In recent weeks, the struggles of young talent on Wall Street have come to light in the United States. There is a lot of dissatisfaction among junior employees. For example, the number of burnouts among novice bankers and analysts is increasing.
Banks and private equity firms are responding to this. They have started a fierce competition to offer young talent favorable working conditions and to ensure that they do not become overworked.
“That’s something that I and our board team take very seriously,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said in a message to executives last week in response to complaints from junior bankers.
Credit Suisse, meanwhile, has announced special bonuses and salary increases for junior and mid-level employees. The bank states “to recognize and reward the efforts of its junior bankers”.
Insider interviewed five current and recently departed investment bank analysts about their early careers. All these bankers spoke out on the condition that their anonymity remains guaranteed. Their identity is known to the editors of Insider.
Analysts are generally entry-level employees of investment banks and usually come straight out of college. In their first two years, they often do the background work for deals, such as fine-tuning presentations and applying models to potential trades.
Only one of the five analysts who spoke to Insider said they felt some kind of camaraderie within their team over the past year. Most say that working from home made them work harder than ever. This has taken a toll on their physical and mental health.
We asked the five bankers to describe their lives in the past year and how it is different from before the corona pandemic. This is a sampling of their comments.
95-hour working weeks are nothing special
“I am now working on a deal that colleagues at the bank worked until 5:30 am last night. 95-hour workweeks are nothing special. Almost everyone makes such hours.”
“You are in calls from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the day, your managers are also active. Then senior employees are involved in the work.”
“Some of our managers – those guys are 55 to 60 years old – have never tried to use Microsoft Excel.If you have a presentation the next morning at 9am, you should start at 7pm the night before and go to bed at 4am.”
“It’s simply the perfect recipe for not knowing how long people work. And every bank has its fake policy for Saturdays, saying you can’t work on Saturdays.”
“I think everyone can go back to the office in three to four months and then this problem will be over. We are nearing the end of the game. But I don’t know what should happen when people return to the office again, so we’ll have to see what’s going to change.”
– US Credit Suisse Analyst
Goldman CEO David Solomon ‘makes us feel easily replaceable’
“Since November, December, the amount of work has really increased tremendously because we lost some sophomore analysts to private equity firms.”
“And then we lost a lot of employees in January after they got their bonus. Over the past two months, I think everyone in the company has made an extreme effort, especially within my group.”
“I have it easier than some of my colleagues. I know that one of my best friends at work literally doesn’t sleep more than three hours a night and has resorted to ADHD drugs.”
“I think some of David Solomon’s comments in a recent Bloomberg story were very hypocritical. A bank cannot have its best quarter and best year ever without extra work. The insinuation that we are lazy, when he knows full well that everyone is working hard, is an insult to many people.”
“He has the opportunity to retain a lot of talented people, but he makes us feel easily replaceable and doesn’t really reward hard work. That doesn’t create an environment I’d like to stay in.”
– Goldman Sachs analyst in the US
“It seemed so important that we contacted customers twice as much”
“The moment we switched to working from home, it seemed so important that we contacted customers twice as much. But we had already reached a point where we worked very hard and until very late.”
“The number of working hours has definitely increased. I myself slept in the office several times before the pandemic to meet deadlines. That should be noted in the system. But I didn’t have time to go home for several days and nobody ever said anything about it.”
“I took a shower in the gym, walked across the street to buy a new shirt at Marshall’s and came back.”
“You feel very isolated and alone as an analyst in this team. It’s hard to find out if everyone feels the same as you.I am still active in the financial sector, so a working day from 9 to 5 is not possible. But I’m not so tied to my computer anymore and I don’t jump up when my phone rings. I have a much healthier work-life balance.”
“I feel much better. I think my family and friends that I rarely saw have a feeling of, “This really is a night and day difference.”
– Former Goldman Sachs analyst in the US who left during the corona pandemic
“Even if you have free time, you don’t really have free time”
“When I started in the office before the pandemic, I was at a meeting with a fairly large client at 5 p.m. on the first day.”
“I remember sitting in the office until 5 a.m. that first evening and night and doing that every night for the next three months.”
“When my colleague went on vacation, I was literally alone. I had a supervisor who I think set an alarm every half hour to ask me how I was doing.”
“There were several reasons for leaving Goldman, but the main reason was that I was extremely unhappy.”
“I think that is due to several things. I was mentally very stable when I started the track, but got really nervous when I left.”
“In this position you are always on.”
“Even if you have free time, you don’t have any free time. You always feel busy and I was never able to put my phone down and rest without worrying.”
“I was sometimes with friends on Saturday nights when something happened. Then I would grab someone’s laptop and say, ‘I really need to log in.’ You’re always on and that’s debilitating.”
– Former US Goldman Sachs analyst who left during the corona pandemic
‘On average, you are not ready until around 11 p.m. and that is fully accepted’
“I wake up around 7:30 am.”
“Depending on my work schedule, I try to exercise for 30 to 45 minutes every morning or evening. There is a gym in my apartment complex, so all I have to do is run down the stairs for a quick workout.”
“I log in between 08:45 and 09:00 to check my email. I usually have my first call at 9:10 AM and then move on to some other internal discussions and calls about deals. At that moment you have a clear picture of what needs to be done in the afternoon.”
“On average, you are not ready until around 11 p.m. and that is fully accepted.”
“As an analyst you want to be in the office, because you miss the camaraderie.They are happy to help you a little if needed.”