If you're a junior investment banker now you've probably been through a pandemic adjustment process along with the rest of us. - As an industry we've swung from macho face-time and staying late in the office to being (institutionally) afraid to go back in and running meditation and yoga sessions for staff sitting at home. As an analyst new to finance you might therefore think banking has become a touchy-feely place to work, despite its fierce reputation.
Do. Not. Be. Deceived.
Banks are usually the first to cut costs in a crisis and they like to cut costs hard. Just because they haven't done so yet, doesn't mean they won't eventually. If you're a junior in this market you need to be thinking ahead. You need to ensure that when the cuts come you're not first in line.
The way you behave while you work from home will be crucial to your survival.
Already, the pandemic is proving an excellent sorting mechanism for the analysts who are brilliant and the analysts who are merely competent.
The merely competent analysts are sitting at home playing Call of Duty or watching daytime TV while they wait for the next turn of comments. Yes: I know you're out there.
The brilliant analysts are being proactive. These are the guys who are not are waiting around, who understand that more than ever they need to make themselves visible to the VPs and the MDs they work with. Who understand that out of sight is out of mind and that come the end of year when we look at budgets, if you're invisible you're at risk.
The brilliant analysts are developing their knowledge. They're the ones reading up on clients in the fallow times. They're the ones reading up on the sector. They're asking intelligent comments of senior folks and they're even proposing mad-sounding ideas (which could work.). These are the guys I will remember come October, November and December. They won't be on my RiF list.
If you're junior now, you need to wake up to this reality. And you need to change the way you work. The best junior talent rises to the top by grabbing the initiative and proving more capable than people expect them to be. The worst decides there's more to life or is shown the door. Forget the yoga, this year will be no different.
Sam Johnson is the pseudonym of a banking MD
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