To most people, the term “Wall Street” conjures images of cleanly shaven white men wearing short haircuts and blue or gray pinstripe suits, scurrying in and out of cabs and skyscrapers—in New York City. However, while it's true that the banks that figuratively make up what’s commonly referred to as Wall Street are largely filled with Caucasian males without facial hair and with the finest in worsted wool, these firms do, in fact, have operations outside of Manhattan in places like (or, at least, very near) Manhattan Beach—that is, in California.
And to get a glimpse of how things operate in investment banking on the West Coast, check out the below description of an average day in the life of an associate (in his own words) who works in the Los Angeles office for one of the largest Wall Street banks.
A Day in the Life of an Investment Banking Associate
Morning: Most associates arrive between 8 and 9 a.m. I work with a lot of people in Asia and Europe, so I probably get in earlier than most. Analysts generally get in a little later, but it all depends on what they have on their plates or if they were in the office late the night before. In New York, the day starts with a visit to the cafeteria (or a deli) for breakfast. But on the West Coast, most people have breakfast before coming in or have something simple in the office. Typically, I’ll focus on clearing out the inbox and getting on conference calls if I’m not preparing for a meeting. If I’m working with people in New York, I’ll try to catch them before it gets too late on the East Coast. If I’m working with an analyst, I’ll use this time to go over work they’ve done from the previous day and try to respond with comments before they get in.
Lunch: On the West Coast, we’ll typically leave the office building, either to pick up something to bring back or eat a quick bite at a sit-down spot. Lunch is a good time to get out of the office if you have the time. When busy, it’s not uncommon to have a co-worker bring you back something to eat at your desk.
Afternoon: Get more work done (work on presentations, conference calls, work with analysts, etc.). Anything major that comes up over the course of the afternoon can have a large impact on the evening and what time you leave the office. Later in the day, some people will go out for a quick run or make a trip to the gym if the evening doesn’t look too bad. For me, since I deal with Asia a lot, this is when I can start tracking down people overseas.
Dinner: Order take-out or make a quick trip to a local joint around 7 p.m. People will generally do this together, which is not always the case at other banks or offices. If we order in, often people will go and watch a game or a show in a conference room or eat dinner at the desk.
Evening/Night: Any late night processing is either done by the analyst or associate or farmed out to the New York staff. At a regional office, some services like the copy center may be open late, but not all, so it involves coordinating with other offices at times. There’s also the ability to work from home depending on the circumstances. If possible, people with farther commutes will try to adjust the time they leave the office accordingly.
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