Junior bankers, do you know your optimal stopping point?

Recently, I wrote an article discussing the differing perspectives of junior bankers versus senior bankers when it comes to pitchbook customizations. In summary, when asked if each chart created is unique, a junior banker will say “absolutely” while a senior banker will say each chart is the same (and perhaps add, “so why does it take so long for it to be created?”)

This “similar but different” phenomena is elegantly captured by Jonah Berger in his recent book Invisible Influence where he showed satisfaction generated by difference over time. We adapted this for our own purposes and applied it to the amount of time junior investment bankers invest in pitchbook content creation and the satisfaction derived by their senior banker. Reproduced below is the chart we came up with.


Since we published this back in December, I’ve received a few emails to discuss this chart further. Namely, the line in green—the optimal stopping point for junior bankers.

Reward vs. effort

There are three basic areas of effort a junior banker can fall into when creating content for a senior banker.

  • Really? The first section I call the “really?” stage. It’s often the first time the senior banker sees any real output from the junior banker and it isn’t to the standard needed. This is usually accompanied by an “are you kidding me?” expression.
  • It will do. The highest point of familiarity of the curve and is pretty much what the senior banker expects. But, as anyone who has ever been a junior banker knows, this isn’t going to make your work memorable or win you any prizes.
  • Great! This is the optimal point on the curve and where you want to be. You’ve added some unique touches that ensure the content stands out, but you didn’t over-invest time. Your ratio of reward to effort is optimal.

After the Great phase, the satisfaction curve begins to flatten out and any marginal effort isn’t worth it. Yes, you could make a chart 1% better but at ten times the cost, this is not a great investment of your energies.

This may sound intuitive, but there is one problem. Not all senior bankers are the same. Because of this, it’s difficult to know when to stop. How do you know when you’re at the top of the curve? And how do you get to the optimal point quickly for every project?

How to think about charting

There are three areas of charting that can create an optimal piece of content:

  • Small features add up. The first thing is to recognize that any bespoke visualization is the culmination of small changes. Think of these as on/off toggles. It’s critical that you not only understand these small changes but can also bundle them together so that they are toggle-like.
  • Additive. Everything should be internally consistent. If you switch three toggles on and another two off, it should result in a different visualization.
  • Speed. Speed is everything and you must be able to iterate through customized visualizations quickly.

When I was a junior banker, I learned very quickly that a good approach to improving my pitchbooks without wasting time was to provide the senior banker with something with which they are already familiar and to add a little extra. This would get me to the point where I could provide the banker with what they need (and asked for) and show enough ingenuity to be noticed, but not too much to appear as if I was wasting time.

Email me to learn more about how Pellucid can help improve your content strategies, or if you have any of your own experience with the optimal point of effort, let me know at adrian.s.crockett@gmail.com.