Pitch book hell. How 20 year-old bankers mess up, badly
Pitch books (AKA deal books) are an ugly business. If you're an IBD banker they’ll eat up your life, chain you to your desk and haunt your dreams. Don’t feed the monster. Mend your ways. Avoid these mistakes!
First Mistake: Failure to read what you've pasted in from pitch books past
Most pitch books are copied into existing books originally created for different companies. ‘CocaCola’ cropping up in a ‘Chevron’ deal book is not a myth. I’ve spotted this myself, only to be shouted at by the banker I was trying to help when I pointed it out. Sometimes mistakes are discovered by clients after the deed (or deal) is done. Naturally, you could just start your book from scratch, but sometimes that seems too much like hard work.
Second Mistake: Failure to delegate to the masters of the font
If you're a junior banker, you don't need to create the whole pitch book yourself. Most banks have entire expensively trained teams devoted to layout and graphics. Leave the intricacies of fonts, paragraph spaces, company colour schemes and advanced PowerPoint features to the expensively trained experts. There is no need for an analyst or associate to be labouring over this at 11.30pm.
Third mistake: Failure to communicate in a way that anyone else can understand
Write clear, concise, legible notes. 21st century finance relies on handwriting... In the layout department your work gets passed from shift to shift. Chinese whispers accumulate.
Fourth Mistake: Failure to respect the rules
Keep to the house style. It may be ugly but the bank spent a lot of money on it. At The Most Successful Bank in the Universe, the CEO threatened to personally reprimand any banker who violated the rules concerning font size and colour. It never happened of course. But, really, this is not your personal blog. Respect the layout professionals too. They are not low life. They are not ‘morons’. They are citizens. Most of us, like you, have degrees. Except that theirs are in the humanities…
Fifth Mistake: Failure to add value
Don’t copy your text directly from the client’s material and sell it back to them. They can tell. Seriously.
Sixth Mistake: Failure to read the whole ugly pitch book again. And again. And again
Above all, keep your slapdash production methods secret from the client – this ‘tailor made’ pitch book is the only tangible object they get for the bank’s astronomic fees. It needs to be immaculate - even if they never read it.
Nyla Nox worked for seven years on the graveyard shift in the graphics department of the Most Successful Bank in the Universe in London – a Global Center of Excellence. She has seen more dealbooks (and mistakes) than any banker will see in a life time. Her novel ‘I did it for the money’, first volume in ‘The Graveyards of the Banks’ is available for pre-order on Amazon.