Over the past couple of years, it’s no secret that juniors (namely analysts) have had the upper hand against their firms, which no doubt has created a better environment for all. Group heads encouraging folks to take their vacation and unplug if not on a live deal during the holidays and late in the summer is and leaders taking more of an initiative to over-communicate and express their appreciation for a job well done (irrespective of a closed deal) is a welcome change/example. In the midst of that though, we’ve created an environment in some groups/firms where junior complaints and push for a better lifestyle at the detriment of work have been toxic. New joiners are picking up and learning habits that won’t be sustainable for themselves as the pendulum shifts back in favor of firms/employers. Showing up to work as they please, missing meetings, the old “train was delayed” excuse for being a few minutes late to a meeting and in general not caring what their perception amongst seniors is. In this new environment where folks aren’t protected by layoffs, I expect not only underperformers to be culled, but folks who perpetuate a toxic attitude amongst the bullpen, even if they are top performers. It was the case when folks in my rank were coming up—we had a decent performer from a work product standpoint, but he perpetuated some sort of culture where we had two factions within our bullpen, i.e. group A and group B, and started pissing off VPs by punting work even when he had capacity, he was let go in favor of someone who wasn’t as great from a work product standpoint but frankly had a better attitude.
My instinct is that going forward, folks, unfortunately, shouldn’t feel “safe” and simply because you think you are top bucket or one of the highest performers doesn’t mean that you’ll always be safe in the context of layoffs if you’re perpetuating a bad attitude. Taking from my previous post, financial firms are recalibrating, like our clients, and that likely will mean more layoffs in the coming year. (The good news is that the labor market is still tight and on average it seems as though folks are landing jobs within ~3 months of a layoff). I think in the new year it’ll be more and more important to couple that hard work with a strong attitude if this is an industry you really see yourself continuing your career in. I’ve sat in roundtables and been a part of recruiting now at 3 large firms. It may not make sense while you’re on the job, but the reality is analysts are dispensable. If you’re bringing a bad attitude to the table and creating a toxic environment for a bullpen, I can guarantee you that seniors won’t hesitate to let you go if they’re asked to cull headcount. Why? Because there are dozens of other kids who would want your seat and we replenish ranks quickly through new analyst classes every summer. The movement towards a two-year analyst program situation doesn’t help this case, either. If you’re unsure what the appropriate culture within your group is, I’d take some time to get to know more mid-levels, junior MDs and seniors to have a better sense of general expectations, and not only what they’ve articulated to the group on a broader scale, but what they’d expect from a high performer and what expectations were given to them.