The investment banking culture expects perfection. Mistakes are unforgivable.
The logic – if you make mistakes on small details, the client will wonder if you also make mistakes on important points – like the valuation of their company.
While working at Bear Stearns, I arrived at my desk one morning to find two pages on my chair, ripped from the previous day’s pitchbook. The page numbers in the lower right corner were circled in red ink.
I had assumed that the page numbers auto-incremented with edits to the document. They did not. These two pages were off by one number from last minute edits. Rather than show this error to the potential client, the Vice President (my direct boss) ripped these two pages out of the presentation and saved them to deliver to my chair.
Now I think about it, I’m not exactly sure how the numbering worked on the following pages, with two pages missing, but that wasn’t the point. His point was quality matters. Attention to detail matters. Mistakes, however small, do not give customers confidence in the quality of the firm’s work.
While this sentiment is extreme within investment banking, I carried it over to my company.
One of the most important values we can add to our business is to ensure our products are of the highest quality. The quality of work performed for customers will be remembered over the price they paid.
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