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Sell Days
Wrapping It Up

Sell Days

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 Day.

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 difficult.)

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!

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