Associates are typically either folks directly out of top MBA programs or Analysts that have been promoted. Typically, bankers will be at the Associate level for three and a half years before they are promoted to Vice President. Associates are also categorized into class years (i.e. First Years, Second Years and Third Years or say, Class of ’05, ’06 and ’07).
First and foremost, the Associate’s role is to check the work of the Analyst. In reality however, “checking the work” sometimes takes the following form:
Analyst: “I’m finished with the valuation”
Associate: “Is it right?”
Analyst: “I think so”
Associate: “Well, check it again and come back when you are SURE it is right”
In addition to overseeing the Analyst’s work, the Associate will often help write the text for the presentations as well as do much of the modeling work. On live transactions, the Associate, while also playing an administrative role with the Analyst, will likely have significant ongoing interaction with the client and with the opposing investment bank (i.e. the buyer’s advisor if the Associate is on a sell-side deal).