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Forget utility belts, just hand me a smartphone

Adrian CrockettAdrian Crockett

Very early on I learned the benefit of having a little insider scoop about someone with whom I was about to meet. Back when I first started my career, an administrative assistant named Maria was the ultimate source for this information and probably taught me more about the practicalities of surviving banking than any training program, VP, or mentor ever did.

Maria had already been in the industry 25 years when I entered my analyst program, and because of this, she had a vast, intricate knowledge of every banker and client on the Street She knew details about their personal lives, their interests, and any peculiar little peccadillos. She was a walking social media feed (without all the pictures of food).

Prior to each meeting, Maria would give the team an informal briefing on who we were about to encounter; covering a brief bio, notable recent press, any particular things to avoid saying (or to actively say), and we’d be on our way, fully prepared and confident.

For about 18 months Maria was my go-to source for industry intelligence before transferring to London. In addition to learning that the British just don’t do iced water, I also learned that not all assistants are created equal. There was only one Maria.

As I moved up the ranks, switching firms and transferring from city to city, I had many assistants, and while some of them were superb, I never managed to find another assistant who could replicate Maria’s network knowledge. Instead, I developed a serious 30 minute a day habit of cyber-stalking who I would be meeting with that day, cobbling together insights from LinkedIn and Google.

But that all changed when I met Charlie.

Charlie is a pretty simple app that pulls together all of the information Maria used to provide (although without the insalubrious details). You hook it up to your social apps, calendar, and email, and it gives you everything you need to know before a meeting. I find the “shared interests” particularly helpful; we all know that when small talk runs dry, “accidentally” uncovering a shared passion for ocean kayaking can help conversation quickly flow once again.

Charlie is just one of the many apps that makes my life easier. In much the same way Batman had his utility belt, I have my smartphone. From Nest for my home, to Trello for tracking workflow, to Flipboard for staying on top of the news, a smartphone is central to my productivity, relied on for all of the information I need. In the same way Maria was my resource to get me to the right meetings with the right information, my smartphone now bears the same responsibility.

That a smartphone is helpful is unlikely to be news to you (although if you haven’t checked out Charlie, I do recommend it). You probably have your own bank of apps that collectively form your own “Maria”; central to productivity and managing work wherever you are.

That a phone should occupy such a central space in our work and personal lives is relatively new. The first iPhone came out in 2007, and in the nine years since, there is now pretty much a small computer in every pocket. If you talk to bankers across the Street, every single one will have at least one app they swear by, and a story of that one nightmare time their battery died.

I find it interesting that, while as an industry, banking is usually one of the slowest to adapt new technology—rightly so as it’s highly regulated, but actual bankers are actually pretty fast to realize the gains that can be made by leveraging new technology. With 90+ hour weeks, immense pressure, and a competitive industry, anything that can shave minutes off a task, help them move quicker, or give a competitive edge, is eagerly adopted. They are always on the hunt for the next iteration of Maria.

The Pellucid platform fits in this niche. It shaves hours off pitchbook production, quickly produces high-quality content, and can create game-changing data visualizations to make you stand out. So if you’re interested in how technology can help you, email me at for a demo. And don’t be surprised if our common interests come up, I probably looked you up on Charlie first.

Find out how Pellucid can give you the competitive edge you need for pitchbooks. Visit

CEO & Co-Founder of Pellucid Analytics. Former Credit Suisse group head with nearly 20 years on Wall Street. Melding design, analytics, and tech to produce amazing client-ready content in minutes.