A day in the life of an M&A Analyst

A Day In The Life of An M&A Analyst

Any job in investment banking requires you to dedicate a large portion of your life towards it. As an M&A analyst, you will be putting in a minimum of 75-hours a week and will be expected to stay on your feet for unexpected work, deals and calls throughout the day. Yes, this sometimes means all-nighters at the office.

If you are interested in a career as an M&A analyst, then this article will provide you with base and core insights into what it takes to be one, along with the expectations and requirements necessary.

The role of an M&A Analyst

Like most analysts, you will be performing a lot of tasks that require number crunching, Excel file preparations and PowerPoint Slides. These may seem menial, but they are the typical groundwork that needs to be covered for anyone looking to start a career in investment banking.

An M&A analyst’s duties are seen as the preliminary legwork for potential deals. Tasks are carried out by targeting companies, assessing competition, liaising with clients and providing feedback and assessments based on findings. Their responsibilities generally revolve around the following:

  • Researching the market and preparing presentations for business executives
  • Providing analytics for financial reports and prospective businesses
  • Collaborating with senior M&A management on all prospecting activities

M&A analysts also play minor roles in strategy where they focus on enhancing marketing materials and acquisition stories to align themselves with prospective clients.

There is a lot that goes into an investment bankers salary and bonuses in M&A. Bulge-brackets and elite boutiques would offer slightly more compensation than boutiques and middle market firms, but they are more competitive and harder to break into.

At smaller firms, analysts tend to work hand-in-hand with senior executives and can gain more experience much quicker. The flipside to this is that they will be tasked with a much broader scope of work in a deal – leading to longer working hours and frankly very steep learning curves

In bulge-brackets and elite boutiques, the work typically gets shared overall a broader analyst pool. Contrarily, promotion opportunities are competitive and you gain less experience as a result of work that are narrower in scope.

Required Qualifications

An M&A analyst is required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in Business, Accounting, Finance, Economics, or any similar field. Experience in related fields is also acceptable. These include internships experiences with Big 4 accounting firms, boutique finance firms etc.

As a baseline, candidates must demonstrate strong understanding of finance fundamentals. This is the reason why having strong academic results, particularly for a finance degree, is a must. It would also be helpful if the candidate possesses an understanding of financial business law, company acquisition strategies and merger processes prior to applying for the position.

Communication skills are equally vital, both in written and verbal forms, as the success of business deals are dependent upon the clarity and quality of one’s communication with potential mergers and acquisitions.

Computer proficiency and literacy is a bare minimal expectation. These include basic Microsoft Office skills, as well as in research and analytical software e.g. Bloomberg. Among all, proficiency around excel and financial modelling is the most important. Many firms have already included excel test as part of their interview process.

Time management is expected of anyone interested in M&A-related work, especially for analysts. M&A analysts are required to provide the legwork and base information for potential deals, and there will be several of those occurring daily. A candidate must be organized and adaptable in order to address multiple company profiles at any given moment.

Interpersonal and people skills should be given due consideration should a candidate wish to be promoted and progress further along in their career. These are a given in most industries, but especially so in M&A-related jobs. Business deals are dependent upon successful deal sourcing and negotiations. As such, a candidate is expected to act as a positive representative of the business. Simply put, be confident and likeable.

A Day In The Life of An M&A Analyst

As an M&A analyst, my day usually begins around 9.00 am where I arrive to work and start getting ready for the day. This means coffee, breakfast and the general chit-chat by the water cooler before heading to my desk. There, my day would typically unfold like so:

9:30 am – Look into my e-mails and chats. There’s almost always work already assigned by the time I hit my desk. As an M&A analyst, its often about playing catchup.

9:45 am – I start preparing pitches and presentations for associates. This involves a mix of excel and powerpoint. There is always web research on companies to be done so Google.com or Zerroo.com are best friends.

12:00 pm – Lunch time! Like most days, we all have our lunch at our desk and occasionally at the pantry. Since we have an important meeting later today, we end up ordering delivery from FoodPanda and sharing details on the potential merger.

1:00 pm – I am done with lunch. There is a merger model I need finished for another deal team by today. The deal involves cash, stock and debt, meaning that although I started work on this yesterday, it will be awhile before I can fully project the accretion/dilution results. Time to crunch more numbers.

3:00 pm – Meeting with the VP in the conference room. Remember that meeting we were discussing at lunch? Well the VP needs to be up-to-date with precise information on the potential merger. We discuss their market performances and share strategies on how to better facilitate the merger. At all these internal meetings, it am expected to know my numbers inside out.

5:00 pm – I return to my desk and received an unexpected call from the MD. He tells me he has a potential Fortune 500 merger and needs me to prepare slides and information.  I have been asked to consolidate the company profiles, stock ownership information, share price movement over the past 5 years and do the same for 3-5 comparable companies in the same industry.

7.30 pm – Some friends are gathering for a drink but I will have to pass. My MD just popped by my desk to ask if I was done with the materials he had asked for.

11:30 pm – My numbers check out and everything is looking good, so I send in the presentation to my MD. In the past hours, I had put together 20 off pages of company profiles including peer comparison and market news updates. He gives me the green light and I let out a sigh of relief.

12.45 am – Had to clear some emails and update a few pages from this afternoons work. VP had red-penned my work…fortunately the changes were not major

12.55 am – Folks are still around, but I am done for the day. There’s still some work outstanding but I could do them tomorrow. My Director asked if I was going off already. And thankfully, I haven’t had dinner so he bought that.

An early night I must say!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, most of the real work for the day begins after noon and can span into the evening. There have also been times where I’ve spent the night in the office, tasked with preparing for last-minute and next-day meetings.

There really is no typical day, so to speak, as potential deals and client changes can pop-up at any moment, especially if your firm is dealing with international companies. I can only tell you as much as the tasks necessary – like number crunching, data analysis and slide preparations –  so you’ll need to stay on your feet for unexpected work calls and updates.

Not all corporate finance analysts have exactly the same job. Likewise, different companies will have different schedules and approaches towards M&A-related work. Culture has generally gotten better over the years but the work? It remains hectic.


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