A Day in the Life of an Investment Banker (Uncensored)

As a recovering investment banking analyst, I’ve been loving the recent hype over the finance world. From the Robinhood/GameStop drama to the recent HBO show “Industry,” it’s been entertaining to watch some of the widely-accepted bullshit the industry propagates being unpacked publicly. Don’t get me wrong — I also learned a ton of useful skills during my time in the field, but I learned every single one of them the hard way. That’s why I was shocked to see the new UBS promotional video making its rounds on social media, chronicling “A Day in the Life of an Investment Banker.” I have literally never cringed harder.

So…where to begin debunking this absurd piece of corporate propaganda that I can only hope was meant as satire? Let’s dive right in.

First off, Natalie’s walking home in a trench coat with her yoga mat at 7:30pm when her friend calls. Let me tell you, when an analyst has the privilege of heading back home at the reasonable hour of 7:30, the last thing they want to do is fill their best friend in on the thrill of a pitch meeting they cranked out materials for and probably didn’t even attend.

More accurate: Natalie shoves her heels into her oversized tote and hails a cab, where she closes her eyes voluntarily for the first time in several weeks and contemplates her dwindling will to live. As soon as she settles in, her work phone pings with an email from her associate telling her she’s misplaced a logo by a few centimeters on a page and needs to head back to the office ASAP to re-print the books for tomorrow’s meeting.

Natalie’s heading into work at 7:30am the next morning? When I was in banking, our floor was a ghost town till at least 9am, but ok, I guess in the video she got a copious amount of sleep. She’s junior enough to still be excited to learn how different investment banks compete for the same business, meaning she won’t even be saying her name on the client call. She’s just there to take meticulous notes and circulate to the team afterward, unseen and unheard.

DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE MINDFULNESS SESSION. Usually, this self-care ritual takes place in the office bathroom stall with one’s head on one’s knees for a blissful two minutes, if at all. That meditation room makes UBS look like a tech startup. Don’t fall for it!

“Bull or bear, that’s the question.” What does this even mean? No one’s paying for your market outlook, Natalie, this isn’t equity research. Why are you even on the trading floor? Isn’t there a Chinese wall? Who let you in? Someone clearly didn’t pay attention during their compliance training.

Head of Global Markets is an old white man, accurate. Her team members really made the effort to welcome her and she’s chatting it up on a casual Zoom call right before the big pitch. Do these people have work to do? Fat chance they’re winning over that client.

It’s so cute that she has a virtual after-work dinner today, a riff on the time-honored tradition of ordering a sad salad via Seamless on the corporate card to your desk at the office to gear up for the night ahead. Except, most banks aren’t really comping dinner anymore during work-from-home, even though analysts’ hours are still just as awful!

Anyway, I’ll leave this reaction here because it sums up the problem well. I’m just trying to share the truth here and help the poor souls who may be misled by this tragically false advertising on the part of UBS. Disclaimer: I think investment banking can be a great starting point for one’s career, but not for the reasons listed in the video.

Journalist, career coach, & recovering investment banker. Writing about work, business, politics and social change. anitaramaswamy.com

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