We spent time catching up with James, a PPE graduate from Oxford who joined Lazard in 2013 after completing an internship in his penultimate summer of university.
He first met with Lazard at his university careers fair and was instantly drawn to their unique, friendly culture as well as their presence on many of the largest global M&A transactions. This initial impression has proved to be one of the main reasons he enjoys his role. We spoke to him to find out about a typical day, but quickly found out there was no such thing. Here's what he had to say:
When are you at your busiest?
My role as an Analyst varies greatly, depending on the time of year and what’s going on in the market. The busiest time for me is during deal waves, which involve a series of client meetings, early starts, logistical work, lots of writing up meeting notes/updates and regular liaison with the client and the other side. Lazard analysts are very involved from the beginning, attending meetings and inputting into work streams from day one. In addition, I help with the preparation of board papers. As an analyst I spend a lot of time on the valuation model and have responsibility in keeping it up to date with changes in share prices, new financial information and trading updates. This has to be done efficiently and accurately, and in a way that can be presented to a client. This is something I spend a lot of time focusing on as the outputs are frequently used at meetings.
I really enjoy the unique culture here – everyone is friendly and willing to listen.
When you aren’t involved in a deal wave, what do you spend your time doing?
Outside of deal phases, we are involved in the marketing and transaction preparation phases. Marketing involves pitching for new business to a client and the associated preparation of pitch books. During this phase I spend a lot of my time reading around the industry and learning about the sector. As an analyst, I am tasked with reading market research and reports, as well as valuation work and the preparation of the slides. During this phase, I work most closely with an Associate and VP. It’s a great learning process and enables further specialisation in a particular industry. We receive input from Directors initially to point us in the right direction, and later on they will be more involved again to polish what we have prepared. This phase of work tends to be less high-pressured, but requires in-depth and articulate thinking.
What is it like in the run up to a deal wave?
The run up to a deal wave focuses on getting key documents and presentations ready for a live process, so I tend to spend a lot of time in PowerPoint and Excel, for example updating the information memorandum or the management presentation, which are reasonably large documents. To help with this we usually conduct site visits with the company. Analysts work closely with the management teams in this period and gain a lot of exposure to clients.
Do you specialise in a particular area?
Initially our focus area was quite broad. I specialise in the Industrials sector, which ranges from building materials to defence, but as time progresses, one tends to focus on a particular sub-sector within this.
Analysts at Lazard also have the opportunity to periodically move sectors / teams to gain experience of a different part of the business, which is pretty unique.
What do you like about working for Lazard?
I really enjoy the unique culture here – everyone is friendly and willing to listen. The people here are open and welcome. I really enjoyed the internship experience and became a part of the team very quickly. The initial experience is something which has grown and developed in a very positive way.
This culture does not come at the expense of transaction experience, and Lazard are frequently involved in major deals. So far I have been lucky enough to be involved in some major transactions, as have most of my Lazard contemporaries.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying to Lazard?
While you should definitely do thorough preparation work and make sure you are up to date with what is going on in the markets, remember that there is a big learning curve when you join the business and you are likely to spend many hours in the company of the person interviewing you. Therefore as well as being bright and interested, be friendly and open-minded, so as to appear both competent but also someone the interviewer wants to have on the team.