The Importance of Culture and Impact in Investment Banking

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Justin Chan, WH ’22

Investment banking is often marred with notions of long work hours, redundancy, and sometimes a hostile work culture. Recently, there were reports of high stress and tiring working conditions from these high-tier investment banks, which may be a reason why bankers’ salaries across the board at many firms were increased to compensate. My summer internship with the Environmental Financial Consulting Group (EFCG) shows that investment banks and other areas of high finance can still manage to have a great culture, great work-life balance, and a great sense of satisfaction from the job.

EFCG provides integrated advisory services, including mergers and acquisitions, consulting, and conferences to the architecture, engineering, and construction (A/E/C) industry. My role for the summer was as an M&A analyst. The firm is quite lean with approximately 20 employees. Even then, the firm has a distinguished history in the industry, years of professional experience, and a well-defined culture that brought me to EFCG and keeps me interested in them as a future employer.

From the outset, the team was open and inviting through their 1-on-1s with me in the initial weeks. I learned a lot from those simple conversations and am thankful that they took the time out of their busy days. Their interactions and conversations gave a sense of humanity through a year where digital interaction was the norm. Even at all-staff meetings, there was a deliberate attempt to ensure that everyone was taking time to be with their loved ones, relax somewhat during the summer, and have a stable work-life balance. For myself, I have always been the individual that likes to work day in and day out, therefore it was a learning experience in honing it down.

For the work experience, I was spread across the three different focus areas: M&A, Advisory, and Risk/Sustainability. On the M&A side, I had the opportunity to not only learn and practice traditional M&A activities like pitching and marketing, but also was able to hone in on a specific industry sector that I am interested in. For the advisory sector, my main duty was creating a value-add web-scraper and utilizing my data analytics background to develop a tool that could be applied to a multitude of EFCG functions. Finally, I had the opportunity to work with a Harvard professor on risk and sustainability that included looking at valuations, ESG metrics, and greenwashing for A/E/C firms. In retrospect, I was appreciative of the approach that this internship took with a broad view of their practices. The approach allowed me to see the integration between these different sector areas and how they work for the success of the entire firm.

Without the Career Services Summer Funding, I would not have the opportunity to take on my internship full time and fully commit myself to learning more about the A/E/C industry and investment banking. I would like to thank the entire EFCG team for their hospitality, mentorship, and opportunity for me to explore a field that I was interested in and to see the impact of their work on sustainability and the environment.

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