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How to impress as an Analyst

Updated: May 27, 2020

Your first job has been secured, you are now working in the financial industry and you are ready to start work. With renewed motivation after a gruelling application process, you are looking to impress as an analyst in your first role, whether this involves working in investment banking, asset management, private equity, hedge funds or any other kind of financial institution. What do these first few steps in a new job entail and how can you succeed from the very start in making a lasting impression?


Source: www.efinancialcareers.co.uk


First Impression

The first 10 seconds of meeting someone have been proven to have a fundamental impact on our lasting perception of them and vice-versa. Make sure that you are dressed smart, you are well-groomed, you display confident body language and smile for those first interactions. Handshakes should always be firm, as it conveys strength and assuredness in business culture. Eye contact is essential, speak up confidently and introduce yourself: "Hi, [Name], nice to meet you". Something as simple as a good first impression can go a long way in determining the direction of your future career.



Networking

The next step to succeed as an analyst is by meeting new co-workers and in expanding your network. The more people you meet at work, the greater and more well-rounded a picture you will build of your new workplace. If you succeed in building a vast and reliable network, you will find yourself surrounded with invaluable support and people willing to help you succeed. The best way to network is simply to introduce yourself in person or over an email and invite the person to a coffee catch-up (always offer to pay for the coffee as it is the least you can do if they are going out of their way to meet you). Here, you will be able to navigate from small-talk, a natural conversation starter for most people, to genuine questions about their work and experience within the workplace. Make sure you keep a list of contacts from your network stored on Outlook or in Excel.



Time Management

"You can’t manage time. You can’t find any additional hours. You don’t have any more time in a day, a week, a month, or a year than anyone else." Anthony Iannarino. This quote resonates very strongly with me, as often I wish there was more time in the day to spend after work in keeping fit, getting on with hobbies and making time for family and friends. The truth is, we all need to prioritise what is important to us and work around these priorities. Working in the financial industry, you are immediately somewhat prioritising your work - given the standard demanding hours and workload coupled with the significantly attractive salary (hence why it is referred to as compensation).


At work, you need to keep on track of all tasks assigned to you as well as the deadlines for these respective tasks. I use the 'To-Do' list function on Microsoft Outlook, categorising tasks in terms of urgency and whether it falls under urgent desk work, administrative tasks or long-term projects. An alternative is to build a task tracker in Microsoft Excel, with columns for tasks assigned, deadlines, priority, status updates and whoever allocated the task. You should be checking the priorities for your desk work on a daily basis with your line manager, I would advise to check-in with them every morning and tell them what your main tasks are for today and whether they have any further or more urgent tasks to be completed. The same goes for when leaving the office, always check with your manager(s) first to see whether anything urgent needs completing before calling it a day.


One other small point that falls into time management is task efficiency. I cannot stress how important it is to learn how to navigate all the shortcuts on Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Outlook and particularly Excel. Being able to rely on the keyboard alone with no mouse can save you valuable minutes which compound over years to hours saved. Get familiar with Excel functions, avoid using the mouse and feel free to ask co-workers for their tips and tricks to become more efficient at work. For those interested in becoming more proficient at Microsoft Excel, I used Financial Edge Training's online course called 'Investment Banker in a Box', where you will find an entire section dedicated to improving your Microsoft Excel skills. The link can be found at the end of the article below, with a discount code off 25% when using FCLIMB25 voucher code.



Take Initiative

Something that is often overlooked by new analysts is their ability to bring about change. Graduate programmes have moved away from solely hiring STEM students for the reason that they want a more diverse range of workers to benefit from new ideas, cultures and perspectives. If you are confident that several tasks can be completed in more efficient ways, do speak up to your line manager and suggest your ideas. This is especially true for coding, data analytics, regulatory reporting and the use of AI/Machine learning - most senior managers are only just beginning to recognise the importance of this technology and millenials tend to gravitate towards these developments. Remember, you want to add value to the team - suggesting new ideas can go a long way in standing out as a successful analyst.



Tame Your Emails



Lastly and arguably most importantly, keep a lid on those emails! I have listed a few conventions in the world of emails below which I strongly recommend you to get acquainted with:


- Aim to reply within five minutes to most emails.

- Always end emails with [Kind Regards/Regards] and an email signature.

- Create email folders to which you can automatically assign emails from designated senders, making life much easier when it comes to locating work-related emails and attachments.

- Always clean your inbox by the end of each day, letting this build-up may result in missing out on an urgent email from your line manager or senior stakeholder. This is not a risk you can afford to take.

- Double-check your grammar, wording and length of the email before sending. If you can make your point more concise, do so.

- Use the 'Schedule' functions for meetings on Outlook - this can help you identify attendees and their desk function or role beforehand. Always schedule any commitments, work calls or meetings in Outlook on the calendar function.

- By flagging emails, this automatically adds them to the 'To-Do' list as previously mentioned. This is helpful as it may well give you a reference text or attachment for the allocated task, saving time in locating the task or file again.

- Use a standard font and stick with it, I suggest Calibri (font size 11) in black.

- Remember to Cc (copy in) your desk in most of your emails unless you are explicitly told not to. This keeps them in the loop and also gives them ideas as to where you are at with your assigned tasks. If you are sending out a newsletter to a large number of people, check with your desk as to whether to Bcc (blind copy) all email recipients beforehand.