What does being in the top 1% of performers look like?

“The top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This is outrageous!” – Bernie Sanders, Top 1%er and Senator of Vermont

I went to a university with several top 10 programs in some of the most lucrative majors in America. Many top performers in these majors easily secured 85-105k salaries upon graduating (I wasn’t one of them because I played the game wrong). This blog post will be an anecdotal post based on my self observation of the types of people in this environment.

I want to first start off with a recruiting event I attended for a bulge bracket investment bank in my junior year of college. Instead of recruiting at a stuffy meeting room on campus, this bank decided to host an event at a restaurant/bar in the downtown area of my campus. My guess is, at least 50-100 kids showed up for this networking event to secure an interview.

The bank preferred 3.5+ GPAs with prior experience so 90% of the student population was immediately cut out from this opportunity (unless they knew someone). Of the kids there, I could not BELIEVE how many people thought investment banking was… consumer banking. Like taking someone’s money and protecting it.



All you have to do is Google this shit for 30 minutes or so and you can have a better understanding of most of the juniors in that restaurant on the concept of investment banking. THIRTY FUCKING MINUTES!!!. What makes things worse is that this is a TARGET SCHOOL. EVERY BULGE BRACKET INVESTMENT BANK RECRUITED THERE, as well as some smaller banks (Allen & Company, Evercore, Lazard, etc). They recruited there SO MUCH, that they would tell you the compensation up front – 85K Base, 15K Signing bonus with a year end bonus for year 1.

So if we take that isolated situation that I observed, just having GOOD GRADES would get you into the top 10% of people qualified for the role, and KNOWING BASIC INFORMATION about the JOB YOU ARE APPLYING FOR would bump you up by another 5%. You could be in the top 5% of people fit for a position just by having basic competency and social skills.

After you get a basic interview, they would probably interview you 2-3 more times, to weed out more candidates. At least one interview would be a “fit” interview, which means they want to see if you’re the type of person they would grab a beer with after work. One interview would ask you technical questions, most of which you could just find the answers to here, here, or even here. This weed out process takes hundreds of kids and whittles it down to a small group – 1% of the initial population.

So let’s recap. For investment banking, one of the highest paid professions for bachelor’s degree holders, to be in the top 1% of applicants, you need:

  1. Basic social skills (Fit interview, recruiting sessions)
  2. Basic information about the job (technical interview)
  3. Decent grades (3.5+, not hard considering most look at overall GPA, paddable by blowoff courses. Even easier if you go to an ivy league college that inflates GPAs)

That’s not hard at all. You would not believe how lazy some people are. However, after you are in the top 1%, they invite you to what is called a “Superday”. I was told by a banker that the superday is basically a day where you compete with other 1% applicants and they look for the most capable people to give the job after graduation. It’s shameful to admit that even though I don’t have a finance-background (I’m in tech), I have more knowledge about investment banking than most of the dreamy-eyed juniors from my alma mater.

I was able to graduate with a 3.5 and secure a job with a salary roughly 30% higher(unfortunately quite far from 100k) than average while playing video games for 10-15 hours a DAY. Oh and my major? STEM major. Took C#, Python, SQL, and a whole lot of other things that I’ll probably never use again. I’m beginning to think that you can surpass the majority of the population with basic competencies in any field. I’ll have to apply this mode of thinking and observe for awhile before these thoughts become solidified though.

It’s shameful to think that the wide majority of people are underachieving, low-effort, lazy slobs. It’s even more shameful to admit that for most of my life, I was one of them. That’s why I’m going to fix my problem.


Author: Wayne

Aspiring overachiever.

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