Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I thought it might be helpful to list some of the resources I used over the past while to get up to speed on investment banking, the economy, and different banks.

  • Liar's Poker
  • Monkey Business
  • Barbarians at the Gate
  • The Accidental Investment Banker
  • A Demon of our Own Design
  • The World is Flat / Hot, Flat, and Crowded
  • Tipping Point
  • Financial Shock: A 360ยบ Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion (great summary of what's happened, even though he published before all the real crazy stuff happened)
  • Valut Guide for Investment Banking / Vault Guide for Finance Interviews
  • Running of the Bulls (about Wharton - I read it to see what the competition is like :)
  • Never Eat Alone (book about networking)
  • Goldman Sachs: Culture of Success / House of Morgan / other books on specific firms
  • When Genious Failed

There are tons of other books but these are just a few that I've read in the past year.


Again, there are tons of websites out there with good information, but these are some of the sites I look at frequently (some obviously for fun and some for information).

In addition to all of this, as I was getting ready for interviews I found lists of I-banking interview questions and would go through the lists, making sure I had a good answer for every single question. I probably did this for hundreds of questions, but I didn't want to get caught off-guard. It worked well; I never had an interview question that I hadn't heard before (or at least something very similar to it, to which I could easily tailor my pre-determined answer). I'm working on putting together some materials such as a model, interview questions, and other stuff that will be helpful. I'm short on time these days but it will be coming.


  • Wall Street Journal (read it every day!)
  • Financial Times
  • New York Times
  • Business Week (usually just skim through the copy in the business school)
  • The Economist (also just read the copy in the business school)

There are obviously way more sources of information that you can possibly take in, but I've just made it a habit of always having something to read. I'll walk to class and read on the way. I read when I wake up, get home, whatever. A thirst for knowledge is vital to understanding what's going on in the world and being ready for investment banking, where the learning curve is steep.

I'm sure you all have other resources that are helpful - post a comment to share what is helpful to you!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Late Nights

Hey all -

Sorry for the infrequent posts. Next time I get put on a team managing $700 billion I'll have done this before so I'll know how to handle the pressure and time commitments better :). Things are crazy and stressful, but I feel confident that we're moving in the right direction with what we have to work with. I'm learning a ton and am having a blast out here.

Anyway, I wanted to write a post about what it's like to work for 100 hours a week. This is one of those things that you hear a lot about, but it's hard to know what it's like until you've done it. That said, I'll take a shot at describing it. Current bankers can add comments to correct/augment anything I say.

When I first started banking this summer I was so excited and motivated to perform well that I actually looked forward to my first really late night. It came on a Thursday if I remember right. It was about 9:40 PM and I was reading through some primer on the Oil and Gas industry. An associate came over to my desk to see what I was up to and then asked me if I would "help him go through a few things." That translated into going through spreadsheets filled with data and checking all the numbers in them to make sure they were consistent throughout a 100-page pitch book.

Because I was so "gunner" I was excited to "jam" for a few hours. I finished up around 2am and felt great. I was a real banker - working late into the night, coming out onto the street and grabbing a black car as some random tourists watched.

Well this whole attitude soon left after it happened six days in a row. I began to see that it wasn't an anomaly to stay until 2am, but it was normal. When you start to work 100 hours a week or more, things inside you start to change. I could literally feel my brain slowing down toward the end of the week. After a few days/weeks you start to lose track of what day it is. The only way to tell is by what clothes people wear. When you see a VP wearing flip flops you know you are in the weekend (but you won't know if it's Saturday or Sunday).

It's just a strange feeling that comes over you. Your whole life is suddenly regimented. You don't do anything except work. You wake up, take a shower, find some clothes and a new tie, then head to work. You work all day long, get yelled at and build models till the middle of the morning, then you head home. You get home, fall in bed, then wake up and do it all over again. It's a weird cycle to be in because you start to feel like there's nothing else in your life. I guess it's true, but it's just a weird feeling to experience it.

I thought it would be really hard to work that much, but it's not that bad. Physically your body just makes the adjustment and you keep going. You're usually always kind of tired, but I was surprisingly less tired than I expected that I would be. I would imagine that after two years your body wouldn't "handle it" as well as mine did during the internship, but it wasn't too bad.

The hard parts are mental. You have to force yourself to work really hard for many many hours every week. Plus, you never know when you'll be able to leave and do something else besides banking. It's the uncertainty that's hard, not the long hours. You can't plan things in advance very well because when you do the associate will dump stuff on your desk again.

Now that my hours at Treasury are trending back towards the banking summer hours, I'm starting to remember the feeling. It's 2:15 am right now and I'm going strong. When the time comes for you all to get into banking, don't be afraid of the long hours. It's helpful to remember that while you are working the equivalent of two jobs, you are also learning a ton more than your friends who are working 40-50 hours a week.

Sorry if this is rambling and not helpful. If it sucked, just blame the long hours!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time to go to New York

It's that time of year again.

Things are starting to get cold, full-time recruiting is slowing down, and college football is in full swing. It's about time to get to New York.

One of the key steps for me in getting an internship and a job on Wall Street was actually going there and meeting face-to-face with professionals at the different banks. In the fall of my junior year, I flew myself to New York four times before interviews started, each time meeting with new people and cultivating relationships that eventually led to interviews and lasting friendships.

To have a successful New York trip (and this applies to San Francisco as well), there are a few things you need to do in preparation:
  • First of all, you need to contact people at banks. Hopefully you've been doing this since the summer time, but if not, it's ok. You're still ahead of the game as far as internships go. A good way to find people to contact is through your alumni network. Probably the best way would be to go through previous interns, because they obviously know multiple people at the bank. The tricky part there is that you have to make sure the intern that you ask for contacts is willing to "go to bat" for you. Because they don't have much leverage, if they recommed you and you screw it up, they will look terrible.

    So in contacting people working on the street, usually what I would do is send a SHORT introductory email telling them who I am and asking if there's a time that we could talk. When it got to be a little closer to interview season and I felt confident about my resume, I might also send my resume along so they could "get a better idea of my background." When asking for a time to call, I basically would leave things wide open. I figured that if I need to miss part of a class then it would be worth it if I could have a solid call with somebody at Goldman or Credit Suisse.

    Once the phone call is scheduled, there are a lot of things you need to do to prepare for the call. It's like a first date - you have to impress this person enough to want to meet you again. So what you do is spend a ton of time preparing and you leave them completely impressed with how much a junior in college knows already. Leave no doubts in their mind about your abilities, desire, or intelligence.

    You can prepare in a number of ways. Here are some of the things I did: Google the person I'm going to call to find out everything I can about them on the internet; talk with people who know them and/or have worked with them to find out what group they're in, what deals they've done, and what interests they have; read the entire website for their firm, and come up with specific reasons why I would want to work there as opposed to any other bank; research any big deals that their bank has done and have a few questions about the deals; read the WSJ every day so that I can talk about current events; make sure I can answer (1) Why do you want to do banking? (2) Why do you want to work at this firm? and especially (3) Tell me about yourself / Walk me through your resume.

    With enough preparation (focusing not so much on the technical stuff and a lot more on the fit / general knowledge stuff), you will come off as somebody who really cares about all this stuff.

  • Assuming the call goes really well, I would have already planned a date in late October / early November / late November / early December / late December / early January (pick any combination of these, but especially the later part of the year if you can only go once). As I wrap up the call I would say something like, "Hey Bryan it's been great talking with you and I've learned a lot. I wanted to let you know that I'll be in New York from November 4 through November 8 to meet with people at various banks. Obviously I'm extremely interested in your bank. Do you think you could pencil in a few minutes for me to take you out for a coffee sometime in there?"

    Do this 15x and you'll have a solid trip. The one thing you have to be careful of is over-booking yourself. During my second trip to New York, I had a tight schedule where I was supposed to go from one bank to another with only about a half hour inbetween when the first visit ended and the next began. The banks weren't far apart, but what I didn't account for was after my first interview, the analyst wanted to introduce me to the other analysts in his group and some senior people on the floor. Of course it was great to meet other people, and it showed that the analyst had enough confidence in me to introduce me around, but it meant that I was late for my next appointment. The worst thign you can do is set up an appointment and then not show up. Key takeaway: always plan enough time to meet new people after an interview.

  • Make sure you get as many business cards as you can, because when you meet these people you are going to want to stay in touch. You don't want to be annoying, but maybe a monthly or bi-weekly update would be good. Think of some reason to get in touch and then reach out with a short email and a quick question. If something great happens like you find out you got a scholarship or the football team you know this analyst loves goes to a bowl game, send them a quick email. The personal stuff is especially good because it connects you on a different level than desperate college kid wishing for a job.

    After a while I started having a tough time keeping up with all the contacts. I put together a spreadsheet dedicated solely to managing my contacts. Each row had name, number, firm, position, how we met, last interaction date, last interaction (what happened) and "Next Steps." The last column was important because every time I talked to somebody I would update and plan for the next interaction. Using this saved me many times and I had to check every day to see who was due for an email.

    I usually sent a few emails a day and made maybe 4-5 calls a week for a good three months straight. When the time came for interviews, it was easy to reach out and get these people to pass my resume along.

Good luck as you go out and meet people this fall!

p.s. I know that last year I really wanted to look at models that people have made and am wondering if anyone is still interested in seeing models that bankers use. Post a comment if you're interested and maybe I'll put a link up. Quick thought though - the most important thing going into my internship wasn't my ability to build a DCF model, it was understanding finance and knowing ALL the Excel shortcuts!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Treasury Update

Hey everybody -

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. As you all can imagine, things at Treasury have been absolutely crazy (and, for those of you that think I should have said "at THE Treasury," for some reason people just say "at Treasury").

These are amazing times and the list of superlatives keeps on growing:
Largest ever bankruptcy
Largest ever bank failure
Largest ever drop in the DOW (points, not percentage)
Largest ever government intervention

It's crazy to think that in the short time I've been at Treasury so much has changed in the world of finance. I've had the chance to be working on the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) team and it has been incredibly interesting. Obviously I can't post too much about what I've been working on, but needless to say it's amazing to be here. One thing I can say is that there are incredibly smart people working on this right now, and Americans can have confidence that the best people in the country are working on this huge problem. Well, the best and smartest...and me! Don't worry too much - I'm not involved enough to mess it up anyway :).

I try to read the criticisms out there to know what concerns people are having with this problem. For the vast majority of criticisms, I'm pleased to say that we have already discussed them and worked out solutions. Most of this stuff just isn't public knowledge yet, so I can't elaborate, but I'm confident that as time goes by America will see that this isn't just haphazardly thrown together, but it's a plan that has been thought through to extreme detail. I'm glad that it finally seems like people are at least understanding that this isn't just a "Wall Street Bailout" but is, in fact, a stabilization of the economy and will help people both on Main Street and Wall Street.

The link below is an article published in the New York Times back in 1999. It's about Fanni Mae and is very interesting because the author predicted exactly what was going to happen. I guess foresight in this case is 20/20.

New York Times Article