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A Day in the Life: Analyst, Goldman Sachs

Vault brings you a day in the life of Sabah Azim, 24, an investment bank analyst in Goldman Sachs' credit division in London. Sabah tells us that "The job of an investment bank analyst is to dig up in-depth industry and company information, often for a client, enabling them to make investment decisions. A big part of the job is presenting the information in a confident and creative way. There is a lot of financial modelling and analysis and a degree in economics or mathematics is helpful but not required. The job can be very fast-paced and analysts need to absorb a lot of information quickly, not least about the client's own objectives and priorities -- it is a front-line position with a lot of responsibility and pressure. There is often a lot of administrative work to the role, helping to assist with the documentation process. Increasingly there is a demand for Cantonese and Japanese speakers in the role as well as Italian, German and Spanish linguists."

0830 The first thing I do when I get in is read the Financial Times, which I get on the way to work or read online at BBC business is also an important resource of mine. I read news on the macro economy keeping an eye out for headlines or news about the counter-parties that we do business with. If something relevant comes up, which tends to happen very frequently, I flag it to the coverage team within [the] Credit [division]. We then discuss it amongst ourselves and decide whether we need to follow-up with the client or the client relationship team at Goldman.

0900 On Monday mornings we have a department meeting. During this meeting, we discuss market news, the current landscape in the equity and bond markets and get company updates. In these meetings, there is usually a bit of general housekeeping to do, for instance, introducing new recruits and organising department events like receptions and drinks. It is a very good forum for effective communication.

1000 The work we do is quite multi-dimensional. One dimension involves working with the trading desks to set a risk appetite commensurate with the risk profile of the counterparty. Counterparties are basically the firms we do business with and range from large corporates to other investment banks, among others. Another dimension would be to work with the investment banking team on a current project such as a merger or an acquisition. In this role, we basically provide credit advice on capital structure, financing and ratings for debt to be issued. In most cases, we spend considerable amounts of time working on financial models with the investment banking team. The third dimension would be the risk management work that we have to do on a regular basis, reviewing counterparties, their financial position, their business profile which helps us in determining our appetite for business with them.

1100 In many of the cases when we work with a banking team, we work quite closely on the financial models prepared for the transaction -- provide input on credit ratios, potential ratings outcome, debt capacity etc.

1200 In the meantime, we might receive a request to approve a new Middle Eastern counterparty for a trade. Usually, I and the senior analyst on the coverage team will get together to speak to the trading desk that is associated with the particular sector, say energy or telecommunications. We try and glean all the relevant information from them about the trade, the structure and the volume of business. After this, we might need to take it to the next level and get the client involved. This means calling up the client in the country that they are based in, looking at the website, doing a news run (among other things) to see any issues that might be affecting the credit. In some cases, the phone due diligence might not be adequate. This might mean flying out to the country.

1230 Lunch is basically flexible. I normally take around 15-20 minutes or eat at my desk. Sometimes, this is a good time to catch up with my mentor or with my friends outside the department.

1300 In the afternoon, I'll get back to the project that I have been working on earlier. I'll get as comfortable as I can with the model, do some reading on the various aspects of the actual transaction. This might mean doing a news run, reading agency reports etc.

1400 After doing this, I will sit down and try to sum up my thoughts on the credit aspects of the transaction that we are working on. This will usually involve preparing a credit section for a firm-wide capital committee memo that is read by senior management from the firm. The memo usually has sections from the investment banking team with information on the transaction, deal structure, pricing etc.

1500 Our part in the memo has to be very concise and [must] address any concerns that there might be. These concerns are then highlighted and dealt with by further due diligence. Credit strengths and weaknesses are highlighted to allow the teams involved to have an informed and objective view.

1600 We are driven by deadlines to produce the memo for the credit section and generally have to calibrate our schedules accordingly. Usually we prepare initial drafts, run them by the seniors on the Credit side before sending off to the deal team.

1700 Preparing the drafts can take a long time to get right and depends on the type of transactions and the complications within. I like to hit the gym afterwards and leave around eight. When there is more work to be done, I usually take dinner up from the cafeteria or order from outside.