"Somewhere between Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker and Kevin Roose's Young Money sits Bill Keenan's gripping Discussion Materials. An investment banking tragicomedy. I couldn't put it down even though nearly every page triggered my Wall Street PTSD." – Bill Cohan, bestselling author of House of Cards
A newly-minted MBA recounts his first years as a Wall Street investment banker—unredacted.
“Why aren’t you using LTM EBITDA for credit metrics?” asked the managing director who sat across from me, his widow’s peak clearly visible as he inspected the sheet in front of him. His spacious office looked out onto New York Harbor.
“Bust,” said the vice president, who was a slightly younger, douchier version of Widow’s Peak. He slashed his red ballpoint pen across the sheet and flipped to the next page.
“Walk me through the debt paydown and your interest rate assumptions,” continued the VP.
“Pretty dovish view. Maybe the Fed knows what they’re doing after all,” said Widow’s Peak. He shot a glance at the VP. They shared a chuckle—at what, I couldn’t tell you.
This question about interest rates I knew: Dovish, I thought. Doves fly south for the winter, so dovish is downwards…low interest rates—
“We’re running short on time,” said Widow’s Peak. He flipped to the cover page of my presentation. “One final point—all pitch decks should have the same title.”
“Since this presentation was geared towards an LBO analysis I was thinking—”
“No thinking. All decks—same title—Discussion Materials.”
Discussion Materials gives the reader an honest look at Wall Street from someone in the trenches. After graduating from Columbia Business School, Bill Keenan joined Deutsche Bank’s investment banking division as an associate where despotic superiors (and the blinking red light of his BlackBerry) instilled low-level terror on an hourly basis. You’ll join him in his cubicle on the 44th floor of 60 Wall Street as he scrambles to ensure floating bar charts are the correct shade of orange and all numbers are left-aligned, but whatever you do, don’t ask him what any of it means. Leaning heavily on his fellow junior bankers and the countless outsourcing resources the bank employs, he slowly develops proficiency at the job, eventually gaining traction and respect, one deal at a time, over a two-year span, ultimately cementing his legacy in the group by attaining the unattainable—placing a dinner order on Seamless one Sunday night at work from Hwa Yuan Szechuan amounting to $25.00 (tax and tip included), the bank’s maximum allowance for meals—the perfect order.
"Somewhere between Michael Lewis’ Liar's Poker and Kevin Roose’s Young Money sits Bill Keenan’s gripping Discussion Materials: An investment banking tragicomedy. I couldn’t put it down even though nearly every page triggered my Wall Street PTSD."
– Bill Cohan, bestselling author of House of Cards
"I've had a peek at the manuscript from the 'junior employee,' Bill Keenan, and it's a bit like an updated Liar's Poker."
– Jane Wells, CNBC Special Correspondent
"Bill Keenan's journey through a particularly fraught corner of the industry is an eye-opening cautionary tale for those who will follow him."
– Jonathan Knee, author of The Accidental Investment Banker and Michael T. Fries Professor of Professional Practice in Media and Technology at Columbia Business School
"A memoir offers a warts-and-all insider view of the high-stakes investment banking world. This new book from Keenan chronicles his experiences at Deutsche Bank in Manhattan as an associate after a stint as a professional hockey player… Some of his colleagues have on their shelves untouched copies of business classics like Den of Thieves, Liar’s Poker, and Barbarians at the Gate. Although Keenan’s memoir is every bit as informative as those earlier titles, it’s also game and accessible, coming across at all points as the most readable kind of The Firm–style fiction, complete with sharp personalities and lively dialogue. The author dramatizes his time at Deutsche Bank with colorful anecdotes but also grounds things in industry details… His own experiences in the trenches are far less the shark-tank glamour of Wall Street and far more the squalid desperation of Boiler Room, and he’s always ready to offer a sardonic counterpoint. 'Was I getting crushed?' he asks early in the story. 'I couldn’t even tell. And if you stayed past 3:00 am one night, all that mattered was working it into every conversation you had the next day.' The result is a book that’s informative, hilarious, and dramatic, well deserving of a place on that shelf of Wall Street classics. A gripping and revelatory behind-the-scenes look at investment banking."