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Why every banker comes to revile the word ‘pitch’

 In Message creation

Ragazza con pollice verso“From day one as a Summer Analyst or Summer Associate, every banker comes to revile the term “pitch”. What is a pitch, and why are pitches so despised by junior team members (of investment banks)?  . . .

 . . . In the investment banking competition the worst thing for the (industry group) managing director is to have a client do a transaction that pays huge fees and have his bank not be involved. When this happens, the managing directors have to answer to the higher executives about why the investment bank was not involved with the deal . . . 

Although the process differs across the various investment banks, there is one element regardless of the institution. Given the the type and number of people who are involved with a pitch, the process is almost guaranteed to be INEFFICIENT!.

Of course, another short-coming of the pitch is that it is not a “live deal” so likely won’t lead to deal toys, mentions in the ‘Journal’ or, most importantly, revenues for the firm.”

The above quotations are from a telling article entitled What is a pitch? from Investment Banking Insight

While I don’t have many interactions with investment banks, inefficiency is not limited to investment banks. Organisations of all stripes are liable to waste time and resources on the pitch process.

If you are considering pitching for a major piece of business, here are two questions you and your senior colleagues should ask yourselves, and answer, in a considered way.

1. Is it really worth it (considering all the time and resources, the disruption a pitch causes, including the distraction from well serving the current work for our good clients etc.) for us to pitch for this business? (If it isn’t worth it, opt out, and focus back on your existing work).

2. On  1-10 scale (1= lowest commitment; 10 = highest commitment) how committed are we to winning this pitch? (If you score is below 8/10 I suggest you don’t pitch).

If you’re a very senior executive in a large organisation, other questions you might ask yourself are these:

Have I set up an expectation among my BDMs/’pitchers’ that rewards inefficiency?

How could I set up a system that rewards pitching/not pitching based on the merit of a deal?

How could I reward and encourage robust (what’s right versus who’s right) discussion among the BDMs and other relevant people (and when necessary with me) on whether to pitch or not?

Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post. Before you decide to invest significant resources for a major pitch, pause and ask questions 1 and 2 above.


Check out this SMH article with my views on how to win friends and influence people with your voice

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