After extending you a job offer, investment
banks will typically invite you to what is known as a "Sell Day". The basic
purpose of this event is to "sell" you on the idea that joining that particular
investment bank would be the best decision for your career. As a means to this goal,
investment banks will pay for your trip to New York, give you a hotel room, drive you
around town, and feed you one or more GOOD meals during your one or two-day stay for Sell
Sell Days are excellent opportunities for you to gather information for evaluating each
job offer. You will receive a lot more information about the analyst position, the
benefits, and salary. Now is the time to ask all the questions that you didn't want to ask
during interviewing, such as:
1. What is the most/least number of hours worked during one week? (This is a sensitive
question for investment banks. No matter what they tell you, it depends on the industry or
product group you end up in as much as the particular MD you work for. I would say the
range is 50 hours to 100 hours with you working 95% of the time between 72-80 hours.)
2. How difficult is it to take time off for vacation, Christmas, and Thanksgiving? (This
is another sensitive question for investment banks. The truth is that it is fairly
3. What are the managing director and senior vice presidents like for so-and-so group?
4. What kind of social life should I expect while working here? (This is another sensitive
question for investment banks. I can tell you the answer right now: little outside of
work; drinks on a Friday night, Sunday morning free, etc.)
HINT: If you are timid about asking a question then wait and see if another person asks
the same question. Chances are, your question is on everyone else's mind also.
During Sell Day, you will have the opportunity to ask questions of first and second-year
analysts, VP's, and managing directors at the firm. You will also probably have some other
informal, social setting such as a luncheon or dinner on or off-site or a party or
gathering at a bar or nightclub (everything is free for you, of course).
Don't be afraid to ask legitimate questions. The investment bank has already indicated
that they want you by extending an offer. It is now up to you to determine if the offer is
fair and how it compares to competing offers.
Again, remember during the job offer process: the distinction between you and other
college undergraduates with limited work experience is slight, if any. Most investment
banks will offer nearly the same fixed salary and benefits package to all of the analyst
candidates. Therefore, since getting a better compensation or benefits package is usually
not possible, you should be using this time to assemble the facts about each job position
so that you can determine the fairness of each offer.
We were told, before interviewing candidates at my investment bank, that the large banks
(bulge-bracket firms), collude on salaries to offer first-years. From what I have seen,
this is apparently true most of the time. However, some well-known banks will pay less
than their smaller counterparts simply because the big banks can still attract top talent
at a lower dollar amount (the power of name brands).
Differences do show up in end-of-the-year bonuses, though. Bonuses, by the way, are a huge
part of your compensation, sometimes more than 50% on top of your first-year salary and
more than 100% on top of your second-year salary. I could write a book on theories
floating around banks about bonuses (factor models, dice, etc.). Just be aware that
different firms usually have similar salaries, but different bonus ranges.
Use the Sell Days effectively and, above all, enjoy all the free food and accommodations
from investment banks courting you!