What is “A Day in the Life of an Investment Banking Analyst”?

One of the most challenging and exciting things about being an IB analyst is that no two days are the same. This is largely due to the fact that almost all project assignments, whether a pitch or a transaction, will involve a new client, industry, or a new problem to solve. That being true, there is a general flow to most days, and understanding the nature and timing of tasks will help make the (often very long) days flow better.

Key Learning Points

  • Each area of investment banking (capital markets/advisory/M&A etc.) will have a different flow
  • A typical IB analyst day is long and full of a variety of tasks
  • Most analysts are staffed on multiple projects with differing priorities
  • At some point in the day, one project is likely to heat up quickly
  • Staying in communication with your project or deal team as well as your business unit manager is critical to completing tasks on time without taking on too much work
  • Waiting on the necessary feedback of more senior bankers will often delay tasks and a good analyst will make the most efficient use of this time

Mornings

Monday mornings almost always begin within each group with an internal meeting. The meeting often covers significant market factors and major transactions. In the capital markets groups and leveraged finance, these meetings are generally more market-focused. In advisory and M&A, they can be more strategic. Attendance may or may not be mandatory but junior staff can learn a great deal from these meetings.

Otherwise, in the capital markets groups, mornings start very early.  This is a function of being synced with trading market hours. However, this is typically offset by the fact that most capital markets teams do not work as late at night. In the advisory and M&A divisions, mornings are much slower with a little more leniency for absolute punctuality. In reality, most senior bankers are at their desks early so it is often advised to arrive as early as possible – even after a difficult late-night excel modeling. No matter how much rest is taken, the break from the night before is a welcome time to review work that might have been completed with more tired eyes.

Occasionally, the work you left the night before will have to wait as there is a pressing client call or new staffing waiting. Mornings might also be spent waiting for your associate or VP to review any numbers or pitch pages that were prepared the night before.

Afternoons

Depending on the workload, lunch is either an opportunity to network, a quick bite at your desk, or an afterthought. Financial modeling is the core of the analyst’s responsibilities but preparing comparables, doing research, drafting offering memos, and preparing pitch book pages are all on the task list for most analysts each day. If there is a ‘live’ deal, an analyst might spend time in the afternoon making phone calls dealing with questions from clients or other banks.

As most senior bankers are either traveling or leaving the office by 7pm, afternoons are often a race to get pages or numbers into review before evening. In the general flow of a weekday, there is often a lull by late afternoon/early evening as this work is being reviewed and the analyst is waiting for comments.  There is always the hope that if the comments come in quickly, there might be an early night but that rarely materializes!  Typically, there is a fresh stack of work for an analyst to do just as most other professionals are heading home for dinner.

Evening

Evening for many analysts is the most productive time of the day as the senior bankers who often drive the deals and initiate the meetings and conference calls start to head home while the analysts and associates remain. With fewer interruptions, the analyst can focus on the most pressing tasks. Compiling a comparable company analysis in time for an upcoming client call or meeting is one of the many tasks that keep an analyst at the bank late into the evening.  Preparing pitch book pages is another late-night specialty as the iterations and tweaks can be endless.

Every firm has a different policy for ordering dinner, but these breaks can be good for camaraderie with your deal team or colleagues from around the floor. Once the work is complete or the analyst has reached the end of their productivity, it is time to call a car service and head home for a few hours of sleep. A tired analyst is a busy analyst but an over-tired analyst can be an error-prone analyst and that is not acceptable in this industry. Every now and then the stars align and a quick trip to the pub after a not-too-late night is in the offing. Enjoy it when you can!