Vice President of Investment Banking
8:15AM: In terms of being a VP, you usually come into the office around 8:30-8:45 a.m., you obviously check the market wires and news for any companies that you cover, in respect to new releases or news that you weren’t a part of. You look for things that you didn’t hear the night before or that you weren’t given a head’s up on ahead of the announcement.
Obviously you do a quick scan of Globe and Mail, Marketwired (a press release distribution service), Bloomberg, and any of the other releases that you may have missed overnight.
10:00AM: Obviously, at the VP level you have to do secondary coverage, or shadow coverage, for any of the managing directors (MDs) that you report to. I report to four different MDs - and at that level a lot of the guys can be spending a lot of time on the road, pitching new ideas, or going on marketing meetings and so forth. So, a lot of my day is responding to client requests and making client calls, and just basically stick-handling deals that are mid-way through while my MDs are away.
This can be on a very ad-hoc basis, but depending on my day I could be spending 50-60% of my day is on the phone speaking with clients, or speaking to potential clients, regarding potential new mandates to bring to the firm.
12:00PM - 9:00PM: The other about 20% of the time is reviewing, dictating, and staffing the junior guys. Every single week, we sit down on Monday morning to go over any of the deliverables that are due in the upcoming week or week and a half. A lot of the time this is essentially reviewing decks, or putting together skeleton decks for the juniors - whether it be analysts or associates - to complete. The approach tactics will be drafted by myself, but in terms of updating the comps, and updating the precedents, that’s often in the courts of the junior guys. And I’ll often just be there to verify numbers, answer questions, for technical tasks, or certain other asks from one of the senior guys - and to provide service and a sober second thought when it comes to format, layout, and messaging - with respect to the decks.
Those are the main part of my tasks, there’s also beginning to generate my own clientele list. So in addition to reporting to four MDs, I’m also having coffees, and making new introductions to the desk, and essentially talking to companies that sort of fall into the bulge bracket. The senior guys will concentrate on bigger companies, so should be a deal that’s coming in the door that’s too small for one of the senior guys, I'll give it the first triage and either run with it myself or see if there is a large deal to be made with another bank.
My day is probably about 13 to 14 hours. I’ll usually get in at around 8:15 to 8:30 a.m. and leave at around 9:00 p.m. or so. If it’s busy, it’s busy - busy can be until 12:00AM - 1:00AM. We just launched a US$115 million deal last week, so I was in the office all weekend and late nights throughout. But in a typical day, I’m usually working 12-13.5 hours.
Monday through Thursday it’s usually those 12-13 hours, then on Friday I like to get out of the office before seven and have dinner with my girlfriend or some friends. On the weekends, I don’t really come in much anymore but I will always be available by phone. We’ll also have pow-wows over the weekend when there is stuff coming in, but in terms of being physically in the office on the weekend, I generally don’t have to do it unless there is something pertinent or a live deal.
Office Face Time
For analysts and associates, it’s generally good for them to put in as much face time as some of the other bank-owned dealers. So, they work very hard. They’re usually in the office a bit later than I am, let's say until 8:45 or 9:15 a.m., but their days typically end around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m.. But obviously, if there's a lot of stuff on the go that could stretch until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.
On weekends they’ll usually come in for at least one full day: say 10:00-4:00 or 10:00-5:00, and they’ll work from the leash if there is anything on that day.
One time I was a newly minted VP at [a major private firm] and we were working with a mining company on a central transaction. It was going very well, but what happened was we were a sole advisor but there was another bank-owned dealer that was a strategic advisor to the company. They were in charge of the strategic opinion and the modelling, and we were doing the IR [investor relations] deck on the pro-forma company. We had done all of our part, but then we got word that one of the large shareholders at the target company didn’t like our fees and they involved accounting very late, and the bank-owned dealer essentially scoffed at the reduction and walked away from the entire transaction.
So, I get a call from my VP on Friday at around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., just as I was about to walk out the door, and she said we need to do a full fairness opinion to be delivered to our clients in Vancouver by Sunday. So, the worst part about that was at the time my analyst had just started their vacation. So it was just up to me and the intern — who at that time just had three or four days of experience in investment banking — to do a 60 page fairness opinion with full due diligence. So that would take a full 40 hours. I’d say over that Friday and Saturday night I probably got a combined five or six hours of sleep, and was luckily able to pump out the analysis. We had a relativity good standing, especially given our resources at the time. It just shows the unpredictability, and volatility and timing of banking.
From my time as an investment banker, which has only been about six or seven years, the most challenging part is that you often don’t have absolute clarity on what exactly your day is going to look like and having to be at the whim of your clients.
The intern was great, she was partner with a one-year capital markets rotation - which is four months in banking, four months in research, and four months in S&T - and she ended up working at a private-equity firm after that internship.
My Best Advice To Junior & Future Bankers
It’s important for a junior banker to understand what he or she is in for. It’s basically three years of very difficult, long hours, with a stressful work environment, where your social life suffers. I know a lot of people who say that they are willing to accept those circumstances before moving in, but a lot of people can do the talk but can’t walk the walk. So, it’s important to really know what you are getting yourself into before you say “yes, I can work 100 hours a week”, “I don’t mind postponing my vacation so that I can work on this deal”, and so forth. There’s nothing worse than getting someone in the seat and then realizing that they’re not the right person.
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