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They Hit "The Street." Forget what you've read, forget what you've heard, forget what you've been taught. Monkey Business pulls off Wall Street's suspenders and gives the reader the inside skinny on real life at an investment bank, where the promised land is always one more twenty-hour workday and another lap dance away. "The Street" Hit Back. Fresh out of Wharton and Harvard business schools, John Rolfe and Peter Troob ran willingly into the open arms of investment bank giant Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. They...
They Hit "The Street." Forget what you've read, forget what you've heard, forget what you've been taught. Monkey Business pulls off Wall Street's suspenders and gives the reader the inside skinny on real life at an investment bank, where the promised land is always one more twenty-hour workday and another lap dance away. "The Street" Hit Back. Fresh out of Wharton and Harvard business schools, John Rolfe and Peter Troob ran willingly into the open arms of investment bank giant Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. They had signed on as foot soldiers in a white-collar army of overworked and frustrated lemmings furiously trying to spin straw into gold. They escaped with the remnants of their sanity-and, ultimately, this book. Uncensored, unsanitized, and uncut, it captures the chaotic essence of the Wall Street carnival and the outlandish personalities that make it all hum...and it will become the smartest, most entertaining investment you'll make this year.
But there's a dark side to the story: the legions of hungry, young investment bankers who make it all happen behind the scenes. Wall Street's young turks attach themselves to anything and everything that generates fees. In the late 1980s it was junk bonds and mortgage-backed securities. In the greedy 1990s and onward it's Internet stocks.
Now thanks to two recent defectors from Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, we can peek behind the curtains of these money-making machines. Their book, Monkey Business, is the funniest read since Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker, and it should give pause to anyone who comes in close contact with this rare species.
Two young MBA hopefuls, John Rolfe and Peter Troob, got sucked into Wall Street right out of Wharton and Harvard, respectively, soaked up the local color and left to tell all a short while later. The scenes are straight out of movies like Wall Street or The Boiler Room: The young associates nurse their supersize egos while their bosses try to crush them; they curse profusely and live large on four hours of sleep a night; they subsidize the strip clubs of Manhattan before Mayor Giuliani took the perk away from Wall Street.
But what do they really do for $200,000 a year? "It took our mothers six months to realize that we weren't stockbrokers, working the phones to sell crappy public offerings to unsuspecting investors," they write. "It took us another six months after that to realize that we were, in fact, selling crappy public offerings to investors." The only difference was that these two associates were shoveling the smelly deals to institutional investors, who then passed the bucket on.
Dave Barry couldn't have written a more schizophrenic tale. In a freewheeling narrative that alternates between the two men, Monkey Business lays out in exquisite detail how pitch books are developed (collaborative yet futile chaos dictated by hierarchy); how an investment bank arrives at a company's valuation (mostly guesswork driven by the desire to prove a company's march toward world domination); how to read a prospectus that an army of lawyers, bankers, accountants and managers have fought over in mind-numbing "drafting sessions" (skip everything except the financial statements). Then there's the story of a fruitless "due-diligence" trip for the junk-bond offering of an unnamed multinational wireless company, a wild goose chase over 12,000 miles through seven countries that yields little substance.
A year into their banking careers, both authors decide to chuck it all and get a life, leaving behind what they call a jungle full of commandeering baboons, dung beetles and busy monkeys. These days they work for a hedge fund, go home at 8 p.m. and toy with a Web site (www.streetmonkey.com) that pokes fun at anything Wall Street, from the relaxed dress code at Goldman Sachs to the demise of the Tiger Management hedge fund. The duo isn't working on a pitch book to take themselves public - yet.
The Seeds of a Dream
See the happy moron,
He doesn't give a damn.
I wish I were a moron—
My God, perhaps I am!
In the middle of Times Square, at the intersection of Broadway and Forty-third Street, sits what was once the United States Armed Services' premiere recruiting office. The office, built almost fifty years ago, was conceived as a shining testament to the unlimited promise of a military career, positioned as it was in the middle of the Crossroads to the World. Today, though, it is only a vague reminder of what it once was. Vagrants use the back of the building to provide some relief from the summer sun, and occasional relief from a bottle of Boone's Farm. On a good day, a few listless teenagers may wander in to find out exactly how much they'll get paid to be all they can be.
With the decline of the military's once-venerable institution, however, has come a concomitant rise in another recruiting institution: the Wall Street Investment Banking Machine. From lower Manhattan to midtown, the well-oiled device hums around the clock and around the calendar. Its serpentine tentacles are rooted in nearly every well-regarded undergraduate institution in the country and all of the top business schools. The machine's sole objective: to fill the conduit with as many analysts and associates—the serfs and indentured servants of the investment banking world—as it can find.
Ultimately, as we would find out, a large part of any investment bank's success becomes a function of how many bodies it can throw at agiven piece of business, or, even more important, a potential piece of business. The effort to fill the pipeline with these bodies, therefore, is never ending.
At the lowest level of the investment banking hierarchy are the analysts. To find this young talent, the I-banks send their manicured young bankers out to the Whartons, Harvards, and Princetons of the world to roll out the red carpet for the top undergraduates and begin the process of destroying whatever noble ideals these youngsters may still have left. For the recruiting banker, the ideal analyst candidate is somebody with above-average intelligence, a love of money (or the capacity to learn that love), a view of the world conforming with that of the Marquis de Sade, and the willingness to work all night, every night, with a big grin on his face, like the joker from Batman.
The analysts are at the bottom of the s**t heap. They are the algae under the rim of the public toilets at the Port Authority bus station, the scum below the scum at the bottom of a beer keg. They'll spend two to three years being mentally, emotionally, and physically abused, and for that benefit they'll be well trained and extremely well compensated. No matter how bad things get, they'll never have anybody lower on the corporate totem pole to whom they can off-load their misery.
Following their two- to three-year stint, the vast majority of the analysts will either strike out for any of a handful of graduate business schools, depart the firm for other opportunities within Wall Street's financial community, or regain their sanity and elect to pursue other interests entirely. There's very little upward mobility from the analyst programs into the higher echelons of the investment bank. Analysts quickly learn, in no uncertain terms, that their days as analysts terminate after three years. To the uninitiated this may seem, at best, shortsighted and, at worst, akin to infanticide. Why jettison these young minds with two to three years of hard-core financial training? The answer is simple. The analysts have been tortured and abused for three years. They've reached the point of being dangerous. To keep them on would be to institutionalize sure seeds of discontent within the investment bank.
A majority of the analysts leave the job pissed off and with a deep-seated hatred of the investment banking institution. They learned a lot and enjoyed being paid more money than they ever thought they could make, but they also despised the work and the people that made them do it. However, amazingly, it seems that about 50 percent of those analysts who hated what they did go back into investment banking after two years in a graduate business school program. Somehow, absence makes the heart grow fonder. As with a bad injury, they tend to forget how terrible the pain was. They know it was horrible, but they just can't remember exactly how much it hurt. So these analysts go back into banking thinking that life as an associate will be different. Basically, they reinjure themselves. Troob was one of these injured veterans who decided to return for a second tour of duty.
At the next rung up the investment banking ladder are the associates, that's what we were. You can generally assume that the associates are a happier lot than the analysts, since they have both the institutional backing and the ability to ease their own misery by heaping agony onto the analysts. Therein lies the beauty of the heirarchy. Since the investment banks are in the aforementioned practice of regularly paroling virtually the entire third-year analyst class, which class would have included any analysts with the potential for promotion to associate, the recruitment of associates and the replacement of these departing third-year analysts becomes a full-time process.
For the associates in an investment bank, there is no corresponding get-out-of-jail-free program to avail oneself of at the end of a two-to-three-year stay. There is no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The associates are recruited under the expectation that they know what it is they're signing on to do, and that once on board, they'll dutifully climb the corporate ladder to the top of the golden pyramid. Vice president, senior vice president, managing director. The path is clear. In reality, the attrition level for associates is fairly high. They leave for competing investment banks. They leave to work for clients of the investment bank. They leave when they realize that sex with themselves is becoming the norm. Whatever the reason, between the moles brought on board to climb the ladder, and those helicoptered in to replace the departing lemmings, the flood of fresh-faced associates is constant.
The Others—Vice President to Managing Director
Above the associates are the vice presidents, the senior vice presidents (or junior managing directors, depending on the firm), and the managing directors. The associates all have the same goals. They want to make vice president in three to four years, senior vice president in five to seven years, and managing director in seven to nine years. They all hope to be making seven figures by the time they hit managing director.
Sometimes, though, from the associates' perspective, it seems like there are just three levels in the banking hierarchy: analysts, associates, and everybody else. After all, anybody senior to an associate has the institution's divine sanction to s**t on the associate's head, and if you're the one getting s**t upon there isn't usually much reason to further subdivide the hierarchy of those doing the s**tting.
The Breeding Ground—Business Schools
The most fertile grounds for the associate recruits are the nation's graduate business schools. Due to the sheer number of recruits now requisitioned by Wall Street, the preferred hunting grounds have broadened from their original select subset of only the most arrogant Ivy League institutions of the East (i.e., Wharton, Harvard, Columbia) to include other marginally less pompous institutions. As distasteful as this decrease in the overall level of enlistees' arrogance has been for the old-line bankers, it has been driven by necessity.
The business school students, for their part, are in no way gullible victims of the evil capitalist pigs. Most have returned to business school with a sole objective: to further their career goals through exploitation of the recruiting opportunities that the business schools provide. In all fairness, it should probably be acknowledged that a small minority of the graduate business school students do in fact return to school with the accumulation of knowledge as a primary objective. Those that do, however, are swiftly enlightened and made to see the error of their ways.
The indoctrination into the money culture and the transition to job-search mode begins long before the arrival of the MBA-to-be on campus. Following the receipt of the school's acceptance letter, which goes to great lengths to assure all budding MBA candidates of their status as members of an academic aristocracy, a large packet follows in the mail.
At Wharton and Harvard, the packet was similar. It was filled with policy manuals, health care application forms, and sundry other administrative delights. The most important enclosure in the Wharton packet, however, was a pamphlet titled The MBA Placement Survey. The placement survey was a gold digger's delight. Every imaginable statistic on the recruiting success, or lack thereof, of the prior year's business school denizens was broken down and reported: percent taking jobs in given industries, percent taking jobs with given employers, percent taking jobs in given geographic regions, it was all in there. There was only one overriding statistic that really mattered to the budding MBA, though: average starting salary by industry. The first time I saw these figures, my ticker skipped a beat. I was a guy who was coming out of the advertising industry making $17,500 a year and eating black beans and rice four nights a week. There were salaries in The MBA Placement Survey with six figures, and that wasn't counting any decimal places.
We were entering the land of the obscene here. If the starting figures were up on into six-figure range, where would the madness end?
A somewhat closer look at the heavily laminated pages should have yielded another clue as to the goals and mind-sets of our future business school classmates. The two job categories snaring the highest percentage of the graduating class, management consulting and investment banking, also happened to have some of the highest starting salaries. A coincidence? I think not. Troob and I were about to jump into a velvet-walled cage with some of the greediest bastards this side of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Unfortunately, at the time, we were both wrapped up in a Richie Rich fantasy of our own. We were about to start a frenzied two-year race with America's most prized business school graduates, blindly thrashing our way toward the almighty dollar.
At Wharton, the official start to this seminal marathon was the "Welcome to Wharton" seminar during orientation week. Whatever delusions I may have had prior to this cozy little gathering were quickly dispelled. Surrounded by 750 other hearty young business schoolers in a massive auditorium, all feelings of being part of something elite, something special, began to melt away. When the progression of second-year students took the podium and began describing, in lurid detail, exactly what awaited everyone on the job-search front, the essence was laid bare. We were there for a two-year mating dance with the recruiters. What the Wharton name would get us was a shot at the best of those recruiters. Given that opportunity, though, it would be up to us to distinguish ourselves from the sea of equally qualified candidates in the seats all around us. We'd have to be willing to climb over these people while wearing golf shoes with sharpened cleats to get where we wanted—no, needed—to be. F**k camaraderie.
What I didn't realize at the time was that not everybody in that auditorium was reaching these same wrenching realizations that day. Something between a sizable minority and a majority of my new classmates that day already knew exactly what game was being played. There were bastards there who knew what awaited them, and had voluntarily come back to subject themselves to the process, all for the sake of professional advancement and the accoutrements that accompanied it.
The phenomenon, mind you, was in no way peculiar to Wharton. In fact, 350 miles to the north, at that most venerable of all institutions—the Harvard Business School—a like scene was being played out. And among the 750 dandy young recruits there was one of those bastards who knew the game. A stocky little former investment banking analyst whom I'd later come to love as we wallowed together in our collective misery paying our dues as investment banking associates at DLJ. Peter Troob.
Later, after we got to know each other, Troob would confirm my suspicion that things at Wharton and Harvard were just about the same.
Yeah, I was going through the same mating dance at Harvard Business School. However, I had a big advantage: I'd worked in investment banking before going back to business school. I'd been an analyst at Kidder Peabody. I knew the pain, I knew the long nights and the late dinners eaten in the office six nights a week.
The thing was that I had sworn off investment banking. The sixteen-hour days, the people who had institutional authority to kick my ass, the extra ten pounds I had put on since college, and my nonexistent social life. The investment banking life as a junior guy sucked and I knew it. It paid me well for a twenty-two-year-old snot-nosed brat from Duke, helped me get into Harvard, and taught me how to break out a company's financials with my eyes closed, but as I sat in Harvard Business School I promised myself that I wouldn't go back. No way. I promised myself that I would find a more rewarding career, one that made me feel good about myself. One that cleansed my soul instead of soiling it.
So why was I willing to jump right back in? That's a good question. I remember sitting with one of my good friends, Danny, in the steam room at the beginning of the school year discussing that very question. We had both come from a two-year boot camp at Kidder Peabody and we were both at HBS. Danny asked the question first.
"Troobie, are you gonna go back to banking?"
"No f****ing way, man. Are you kidding me? Kidder sucked and my life was hell. F**k banking. I'm gonna do something else."
"I don't know, consulting or some s**t like that."
"Consulting? Making all those two-by-two charts and matrices and being shipped to some buttf**k place like Biloxi, Mississippi, to help consult some manufacturing company for two months? No thanks."
"Yeah, maybe you're right, Danny Boy. Not consulting. I'll try to get a job in a buyout fund."
"Yeah, right, Troob. Tommy Lee is only taking two guys this year and KKR is taking one. You're good, but either your dad has got to be loaded or you've got to get the managing partner laid if you want that job."
"Well, maybe I'll look at the banking jobs again."
"What! Troob, are you f***ing insane?"
"Where else am I going to make that kind of money? Anyway, it's a stepping-stone to a better job. It'll open up opportunities for me in the future. It'll help me get to the buy-side."
"Jesus, man, I don't know."
"Look, I can't discuss this anymore, Danny. I've got to get out of this steam room. My balls look like raisins."
Danny and I ended up interviewing at all the investment banking houses. We were sucked in even before the whole recruiting process began. We had fallen into the trap of money, prestige, and security. We were about to start the selling of our souls. We entered the Harvard Business School fray and away we went.
Presentations and Cocktail Parties
At Wharton, the highly scripted mating dance during which the recruiters first made contact with the recruits corresponded, by no great coincidence, with the first few weeks of classes. Rolling updates of scheduled recruiter visits were distributed to all the students on a weekly basis, and a prominent announcement heralded each day's corporate arrivals: "Coming today, Merrill Lynch in Room 1, Booze Allen in Room 2, and Johnson & Johnson in Room 3."
Subliminally, what was being said was, "Those interested in the big money will head directly to rooms 1 and 2, and anybody with a yen to learn how to market rubber nipples and non-petroleum-based sexual lubricants will kindly report to room 3." The daily routine was nothing if not consistent. The last classes of the day ended at 4:30 p.m. The first corporate presentations of the day began at 4:45 p.m. For Troob at Harvard, or for me at Wharton, it was all the same.
The recruiters' presentations were no small-time affair. More often than not, the big guns themselves came out to make the sales pitch. CEOs and presidents of America's Fortune 500 regularly swallowed their pride, pressed their suits, and shuffled past the rows of Formica-topped desks to go to the head of the class. Once there, they described in gushing terms how incredibly honored they were to be standing in front of America's finest business school students, and why their diamond-encrusted clubhouse was truly the only one to consider becoming a member of.
John Chalsty, then president and head of the Banking Group at DLJ, described just how fortunate he'd been to be able to spend the last twenty-five years of his career at DLJ. DLJ was the hottest firm on Wall Street. It employed a lot fewer bankers than Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, or First Boston, but when it came to salaries, bonuses, and sexy deals, it was the big time. It was a swank firm full of young, aggressive bankers, many of whom were ex-Drexel Burnham Lambert employees. These were the guys who'd defined Wall Street in the eighties, and they had a flair for the adventurous. They were deal makers, and junk bonds (or, in the 1990s' cleaned-up lingo, "high-yield bonds") were their forte. DLJ was the home of the high-yield bond, and high-yield bond sales were on a rapid rise. Chalsty, dressed like we imagined a banker would be—Hermes tie, handmade suit, Ferragamo shoes, and a monogrammed shirt—exhorted us in his regal South African accent:
"Just go out and do what makes you happy. It's so important to be happy in this life, I implore you, just go out and find what it is that makes you happy and really, truly satisfies you, and then don't stop until you've made all your dreams come true."
He spoke on, telling tales of his trip to Russia as a member of a governmental delegation sent to provide advice to the Russian economic and political chieftains on opening the markets to capitalism. He spoke of the professional opportunities that awaited us at DLJ, the camaraderie, the ability to realize our potential. By God, this man sounded like a genius! You could see the eager MBAs pleading, "Where do I sign? I'll polish shoes! I'll scrub toilets! I'll bugger a billy goat! I'll do anything, as long as it's with John Chalsty at DLJ!"
And then, in a moment of subtle biting wit so perfect for the moment that it made the whole room feel faint, Mr. Chalsty handed the podium over to Lou Charles, at that time head of the Equity Research and Trading Group: "I'd like to introduce Lou Charles, the head of our Equity Research and Trading department. Good God, Lou, where on earth did you get that tie? It looks like the tablecloth at the Mexican restaurant I dined at two evenings ago." The walls of the classroom literally shook with laughter. An unprecedented level of mirth! Amazing! Unprecedented hilarity! They're such good friends that they're making fun of each other right here in front of everybody! Everyone in the room was begging, "Tell me, HOW CAN I GET A JOB HERE?"
Lord, help the foolish. Within a two-year period we would have heard the identical "do what makes you happy" speech, an indistinguishable rendition of the governmental delegation to Russia story, and the very same Mexican tablecloth tie introduction line for Lou Charles a total of no less than four times. But that was later. This was the present.
In general, the recruiting presentations lasted for about an hour. A question-and-answer session usually followed. The Q&A sessions were an opportunity for the sycophants of the student body to shine. It was their opportunity to show the corporate chieftains how smart and well informed they really were, and to vie for entrance to the International Pantheon of Brownnosers.
"Sir, could you tell me whether you're planning to generate any new revenue streams through international diversification? Will the emerging markets provide an important strategic opportunity for you?"
"That was an absolutely fascinating presentation, but tell me, does your firm provide the entrepreneurial atmosphere which is so important to today's top MBA candidates?"
"I'm wondering, what competitive advantage are you able to exploit to maximize the economic value added with respect to both human and economic capital at your company?"
MBA-speak filled the air. Teamwork, mission statement, top-down approach, information age, global view, downsizing, it went on and on.
Fortunately, these sickening ass kissers represented only a minority of the entire business school population, but the antipathy that they engendered among their classmates was far-reaching. Most of the other students made no attempt to disguise their loathing for this human detritus. The reassuring element, and the one that we weren't privy to until we were on the other side of the recruiting table (sadly enough trying to cajole others into our misery as associates in banking), was that the recruiters—without exception—hated these sniveling little dogs as well.
The recruiters, after being asked one of these imbecilic questions, would generally respond with something akin to "That's an excellent, excellent question . . ." What was really going through their mind, though, as they proceeded to answer the questions, was generally more along the lines of "Come on up here, Doughboy, so I can jam this Gucci loafer so far up your ass that the tassels bounce off your tonsils."
Unfortunately for most of the recruiters, the question- and-answer session was only the second step in the entire wretched experience. A recruiter reception at which the mutual ass kissing reached even more nauseating levels generally followed the Q&A session. At these receptions, the complimentary food and booze flowed as freely as the bulls**t. It was a golden opportunity to get a full stomach, a swelled head, and a skewed sense of reality all in one place. The orgy of backslapping would have made Hulk Hogan proud.
There was a widely held misconception among the student body that going to the receptions and meeting the recruiters actually increased one's chances of later being granted an interview. However, what really mattered was experience. And so it was that something of a chicken-and-egg situation existed for those people who didn't have any relevant banking experience but who wanted to try to make the transition to becoming career bankers. Without experience, you couldn't get experience. It made life difficult. There was really only one route to redemption. That was to land a banking job during the summer between the first and second year of business school. If you were lucky enough to do so, you would have the requisite experience to land all the necessary interviews for full-time positions during your second year, and you would then be in a position to ride that gravy train straight into the sunset.
So there we were. Me, clueless about what investment banking was but willing to cut off my left nut to receive a coveted summer job offer, and Troob, an ex-analyst who knew exactly what he was getting himself into but who needed something to believe in. We both needed a vision to follow, something to aspire to. We needed a dream.
The dream was to overcome untold obstacles, become wildly successful, and have fun getting there. The vision was to stand like a giant among mere mortals. We would shoot for the stars and at least land on the moon. We would walk into the Ferrari dealership and say, "I'll buy that one." The salesperson would say, "But that's over one—" and we would cut him off and say, "Whatever it is, I'll take it." We would be rich, powerful, intellectually challenged, and happy—all by the time we were thirty. We were going to live the high life. We just knew it.
With these dreams burning in our souls we both decided to interview for any and all of the investment banking jobs out there. Lehman, Goldman, Salomon, DLJ, Merrill, First Boston, Morgan, Bear—we were coming to join the investment banking parade and travel down streets paved with gold.
|Recruiting: The Seeds of a Dream||7|
|Interviews and Ecstasy||24|
|Summer Boot Camp||40|
|The Food Chain||91|
|Fishing for Value||121|
|The Holiday Party||154|
|Push the Button||195|
|Bonuses, Reviews, and Compensation||226|
|The Last Straw||249|
Posted April 2, 2008
The three star review on this book is quite unfair. This book is not Liar's Poker and rightly so. In my opinion, it is way funnier than LP. As an ex-investment banker, I can attest that the situations described are pretty typical of what goes on inside the high pressure cooker environment of an IB. The viewpoint is that of an associate in the bank. That is, someone right after an MBA degree. I laughed a lot while reading the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 3, 2007
To paraphrase what Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle: ¿I have read Liar¿s Poker, and Monkey Business is no Liar¿s Poker!¿ It seemed to me that the book tried very hard to one up the Lewis classic to the degree that the protagonists seem pompous and completely unlikable. Additionally, unlike the Lewis book, the names are all changed, so there is no accountability. The result of which is they can exaggerate without being challenged, which is what appears to have happened here. I read it, but would not recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2005
Really hits the little details that drive analyst/associate level bankers craaaazy! E.g. the constant rewrites only to end up back to the original, the md on the phone making edits to a draft from three days ago, the drunken Christmas party... Very fast, enjoyable read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 17, 2004
I'm a Junior Finance major in college and just recently got into seriously reading books. I love business books and things that have to do with my future career. Monkey Business was by far the greatest book I have EVER read. I enjoyed reading it and literally couldn't put it down. It was very informative and I learned a lot about the structure in Investment Banking but it wasn't preachy or too teachy. It has a lot of humor and they talk about real life crazy things that us guys talk about and think about. You MUST BUY THIS BOOK NOW!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2003
I am just like them, I looked at employment statistics and see investment banking and management consulting at the top of it all. It is a huge misconception that thse are the best fields to go into.Though there is huge money- the way these bankers earn it couldn't be nailed any better by these guys. It was one of the factors which made me realize I don't wanna kiss up to someone else for my entire career. I'd rather be in control of myself and be able to think on my own terms. I want a social life. Investment management is my stint. Thanks to this book, I know what it is really like being an investment banker, and not everyone out there is a millionaire because not everyone out there wants to live a lonely, sexless, and stressful life. DLJ is ancient history, but I bet life at other banks is just how Troob and Rolfe describe it. Anyone in high school, college, or grad school should read this book. It's so good that I finished it in three days. A MUST READ. INFORMATIVE, FUNNY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY- written by human beings whos language can be understood by anyone regardless how much they know about finance.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 21, 2000
Posted October 13, 2000
Before going into my review, let me start with a caution. This book is the grossest, most vulgar business book I have ever read . . . by a very wide margin. This book would have been banned in Boston 50 years ago. If that sort of thing offends you, this book is a minus ten stars. Many women will feel this book is anti-female. On the other hand, if you happen to like your humor male, bold and brassy, this book will be one of the funniest you will ever read. As someone who often works with investment bankers, the descriptions about how business is sold and delivered should be tempered a bit. This book describes pretty much every investment banker as shoddy, shallow, and manipulative. That has not been my typical experience. There are terrifically smart, talented, ethical and humane investment bankers. For example, one of my favorites never used a pitch book during his first meeting with a client. Pitch book preparation is one of the banes of the young investment banker's existence. But like all professions, investment bankers vary a lot. There are certainly some less capable ones, and I have seen their work too. I would describe it much like the authors do. In terms of the working conditions, they are mostly a reflection of weak management in the industry. Investment banks reward doing deals, not being good managers of the deals. A fellow I know became CEO of a major investment bank, and made much less money after that than when he was just a deal-maker. He found little interest on the part of his colleagues in improving management, so it was pretty frustrating. It just doesn't pay to work on making life better for the investment bankers in training, compared to producing more business. The book's main point is that many young people enter investment banking without knowing what it is like, and are overly impressed with the financial prospects. If your values really favor having time for yourself, your family, and developing your other interests, this is probably the wrong career for you. There are plenty of other ways to make lots of money. The richest people I know are entrepreneurs, not investment bankers. The book's other main point is that you should take a look at close yourself before you compromise too many of your values. The authors should have never joined an investment bank. Having done so, they should have left much sooner. CEOs and CFOs should read this book also, to know what to check out carefully in the work that investment bankers do. Most companies now develop their own ideas, and just hire the investment bankers for implementation. In that role, fewer problems will occur of the sort described here. Perhaps the most dangerous role is having an investment banker help you select and pursue an acquisition. Many expensive mistakes follow under those circumstances. Caveat emptor! You will probably find the monkey drawings in the book add to the humor. The text frequently refers to monkey-see, monkey-do type examples, and the whole story is seen more usefully as a bunch of monkeys playing in a gilded cage. That takes some of the sting out of the gratuitous grossness. If you liked the put-downs of investment bankers in Liar's Poker, this book will be irresistible to you. After you have had a good laugh, take a look at your current job and see how well it fits your values and life goals. Chances are that it doesn't. Be prepared to figure that out, and move onward and upward out of whatever gilded (or not-so-gilded) cage you are in today into the freedom of self-actualization.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 20, 2000
If you really liked Liar's Poker, you'll absolutely love this book. Factual, to the point, no-holds barred account of what makes the world go 'round. Whether you're a passive investor in a retirement account or a trader in the pit, this book sums up what the financial world is all about and what human nature is REALLY all about. If you don't read this book, you shouldn't even be able to access CNBC. Every business school student in the world should have to read this book and have an essay test on it in order to graduate. Just plain old great stuff!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 15, 2000
Troob and Rolfe highlight the real world of investment banking with a unique wit. Anyone thinking about a career in investment banking, whether in NYC, London, Tokyo or elsewhere should read. After all the appearance may be different, but the rules of the game are the same whereever you go.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 19, 2000
Since my background is in public health, Rolfe and Troob's deeply insightful book taught me a lot about the investment banking world. I used to work in a non-profit health care organization run by a former senior VP of an investment bank. She ran the non-profit like an investment bank and had all of us health care people go through the same torture that the authors were subjected to. When I finally conjured up the courage to leave that job, like Rolfe and Troob, my sanity was only partially intact. After reading this excellent book, the authors helped me understand that I am still sane -- it's the investment banking business that's insane. (At least I can now rationalize my former boss' behavior). Thank you, Rolfe and Troob!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2000
What's cool about this book is how the authors, with a superb hability to point out the ironic and sarcastic, walks you through the whole process: from the happy dreams and hopes at business school and its interviewing process, to the rude awakening of a miserable life; how the mind, in its efforts to rationalize stupidity, graps to unrealized hopes and dreams. And they do it in a hilarious way!! It also shows how low a human being can fall, and that there is a fine line between pressure, extravagance and insanity. Great book, clearly written. A must read for people in the financial industry.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 22, 2000
This book definately ranks as a must buy--if you must buy one book on investment banking make sure its this one. Looks like 'Liars Poker' finally has some serious competition!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 22, 2000
I just finished the book and it is hilarious. Rolfe and Troob draw you in and make you laugh for three hours. My sides hurt. The characters are great and the stories even better. I am a banker and this book tells the real story. Rolfe and Troob have captured the essence of what it is like to be a junior guy in an investment bank. The book leaves you wanting more and I hope Rolfe and Troob write another book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2000
Posted April 11, 2000
Monkey Business will make you laugh out loud many times over! It's written using the language of today, no sugar coating. It's captivating, informative and absolutely hilarious! It's one adventure after another. A MUST READ!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 28, 2000
This book is great. I couldn't stop laughing. There have been so many lousy Wall Street tell-alls over the last few years that I honestly didn't want to pick this one up. A buddy of mine who works at DLJ and had gotten an advance copy told me I had to read it, though, so I did. Good thing. This book is a riot, and manages to also give fair warning to all the wannabe investment bankers who are thinking about striking out for Wall Street, and hopefully striking it rich. Monkey Business is now the gold standard.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 28, 2000
This book is hilarious. The characters are unforgettable and the stories are memorable. This book allows the reader to understand what junior bankers really do. This is a great fast read for pure entertainment purposes or if you want to learn about investment banking. Anyone in a stressful career should read this book. It will help put a fresh perspective of what is really important.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2010
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Posted March 12, 2011
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Posted November 26, 2011
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