This is a follow up to a previous intellectually lazy post Some Investment Banking Things.
Lucites, Deal Toys and Tombstones
When investment bankers close deals, they will set aside a budget to commission trophies commemorating the transaction. Usually, they will get glass toys with a theme that is loosely related to the transaction with the imprint of the bank’s logo and the size of the deal. As an example, if an investment banking group sells a pet food company, they may commission the deal toy maker to create glass structures related to pet food. Before the financial crisis, this glass structure could be a dog jumping up in an elaborate field playing fetch with all of its hairs neatly rendered. Post financial crisis, it might be a plastic Snoopy embossed with Warburg Pincus $400 million acquisition of Organic Pet Foods and a Deutsche Bank logo.
Investment bankers pay a large sum of money to get these stupid trinkets which end up collecting dust or break when a game of analyst catch devolves into dodgeball. However, in the excitement of closing deals, analysts will set aside evenings painstakingly designing the perfect deal toy for a pat on the back.
Sometimes the bank will also commission some artist cartoon of a theme related to the transaction with all of the deal team involved in one way or another. The investment banking team could be in a dog park while the MD is throwing a bone and the VP is a dog. These are actually somewhat funny, but once the novelty wears off you would wish that $20,000 would probably be better served by bringing the pit out to Masa or Per Se.
As with investment banking software salespeople (datarooms, FactSet, MergerMarket), lucite salespeople have a commission based job and will harass bankers if they find their emails. “We have beautiful toys that you NEED to celebrate your deals. Call us.”
When the summer analyst class starts, half of them walk in with dress shirts three times too big that they got from some online vendor or at best Nordstrom Rack.
When they sign on full time, they are stoked and head over to Brooks Brothers to get their non-iron white dress shirts – especially popular for analysts who have never lived away from their mother until banking. They actually fit to some extent, and they look in the mirror and feel good about themselves. How are shirts so expensive?!
A few weeks in you hear a rip and the soft tears of a broken man. The right (70% of the time) sleeve has popped at the elbow.
The analyst trying to find solace asks the Brooks Brothers salesman what they can do to stop shirts from tearing.
“Just roll up your sleeves when you work – to be honest it shouldn’t be a problem unless you are sitting in a desk for 16 hours a day or something ridiculous like that.”
Rolling up your sleeves is not allowed for Executive Director and below unfortunately.
Other analysts will say, “oh it’s just maintenance capex for being an investment banker. This is why no one has any savings at the end of the year.”
The elbow pop is not that bad. Ripped suitpants around the crotch very bad and not recommended, especially in the middle of a client meeting.
Protip: Suit and trouser pockets are not actually designed to be pockets, just aesthetics. Never put your wallet or phone inside your trouser pockets and if you have a corporate iPhone and your own device the two combined will destroy your new Corneliani threads. Hold your phones like how girls hold their glossy red Yves Saint-Laurent clutches – with power and conviction as you march towards Booster Juice.
The Gym and Multivitamins for Investment Banking Monkeys
Investment bankers, being perennial winners, are usually in decent shape. The banker 15 is a semi-lie – it does not happen to everyone. Athletic bankers will generally stay trim and ring fence 45 minutes a day to go to the gym. The gym is key for having a good analyst stint because it refreshes the mind. You will also see multivitamins at the desk.
Don’t let fat bankers fool you, they usually were fat before they joined. Fat bankers that make it to VP become skinny bankers because they suddenly have time to join triathalons and things while killing their analysts.
Gym dynamics are interesting and give great color into an analyst pit. A pit that works out together is a fraternal pit. A pit that works out separately is usually not a fun work environment. A pit that does not work out at all is usually within Moelis.
Where a banker goes to the gym is also telling. Half of the banking class uses their condominium gym or has bought a discounted Fitness World/GoodLife Fitness pass from their third cousin. The other half goes to Equinox or a similarly veined elite gymnasium. The ones that have Equinox memberships never actually go to Equinox but will stop at nothing to get other junior bankers to sign up so that they feel less bad about spending $200 a month.
“It’s a steep price, but man it’s worth it for the free hair product and eucalyptus towels!”
“I can to go to spin class next to the CEO!”
“Blackrock subsidizes $80 a month!”
“It’s a great way to meet high quality girls.”
“It’s in a Kanye song!”
The reality is that they are weak and fold like a chair when faced with standard commercial pressure. Then they get a personal trainer. Come on guys what happened to the days of whey protein, hard boiled eggs and bodybuilding.com? Have you seen how jacked you can get in prison with no weights? This is a soft generation. The food at Equinox is also terrible and for the record I have never seen a banker successfully take down a number at Equinox. You simply are not rich enough for the clientele.
The IT Guys
The investment banking floor is generally well dressed and has an air of sophistication amongst it even if the souls have been sucked out of the employees. The average banker has fitting clothes and nice hair, but there are exceptions when a megadeal is on and unshaven analysts are sprawled out on the floor next to McDonalds wrappers and empty Red Bull cans.
Everyone else looks good too – the executive assistants/secretaries are dressed sharply, the senior management has very fine threads and the receptionist is fully dolled up. Clients react in awe when they enter the office and are ravished by splendor and decorum, before being whisked away into massive conference rooms stocked with refreshments.
However, there are two groups of people who will saunter around the hallowed halls of IBD wearing poorly fitting, bad colored polos (blue oversized polo with red collars) and cargo pants without a belt. They are also usually portly and ungroomed. It’s as if the office manager or property management firm (usually Brookfield Office Properties) told them that the only rule is a collared shirt. The rest of the rules you can make up.
The first group are the delivery staff and building cleaners. They shuffle internal mail around and wander around with a clipboard without saying hello to anyone. Sometimes they have a trolley with things on them. They do not really matter. Investment bankers will see them having frantic conversations with the office manager or executive assistants, but will otherwise never interact with them. The best way to infiltrate an investment bank is to dress up as the delivery staff.
The second group is extremely important and are the IT team. The IT team is NOT the same as the technology team. The technology team builds proprietary infrastructure to make investment banking operations smooth. Whether this is web-based software for solving for RORA in corporate banking or maintaining equity issuance databases, the technology team will not regularly enter the IB floor.
The IT guy is the guy you message or call when you cannot login, the server is down or you need Salesforce installed onto your computer. They are usually eccentric and lack the sense of urgency that the investment bank thrives on. Their favorite retort is “have you tried rebooting your computer?” which they will use in any context.
“Hey Tom, today is my last day at Barclays – I am going to join Thor Equities. It was great working with you.”
“Derek, have you tried a reboot?”
Tom, have you tried rebooting your life?