Although not every investment banking analyst who works in corporate finance or M&A for a bulge-bracket bank (Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, etc.) puts in 80 hours a week constantly throughout the year, many of them do just that.
In fact, according to Vault's latest Banking Survey, which we've been admistering since March and will be using to determine our forthcoming 2013 Vault Banking 50, 35 percent of corporate finance bankers say they work more than 80 hours per week, while 60 percent of M&A bankers say they work more than 80 hours each week.
In any case, below is a typical fourteen-and-a-half hours (that is, a day) in the life a corporate finance analyst (in his own words) who works for one of the bulge-bracket banks in New York.
A Day in the Life of a Wall Street Analyst at a Bulge-Bracket Bank
9:00 a.m.: I spend the first 30 or 45 minutes of my day checking e-mail and getting breakfast. Usually at this point an associate or director will be looking for me and we’ll have a quick chat about a deal.
9:45 a.m.: I have a conference call—I have a lot of these during the day. The ones that don’t require your full attention allow you to work on other projects (on your computer) at the same time, which is nice when you know you’re going to be facing a time crunch.
10:45 a.m.: I have a call with a client, which of course requires my full attention.
11:15 a.m.: I have another conference call. It’s a good idea to have a good question ready when you get the chance so people know you’ve been paying attention. Once people see that you’re engaged with what’s going on, you tend to receive more responsibility.
12:00 p.m.: I’ll grab a sandwich. In the summer I might sit outside for a bit. On Fridays we might even have the ability to sit down for an hour.
1:00 p.m.: Someone might pull me into their office for a meeting. I’m finding out more and more that your physical presence at your desk isn’t required as long as you’re connected on your BlackBerry and getting things done. And as long as you’re responsive and hitting the deadlines you need to hit, no one’s going to give you a hard time.
2:30 p.m.: I get back to my desk and answer some e-mails that have piled up.
3:30 p.m.: Time for another conference call.
5:00 p.m.: I do more work at my desk on models (in Excel) that I haven’t gotten the chance to finish today.
6:00 p.m.: Order in dinner.
8:00 p.m.: Crank away on models.
11:30 p.m.: Order car service and leave for the day. Although the average time I leave is about 11:30, when I first started I had a few months of working to 4 a.m. every night. But I was encouraged not to do that. Now, sometimes I’ll come in earlier if I have to, but as long as the necessary work is done by 9 a.m. or so, nobody cares when you leave.