Over the last few months and posts I have really focused on getting your lateral transfer into Investment Banking and if you have gotten to this post then congratulations on landing your Investment Banking job. In this post I will cover something that bankers that lateral into new banks often forget…they forget that any reputation and goodwill that they have built up at their previous place of employment now means nothing. You are starting again from scratch and you need to build everything up again.
Although your life will definitely not be as bad as the junior bankers under you, it will definitely not be as easy at the start as others at your level seem to be having it. You will have to work harder and longer than anyone in your team as you rebuid your reputation.
If you have just landed on this page you may want to first read some of the other posts I have done on landing a transfer into investment banking including:
- How to get a lateral transfer into Investment Banking
- Should you do a lateral transfer into Investment Banking
- Investment banking resumes for lateral transfer candidates
- Lateral Transfers: Use your contacts to land an Investment Banking interview
- How are interviews different for Investment Banking lateral transfers
- Lateral Transfers: negotiating your entrance year
The goodwill that you built at your last employer no longer exists
The thing that most people forget when they do a transfer into another job (it does not have to be investment banking) is that the goodwill and trust and reputation that you have built with your previous employer does not do anything for you in your new job. In your old job you had the pick of the best tasks and deals and you were trusted to talk to clients and the junior staff respected you so you got all the junior support you needed.
None of this is true when you start your new job. It is especially painful in investment banking because of the amount that you rely on junior staff to support you and the difference you will see between those who have been there for a while and you both in terms of this support and the actual work you get given.
Those who transfer between investment banks should see this coming yet somehow they forget. I have very good friends who have transferred between investment banks for a variety of reasons yet constantly complain that the junior staff at the new bank suck compared with the juniors at their previous place of employment…they don’t suck…you have just forgotten how the system works and how you helped out that junior at your old bank when they were in a pulling an all nighter and how they would always prioritise your work as a result.
If you have never worked in this kind of culture before this whole system must sound strange…surely your junior staff would do exactly what you need and when you want it right? Perhaps not…
But isn’t banking a hierarchical system…?
Yes banking is one of the most hierarchical industries that you will find around. Technically analysts are meant to do what the associates ask of them. However what normally happens is the analysts are so overworked that they have to prioritise which tasks they have to do. This normally involves doing everything at the very last minute or in the order which will minimise their workload.
If, as an analyst, you have a task from an associate that you know is good, has thought through their ideas and who is going to make your life easy if you finish their task then you will do their task first. If, on the other hand you are working with a lateral transfer from outside the industry who typically does not know what they are doing as well as you do (trust me…you wont until you get up the learning curve) then you have no incentive to do their task first…you’ll get to it eventually but eventually can be much later that night which means you, the lateral transfer, are stuck waiting for the analyst to get you your task.
What this typically means is that as a lateral transfer you are either going to spend your time twiddling your thumbs waiting for your analyst to free up and do your task, or you are going to have to do some of these tasks yourself. This isn’t altogether a bad thing. Firstly you are getting the hang of what the analyst does and this helps when you are giving them work – you know exactly how long things take and what you should expect and secondly analysts appreciate whenever their workload is lightened and the chances are they will remember it the next time around and your work moves slightly up the pecking order in their mind.
This ‘sucking up to analysts’ really gets to some new associates but I’ve seen new associates try and ‘force’ analysts to do their work by being jerks and trust me when I say it never works.
Keep in mind that you will also be doing the worst tasks when you first join
Establishing your reputation isn’t only with the junior staff. You need to prove to the senior guys that you know what you are doing as well. Typically senior bankers (especially VPs and Directors) want to work with junior staff who they know will get their stuff done.
There are never enough junior staff at an investment bank so this means that they try and keep their favourite associates ‘on side’ by giving them the best work and the best deals to work on. What this also means is that, as they do not know you and how good you are, you will be typically given the crap tasks that the other associates don’t want. You will not realise it at first but eventually you will notice that you are doing a lot more of the time intensive work which never goes anywhere. Note that this is another reason you will find it hard to get an analyst to help you out.
As bad as this all sounds…it will pass
If this sounds terrible to you…it is. For about a year (though it can be less) your life will suck as you get bad tasks and limited support to help you. However once you start to build your reputation, as junior bankers and senior bankers alike come to trust you and value your work then things get much better very quickly.
The worst thing you can do is try and fight the system or ‘expect’ your reputation from your previous job to carry you. You will need to spend time building this reputation before you will get to work on good deals and get to the same work life balance as other associates at your level that have been there longer than you.