Investment Banker: A Day in the Life

Like most i-bankers, you're based in New York but spend lots of time on planes.

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For the past few years, you've been an investment banking analyst, putting in those 90-hour workweeks crafting deals that your boss would present to prospective clients. Now, you're a step closer to being that boss. For your $350,000 a year, here's a typical day.

Like most i-bankers, you're based in New York but spend lots of time on planes. Today, you, a peer, and your boss are on a 6:30 a.m. flight to San Jose, Calif., where you have three meetings scheduled. On the plane, you're reviewing the pitchbooks that your analysts have crafted for you. Review doesn't just mean read. Using stochastic calculus and Black-Scholes calculations, you find a way to tweak the deal.

Your first meeting is with a large Silicon Valley technology company, which is looking to spin off a division. Your boss has found two possible buyers, and he will present the deals' pros and cons, with you there primarily to offer technical details. In between meetings, you're on the phone while wolfing down a late lunch.

Your second meeting is with an insurance company that is looking to use derivatives to reduce risk in its investment portfolio. Again, you're not the dealmaker. Your main job is to explain those complicated instruments to portfolio managers who are expert at valuing stocks but clueless about derivatives.

Your final meeting is a five-star dinner with a previous client (on the company's dime, of course), mainly to build the relationship. You and your colleagues will discuss the implications of political and macroeconomic trends, and you personally are going to take a shot at trying to unearth some new business from the client. If you could do that, it would impress your boss and pave the way to a job description with fewer spreadsheets and more five-star dinners—not to mention a six-figure raise.

After the dinner, you return to your hotel room and teleconference with the team that is finalizing a prospectus that's to go to the printer the next morning. You hit the sack at 1 and get up at 6 the next morning to spend time in the gym before getting back on the plane.