A stinging presentation leaked by disgruntled Goldman Sachs analysts describing 100-hour weeks, deteriorating mental health and threats to quit smoking has attracted little sympathy from city bankers.
After all, the grueling hours are a bankers’ rite of passage.
“Frankly, I did all that and no one gave a shit at the time,” said a managing director of a London-based investment bank of the survey, an 11-page presentation by 13 Goldman analysts that highlighted the struggles of those. working in the lower ranks.
The document attracted an explosion of attention online and has ignited a debate over whether complaints about such conditions are justified among workers with sky-high wages and bright future career prospects. Goldman has said it met with all 13 analysts, as well as their peers, to discuss what could be changed. Analysts suggested an 80-hour limit and a “pencil” policy on presentations 12 hours before a meeting. The bank is also hiring more analysts and will look to automate more work.
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“Should I feel sorry for them? No, there are 10,000 people who want their jobs and get paid more than any other industry. This is what we’ve all had to go through,” said another managing director.
“Goldman’s presentation shows a legitimate problem that has been around for many, many years,” said a managing director of a large US investment bank. “The news here is that nothing has changed and it is not going to change.”
A global head of investment banking for a major European player admitted that the pandemic has been tough on junior staff, particularly those who joined during the Covid-19 lockdown conditions and had to deal with an increase in burden. of work.
“Everyone is exhausted,” he said, adding that he organized a round table with 100 young people, who expressed concern about the sustainability of the hours. “The activity is booming, and at the moment it is a great challenge for everyone.”
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Junior bankers have struggled through the pandemic. In August, young people contacted by FN said they were close to exhaustion as CEOs expected them to be online at all times. JPMorgan has started virtual boxing lessons and “escape room” games to keep young people engaged this year, while both Citigroup, Goldman and UBS have tried to offer greater access to senior bankers.
And amid mounting stress, banks have been exceptionally busy. Investment banking revenue reached $ 194 billion last year, up 29% from 2019 and the best performance in a decade, Coalition found. In 2021, investment banks have made nearly $ 25 billion, which promises to be a record start to the year, according to Dealogic.
A senior banker admitted that analyst and associate departures have rebounded in recent months as the workload has increased amid a record flow of deals. “I tried to probe two people to hire them last week. One had already resigned and the other was looking to leave the bank entirely,” he said.
The brutal life of junior bankers has been highlighted at various points over the past 10 years, but experts suggest that nothing has really changed. In 2013, the death of Bank of America intern Moritz Erhardt, who collapsed from a seizure after working for 72 hours straight, prompted banks to impose limits on working hours, including protection for weekends. Meanwhile, a 12-year study by Dr. Alexandra Michel, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker turned academic who has done extensive research on the industry, showed a litany of health problems among junior bankers who work hours. strenuous.
“Analyst churn has increased year over year as exit opportunities abound, along with this generation seeking a fuller existence,” said Logan Naidu, chief executive officer of Dartmouth Partners bank recruiters, which focuses on junior bankers and mid-range. “The analyst hiring market is definitely very busy and there is a combination of growth and replacement hiring.”
At the junior level, banks generally relocate people who work in less crowded areas to those where transaction activity is increasing. A senior banker said he had a team of people known internally as the “Avengers,” a reference to Marvel comic book characters where a gang of disparate superheroes come together to tackle a crisis, who would normally work out merger deals and acquisitions and would switch to restructuring during busier times. Last year, this has not been possible as all units are running at full speed, he said.
“Sundays are busy with work and everyone works very late every night,” said a director of a US bank. “It is almost unfair to focus this on the juniors, but it is true that they are leaving more than others.”
The US investment bank Jefferies sent a memo to its 1,124 global analysts and associates on the day that Goldman’s presentation was leaked, saying it would offer them a one-year subscription to a Peloton bike, a home training system or a Apple Watch as a sign of your “deep appreciation” for your work over the past year.
“If Goldman really changes, the other banks will have to follow,” said a junior banker who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Analysts are fluid and can do the same job at any bank.”
To contact the authors of this story with comments or news, email Paul Clarke and Lucy McNulty.