The life of a junior M&A banker is not an easy one. It is they who sleep in toilets, who work 21 hour days and who are being offered protection by new policies designed to offer respite from the pernicious effects of crippling hours.
And what are those long hours for? Mere client titillation, it would often seem.
The co-global head of M&A at Goldman Sachs, told Bloomberg that in difficult M&A markets, clients simply want to be 'amused.'
“Two or three years ago, they [clients] were more like, ‘OK, amuse me,’” says Gregg Lemkau, global co-head of M&A at Goldman Sachs. “‘I’ll carve an hour or two out of my week to talk about M&A, but come back in a year.’ Last year, it got more real.”
Across the industry, senior M&A bankers' method of amusing clients is typically to excite them with takeover ideas. And these ideas are usually packaged in pitchbooks put together by diligent junior staff working night and day to meet clients' every whim. But when clients simply want to be amused, the pitchbooks may never get an airing - they exist solely to give ballast to senior bankers' titillating sales-talk.
The good news is that in the current recovering M&A market, pitchbooks should be gaining more practical value. M&A deals could actually get done in 2014, which has started well. At least that's the theory. However, Tom King, co-CEO of investment banking at Barclays, points out that bankers have been talking up M&A for the past three years and it hasn't properly levitated yet. “I’m not going to predict that this is the year," he told Bloomberg. It may be 2015 before most pitchbooks get read properly.