Friday, April 27, 2012

Champagne Nights, Cocaine Mornings

Whenever I'm working a late night or over a rare weekend, I get lots of sympathetic messages from my friends and family. I can tell they worry about me. "Where do you get time to live, to do stuff?" "How will you meet guys?" "How will you maintain your relationship?" "Will you ever marry???????" And etc...

Sometimes I think about it too. And even I wonder why I do it.

What do I really do anyway?

A few months ago, we took on a new, interesting client. The story starts in Hollywood...

When studios, actors, directors, producers, writers and everyone else come together to make movies, they expect to make a lot of money on it at the box office, and then even more when your favorite stations show them over and over and over again. When they make TV shows, they hope to get into syndication and stay on your television for as long as possible. This means lots of checks for everyone for a long time to come. But people in Hollywood do not like to wait for their money. There are multi-bathroom homes in Bel Air to buy and upgrade, personal trainers and personal shoppers to pay and new diets and religions to explore. So enter our clients. They go out and raise a ton of money from people who want to send their money on a growing mission, and then they buy the rights to these movies and shows from anyone who wants to sell so Hollywood can get her money now when she wants it. And then they take the monthly checks for years to come.

My job is to help my team prepare documents and information to convince investors that the client is someone they can trust with their investment. We have to understand what they do, investigate the team and their performance, analyze the industry, be satisfied that they can reproduce the great returns they have been showing in past investments and then guide investors to the same conclusion. Investors are pension plans, insurance companies, banks, rich people, any "qualified individual" by SEC laws that has a checkbook that we can tap.

Our investors are all over the world, so every second of every day, one of them is awake at their desk, doing diligence on our client and needing answers to a pressing question. They can ask at 7am New York time, or 7am in Singapore which is almost bedtime in New York. Or they could be working on Sunday, the first day of the week in the Middle East. And what our clients pay us for is to have the information needed out of the door as soon as possible.

Which is why I have no control over my work hours.

And when we are not working for our clients, we are out meeting new clients. Managers whose funds own companies like Burlington Coat Factory, Mary Kay, Neiman Marcus and much more, and seeing how we can work together to raise the next set of funds so they can go out and do what they do best. And add that to other things that pop up, and 24 hours may not be enough for a day.

So why do I do it?

To be honest I think my job picked me. In college I was bored out of my mind. It wasn't that all my courses were easy all the time, but there wasn't a lot that gave me sleepless nights or challenged me to knuckle-gripping determination. And from the first day I knew I needed a job that would push me in every way, and this seemed interesting. Plus the people who work in investment banking are really, really, really interesting people.

For a self-proclaimed introvert, I truly enjoy people. I like meeting people, exploring their minds, and all that stuff. My job exposes me to so many different personalities from day to day and no matter how frustrating and tiring the hours get sometimes, the people I work with make it fun and that all makes it bearable. Today, my work husband (the Russian one. I also have an Argentinian work boyfriend, and an American work crush) went back to Texas after a 2-day training session for all first-year analysts in New York. As we always do, we started out with drinks at the work-sponsored happy hour session and then went out into the world. By 2am yesterday, we had been to about 4 bars and I had become a huge fan of Sake (first time ever. The Japs are killing with that one, by the way). And we were just getting started. Somehow we all made it home eventually and managed to get back to the office for training at 8am today, all mostly drunk but pretty much alive. Usually, regular night life for us is on a slightly smaller scale, but you get the general idea.

Besides all the fun and really great intellectual stimulation I get at work, the perks are pretty ok too. Compensation is nice, the occasional box seats at concerts and games make up for some dreadful weeks, and when I'm really down in the dumps about missing a date or a party, I remind myself that it only gets better from here and it won't last forever. :)