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Top Tips From Those Who've Been There

Key Learnings from our Dealmaker Stories panel

by Abby Roberts, Director Merrill Insight

No matter how elegant the financial model, spreadsheets can only take you so far. Want to learn what it really takes to be a stand-out in the cut-throat world of investment banking? Here are top tips from those who’ve been there, based on learnings from our Merrill Insight webinar, Dealmaker Stories – How I Became a Rockstar in Investment Banking.

1. Manage Time Well

From financial modeling and analysis to M&A fundamentals, you have a lot to absorb when launching your banking career. But the most important skills are ones you’re more likely to pick up waiting tables than reading a textbook: prioritizing tasks (35%) and delivering to tight deadlines (14%) are two of the hardest parts of the learning curve your first year, according to our webinar polling results.

2. Stay Organized

Personal organization is critical to staying on top of your workload and avoiding mistakes. In fact, 36% of our webinar audience picked this as the area where bankers most often slip up. Everyone’s methods are different, but our panelists advise gathering tips from other bankers, taking advantage of calendaring and other technology tools, and always adding new things into the mix. Due diligence checklists also help. 

Pie chart asking where most slip-ups occur: 36% personal organization, 23% Q&A tracking, 17% data room management, 14% breaches of confidentiality, and 10% asset marketing

3. Bring a Learning Mindset

Don’t just do the work - understand why you are doing it. For instance, one analyst impressed his VP when he spent extra time researching a complicated financial concept related to their project. Later, when it came time to discuss the concept with an investor, the analyst could proactively participate in the discussion.

4. Put Yourself in the Client’s Shoes

Deals may be a dime a dozen to bankers, but for clients, their life’s work is often at stake. Recognize this isn’t “just another deal” to them and nurture the bond created between the two of you. Take advantage of that time to absorb as much industry expertise as possible.

5. Focus on Life, Incrementally

Pick little things to look forward to and embed them into your routine. For instance, one panelist recommends regular workouts to help manage stress. He also prioritizes Friday after-work drinks. Don’t get so bogged down in Excel and PowerPoint that you forget what the real world is doing outside, another says. And never forget to invest in yourself.

6. Rep and Repeat

Whether improving your financial modeling and analysis skills or developing industry expertise, there is no substitute for on-the-job training and repetition. Work on as many deals and gather as much practical experience as possible, our panelists advise. 

7. Review Before Pushing Send

In a world jam-packed with confidential emails, one incorrect autofill is all it takes to send sensitive information to the wrong person. More than half our webinar audience picked failing to review your work before sending as the most common technical error associates fall prey too. One panelist recounted the time she sent the wrong data room tracker to the client, for instance. “The response was not great."

Pie chart asking what's the most common tecnhical error to watch for: 52% reading work before sending, 29% failing to check the numbers, 18% missing something 1% poor email management.

8. Leverage Technology

Finally, understand how technology can help you succeed. Whether it’s the latest worklist app on your phone or talking to your data room representative about how new tools like Redaction for DatasiteOne can save you time, staying abreast of new technology trends will reduce time spent on manual work, giving you more time for brain-work. 

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