by Brian DeChesare Comments (33)

Stuff Investment Bankers Like, Round 3

It’s been awhile, so let’s jump right back into it.

Parts 1 and 2 are here – essential reading if you ever plan to go to Buenos Aires or hit “Reply All” in your email client.

15) Unsolicited Advice

adviceWorking in investment banking, you will age more rapidly than the average person.

That’s just what happens when you go to Starbucks 10 times a day, eat junk food all the time, and then work 100 hours a week to boot.

So many bankers start to feel that their true age is higher than the number of years they’ve been on the planet – which is what inspires them to give unsolicited advice.

It happens when senior bankers “advise” the juniors and when junior bankers tell interns exactly what they should be doing at all times:

“You know, you should strive for a long and celebrated career in investment banking. All hedge funds collapse anyway, so don’t even think about going jumping ship and going to one.”

Thanks, but did I ask you or even mention my future plans?

“Check your work very carefully before showing it to anyone.”

Thanks – I was planning to add in a lot of errors just to make it more interesting.

16) Stacks of Unread Newspapers

newspapersAlmost as much of a badge of honor as how many holidays you’ve worked (see below) is the number of unread newspapers on your desk.

Not realizing that they can check the news by looking online for 2 seconds, any senior banker worth his salt instead gets a daily subscription to the WSJ.

And then they let newspapers pile up on their desks while they’re off traveling 24/7.

When they come back to the office, of course, they immediately ask their assistant to “clean up” or “get rid of all this garbage.”

And you wonder why the rain forest is disappearing…

17) Assistants

secretaryWhile I’ve not been kind to the back office and support teams in the past, I can’t lie: a good assistant will save you time and time again.

A lot of incoming bankers and interns get this one wrong and treat assistants like crap, never acknowledging them or taking 5 minutes to have a friendly chat.

These newbies are surprised later when they suddenly don’t know their VP’s cell # or they can’t figure out what their MD’s schedule is next week when they’re up at 2 AM sending out an email to set up meeting times with a client.

Treat your assistant – or any support person – right, or you’ll suffer the consequences later.

And no, no matter how much you like your assistant you still can’t hook up with her (or him) – only MDs get to do that.

18) Working on Christmas

christmasAside from how many consecutive all-nighters you’ve pulled, there’s no greater badge of honor among bankers than how many holidays you’ve had ruined by those legendary investment banking hours.

No one considers occasions like Halloween or Valentine’s Day to be real “holidays,” so forget about those – the 2 untouchable ones are Thanksgiving and Christmas (at least in the US – elsewhere it varies by country).

Being a masochistic bunch, at some level bankers enjoy this kind of abuse.

There’s no higher glory than looking at your Blackberry constantly and responding to emails while everyone else at the table is staring at you in disbelief.

And then you get to complain to all your friends about how you had to pull an all-nighter on Christmas Eve – all the while secretly enjoying that you can now complain about it.

19) Models and Models

Everyone gets into finance for different reasons, but there are just 2 core motivators: 1) Money and 2) Prestige.

No one could be interested in talking about bonds or interest rates or EBITDA just for fun, right?

You’d think that, but as soon as you start working you realize that a lot of the job involves administrative work, picking up dry cleaning, and fixing printers.

By comparison, financial modeling seems like the most intellectually engaging activity ever, even though it’s really not rocket science.

So as a banker, you relish opportunities to crunch numbers and do more than just collect data and send emails.

And if you’re looking for other types of models, head to Buenos Aires.

20) Lucites

lucitesWhenever you close a deal, along with the Closing Dinner you get to design a “lucite” – a trophy of sorts to commemorate all the man-hours spent on that IPO or that acquisition and all your blood, sweat, and tears.

If you worked on a casino acquisition, your lucite might be in the shape of a roulette wheel or poker table; for a pharmaceutical deal maybe you’ll get to design something in the shape of a vial or pill bottle.

Much like how you’ve lined your walls with all those meaningless awards from high school and college, bankers line their shelves with these lucites to impress visitors.

For the analyst who has gone Patrick Bateman, lucites have another use as well: weapons.

So make sure you design something sharp – you’ll never know when you might need it one night after you’ve pulled one too many all-nighters and they discover the bodies in your apartment.

21) Forecasting the Apocalypse

apocalypse“Wall Street is over! New regulations will doom the industry! Pay will never recover, time to find a new profession!”

Question: Are those quotes from 1893, 1929, 1987, 1997, or 2007-2010?

The correct answer is “all of the above” because bankers have been forecasting apocalypse as long as the industry itself has been around.

Back in September 2008 everyone really thought it was all over – but it looks like we survived that one as well.

As long as capital markets exist and companies need to raise money, they’ll need bankers.

Just make sure you keep telling everyone the end is nigh, though – you don’t want to seem overconfident.

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

Break Into Investment Banking

Free Exclusive Report: 57-page guide with the action plan you need to break into investment banking - how to tell your story, network, craft a winning resume, and dominate your interviews

We respect your privacy. Please refer to our full privacy policy.


Read below or Add a comment

  1. Wasn’t sure where to post this question but figured this article was a good “fit”…

    I will be starting this summer as a full-time analyst at a regional investment bank in Atlanta, GA and I was wondering if co-workers/bosses pay attention to or judge you based on the car you drive.

    I was thinking about buying a new pick-up truck but don’t want to become that weirdo in the office if trucks are not acceptable. I’m looking to spend in the neighborhood of $35K so I could get a decent used Audi for that much if it would be more fitting or a better “banker car”.

    I don’t want to be like the guy who wears square-toed shoes or buys suits from Men’s Warehouse. Thanks!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I think people do judge others in general but I wouldn’t worry too much about what others think

  2. Hi Brian,

    At what ranking do bankers get an assistant? Analyst? Associate? And each (whatever ranking it may be) gets their own assistant? Where does Senior Banker fall on the ranking of positions?

    Great reading by the way, I love your site.

    1. At large banks everyone has assistants but they are shared among diff analysts and so on. Usually even senior bankers share assistants to some extent but less than analysts

  3. Do summer interns get lucites too?

    1. Interns very rarely work on deals from start to finish because most deals take 6 months to a year. But hypothetically, yes, they could.

  4. I recently graduated from a strong undergrad program and am still interviewing for analyst jobs at smaller firms. I am the first in my family to graduate college. I’ve never brought this up before in IB interviews but do you think it will be helpful to mention? It shows that I had to work harder for all my accomplishments and shows a certain drive.

    Should I bring this up? How should I bring it up and when is it appropriate?

    1. I wouldn’t bring it up unless you get asked to name an example of your work ethic / drive / something unique – otherwise it sounds a bit forced although it is impressive.

  5. student


    How helpful is having a solid relationship with an analyst? Does it only help if it is an MD, VP, etc.?

    1. Anything is helpful. MD/VP can help more but analysts are good as well.

  6. Everyone I interact with in financial services drinks. Constantly.

    I abhor alcohol.

    Is this going to be a major problem?

    1. No, just go out with them but don’t drink

      1. Just to add:
        The “conscientious objector” issue. Colleagues will poke fun at you for it a bit, but have a “legitimate” reason why no alcohol and it’ll be a non-issue. Make up some sob story about a family member being a recovering alcoholic or a friend that died in a alcohol-induced car accident.

        1. LOLOLOLOLOL

  7. IBWannabe

    Hey Brian,

    I know you don’t like GPA rounding questions but I came across this when reading the FAQ am in the exact situation.

    “2. How much can I round my GPA?

    List your GPA with a single digit. You can get away with rounding your GPA by up to 0.09 in most cases. Some examples:

    * Rounding a 3.43 to 3.5 – this is fine.”

    How do I justify rounding it up 0.07? I mean your rule says it can round up to 0.09, but can I really justify it? Most people’s opinion can justify rounding .45 to .5, but will the recruiter also see the light that a .43 can be rounded up to a .5?

    I’m really curious about your thoughts on this.

    1. The justification is that your GPA changed between when you listed it on your resume (at the start of recruiting) and when you graduate / when your internship starts. It would be odd if you maintained exactly the same GPA over 4 years.

  8. Why is the most exciting time and most exciting work activity in investment banking?

    1. Usually when there is a last-minute emergency and you have to stop the terrorists before they detonate a nuke over Manhattan

      1. nice one brian!

  9. Comments on the assistants are spot on.

    Just to add: a wise banker friend gave me this tip. First chance you get take assistants out for drinks/lunch/coffee. Don’t pay for them as they’ll think you’re a patronizing git, just give them your time. Chat and get to know them a bit, small talk is king. You’ll find that not only can they be interesting and nice in their own right, but the relationship works wonders. When you ask about the MD’s schedule for instance they’ll also give you a heads up if the MD’s day is not going well, so you know when to avoid the MD and save yourself a heap of problems.

    1. Great tip – assistants are always the best source on senior bankers.

  10. student

    random question: if you go from banking to PE, are you stuck in PE for the rest of your life or can you for example go to corporate development if you get tired of the hours/lifestyle?

    1. Corp development is possible. It would be hard to go back to banking though.

  11. finally finished reading the 3 parts~~~

    So weird. I somehow find that investment bankers are the most pathetic creature in the world, except millions of dollars in their bank account.

    wonder if it is the right path for me……

    1. Well, the formula is “tongue-in-cheek” with an element of truth…

      1. hehe, one more question:

        if i-bankers are so busy in their work, why do they still have time for office politics??

        PS: wish you could write another series about “stuff investment bankers hate”~~~

  12. Do analysts keep their lucites/tombstones when they leave the firm?

  13. Hey Brian,

    I have a quick question that admittedly doesn’t pertain to this specific topic: Do you know how the exit opps are for hedge fund analysts?


    1. Go to another hedge fund or do another type of trading similar to what you did at the hedge fund

  14. Even analysts recieve lucites?

    1. Everyone involved on the deal does

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.