THE BLOG

The Five Most Irritating Statements...

08/28/2012 06:44 pm ET | Updated Oct 28, 2012

... of an investment banker... Three continents and three banks later, I can say for certain that there is a certain commonality among all bankers; it is as if they are all ingrained with the same thought process, same genetics, or at least the same mannerisms. Maybe there is a school of investment banking somewhere that teaches them these one-liners. They say the same things and instill the same kind of annoyance, fear or irritation in their junior staff (depends on your view point, I guess). In my time at these three banks, the top five most irritating lines I have heard from senior bankers, not necessarily in order of annoyance, are:

1. "Can we perform this analysis?" Or "let's analyze this"
You know when they say that it is going to mean a lot of work, sometimes unnecessary and unimportant work, to make sure the underlings are gainfully employed or "earning their paycheck". The other iterations of this statement can actually be more annoying, especially when they say something like, "You need to do a deep dive..." In my head I am thinking, the only deep dive I want to take is in a clear blue ocean somewhere, and not in some difficult to comprehend annual report or financial statement...

2. I "may" have a few comments
I have never seen a senior banker make only a "few" comments on anything. You know when they say something along those lines, you can essentially expect a rewrite of your work. The only problem is that they will make the "few" comments and it is up to you to ensure the changes are captured in the document or presentation, as the case maybe. Sometimes the comments are worthwhile, whereas at other times they are comments for the sake of comments. This goes hand-in-hand with the "analysis" comment where I feel like an MD or a senior banker must make a comment to show their worth or value add to something.

3. "Let's pull a few pages together for this client"
Well, if you have any experience with bankers, you know that no pitchbook is only a "few pages". The few pages often materialize into 50-100 page books with all sorts of bells, whistles, gadgets, analyses that would not have ever fit into a few pages, unless few is a fraction of the thousands he was contemplating. It always amazes me as to why they say a "few pages" when they know it's not what's in their head or what they actually want... Are they trying to give the junior guy a glimmer of hope or a satisfaction that finally, after all those attempts and all those "lies", this time he is not really fibbing and it is indeed a "few pages"...

4. "This shouldn't take you much time"
Whenever I have heard that line, my first inclination has been to ask what their definition of "much time" is... Is it a few hours? A day? A night? An all-nighter? If "much time" is a few hours, well then buddy, why don't you try your hand at it? Surely, you have no concept of time or how much work is involved because you have never done it... Either that, or you think the world of me, in which case, I appreciate the compliment, but still don't think it is humanly possible to get what you want accomplished in the "little time" you expect it to be done!

5. Are you free this weekend?
This is the one I have come to dread the most, for obvious reasons. In the early years, my responses tended to be along the lines of "I am generally around" or "I can help, as required". Now I don't volunteer my services as willingly or as easily knowing that while the MD enjoys an afternoon on the couch, "making a few comments" on the presentation, or taking a break at a child's birthday party or a friend's dinner, I would be spending "not much time" making those changes in a hot airless office. So now, I feel like saying, I'm taking a deep dive in the ocean somewhere, as I contemplate on the best way to deal with those few changes or comments, and that by Monday morning I will be ready to spend that little time dealing with this....

I am sure there are a lot more, but these were the top five that came to mind as I was heading out from the office t oday. If you have come across more or have something that stands out more, please do share... I'm always on the lookout for more material and happy to expand the list to beyond the five above...