E. Jimmy Smith, HBA ’20
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin’
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s chokin’, how, everybody’s jokin’ now
The clocks run out, times up, over, blaow!
Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity
Newly minted investment bankers are great at giving presentations, having graduated from the prestigious Richard Ivey School of Business (Ivey Business School) – Shout out Section 3! However, once they grind for hours on this perfectly formatted pitchbook on strategic alternatives, the MD swings by and says “hey Jimmy, great stuff on the book last night – why don’t you attend the meeting.” Jimmy is super excited but super nervous.
Books are sent to copycenter and printed by 9AM – a guy from the product group finds a typo and this is slipsheeted in by the admin. The meeting is at 10AM.
Jimmy carries the books for the MD in his cheap Tiger From Sweden briefcase and since the client is close they hop on the subway because investment bankers are unpretentious and down to earth people.
Jimmy greets the client at the lobby with the MD and the product guys. They are shuffled into a boardroom with elite bottled VOSS water, juices and very nice looking glasses.
The VP of corporate development and a few of his lackeys are there at the table from the client side. Everyone goes around and shakes hands.
“E. Jimmy Smith, very nice to meet you.”
Jimmy practices his Ivey-perfected handshake, hands out his business cards (Evercore) and sits down at the furthest corner of the table so that the MD can sit in the most important spot. The MD makes some small talk and then flips to the industry update section.
“Jimmy, why don’t you kick it off?”
All of the case competitions, participation marks and presenting to burnout professors and keener students evaporate from Jimmy’s head as he melts into dust.
So Jimmy did some things right and some things wrong. Let’s talk about what you can do right, and how something that goes from fairly intimidating to an annoyance.
Bring a Pen and Notebook to Every Client Meeting
Analysts look ridiculously stupid when they omit these items. They should also be scribbling in them the entire time to 1) stay awake; 2) look like they are diligent and taking minutes for their boss. Analysts look especially stupid if they have not been taking notes and the MD asks, “have you been taking notes on this?”
Scribbling in a pitch book is also fine if the analyst has one for themselves at the meeting.
Bring Business Cards for Client Meetings
It does not have to be in shiny business card holders with your grandfather’s name and WWII history engraved on it but bring your cards. No VP is ever going to ping an analyst saying nice meeting you but it looks stupid if someone is standing around without business cards.
Have Two Suits and Two Ties at the Office
Someone always pours coffee on suits and dress shirts. This is generally best practice at most offices, but for any shameful firm that tries to be hip AKA Blackrock and enforce a business casual setting (or smart casual, God forbid), not having your suit in the office is death. Anyone who does not have a suit jacket is not going to a meeting (unless they are a BSD Managing Director who prints money for the office). If you are asked to go to a meeting but are not dressed, you will be asked to stay and everyone will remember this.
Groom Before Every Client Meeting
In my opinion, groom every day. We have style guides for this and there are ways to look fine even if you are hungover or otherwise just ugly. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have, always come in dressed to the nines, cliche cliche.
However, if you cannot groom every day, groom before a client meeting to look sharp and smart and not humiliate yourself.
Be Prepared to Present Any Analysis Conducted
All of the previous commentary is completely useless if you are asked to speak and botch it.
MDs will generally not get you to present what you were not responsible for, but I have definitely seen it happen with clueless MDs going “why don’t you take it from here” – for the whole book. Just scowl and read off the page when they do that.
However for the section you did the work for, you need to know it cold. Even if you were just spreading comps and precedents for a client, you need to know why one trades higher than another and what the market thinks in general. You need to read read read read and prepare with investor presentations and earnings calls to supplement your knowledge.
Lastly, you need to be able to present in a coherent and structured manner.
This means 1) practice; and 2) notes that do not follow the same pattern as the pitch book slide itself.
Never think you can just figure out how to convey the narrative by just reading off the pitch book. You will look like a clown. All MDs scribble on their pitch books for talking points for the page so it comes out smoothly, and you should too.
Be in Tune With Your Body
People who need to use the toilet regularly at work sometimes forget about their body clock and all of those Circadian rhythms that they succumb to every day. Especially if you are nervous (first time after all), it can become extremely uncomfortable to have a full bladder or rumbling bowels while you are expected to present the next meeting.
Sort it out and drain your systems right before you head out – but if you have to go, you have to go. Excuse yourself and do not make a scene.