A Day In The Life: Investment Banking Associate

Photograph by Jeremy Bales/Bloomberg

“A Day In The Life” is an ongoing series that highlights popular post-MBA job functions, as seen through the eyes of the recent grads in the positions.

What does the typical workday look like for an investment banking associate at a multinational financial services firm? To find out, Bloomberg’s Melanie Danko spoke to Serdj Balach, a graduate of the University of Virginia’s Darden MBA Class of 2010, who holds that position at Citigroup’s headquarters in Manhattan.

Before enrolling at Darden, Balach, 30, was a consultant and analyst at Accenture. He grew up with a strong international background, living in Serbia, Croatia, the Philippines, and Belgium, and he holds an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. He currently resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Here’s a peek into Balach’s daily routine, in his own words:

7 a.m. I get out of bed and get changed for a quick trip to the gym. I don’t do this enough, but every little bit helps, and fitness bragging rights at the office never hurt. I try to avoid the desire to check my Blackberry, but the blinking red light beckons. Nothing but internal administrative e-mails for now, so I can work out in peace.

7:35 a.m. I finish a quick swim. I would’ve loved to go longer, but sleep and time are my most valuable commodities, and they’re always in conflict. I double-check the Blackberry, and this time there are a few easy-to-answer questions from clients and colleagues. I jot a few quick responses, and start the mental to-do list: Remember to get European team materials they requested by end of day.

7:45 a.m. I shower, shave, and make myself presentable for another day on the job.

8 a.m. I turn on SportsCenter and hope to catch some basketball highlights from the Chicago Bulls. I read a few daily news e-mails on the Blackberry and forward a couple of articles of interest to my director.

8:30 a.m. On the subway ride into the office, I listen to the Pardon the Interruption podcast and flip through more news.

8:50 a.m. Sitting down at my desk, I write down my to-dos for the day:
1) Review drafted [mergers and acquisitions] discussion materials with my managing director.
2) Review valuation materials for transaction.
3) Send requested materials to Europe team.
4) Discuss.

9 a.m. Conference call to discuss [initial public offering] roadshow presentation.

9:30 a.m. Go to the cafeteria and grab oatmeal and much needed coffee.

10 a.m. I sit down with my director and an analyst to review valuation materials for a live transaction.

11 a.m. I review comments with the analyst and attempt to split the work. We realize that neither of us will be able to get to it until at least 4 p.m.

11:30 a.m. I begin thinking about lunch. I wait in front of my managing director’s office for an opportunity to review materials for an M&A pitch later this week.

11:40 a.m. Managing director hangs up the phone and the window is open; analyst and I swoop in and seize the opportunity to review our materials. We receive comments, review what materials need to be created, and decide what can be leveraged from existing materials.

12:45 p.m. Grab lunch. As is the case almost 100 percent of the time when it is under my own control, the decision is to leave the building. I head out with some guys from the team and grab a sandwich nearby.

1:30 p.m. After eating at my desk—and reading some ESPN.com—it’s time to make headway on my to-dos. Most important: Finish the roadshow edits.

2:30 p.m. I send revised roadshow to the client and start reviewing the valuation materials. Time to spread our M&A comps and make sure our trading comps are up-to-date. Analyst is working on the discounted cash flow and refining assumptions.

5 p.m. Send revised M&A valuation materials to my director. I then check in with another analyst on the materials for our upcoming pitch.

6:30 p.m. We order dinner—the eternal dilemma of health vs. happiness. The office vegetarians make it easier to lean towards health but detract from dinner happiness.

7:30 p.m. After finishing dinner, I receive comments from my managing director on the M&A materials.

11 p.m. I finish a draft of M&A materials and have analyst send it out. I then jump in cab to head home, responding to a few e-mails on the way.

11:45 p.m. I catch up on some Game of Thrones, answer more e-mails, refresh some slides, and send them out.

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