it is slightly archaic but it has stood the test of time (plus if a bank needs to cut overheads it is easier/cheaper to lay off analysts and easier/cheaper to hire new ones when business picks up, compared to sacrificing higher level positions). I suppose because of this the bank does not want to be giving away all its prized clients to low level employees incase they do not stay with the bank for long.

    Best of luck with the presentation! I’m sure you will nail it!

    Sceptic Analyst Reply
  2. Blackberries are handcuffs in any firm with a tough working culture, not just IB.
    In such firms, if what you’re doing is vital to the business and you’re the only one doing it, basically you cant take holidays and will be absolutely required to carry your blackberry (and in some firms Iphone 5s) at all times and expected to answer it.

    I do sympathize with the fact that being an analyst seems unrewarding as you guys do the grunt work for the firm. However I would take pride in the fact that YOU are the ones who understand the deals the most and truly add-value to the firm.

    The stress is high, but it will pay off in the end.
    Keep your head up and stay Zen !
    PS: Currently on the lookout for an analyst role myself in London.

  3. It’s interesting to note that the structure is pretty much similar in securities servicing, albeit less glamorous than IB, the associate Sales position I’ve recently started pretty much adheres to the fact that associates seem to do a lot of the crafting of the pitch agenda and the subsequent collateral around these deals. When an asset manager is breathing down your neck asking for modelling to be done on fresh data they have sent over it can be taxing sometimes to try and manage multiple deal deadlines!

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