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Getting Fired at Investment Banks

In Investment Banking, you have to be very careful with your emails because they are all recorded and if you do something wrong there, there is no going back.

We are exposed to this risk on a daily basis because we have to make sure all our communications with external parties such as investors, sales are public and not private information. We are just one email away from getting let go.

During my times, I had personally got into trouble from emails a number of times while also heard many stories.

There was a case where a group of juniors just joining the firm had to do an induction training. These are basically a lot of multiple choices questions you have to answer to show your understanding for compliance and the firm.

I am not sure about the exact details but somehow an email with all the correct answers were forwarded to a group of them and eventually the firm had to let them go.

Personal trading is another taboo. I have heard a story that a secretary at the sales desk was let go immediately after IT found she was buying stocks without compliance approval — she was doing it at work… always be very careful what you are doing with your work computer especially personal matters.

I have heard people got let go because they shared their desktop logins to team members so they could help send emails out… a very common practice.

When I first started, analysts were only allowed to buy stocks that they themselves didn’t cover. I actually thought this is really interesting once I switched to the buy side as I thought why would I actually listen to advice from people that cannot invest in the stocks they are talking about. What incentives do they have and how can they be very good at understanding it if they themselves don’t have skin in the game.

I found out after a year on the buy side that I really didn’t need the sell side or at least use them differently. That is, you don’t really ask them for recommendations for buy and sell but their market knowledge and what other investors know.

By the time I left the industry, most firms have got stricter and basically, we cannot invest in any stocks (or single names as they call it). That means analysts are not even investors themselves, they have completely become brokers so most of them really have no idea about investing as such especially the younger analysts that joined the industry later.

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