The great junior banker disconnect
A banker’s life can be compartmentalized into two buckets: pitching and executing. As I have seen in my own career, the skills developed in both buckets will serve any financial professional well. Yet the second bucket is the bigger driver of compensation and reported job satisfaction.
This imbalance leads to a dilemma for junior bankers. If they invest time and energy into making pitchbooks better or more efficient, will it be recognized? Is it a waste of time to develop these skills? And, as recruiting and retaining employees becomes trickier, how can the pitchbook process be improved so it doesn’t push people out of the industry?
Firms are working on this. Recently Goldman Sachs announced it will use technology to make life easier for its younger employees, and other companies are likely to follow suit. The reality is that although some of the work junior bankers do is unappealing, it doesn’t also have to be unrewarding.
For junior bankers, the primary task of pitchbook creation is not telling the story, but creating the content. To put together the insightful analysis required, junior bankers have to be researchers, data scientists, financial analysts, visualization designers, and technologists.
Each of these could be separate careers, and the only one junior bankers have signed-up or trained for is a financial analyst.
Presentation Technology (PresTech) groups were created to take on some of the pitchbook creation work. And, while PresTech teams include excellent designers, they operate independently from banking groups and often don’t have the financial data skills to alter the fundamental analysis of the pitchbook, limiting improvements to a few types of charts or visualizations.
How do we fix the disconnect between how bankers spend their time and the skills they need to advance? There are three strategies I’ve adopted.
1. Hire unicorns
Find people trained as financial analysts, that think like data scientists, and enjoy tinkering with design on the side. Sounds great on paper, but in reality, this combination of skills is very rare. I have spent decades looking for unicorns and found only a handful, most of whom now work at Pellucid with me. (Note: If you’re a unicorn, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. Build a multi-disciplinary team
Hire for each skill to build an integrated team. I did this in my last role as a banker and found that while benefits arise quickly, so do problems. First is cost. If every team has it’s own designer, analyst, technologist, etc. it gets expensive fast. PresTech operates as a pool where demand ebbs and flows can be evened out. Individual hires result in an expensive and over-resourced team. The second issue is compensation. Who should get paid more, the financial analyst or the visualization designer? Or should they get paid the same? These are just two of the management challenges this approach can bring.
3. Institutionalize the skills
Compared to the other two this is more active and scales well. Assemble a multi-discipline team to conduct a study of the materials produced by the firm. More than likely, similarities will be uncovered—where what appears bespoke to an individual is used across the business. This research is used to identify and build (or buy) a technology solution to fill any skill gaps within the team, such as data analysis or design. Leveraging technology this way centralizes the skills and is operationally efficient.
Some banks are implementing the third approach, and of all the possible solutions it’s the only one I believe that will address the disconnect between how junior bankers spend their time and how they are measured, resulting in greater satisfaction, lower overall costs, and a more exciting career.
Tell me, how are you building out your teams? Are you a junior banker? What are your thoughts on the development of pitchbook vs. execution skills? Email me at email@example.com.