Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Recession Special: My first weeks at a bulge bracket i-bank (Summer Analyst series continued)

So it's been a while since my last post. I've been getting questions from readers, and I'll be answering some of them in the end of this update.

As for what I've been up to, my industry group has been getting smacked with deals right now. The VP on the team I'm a part of has called the deals 'Recession Specials'. I haven't had a day off since I started!

I had my first major technical challenge the other day: I had to spread comps and synthesize the main points of the company's financial history in a few powerpoint slides. Spreading comps took about one afternoon (without Excel shortcuts it could have easily taken double that). I then looked through the 10-K's and 10-Q's of the company to construct the financial history and outliers. I researched the company's competitors to get an industry overlook and to put the company's history into context.

My other technical task was tweaking the DCF sensitivity and LBO model. Luckily I haven't had to build one from scratch yet. I became familiar with the style of the models and where to update the inputs (discount rate, free cash flow for each year, etc).

Other miscellaneous responsibilities I had during the week: print out powerpoint decks for in office meetings, schedule conferences with the client, flip pitchbooks (see that no errors in printing), and ordering dinner for the team through Seamless Web (an online listing of NY restaurants that deliver dinner to the lobby of the bank).

It hasn't been all work. There's been quite a few networking events - I got to listen to prime brokerage traders, risk management heads, and the merchant banking group. And, there's been a ton of coffee visits and happy hours to get to know people I don't directly work with. I realize that networking was always very important, and I think it can be crucial in getting a full time offer. I still am not sure if I want to do finance for full time, and speaking with more people has got me thinking about other divisions besides IBD.

Some questions from readers:

1. What kinds of work experiences did IBD interns have before this summer?
I myself had no finance experience. Only 3 of the other interns (the ones from undergrad business schools) in my group had direct finance experience (at a bank) before this summer. The other interns had very varied experiences - nonprofits, legislative aide, teaching at high schools, journalism (to name a few). Previous finance experience is certainly helpful, but by no means necessary!

2. Were there any common themes among the resumes of the interns in your IBD group?
Yes - despite the diverse array of experiences the interns in my group had, some common themes include:
  • Campus leadership - class presidents, founders of clubs, student leaders that were university appointed to committees
  • Good academic background - most above 3.5 (with a few around 3.0).
  • Strong public speaking skills - demonstrated by leadership and strong academic records. Good public speaking is needed to convince clients of your results and findings, to "sell" the banking team and its recommendations to clients! I am confident that my public speaking helped me tremendously during the interview process (my interviewers remembered me and reached out to me in my first week to see how I was settling in)
There's also a great post on the main takeaways a resume should present - scroll through the previous tips! It is spot on in terms of how interviewers / resume reviewers screen resumes.

3. How has the banking culture changed over the past year, in your opinion?
This is difficult to answer without specifics, but generally I can say that bankers have mellowed out due to the economic downturn. The analysts I'm working with say that a lot of the top management (VP and higher) are now more wary about the security of their jobs, and that they have lightened up a bit. Everyone is extremely hardworking still, and put in just as much (if not more) effort into their jobs, but people tend to be cognizant of others and the needs of their teams. As you get more senior, my understanding is that maintaining a work-life balance in banking becomes more manageable. But after all this is still banking, and it continues to attract the same types of people - type A, competitive, money-driven.

Feel free to continue sending your queries to and

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