Book Review – Monkey Business by John Rolfe & Peter Troob
Monkey Business has a straightforward premise.
How you become an investment banker and what it is like working at an investment bank as an associate.
The inner workings of the recruitment process is interesting and for sure gives the outsider an idea of how to get in, the rest of the book is a bit of a wasted opportunity.
Basically when you become an associate at an investment bank you have to work 100 hour+ weeks to get around 200k in annual pay including bonuses.
The book has a theme of denigrating the whole process that goes in to investment banking, the techniques banks use to get business, how the authors were turned into non thinking yes men.
While all this is great, (I enjoyed reading the book cover to cover) I can’t help thinking these guys didn’t appreciate the position they were in.
Yes the hours are long, yes it feels like you get abused by senior management, yes the amount of travelling can be punishing but that is not the start and the end of the story, which is how the authors make it seem.
At the end of the day, the experience they were getting at this investment bank was amazing, yes a lot of the time they were invited to long meeting (going to the printer for example) purely for the purpose of being window dressing but they could observe the whole process and surely, as first year investment bankers this is correct.
The fact they they were being paid handsomely for their time should have been adequate compensation.
Easy for me to say I know, but if you could compress five years of work into one year I think most of us would choose that outcome if we could.
I think I came away from the book thinking these guys were a bit ungrateful and did not make the most of the opportunity they were presented with.
If they could hold on for 3 or 4 years they would have made over a millions dollars and given they had so little free time to with which to spend their wages, they would have had a tidy sum in the bank should they see that their careers were not progressing up the ladder and that they wanted to do something else.
Yes their complaint was they were losing their twenties working so many hours but I think their forty year old selves would have been grateful to their twenty year old selves when they looked at their bank statement while sipping a pina colada in the Bahamas after retiring earlier to work their own book.
All in all a good book and well worth reading if you want an insight into the their investment banking world, at a relatively low level, but interesting nonetheless. Monkey Business makes me want to read a book by a more senior executive, say someone with ten years+ experience.
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