ROHAN REDDY, Investment Banking Analyst @ Evercore

rohan

ROHAN REDDY

Hometown: Austin, TX
Occupation: Investment Banking Analyst @ Evercore
 

I think there’s no limit on what I think is necessary to do for someone. There’s no limit on the amount of time or the amount of money that it should cost you. If I thought that it could bring someone else even 1% more happiness, then I’d be willing to spend whatever is necessary. Costs are irrelevant because I think that in life there are very few things that actually make people actually happier in a meaningful, significant way. If you are in the position and you have the opportunity to do something that would make someone happier, then it’s really important to do because it doesn’t come up often.
— Rohan Reddy


Rohan is one of my favorite new people I met in New York. We went to the same university, but oddly enough never met until after we both moved to the Big Apple. He’s smart, genuine, good-hearted, and one of the most loyal friends. We talked for over one hour and his interview (unedited) was 22 pages long. I had to shorten it for brevity but it’s still 15 pages…


ON NEW YORK


STEPHANIE

What was your first memory of new york?


ROHAN

My first memory of New York…

I came here once when I was ten years old with my parents. We stayed in New Jersey and drove into New York for one day. We did all of the touristy things to do in New York and my only real memory of it was that there was a lot of traffic, but it was good because we had just bought portable DVD players, so I could watch all the movies in the car while we drove around.


STEPHANIE

The amazing mind of a ten-year-old. Did you want to move here after your visit with your family?


ROHAN

Well, I don't think visiting here at age 10 was any motivation for moving to New York. The motivation was more than the fact that I was born and raised in Austin and even went to school there, so I didn't want to be anywhere close to there. I had full-time offers in San Francisco and New York and those are the two farthest places from Texas that still aligned with my career goals.


STEPHANIE

How did you end up picking Evercore in New York then?


ROHAN

I had a lot of good connections with Evercore in New York. After I finished my internship in San Francisco at another bank J.P. Morgan Chase, I talked to a lot of my connections and I was able to start the recruiting process for New York much more easily than in San Francisco, and decided to come to NY.


ON BANKING

I’ve never associated my self-worth or derived some sort of status from having a certain job or making a certain amount of money or anything like that. Because of that, I think that the reality of life is that you have to set goals if you want to achieve them. Whatever it is, it might be investment banking or might be something else that you want in life, if you really want that goal, you should work as hard as you can within limits to get it. But the reality is that if you don’t get it, you shouldn’t let that consume the entirety of how you perceive happiness because you couldn’t reach one goal. You only continue to reset it higher. And once you meet your goal, you just want the next thing and the next thing. It can only make you sadder to make a job like banking the basis of all of your happiness. It will never bring you incrementally more joy. It can only be something that you continuously work towards.
— Rohan

STEPHANIE

What compelled you to study Finance and pursue Investment Banking? Did you just happen to take Finance and liked that class more than everything else at McCombs? I, for one, did not like Finance.
 

ROHAN

Finance in class has relatively little to do with Finance in real life. And nah, it had nothing to do with a class or any sort of genuine interest or anything like that. I went to college and chose to study business because I didn't want to do anything else and everything else looked like too much work, to be honest.


STEPH

:O
 

ROHAN

Basically for me, I think that almost every job at the entry level is going to be pretty boring, so I asked myself, "Which job can I do that will expose me to the most interesting things that I could find?" and for me, based on my experiences, I said that that was probably something in Finance just because you get a lot of exposure to companies at many different stages. At the entry level, I think there are unique opportunities that other fields don’t have. So that's why I did Finance.
 

More specifically, banking is just a subset of that. At Evercore, it's Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory which is a specific group.
 

STEPHANIE

Since a lot of the material that you need to know to pass the technical interviews for banking isn't taught in class, how did you prepare for the interviews?
 

ROHAN

You just have to self-study everything. It's interesting - the entire Finance recruitment world basically exists online. You don’t really need advanced education or knowledge. A lot of people have gone through the process, published the process they used to study for these types of interviews, and there are forums and entire courses designed just around recruiting for these jobs. So people can use that information to study for the same interviews and that's how you get a job.


STEPHANIE

What advice would you give someone going through the process?
 

ROHAN

It's not a very hard process in terms of the steps. A lot of it is dictated by where you go to school or your grades. I think what you have to do is just decide very early on that you have to do it. The way the recruiting process in Investment Banking works is that people do an internship during their Junior summer, and are usually hired about one year in advance. So that means you would recruit end of sophomore year and it would probably take you anywhere from 6-9 months to prepare for that. So you're looking at by end of freshman summer you have to have an idea that IB is what you want to do (at least these days).
 

In terms of study materials, there are guidebooks and resources (like test guides and modeling tests) that you can use.
 

STEPHANIE

So in the past, I remember you saying that you once emailed, like, 500 people. What happened there?
 

ROHAN

Oh yeah, within M&A and specific groups that people are interested in, there are probably 100-200 spots at a large bank. At a smaller bank, there are anywhere from 10-50 spots. So as you can see, there's a lot of people applying for very few spots.
 

The way they screen people out is through either the prestige of the school you go to or filter you out based on GPA. Given those two things, if you want to maximize the chances of getting an interview, you need to network with people in the industry, which a lot of the times just means you email them and ask them about their jobs and how they got into the process and say you're interested. That's a way to differentiate yourself.
 

If a bank is going to interview 40 people from your school and they've talked to you before and they like you, you might have a higher chance in the interview process. A lot of the Finance work is not very difficult. All the stuff you do is a combination of financial and accounting literacy combined with basic mathematical operations, so if people like you or want to work with you, that's really helpful.
 

Also, most people in banking work 80-100 hours a work including weekends so it's important that the people you work with like you and that you're a good person to work with more than it is important to know every single topic in finance. People get hired all the time because they have good connections or because they impressed somebody at an event, not just because they’re good at Finance. A lot of it is taught on the job.
 

STEPHANIE

I remember you saying you used to work really long hours in your internship.


ROHAN

Right. It's really dependent on your specific situation. You get different staffings and those are the companies and projects you're working on at certain times. If you're working on a live project, you might have very near-term deadlines that are strictly fixed and have a lot of deliverables so your hours might be really bad. At the same time, if you're on a lot of projects that aren't as demanding or they're of longer-term deadlines, you can have a looser lifestyle. That's why the hours are so variable in banking.
 

STEPHANIE

I feel like you have a very healthy mental state. I've heard a lot of horror stories about banking hours and the news reports aren't very pretty. Do you think that that is a problem in the industry or just in certain types of people?
 

ROHAN

I think that the type of people that banking attracts are of really high pedigree: people with really high GPAs, type A personalities, and those who have mastered the relatively simple concepts of finance and accounting at a level above what the average person would have invested time into doing.
 

When you take a group of people like this and you put them in an environment where the entire job is built around having clients and servicing those clients, you have a lot of people who are willing to say yes to any task given to them.
 

You're not necessarily building a product; you're not necessarily having a concrete deliverable. You're just doing as much as you can for a company or client within a certain time frame. When you take those people and put them in a place where the entire judgment of their worth is based on doing more work than somebody else or being better than someone else, it creates an environment where people are willing to work 100 hours a week. By the same virtue, people who do banking have a motto in life of "Everything has to be done immediately" and if there's time left over, you just study it over again. And I think that's the same type of mentality people use in banking to justify these kinds of deadlines.
 

STEPHANIE

Yeah, you see this in a lot of the fields that type A people go into - consulting, banking, etc.
 

ROHAN

In banking, you also get exposure to C-level executives and talk to them about strategic decisions related to when they want to sell their companies, buy other companies, or raise capital - these are complex corporate decisions that you wouldn't get as much insight into if you were just working in another industry at the entry-level.  Because of this, people that join IB see it as "What is the best thing I could possibly do given that I am young and have the time to work long hours?" that is the equivalent to everything else I've done and to a lot of people, that's generally banking and that's why people get into it.
 

I don't think I fit that mold exactly. I don’t think I tried exceptionally hard in high school. I went to class sometimes, did my work and sometimes I studied for tests, but once I got to UT, I said "This career seems interesting and I know that it's competitive. If I'm going to put in this much work, then I want to make sure I either do it completely or not do anything at all." And so that was the mindset behind why I tried really hard to get into banking. It ended up working out, fortunately, and I got in, but I never changed my mindset completely to where I said that everything in my life will now be oriented around meeting this goal. The goal isn't unrealistic, but the percentage of people who get into investment banks is under 2%. If you want X bank in X group in X city, they just don't hire nearly enough people for those who want it.
 

I’ve never associated my self-worth or derived some sort of status from having a certain job or making a certain amount of money or anything like that. Because of that, I think that the reality of life is that you have to set goals if you want to achieve them. Whatever it is, it might be investment banking or might be something else that you want in life, if you really want that goal, you should work as hard as you can within limits to get it. But the reality is that if you don't get it, you shouldn't let that consume the entirety of how you perceive happiness because you couldn't reach one goal. You only continue to reset it higher. And once you meet your goal, you just want the next thing and the next thing. It can only make you sadder to make a job like banking the basis of all of your happiness. It will never bring you incrementally more joy. It can only be something that you continuously work towards.
 

STEPHANIE

One thing that you said that that has come up in a lot of interviews, which is that if you fail once or at first don't succeed at your goals, that doesn't mean you will never receive it. Because for a lot of people, when they fail the first few times, they pivot and that eventually leads them to success.

In your current job, what do you do as a first-year analyst at Evercore?
 

ROHAN

Banking can be pretty cryptic to explain to people. Evercore is an investment bank that provides mergers & acquisitions advisory (aka the M&A group). That means if a client wants to buy another company or sell themselves to another company or private equity firm, then Evercore will advise them on restructuring the deal, how much they should pay or receive for selling the company, legal implications of the deal, and just general process timeline stuff that all has to be done for the deal.
 

Now as a first-year analyst, what do you do? The answer you give in interviews is that you do whatever the person above you tells you to do. What that generally involves is that you make presentations and models that are necessary for each stage of the deal. For instance, if you have to submit a deal in which you are buying another company, you have to make a valuation of what you think that business should be worth. You'll do a lot of research related to the company and you'll use valuation methods to determine what price the company should pay for it. That number is then given to the senior people on your team and they review and adjust it. You basically continue to refine your model to figure out what the appropriate price is for the company. That's the instance where the company comes to the bank.
 

The other case is where the bank is trying to solicit more clients for the business of giving advice. They'll come up with their own unique ideas, and will put together a presentation to use in their pitch about why it makes sense from a strategic and financial standpoint.
 

Those are the two buckets that exist: live deal work (actual process work that's going on) or marketing/origination work which is a future business that's about to take place.
 

STEPHANIE

For Private Equity recruiting, I saw that on Sunday night you basically found out that PE interviews had come out in San Francisco and you stayed up all night studying, thinking that interviews for New York would come out the next morning.
 

You were right. You had three interviews the next day and over the course of the next seven days, you probably had around 10 interviews total. What was going through your mind during that time?
 

ROHAN

PE recruiting is something that most first-year IB analysts have the option to do. What I would say is that people are drawn to IB largely for the exit opportunities, private equity being one of them. They do banking for two years, which is considered the "sell-side" because you're selling advice and then you go to the "buy-side", which is private equity or hedge funds. Private equity firms buy the companies that investment banks are trying to sell, and hedge funds invest in markets but with different strategies. So private equity recruiting, just like banking, goes really early. As far as the process goes, I recruited for a job that will start 18 months after the one I currently have, after only being at Evercore for five months.
 

STEPHANIE

Do you think that timeline is slightly weird?
 

ROHAN

It's really weird. But it doesn't surprise anyone, because that's how banking works, right? If you consider it from the private equity firms' standpoint, there is a finite pool of investment banking analysts. Everybody wants who they would consider to be the best IB analyst to work at their PE firm. The way they achieve that is just by interviewing them as early as possible. Generally, the type of people that do these jobs are very risk-averse, so they won't gamble for things like waiting later on for marginally different firms when the downside of unemployment is much higher.
 

It's generally a very safe job since it’s client-based and not market-based. It's a stable path of two years where you make decent money and then your next set of opportunities is basically set up for you. That type of risk aversion motivates people to recruit as early as possible. That way, for the last 18 months of your job, you already know what you'll be doing next. That's why it goes early.
 

STEPHANIE

So the whole early timeline is just to poach people from other competitors.
 

ROHAN

Exactly. It's just to poach people from other competitors and it moves up earlier every year. I was talking to my friend and he said that when he recruited five years ago, it was in March or April of his year. Last year it was in January. This year it was in December. It continues to move earlier and earlier every year. As an analyst, you have to recognize that a lot of people at the bank will be participating in recruiting, so you have to know early on again if you want to go through the process.
 

STEPHANIE

Which is a little crazy, because I feel like people are just starting their jobs that they worked so hard three years ago to get.
 

ROHAN

Exactly. It makes you wonder how PE firms even determine who the best analyst is.
 

STEPHANIE

These things aren't really merit-based. It's just how good is your personality, how many people do you know, things like that.
 

ROHAN

They have nothing to do with the job you're doing. And they don't have to. You don't need a special level of qualification or expertise to do the jobs. You just have to know how to compete in the recruiting process effectively and everything else you will learn on the job.
 

People always ask "How can I prepare for investment banking?" or "What can I do to be a really good analyst?" Abstractly you can do stuff like communicate well, pay attention to details, know your technical skills, but nothing really prepares you for it besides doing it. The real answer is to make sure you're interested in what you're doing and that will motivate you to do these sometimes mundane tasks you have to do in banking, but I believe that's true of any entry-level job honestly.
 

STEPHANIE

What is one preconceived notion people have about banking that isn't true? I have a couple in my head.
 

ROHAN

What are your preconceived notions that aren't true?
 

STEPHANIE

So one is that they're big spenders, which actually isn't true. The ones I've met are actually pretty stingy and risk-averse.
 

ROHAN

Yeah, the thing about income is that while people in banking generally make more money than most people do at the entry-level in most careers, if you think about how much you actually make, it’s not that much after taxes. It's not enough money to have a lifestyle change, or in stereotypes, buy a yacht with. It's enough money to where you can have a sustainable amount of savings and that's the marginal amount of money you get out of it.
 

Obviously there are people who spend a lot of money and generally, banking puts you in a more than financially secure position, but there are a lot of entry-level jobs that give you a similar amount of income. So the idea of you making $1 million dollars by age 25 doesn't really exist anymore.
 

STEPHANIE

Yeah, it's been a surprise. I think banking gets a bad rep and the bankers I know aren't boastful of their money, they live normal lives trying to save, and are pretty humble.
 

ROHAN

Yeah, all the stereotypes for bankers come from a set of movies and books that people have seen. 

In terms of culture, it used to be really toxic. It used to be that you worked 100 hour weeks because it would get you to a really senior level, guaranteeing you a spot for life. These days, there's already enough saturation at senior levels and there's not much interest in staying that long, which is shown by most people leaving within 2-3 years.

STEPHANIE

The culture has shifted.
 

ROHAN

The culture has shifted significantly and also there's just a lot of competition for jobs these days. A lot of people would rather do tech jobs now than banking. That's because a lot of people have decided that it's not worth the stress of working all the time and you can get the same amount of pay, generally the same amount of exit opportunities, brand, and have a better culture if you go to other large tech companies.
 

STEPHANIE

Do you think the post-financial crisis almost benefited the finance industry in terms of changing the culture and the way things are regulated?
 

ROHAN

The Financial Crisis just made it harder for banks to make money. If someone asked you to work three all-nighters in a row a decade ago, that would have been a normal thing to do. But these days banks have policies and don't want people to do that. Because of those laws, there's a better culture and a better environment if you want to do the job these days than back then.
 

ON FUN


STEPHANIE

Switching topics now. What do you do for fun?


ROHAN

I partake in the New York City nightlife scene, and I go to a lot of restaurants and bars. I feel that moving to New York, I really wanted to explore and enjoy all the activities the city had to offer because I'm not going to live here forever.


STEPHANIE

What are some of your hobbies?
 

ROHAN

I'm really into credit cards (update: we often catch Rohan watching YouTube videos about credit card churning). I picked up this hobby last year, but credit card churning, is really fascinating to me. Credit card points allow me to travel and do other things for free, in a sense. That's why I decided to learn how to do it. I think I’m obsessed with Reddit’s subreddit for churning.
 

ON LIFE

I think being able to be there for people and showing empathy not only helps them but really broadens your perspective. It gives you the experience of going through what they’re dealing with and you’ll realize that everybody is dealing with major issues, even if they don’t tell you at the time. And even if you think you’ve just gone through something really bad in life, chances are most people have too. Even if the specific acts are different, it’s the same framework for thinking about how to deal with it and you can help people with that.
— Rohan


STEPHANIE

How do you think your perspective on life has changed from high school to college to now?
 

ROHAN

My perspective in high school was not being materialistic. I also never had the notion that if I don't go to X school, then I’m a failure. My parents pressured me to study more for things, but I thought no matter if I studied or didn't, there was no difference, it wouldn’t impact which job I could get or college I could go to.
 

That being said, I always felt like I did enough. Not the bare minimum, but a little bit more than what was necessary. That way I still felt like I was still putting in a decent amount of work, even if I wasn't always excelling at everything in high school.
 

In college, it probably looked like the exact opposite because I went down the investment banking route, meaning I had to try really hard. If you ask anyone in the industry, that consumes almost everything you have to do. I joined a lot of Finance related clubs; I worked twenty hours a week at Finance companies in Austin every semester; I tried really hard to get a high GPA. My perspective then was that if I was going to do something, it has to be done correctly. For better or worse, it ended up working out, I got the job I wanted, but it definitely gives you perspective.
 

You see a lot of people who have the same goal and you realize that at some level, you can get it, or you can’t. A lot of things are outside your control, so it's really important to associate value from other things in your life besides your career. Your job is important and it's going to take a lot of your time, but if it's the only thing that matters to you, that's not very fulfilling after a certain point. You quickly realize that the work you're doing is interesting conceptually but the day-to-day tasks are not always that fun.
 

STEPHANIE

So then what does bring you value in life?
 

ROHAN

Having goals and meeting them, whether it's getting a job or getting into Marquee. I also associate a good amount of value from relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but also relationships with friends. I like helping my friends in a way that other people might not be able to do and going beyond what most people would do, that gives me a lot of value because I feel like I can be there for someone in a unique way.
 

STEPHANIE

Since I know you, I can say that you do enjoy helping others. You find satisfaction in the art of bringing value to other people without necessarily getting anything back yourself.
 

What is one supposed failure that actually paved the way to success later on?
 

ROHAN

I didn't think it was a failure at the time but one obstacle essentially was going to UT Austin to do Finance. I think that at the time, when I chose to go to UT, I didn't know what I wanted to do exactly. I didn't understand any of the dynamics of the Finance industry related to the recruiting process or how competitive it was but decided that "I got into UT, so I'm going to go to UT."
 

So I got there and I realized how competitive the process was and how even more competitive it was if you don't go to a target-school, which is all of the ivy leagues in the U.S. and other schools of that same caliber. I realized that I had to work a lot harder to get the jobs I wanted in banking. The reason I would characterize that perspective actually as a failure is that in hindsight it helped me.
 

STEPHANIE

I think knowing that you had to work harder going in helped you, too. You didn't just ride off of the name of your school. I see a lot of people graduate from Ivy Leagues and get the same jobs that people who went to public state colleges get. And there's nothing wrong with that, just that life isn't a formula. Success is not a one-way ladder up.
 

ROHAN

That's the reality, right? Every single one of these steps puts you in a higher position to do something else, but nothing ever gets handed to you. Even if you are the best person on paper, if you don't perform well in the interview or say something that's wrong, you still won't get the job. So you have to remember that even if you get a job or even if you get into UT or work at Evercore, you'll be at a position to get what you want, but ultimately it comes down to how well prepared you are as an individual and if you become complacent and don't work hard anymore because you think you'll get it, someone will work harder than you and end up getting the job over you. And you'll be surprised, but it happens all the time. At Evercore in particular, UT Austin has one of the largest income classes next year, even more than most ivy league schools
 

STEPHANIE

What career would you have done if you didn't do banking?
 

ROHAN

I would be a film critic.
 

STEPHANIE

Do you watch a lot of films?
 

ROHAN

The reason I didn't study a lot in high school was because I had to watch three movies a day, self-imposed by myself. So I could finish all of the IMDB’s top 250 movies in two years.
 

I used to watch all these movies while studying and it's not easy to study while you watch a movie. But I formed pretty good opinions on what makes good movies. I have this way in which I can just watch a movie and decide what would have made it better, so that's what I would do instead as a job.
 

STEPHANIE

Tell me more about your values in life.
 

When your friend came up from Boston, he said one thing that stuck in my memory. He said, “If I were to get into any kind of trouble anywhere in the world, there’s one person who would come help me out immediately, one person who I could count on to fly across the country at a moments notice. That would be Rohan.” I think at the point I had only known you for a couple of weeks and remember thinking, “Whoa, that’s a very good trait in a person.”
— Stephanie

ROHAN

I mentioned earlier about deriving value in being helpful to people. I think there's no limit on what I think is necessary to do for someone. There's no limit on the amount of time or the amount of money that it should cost you. If I thought that it could bring someone else even 1% more happiness, then I'd be willing to spend whatever is necessary. Costs are irrelevant because I think that in life there are very few things that actually make people actually happier in a meaningful, significant way. If you are in the position and you have the opportunity to do something that would make someone happier, then it's really important to do because it doesn't come up often.
 

STEPHANIE

That reminds me: When your friend came up from Boston, he said one thing that stuck in my memory. He said, "If I were to get into any kind of trouble anywhere in the world, there's one person who would come help me out immediately, one person who I could count on to fly across the country at a moments notice. That would be Rohan." I think at the point I had only known you for a couple of weeks and remember thinking, "Whoa, that's a very good trait in a person."

ROHAN

Yeah, I think being able to be there for people and showing empathy not only helps them but really broadens your perspective. It gives you the experience of going through what they're dealing with and you'll realize that everybody is dealing with major issues, even if they don't tell you at the time. And even if you think you've just gone through something really bad in life, chances are most people have too. Even if the specific acts are different, it's the same framework for thinking about how to deal with it and you can help people with that.
 

The second thing I would say is that if we go through the entire context of this interview which is why do people work so hard and what do they go to do those things and why do they do them?

If you associate all of that with people in banking generally optimizing their life to get into the most competitive school, the best job, the highest salary, and repeat that process forever. If you took the same level of mental planning and preparation and hardworking-ness and you applied it to your level of relationships with people...I don't think people consider how significantly different their lives would be. You might not make as much money; you might not have the same job, but you would people who you've invested yourself with in a really meaningful way and you have to consider if that's more valuable than having all the stuff around your career and financial security.
 

STEPHANIE

I actually really love that and I think that's a big topic in New York as well. There are varying levels of success here. People who have a great career and make a lot of money, but might not necessarily have time for the ones they care about. So it's about finding that perfect balance where is working that extra 10 hours going to give you that x amount of value that brings or would you rather not work those 10 hours but expand it on a friendship which could bring exponentially greater value. I think the way that you live your life right now allows you to have the most value from the different parts of your life.
 

ROHAN

Yeah, everything takes some level of balance. If you work a lot or if you just try to have a lot of friends, one thing will suffer.
 

STEPHANIE

Do you have anything else you'd like to talk about?
 

ROHAN

Yeah, why are you making this blog?
 

STEPHANIE

It started eight months ago when I sent out a questionnaire to people about how they felt about NYC. I was just expecting very short, brief whatever answers, but people returned back paragraphs about their experiences. Why they liked New York, why they didn't like it, what their job was and how that affected their view of the city. So after I read those answers I wanted to know more about the people behind these answers so I just started interviewing them about their lives, their jobs, what they learned. And every time I interviewed someone, I just really enjoyed doing it so I kept going. It's been a great way to meet new people and grow my network, although I usually don't talk to the people after I interview them for whatever reason. For people I don't know I have 60 minutes with them where they become very personal with me and then we probably never speak again.
 

ROHAN

Wow, cool. Wait, so how much do I get paid for this?
 

STEPHANIE

Um. Free table at Marquee.