Authors: John Rolfe,Peter Troob
“This story is about the dues that all junior investment bankers have to pay….In general, the only way for a young associate
to survive the investment banking gauntlet is either to buy into it hook, line, and sinker or to maintain some sense of humor
about what it is that he is doing. Keeping one foot grounded in reality, though, doesn’t necessarily dictate the maintenance
of any mental equilibrium. After all, if you’ve got one foot on a block of dry ice and the other on a red-hot stove, the average
temperature may be pretty comfortable but you’ll still end up with two blistered feet at the end of the day.”
“Outrageous and hilarious.”
“Well written, humorous…food for thought…timely, quick-paced.”
Copyright © 2000 by John Rolfe and Peter Troob
All rights reserved.
Warner Business Books
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
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The Warner Business Books logo is a trademark of Warner Books.
First eBook Edition: October 2009
When we started writing this book, we ran into a dilemma. We had lots of stories we wanted to tell, but we also had lots of
friends who didn’t necessarily want their names associated with those stories. We knew that a story without people isn’t much
of a story, though, so we decided to make some changes.
The stories in this book are true. However, we’ve modified the identities and certain details about the people and companies
and divisions we’ve written about. All the names except our own, DLJ’s, and those of Dick Jenrette and John Chalsty, have
been changed. The dialogue has been reconstructed to the best of our memory. After all, we didn’t spend our days as investment
bankers wired up like a couple of CIA guys.
Hopefully, we’ve managed to protect the innocent and embarrass only ourselves. We’re OK with that. We hope this keeps our
friends friendly and ensures that neither of us will ever wake up with a horse’s head under our bedsheets.
Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
There are a whole bunch of people we need to thank.
First of all, we’d like to thank the lovely ladies who’ve promised to spend the rest of their lives putting up with us: Marjorie
and Amy. We’re two very lucky guys, although we might not tell you that quite as much as we should. Your support and encouragement
are priceless. We love you.
Second, we’d like to thank our entire families. Moms, dads, stepparents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, and the
rest of the gang. We’re just happy that we’re not the only dysfunctional ones in the crew. You make us proud. If it weren’t
for you, we’d have no one to thank for our deviance.
We’d like to thank our editor, Amy Einhorn, for great editorial advice and for making this entire process as easy as it could
have possibly been. Thanks for helping us relax when we just got too damned hyper. You’re an angel.
We’d like to give special thanks, for both reading the early drafts and providing other invaluable advice, to Lisa Cohen,
Susie-Q Silva, Julie Wurm, Mike Marone, Nick Day, Deion Oglesby, and Lou Wallach.
We’d like to thank everybody else who read the early drafts of the book and told us that we needed to try a little harder…Climpedy
Ballbag, John McGuire, P Rowan, Dan Shore, All- Sports & Kelley Day, David Hillman, David Jackson, and Jon Bauer. One day
perhaps we can repay you—like with a cookout or something. We’ll even buy the beer.
We’d like to thank the entire crew at Time Warner Trade Publishing, especially Sandra Bark—without all of you, it wouldn’t
We’d like to thank simian artist extraordinaire, Larry Keller. You draw the best monkeys of anyone we know. May your life
be full of bananas.
We’d like to thank our counselor, Bob Stein, for providing good advice and helping us chart a safe course through the sometimes
uncertain waters of publishing legalese. We like you lots and would love to spend more time shooting the shit with you, but
that damned business of getting charged by the hour is standing in the way.
And, of course, we’d like to thank all our other pals who were in the trenches with us at DLJ, without whom we wouldn’t have
had anything to write about. You know who you are. We hope that every single one of you finds what you’re looking for.
Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly
Batman costume warning label
I never could understand how two men can write a book together; to me that’s like three people getting together to have a baby
few years ago, Rolfe and I stood on the edge of what we thought was a desert. Across the desert we believed we saw a lush,
green oasis. We hoped that the pleasures of that oasis would one day be ours. The more we thought about the oasis, the more
convinced we were of the untold pleasures that lay within its luxuriant borders. There was only one problem. The desert.
When we first started out as investment banking associates, the oasis was represented by a coveted appointment as a managing
director of the firm. We were willing to cross those hot burning sands, the interim years as investment banking associates
and vice presidents, in order to one day bask in the shade of a palm frond. A few months after beginning our journey, though,
we began to suspect that the original oasis that we had seen might be a mirage. For a time we became lost, delirious in the
sun, but eventually we regained our bearings. It became clear to us that whatever oasis lay out there for us, to get there
we were going to have to cross more sand than we could ever have imagined.
We reasoned that many careers have a painful rite of passage attached to them. The medical profession has med school and residencies.
The legal occupation has clerkships and the years of initial grunt work. The investment banking business is no exception.
Young investment bankers must pay their dues in order to be able one day to grab hold of the brass ring. Most, if not all,
senior bankers paid these dues and took these lumps. Some of them are better off for having done so. If they had to do it,
then so did we. Those were the rules.
Are we better off for having subjected ourselves to the associate ranks of investment banking? Yes. Was it all miserable?
Absolutely not. We experienced lots of good and lots of bad while on the dues-paying highway, most of it without much sleep.
But at one point along that highway we decided to pay the exit toll and get off. We both still work in the world of Wall Street,
and we’d be lying if we told you that money doesn’t matter to us. When it came to investment banking, though, the costs and
the benefits seemed way out of whack. So we don’t work as bankers anymore, and now we enjoy walking into work every day.
This is the story of our rite of passage. It’s the story of two investment banking associates and our long journey from eagerly
competing to enter the world of investment banking to even more eagerly scrambling to get out of it. This book is our catharsis.
Banking is what we did—investment banking associates were who we were. Like virgins
defiled, we can’t possibly rid ourselves of the scourge to which we knowingly submitted. It strengthened us and it toughened
our hides. That was good and that was bad. If there was a pumice stone for the soul, we would have scrubbed ourselves raw.
Investment banking is a profession characterized by extremes. Whether it’s money, booze, food, sex, or work hours, the typical
banker believes that more is better. We experienced our fair share of these extremes, and have recounted some of our adventures
within these pages. Excess and debaucherous pursuits are only half the story, though. The other side of the coin for us was
our realization that being anointed investment bankers didn’t make us the big-shot advisers to corporate directors we thought
we were going to be. Instead, it turned out that we spent most of our work time as mindless paper processors. And even though
we were paid mighty well to push that paper around, the unwavering devotion to the job that was required of us just wasn’t
worth it. We’ve tried to convey our path to these realizations within these pages as well. We don’t have a lot of regrets.
There aren’t many jobs, after all, that could have given us the opportunity to live like hedonists and come to the realization
that the emperor has no clothes, all before our thirtieth birthdays.
We worked at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ). This story isn’t just about DLJ, though. This story is about the dues that
all junior investment bankers have to pay. We have lots of friends at other investment banks. Same shit. Investment bankers
spend 50 percent of their time trying to convince potential clients that their bank is different than the other guy’s bank,
but for a junior banker, at the end of the day, they’re all the same. Any young investment
banker, regardless of the bank he works at, can tell the same stories about working for three days straight with no sleep,
getting screamed at for messing up the page numbers in a pitch book, or aging before one’s time like a block of cheddar cheese
left out of the refrigerator. The older bankers may have had better lives, they may have had more fun, but we wouldn’t know
this because we were junior bankers. As junior guys, our lives sucked.
For some, hopefully, this story may provide a fresh window into the world of investment banking. Without being one, no one
can really know what a banker does. Before we started, all we knew was that bankers, traders, and egregious salaries were
always mentioned in the same breath. Understanding what a trader does is a little more intuitive than understanding what a
banker does, because everybody’s traded for something in their life. It may have been something as simple as a rookie Ron
Guidry baseball card for an All-Star Reggie Jackson card, but the concept of an exchange for relative value is as old as humankind
itself. Investment banking has no such intuitive counterpart in real life. It took our mothers six months to realize that
we weren’t stockbrokers, working the phones to sell crappy public offerings to unsuspecting investors. It took
another six months after that to realize that we were, in fact, selling crappy public offerings to investors. The only difference
was that we weren’t selling them over the phone, we were doing it in person, and the investors weren’t unsuspecting individual
investors, they were the Fidelitys, the Putnams, and the T. Rowe Prices of the world.
The closest most people have ever come to understanding what an investment banker does may have been
on October 24, 1995, when they heard the outrageous special interest story of the day. The wire services released the story
first. It was quickly picked up and parroted by almost every major media outlet in the country as a classic example of Wall
Street excess. A fifty-eight-year-old frustrated managing director from Trust Company of the West, on an airplane trip from
Buenos Aires to New York City, downed an excessive number of cocktails, got out of his seat in the first-class cabin of a
United Airlines flight, dropped his pants, and took a crap on the service cart. There you have it. That’s what bankers do:
consume, process, and disseminate.