How common are the 120hrs weeks?

Currently in a big dilemma choosing between carrying on with my ER offer or trying IB recruiting. The only thing that is hindering IB recruiting for me is the excruciating hours. I've had a friend at a BB claim he worked consistently 120 hours EVERY week in his first year, which terrified the shit out of me tbh. A VP (school alumni) told me that bankers tend to over exaggerate their hours intentionally, but that guy hasn't been an analyst for a number of years obviously.

Bankers in London now get £120-130k all in, and I kind of feel disheartened to miss out. I'm also terrified of the hours, especially now, it'll be hard to give up on the gym, MMA training, music training etc. How common are these long weeks?

Comments (22)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
May 5, 2022 - 6:41am

120h weeks are extremely rare throughout banking, maybe 1 in 20 weeks or less depending on bank/group/deal. exaggeration amongst bankers is true to certain extent. realistically expect 80h to be average, but then again really depends as before.

having said that, giving up on your current lifestyle (gym, MMA, music) is inevitable. not just because of the hours but also because the lack of energy/motivation to do anything else even on the good day that you get off at 8pm.

i'd say try recruiting if you have the time. there is no harm at all. make the decision when you have offers on hand with actual groups and banks to research into and compare. it'd be wrong to make sweeping statements about hours across all IBD

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  • Intern in ER
May 5, 2022 - 6:51am

Thanks for your input. Do you happen to know which IBD divisions have the best/worst hours? Also do you have an idea how weekends go in IB?

  • Intern in IB - Gen
May 5, 2022 - 10:55am

Indeed too broad a question. But in general the consensus is that american BBs and EBs are more intense. european BBs less so and the rest follow.

Most banks will try to have a policy whereby at least one day of the weekend is protected (usually saturday). but whether this is respected by the seniors and your team is another story.

Usually get off earlier on fridays too, but obviously not all the time

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
May 5, 2022 - 7:36am

Hi, I will try to be objective as I have been in a Coverage Team for a BB.

120 hours week are extremely rare, so you should not be worried, however do not underestimate 100 hours week, which unfortunately tend to be common (especially if you consider weekend hours).

Trust me, banking (M&A, Coverage, Industry Teams) is brutal and you need to be very very motivated or have already an exit plan in mind before joining.

This is true for bulge brackets and elite boutiques, which tend to work people like slaves and have absolutely no respect for your physical / mental health. If you want to be a career banker I would suggest working in "less prestigious" banks (do you need prestige to be happy in life? probably not).

In my opinion the senior M&A bankers at my BB looked like total losers: you are earning +1 million and you look 50 but are only 35? working at 1am despite 10 years of experience? never played sports or had a safe holiday? That's not life for me.

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  • VP in IB - Gen
May 5, 2022 - 9:33am

At my bank/team, while the hours are long (90 average for analysts in my team), the seniors on my team would be very happy if you said you were going home at 4pm Friday if you had no deliverables and the juniors take vacations and have their ability to remote into the VPN removed during that period.  Bank is known for having better culture than most though. 

  • Associate 1 in ER
May 5, 2022 - 9:49am

what is your goal by choosing IBD over ER?

If you just care about money then by all means go with IBD, dont look back and dont complain.

If you want to exit to PE, you're probably better off choosing IBD but going ER does not rule you out (weakens you slightly but not massively) 

If you want to exit to AM/HF then stick with ER and don't look back.

If you don;t know where you want to go next, IBD keeps most options open, but again ER is not a bad starting point

If your ER offer is from a BB/EB you will probably sacrifice £25-40k roughly for about 1/4 less hours in the first couple years. That seems a lot but when you have a 20, 30 or 40 year career it's a drop in the ocean.

If you really care about your social life / WLB, then go with ER. Almost all my IBD friends broke up with their bf/gf. They stopped working out and had to miss lots of social events, whereas those in AM/ER did not. Only now 4 years in to their careers are they picking up hobbies again for example as they couldnt before

  • Intern in ER
May 5, 2022 - 12:22pm

Do you mind talking more about your wlb in ER?

I do believe it's better of course and that's why I chose to recruit for ER in the first place. Do you get only 60 hours on non earnings weeks consistently and no work on weekends?

May 5, 2022 - 12:26pm
EBITDope, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This may not be a direct answer to your question, but I think it's useful context.

Measuring hours in IB is a bit complicated and nuanced, since your schedule can ebb and flow often between high-stress, extremely urgent work and low-stress downtime during which you may not have anything specific to work on, even though you're still "working" while waiting for the next email/call.

I tend to think of my hours as the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. Yes, that inherently exaggerates how much I'm actually working because I'm not cranking through deliverables the entire time, but I still need to be available at all times.

I'd argue that a decent number of 100+ hour weeks that people talk about are measured this way - nobody is going to tell you that they weren't "working" at 17:00 on Tuesday because they spent 30 minutes waiting for a reply to an email.

May 7, 2022 - 8:38am
tmt_anal, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Really? 120 hours isn't that hard to hit if you are on a couple of deals. As soon as you work all 7 days you only need to be working 9:30am - 2:30am to hit 119. Definitely rare but almost everyone I know in banking has had at least one of those weeks within their first couple of years. On a tight deadline or when working with an asshole sponsor you can be lucky to get off by 2:30 am too, and if you throw in a one or two of all nighters in there (again not that uncommon), I think 120 does happen to most people at least once

May 7, 2022 - 3:08pm
Arthur Digby Sellers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lol, I would have told my associate/VP to fuck off if they wanted me to work until 2:30am both Saturday and Sunday night

Edit: also, all-nighters ARE uncommon, unless you are in a particularly sweaty group

Most Helpful
May 7, 2022 - 5:30am
ASEANalyst, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Speaking from experience, i used to work in Restructuring.

I view the amount of hours you work is influenced by 3 things:

1. How does the client behave ?

2. How good is the staffing on the deal ? (including supporting consultants such as legal, appraiser, etc.)

3. Who is your MD/EP ?

As a general rule, 120 hours absolutely does happen, especially if you're working with clients that are considering Chapter 11-ing themselves. While the team i was working with was generally awesome (supportive and most importantly giving out positive vibes without being toxic), but the client is an absolute nightmare to deal with coupled with MD that loved giving last minutes changes/"ideas" even if it meant blowing the whole work that you've done previously.

But you also have take into account 120 hours (should've) included downtime between comments, non-urgent DD meetings (esp. if you hire a DD consultant, you could basically slept through the meetings and asks the DD consultants to brief you the critical issues), and other things that keep your brain engaged with work without actually doing any work itself.

IB will always be a massive time commitment there's no doubt about that, so try to find one (as best as you could) which has the best culture/personality fit and keeps you intellectually engaged. It'll lessen the burden of working insane hours and somewhat maintains your sanity during your early years.

May 8, 2022 - 5:25am
rando_user1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agree with above. I was at an EB and the analysts got crushed. I was a rare case in my class with a wild deal where I was working 120+ hrs a week for a couple months, sprinkled in with some 80hr weeks here and there. 

My advice would be to identify what you think is important in your life (family, friends, gym, sports, gf, etc.) and make sure you make time for it relatively consistently. Knowing that the 120+ hour weeks are temporary is important, and if you focus on the necessities during those times you will be able to get through it. 

Plus, the work you do is hopefully pretty interesting, so you should be engaged and learning a lot. It'll fly by quickly, so try to make the most of it. 2 years as an analyst will be the fastest, longest two years of your life.

That said, my analyst stint generally looked like the below distribution of "time".

30-40% (4-5 months of the year): 100-120+ hour weeks. Lucky to get 1-2 gym sessions, and that was typically my only activity. There were a few 130 hours weeks where I literally didn't do anything other than work and sleep. The 130+ were due to insane deal dynamics (honestly was not the team's fault). 

30-40%: 90-100 hour weeks. Typical, maybe you work 9 - midnight M-F (or some mix) and half to full days on Saturday/Sunday.

Remainder: <90 hours weeks (typically you have 2-3 months worth of this, sometimes scattered throughout the year); highly variable. Face time meant you had to do something in the office for at least 60 hours a week, but I had flexibility to hit the gym, go to dinners, day trips, etc. Unfortunately, one of these weeks could look like anything between come in at 10am and leave at 6...or could be M-F: 0 hrs real work, with 20-30 hours of work on Saturday and Sunday

May 9, 2022 - 4:21am
italianmafiaescp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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