“Point man,” noun phrase, according to its second definition in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, one who is in the forefront; especially: a principal spokesman or advocate (e.g., the point man for the President’s economic policy). Usage note: Unfortunately for the person unlucky enough to be designated point man in the glamorous world of investment banking, the role is not quite as elegant as Messrs. Merriam and Webster imply. That person is indeed in the forefront, but here it’s the vanguard of the grunt work.Simply put, this is the poor sucker on a pitch or deal who has to round everyone up for meetings and, far worse, coordinate everyone’s changes to the variety of documents that are created en route from pitch to completed deal, e.g., pitchbooks, investment committee memos, bank books, offering memorandums, ratings agency presentations, etc. When the point man begins to collect the deal team members’ changes to “the document,” he’ll immediately notice conflicting edits (each round of changes is called a “turn” of the document). As a rule, the senior most person’s edit usually prevails. A particularly artful associate-level point man will save himself significant work once he’s figured out which idiotically anal edits from VPs and Sr. VPs he can reject on his own (he’ll later explain to each, if asked, that his change was rejected by someone more senior). This time-saving strategy won’t work, of course, if there’s a repugnant, weekend-killing control-freak somewhere in the middle trying to mastermind everything, in which case the point man has to be a bit more careful. Within banking, almost everyone has a story of a first-time point man who, terrified of accidentally deleting the electronic copy of the current version of the document, leaves a hard copy of each turn under his desk. This strategy has a consequence: Because investment bankers are stupefyingly persnickety (“the footnote fonts on pages 36 and 101 aren’t the same”), a document could have 50 turns, which leaves little legroom under the desk.
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