Death from Overwork (Karōshi) in Finance

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Another heartbreaking story about an intern that passed away after working long hours just hit WSO and I'm thinking why does this keep happening and what can we do to prevent it (or at least make it more rare) as a community ...with reach into virtually every BB, MM and boutique investment bank in the world I think we should be doing more.

How do we change the culture? Most BBs have instituted certain policies that make it harder for abuse on the interns/analysts, but what about the MM and boutiques? If changing the culture is too hard/unrealistic, what can we do to make the abuse less pronounced?

Where can people easily find the policies that have been put in place? Are they publicly posted and compiled anywhere? How do we know if the banks are actually following them? I think WSO could help bring some of this change and put pressure on the industry to treat their junior bankers better.

I wanted to start this thread to help collect ideas before deciding how/what to do. I just don't want to sit here and do nothing when a lot of these deaths (and even medical treatment/emergency room trips) are avoidable.

What if we were to try and create a general industry policy that helped protect the most vulnerable to overwork/abuse at the bank and have the banks sign it? and then as part of WSO Company Database would rank the banks on how well they adhere to the policy?

I'm sick of these horrible headlines - let's change it together. Who's in?
Patrick

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Comments (75)

Jul 30, 2018

All I know is that change needs to happen from the top level of the organizations. If management has a real incentive to end abusing their junior employees then the right policies will be set in place as well.

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Jul 31, 2018

So the question is what is that real incentive.

A lot of the bulge bracket banks instituted certain policies and while some think it was just a PR stunt, I have heard anecdotally that it did help somewhat to be able to plan some time outside of the office (even if meant taking the work home).

What if these policies were to become more public, official and then there was a way to measure violation frequency (or adherence)...I think the WSO Company Database would be a good place for that since we already collect a ton of intern & analyst reviews and compensation data.

Firms with a certain threshold of violation reports would be publicized and we could warn our members of the violations (there would be a way we could collect information / veriiy like we do for Certified Users such that we knew it was a legitamite violation/report)....just brainstorming...

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Jul 31, 2018

It's an industry-wide mentality that unfortunately won't change. There are countless studies from multiple industries with a higher productivity than banking showing that a rested staff is happier, more productive and healthier. Either the industry doesn't care or the industry doesn't care about things like productivity because it gives junior staff monkey work. At that point it becomes a matter of giving more intellectually stimulating work that requires creativity and demands that a person is well rested and focused.

Aug 1, 2018

"It's an industry-wide mentality that unfortunately won't change"

This is the wrong mentality. If everyone thought like you, there would be no progress in this world.

Jul 31, 2018

Oh no, I agree that the mentality is wrong - I just think it'll never change because poor guys dying from long hours has happened before and will happen again without seeing any tangible changes.

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Aug 1, 2018

Again, that's the wrong mindset. Plenty of children died in factories before any legislation came to stop child labor. If everyone during that era thought oh well, nothing will change, then we would still have children in factories.

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Jul 31, 2018

Firstly, we still do have children in factories and still children who die. But factory children died in the hundreds making it a large-scale issue. Is abuse is banking a large scale issue too? Yes it is, but the deaths from it are far fewer. I just want to clarify, I agree with you; we are on the same page here. All I'm saying (in a given up tone) is that in past 'changes' have been made and they have gone way immediately or not been implemented on a wide scale because the industry doesn't give a shit. And based on past evidence, it'll keep being like this. In a few years a poor young guy/girl will die from exhaustion and people will go through a period of saying how bad it is and how bad the need for change is, then 2-3 months later everything will go back to how it was. It's a shit fucking system.

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Jul 31, 2018

I think it'd be a little too tough to make it firm specific. I believe group and firm specific would be more accurate. One group at GS could get worked like a dog, while another one is following all of the policies that management is implementing.

People don't want to be known as the nail that sticks out... because then you'll get hammered. As others have said, change comes from the top. Whether it is the global head or group head, the buy-in to work/life and safety policies needs to happen at every level.

The global head needs to force the change. Their subordinate needs to follow the change. The most junior person on the totem pole, be it intern or analyst, needs to feel comfortable following those policies without fear of repercussion.

As kitschy as it sounds, it really boils down to the culture of the group. The same thing happens in the military, except it is known as "command climate."

Jul 31, 2018

I agree but it is the firm's responsibility to ensure departments follow guidelines with regular checks (be it annual or every 6 months). Departments will always vary in their behaviour but the entire firm needs to reward those who do well and change/punish those who don't.

Jul 31, 2018

Not really the appropriate forum (no pun intended) to pimp your WSO databases I think, Mr. WSO. Incidentally, I've found the majority of the info in the databases to be wildly inaccurate, compensation being just one off of the top of my head. Not sure what the quality control or filter for input to these things is - I believe anyone can register a WSO account and input company data without being a verified employee of the company or division that they are reviewing or adding information to?

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Jul 31, 2018

Wasn't trying to pimp my database, was trying to think of a solution of where we could track violations/non-compliance and/or help with enforcement.

Your assumptions are only partially correct on the DB. Yes, anyone can register and leave an interview/review or compensation datapoint, however, all entries are reviewed (peer and mods) daily and although not all fakes are caught, the majority are. There is enough data we collect (school, major, GPA, city, division/group, firm, etc) where over time we have gotten better and better at being able to do this on our back end.

Of course, if you feel there are inaccurate entries, we'd love your help (like the rest of the community does) flagging them for further review since I'm sure as you can imagine it's a massive ongoing effort.

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Jul 30, 2018

I don't know if anyone's considered looping in universities. If Wharton went out and said nobody could do OCR if they didn't commit to students' safety, then I imagine things would straighten out pretty quick.

Jul 30, 2018

Wharton blocks OCR, millions of non-target kids will gladly fill in their position. This has to be done through the government or nothing is changing.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Jul 30, 2018

Yep. There are no shortage of kids who grew up in Class C apartments at non-targets who have a chip on their shoulder and would happily fill those spots if it meant a 6-figure salary.

Fact is that banks are going to have to want to do it, even if it's just for PR, which happens to yield the same outcome as if it was done out of genuine care for their employees.

I come from down in the Valley, where Mr. when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done.

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Jul 31, 2018

More government is the worst solution to any and every problem. Not to mention I want nothing to do with government prying its nose into my private sector affairs, and potentially impacting the terms of my career path and compensation.

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Jul 30, 2018

That's extremely narrow minded to say it's the worst solution. There are state/federal laws that protect your lunch break and there are also labor laws. Doesn't have to be focused on IB in general as that is also narrow minded but can be applied to every job without meddling with salary.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Jul 31, 2018

As it concerns the financial system, the only thing government can do to drive change is pass down regulations, which eventually either A) get over-turned because they were moronic to begin with, or no longer apply due to changes in the ever-evolving and dynamic world we live in or B) stay in place as archaic laws that haven't made sense in decades but remain untouched "just because". High level labor laws and basic working condition requirements are the extent to which government should be involved in finance. A subject that is as complex and nuanced as junior banking lifestyle considerations should be avoided.

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Jul 30, 2018

Moronic? Complex? A child died during a summer internship, you're a moron.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Jul 31, 2018

Good argument

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Jul 30, 2018

How about if an intern that falls under your reporting line has some sort of health issue or dies under your watch / due to the hours you go straight to jail -- no passing go, no collecting your 2 million dollar bonus...

That would start a new precedent.

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Jul 30, 2018

Yeah forget due process and rationality.

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Jul 31, 2018

Not how things work in real life bud. Let the grownups try to find real solutions.

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Jul 30, 2018

If you are working 12 hour days you might as well have a bedroom in the office.

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Jul 30, 2018

Banks should figure out a way to disable an intern's work-issued laptop/phone/keycards/etc, so there is physically no way of assigning them work outside of predetermined times

Jul 30, 2018

Banking industry seems to love their rankings. They also seem to have a problem losing talent to tech.

Have a completely anonymous voting system where verified users can go to rank firms based on how they treat their employees/overwork/etc and leave little comments. In a race for talent some kid coming on here and seeing "Quality of life rating: XYZ Bank and then a little comment for overworking/overstaffing/not properly managing resources/underhiring" might actually make an impact. Throw it right on the main page or somewhere hard to miss.

If I'm looking at companies in consulting or tech in addition to banking and the banking offer is from one of those firms, might sway my decision honestly.

Some issues I have with this idea - I know different groups within a bank can have different hours/culture and some are worse than others. I guess you'd need to clarify which group that user is in. Also, I think a lot of people are too busy to even leave a review or something like that or fear that it might come back to them in some way. If you really wanted to get an overall picture inside a firm you'd need to reach out to people to get their input and articulate why you're trying to do it.

Taking this a step further. Do what works with what you already do best.... start a forum and resource pool for industries other than banking and tie them together somehow. Make forums/guides/etc or collaborate with other similar websites in those industries to compare and contrast across fields not just firms. This will increase the scope of the website and bring about more users resulting in better informed decisions and perhaps better placements to avoid these sort of things where a kid taps into a hive mind of finance and thinks if he doesn't finish his 1st year mm analyst stint his life's over. Make it as easy to come on here and get information about the tech industry or something.

We could go on and on about HR being responsible or laws or jail or whatever. That shits never gonna happen. Change comes from the top down. If you really want to make a difference, start with the talent pool I think that's what they're worried about...earlier recruiting timelines, relaxed work attire in certain departments, ping pong tables in their LinkedIn post main images...yeah that's their main concern right now. I'm sure those other industries/f500 companies/whoever would be happy to start nabbing at some of these insanely driven kids if given the platform to compare/contrast.

A while back I heard something on here about a paid service mentor or something that helps guide people entering the field or trying to lateral find what they're looking for. Do the same but in reverse as a B2B service. Firms all over can come through the service and you can match them with candidates to at least give them an idea of what else is out there and then the firms pay if they get a match. By reversing the process you'll get more people to sign up most likely.

Idk spitballin here but if you don't start impacting what they actually care about in a negative manner, nothings changing.

just a monkey trying to find his way in the finance jungle

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Most Helpful
Jul 30, 2018

This is going to be thought out very little as I had a long weekend (...) but WSO has at least two things on its side: (1) data and (2) a forum for public shaming / award.

(1) Do you know how hard it is for firms to collect honest feedback on their practices? Nobody wants to do that in formal channels for fear of reprisal. WSO on the other hand gets plenty of honest junior feedback, raw and unedited. The site can leverage more data for the force of good work life balance. Collect more data on factors such as hours worked and qualitative factors such as how often does your group adhere to the (x) policy? (Always / almost always / sometimes / rarely / never). This type of thing. Sticky it somewhere. Ideally should track verified users' opinions only or have the ability to cut the data both ways.

(2) Public forum. Keep this topic in focus. Public shame bad performers and bad actors, and give a voice to examples where people, groups or firms have made a positive change. Dig into whether this is real (bankers will tell it to you straight) -- Bank XYZ instituted a "No Saturdays" policy - a year on, what impact has it had? (e.g. "I get crushed more the other 6 days of the week," or "It's great because it sets a limit," or something). Publish a table of each of the bank's formal policies (ask the banks' representatives and if they won't give it to you, crowdsource them). This site could be a non-sold-out version of PoetsandQuants, which has a lot of clout among students and more straightforward rankings of "best schools for work/life balance" etc. I know this can get out of hand and is very subjective, but rather than a poll, just make it an editorial decision, come up with weights and factors, say something, WSO should have an opinion.

Combining (1) and (2), if I put myself in the shoes of managing the site, I would get more plugged into the mainstream media outlets. That's right, WSO as a journalistic force. If WSJ, Forbes, or Bloomberg want to take the temperature of junior bankers, they have no way other than targeted, formal interviews. It would be helpful to see more of the junior banker voice getting heard.

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Jul 30, 2018

Sounds interesting. Do you believe any action will come out of it? There are plenty of qualified candidates that could fill another analysts spot. Will top prestige obsessed candidates think of this and say, " I am not giving up my shot and chance to someone else."

Furthermore, Finance isn't the most liked industry. I doubt there will be any public outrage. Even in the more liked Medical Industry soon to be physicians suffer crazy hours in residency. How will the public sympathize with highly paid employees in an industry that isn't held in the highest regards.

Not trying to be argumentative. Trying to figure out how this will not just blow over and just be hot air.

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Jul 30, 2018

Honestly, the real change needs to come from the senior level. There is a lot structurally wrong in banking regarding what work is requested, when it is requested, when it is due, and all of the turns.

At the mid-manager level, I personally used to work as a VP in consulting and my utilization and project reviews would get totally reamed if my junior people were working the type of hours needed for banking - and that's also in client service, tight deadlines, etc. The difference is my Analysts billed their hours and that all came back on the project and profitability thereof. Banking Analysts' incremental hours are free, which means their time is worthless. If an MD was personally billed each time their Analysts stayed up all night, they would quickly axe that stupid alternative acquisition case that nobody cares about in the Appendix.

At the very junior level, there needs to be a culture of self-respect, self-esteem, and self-care. Nobody is going to look out for you the same way you are going to look out for yourself. Juniors have to learn to say, "NO" and find out what acceptable professional boundaries are. This needs to be an individual as well as a collective decision at the Analyst level, to learn to raise their hand to admit to get help as well as figure out when to pull the ripcord on some piece of analysis that is taking way too much time for the value it will add to the Client (bankers really could stand to learn the 80/20 rule). There is positive social validation that WSO could try to provide so that it's not "cool" to be the person working 100 hours a week.

Finally, you are right in that nobody outside of our community will care what happens to us. We're the "1%" (we're not), elite (most aren't), etc. Change has to come from within, and there are enough powerful people with kids doing investment banking jobs and internships that would be horrified if this stuff came to light more often. That will help put a little more pressure on a bad system.

    • 6
Jul 30, 2018

Excuse my lack of experience.

Does the MD request the extra work trying to satisfy the client, or is it the client who is being overly thorough because of pay structure(percent of deal vs billable hours in consulting?)

I can imagine working 80+ hours fatigues and taxes the body in a way that is detrimental to both overall health and cognitive performance over time. How can MDs not see the trade off. Why have analysts strapped to their desks during downtime when they could be exercising or taking a much needed nap.

Appreciate the insight

Jul 31, 2018

MDs have a fire under their ass at all times to generate revenue which entails sourcing new clients and providing transaction ideas to existing clients. It's kind of a law of large numbers situation that if I staff my juniors on more pitches, I'm more likely to have a client choose us to be a part of a deal. This ultimately generates revenue and let's me a) make more money and b) keep my seat. That said, likely the same energy used to create those outlandish moonshots could be used to simply focus on generating higher quality ideas. As Synergy already said though, incremental hours are free so there are misaligned incentives between revenue generation and employee wellbeing.

    • 2
Jul 31, 2018

You have to wonder what % of the margin is used up with Junior level costs. I wouldn't think more than 10%. Let's say that is the case (for illustrative purposes). If the average junior is putting in 80 hr weeks and you want to cut that to 60 you would have to hire 33% more juniors. (Maybe less as the work would be done more efficiently as less of it would be done by tired "cloudy head" juniors. That would mean that that 13.3% of the margin would be eaten up by the costs of the Junior level.

May be worth it. Grant it, if you have 33% more Juniors, you'd likely need some more VP's/staffers to oversee. But, anyway, seems like a bullet the MDs/Partners need to take.

    • 1
Jul 31, 2018
Synergy_or_Syzygy:

This is going to be thought out very little as I had a long weekend (...) but WSO has at least two things on its side: (1) data and (2) a forum for public shaming / award.

(1) Do you know how hard it is for firms to collect honest feedback on their practices? Nobody wants to do that in formal channels for fear of reprisal. WSO on the other hand gets plenty of honest junior feedback, raw and unedited. The site can leverage more data for the force of good work life balance. Collect more data on factors such as hours worked and qualitative factors such as how often does your group adhere to the (x) policy? (Always / almost always / sometimes / rarely / never). This type of thing. Sticky it somewhere. Ideally should track verified users' opinions only or have the ability to cut the data both ways.

(2) Public forum. Keep this topic in focus. Public shame bad performers and bad actors, and give a voice to examples where people, groups or firms have made a positive change. Dig into whether this is real (bankers will tell it to you straight) -- Bank XYZ instituted a "No Saturdays" policy - a year on, what impact has it had? (e.g. "I get crushed more the other 6 days of the week," or "It's great because it sets a limit," or something). Publish a table of each of the bank's formal policies (ask the banks' representatives and if they won't give it to you, crowdsource them). This site could be a non-sold-out version of PoetsandQuants, which has a lot of clout among students and more straightforward rankings of "best schools for work/life balance" etc. I know this can get out of hand and is very subjective, but rather than a poll, just make it an editorial decision, come up with weights and factors, say something, WSO should have an opinion.

Combining (1) and (2), if I put myself in the shoes of managing the site, I would get more plugged into the mainstream media outlets. That's right, WSO as a journalistic force. If WSJ, Forbes, or Bloomberg want to take the temperature of junior bankers, they have no way other than targeted, formal interviews. It would be helpful to see more of the junior banker voice getting heard.

This is fantastic, and I agree that we need a better strategy for protecting the health of junior bankers. Although, as I mentioned in a post earlier today, I really wonder why this has become an issue of late when considering the infamous DLJ memo of the late 90's. Was it covered up in my generation?

As a bonus point, I see a monetization strategy here for WSO.

Jul 31, 2018

I like the shame part. I mean, regulators operate a name and shame practice which works, why not this forum?

Of course, initially there might be 1000 other kids taking the spot, but for the banks that already changes something: They do not get the kids from H/S/W anymore. Per news reports, they are already struggling with that for post MBA hires, and it pisses them off, wait until they have the same problem for analysts. I'm from a non-target, i do not think the finance taught at the target schools is much different. But if I notice, that the kids that could get the job I am offered decline it, that would make me reconsider.

Furthermore, over the long-term, the prestige of the Banks will suffer. As a client, I want the bank that has the brightest (ofc i also want the bank that does it best for the least money, but you get my point). If firms start adhering to better work schedules, and productivity and performance does improve, I don't think clients will take the sweatshop over the company with the slightly better reputation for workplace culture, that also is more productive in the hours billed.

Hence, in the moment the banks feel pressure from clients they will budge. The first bank that realizes it should change the way it treats juniors, will receive an even larger amount of applications (as we all guess, juniors value being valued). As a sort of lucky side effect, it can of course choose the best of this larger applicants pool. Now they do not only have the less exhausted more productive juniors, their juniors are also the top of the notch. Hence the work results might even be better than expected because the people working them are to a certain point smarter and fitter.

That is when other banks will realize that they need to follow suit.

Jul 31, 2018

Two thoughts:

  1. Potentially create a whistleblower hotline that records instances of real complaints (akin to the policy that's held by the SEC) and make records of the types of complaints (I would venture to say that any material communication would be from a person that is truly at their wits end). Complaints could then be passed to a law firm that specializes in labor and employment for potential recourse.
  2. Talk to the department of labor about this issue that is becoming more pervasive in the industry. I'm not sure what the exact laws/regulations are surrounding labor, but I would feel fairly confident in saying that dying in your workplace probably doesn't adhere to current labor laws.
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Jul 31, 2018

Part of the reason here is that most of these SAs / Analysts are too afraid to give some push back when it is warranted. Too many of these kids have the "pay your dues" "suck it up for 2 years" mentality to have a backbone and speak up when you're working outrageous hours. I'm not blaming the juniors per say, but if they don't stand together nothing will change.

Of course you're going to say well "they're a dime a dozen" etc. Which is true, but if you're a good analyst and getting demolished, people might actually listen if you speak up. When your hours are 95+ a week often, somethings wrong. That's bad management. If you need to stay late to get something done, you should be allowed to come in say 10am instead of 830am....

I hope today's juniors will change the culture when they get to the top ranks.

    • 1
Jul 31, 2018

Maybe they should convert the analysts and associates to hourly workers. Give them 2x pay from 40-60 hours and 3x pay for anything over 60 hours. Someone in accounting will start mandating shorter hours would be my guess.

As far as WSO goes, the highlighted suggestion above was a good one.

I have not seen any direct news on the analyst in question in Chicago. Does anyone know what actually happened to him/her? Was there another condition involved that was exacerbated by the hours?

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Jul 31, 2018

I honestly think this would solve the problem much quicker than anything else.

Jul 31, 2018

Back Office to the rescue #janicefromaccounting

    • 1
Jul 31, 2018

This entire industry has the fraternity mentality, which just does not work.
"I went through this, so that means you have to work 110 hours also."
And these are the outcomes that follow, the only way this stops, is if laws are passed.

    • 1
Jul 31, 2018

@Synergy_or_Syzygy I think you may be on to something regarding the billable hours. It's not fully fleshed out as an idea, but I can't help think about lawyers, particularly at the big law firms, that have to hit X billable hours in a given year to be considered for the bonus pool and have some sort of comp tied to their billables. Now, I'm not saying that would necessarily work on Wall Street, but it offers an interesting solution for this. Set the minimum expectation for the amount of hours required in a given year for analysts/associates and a cap number which are tied into the bonus structure. Say 1900 Hours to 2000 hours billed (which works out to 250 days of 8 hours billed a day), is the tier for the lowest bonus up to 2300 to 2400 hours + billed as the highest. Billable hours are structured on a project basis, so regardless of whether or not your working on a live deal, a pitch, etc., you record your hours contributed to a given project on incremental basis and submit it for logging. And just to make sure that it aligns the bonus structure with the MDs, Directors, etc., the comp structure needs to reflect this structural change. If we record billable hours, the bonus to an MD takes a hit if they are overworking their analysts/associates because these guys are taking money out of their bonus pool.

Jul 31, 2018

I know some professions, like surgeons, truck drivers, etc, have mandated time off: you can only be on the road so many hours a day.

    • 1
Jul 31, 2018

As much as us juniors hate the working culture in this industry, I agree with everyone - it really comes from old, "traditional" senior bankers who are often extremely set on their ways.

I like this billing idea. Set the standard workday as, say, 9am-7pm (or even push it to 9-5). Additional hours are billed to the client / the bank, perhaps even the MD. Cost adds up quickly and balances out the incentives.

Jul 31, 2018

I'm sickened that this happened but I'm not sure if management will ever listen. When the people in charge suffered in the same way, its gonna be tough to convince them to not pass that down to the next generation of bankers, traders, etc. I do think it's up to us young men and women in finance to make the changes down the road when we're in charge and break the cycle.

Dayman?

Jul 31, 2018

Hey Patrick, I'm in! I'm leaving banking, partially due to brutal hours (which is astounding considering I'm in a cap markets role) and here are some of my top recommendations:

- 1-2 Protected Weekends a Week: It is utter bullshit that a person has to work on the weekends, particularly in cap markets. I've pulled regular 7 day weeks and it's not right. I see it as a sign of bad management.

- Help bankers focus on at least 1-2 activities outside of work: Some of the best groups I've seen allowed their junior bankers to block off time each night (or once a week) for an activity they enjoyed. I know a girl that regularly attended salsa class at 8pm. Before all shit hit the fan, I would do HIIT classes at 6:30pm with my MD/D/VP's blessing. It went a tremendous way towards team morale and helped me come back to work and absolutely kill it at my desk. I felt more energized and happier, and developed this small community at my gym that was a breath of fresh air during my tougher weeks.

- There is a limit to comments: I have turned comments on incredibly silly things from midnight to 3am in the past. After a certain time, a senior banker needs to seriously ask themselves, "how badly do I need this change and will it make a noticeable difference to the client?" If it doesn't, then you're keeping a junior banker there way past a reasonable hour to turn some really bullshit stuff that isn't going to matter in the end.

- Bring junior bankers to client meetings: I know groups that regularly bring junior bankers to client meetings and have them speak to a specific page. That is awesome, and those groups have way better retention as a result. You want junior bankers to want to be you? Then give them a reason to actually admire your work. I don't care about an event I can barely conceptualize as I slave away at my desk, and it's incredibly demoralizing.

- VP's, stop acting like long hours are going to make us better: Newsflash, they won't, Learning how to make processes more efficient and being an interesting human being will go infinitely farther than slaving away and losing sleep.

- MD/Ds, stop acting like long hours are in any way a right of passage: If you need to be a dick to your juniors, don't be surprised when they gtfo. People don't leave jobs, they leave managers. Don't be that guy.

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Jul 31, 2018

I like the idea of blocking an evening a week. Aside from banking, there has been an experiment of the likes at BCG. Each evening one person of the team was free. Improved individuals performance and also team cohesion.
https://hbr.org/2009/10/making-time-off-predictabl...

Jul 31, 2018

Don't have time to read this whole thread now but will read when I'm off the desk later. Just wanted to drop in and say I support a change in how our industry works and it starts with guys at my level standing up to our directors/MDs for our analysts and associates. Our juniors don't have the power or authority to stand up for themselves but if we can try and make a change now then by the time we're at the MD/D level we can see that these changes are implemented and practiced so no parent ever has to lose their 20 year old son or daughter to something like this. Will comment more thoughts in a few hours.

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Jul 31, 2018

Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that it's unrealistic for us to think that the junior bankers would ever stand up for themselves and so there needs to be some sort of protective measures put in place to put a stop to the worst abuse.

I'm not talking about hard caps or trying to stop banks for working their junior bankers hard, but I think there is a point (somewhere around ~70-80hrs/week) where the incremental hours put on someone become more punitive. Some ideas of a general "Junior Banker Hours Policy".

I would love the communities feedback on what is realistically doable from the below and what are some ways to enforce these policies (collecting data on WSO and promoting violations/compliance...other ways?)?

Required Rules:

  • No Work Day Over 24 hours. After 24 hours in the office, the junior banker (intern, analyst or associate) will be told to go home with no access to their work laptop or the office for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • Mandatory Consecutive 24 Hours Period out of the Office Every Week. Even if required to work from home on a live deal, this gives the Junior Banker the ability to sleep in their own bed while waiting for turns. Suggested Time: 8:00am Saturday until 8:00am Sunday.
  • Publicly Post this Junior Banker Hour Policy. This policy needs to be posted where all junior bankers can see it daily as well as posted on the company website for easy access.

Personal Thoughts

In my opinion, any suggestions that say "senior bankers should do XYZ" or not very realistic since "should do" does not change the incentives of the underlying business.

  1. Pitching is needed to drive business
  2. Incremental excessive junior banker hours don't cost the firm anything (directly/tangible)
  3. Mid-level execs (VPs/Directors) also under a lot of pressure so they are pushing their teams for the most output to win business/impress clients

Given these FACTS, there needs to be a tangible cost/deterrent to these long hours. If that has to be bad PR/press to get adherence, I think it will make an impact. Banks are already having a major retention issue and if top talent knows that Bank A has been much better at adhering to the Junior Banker Hour Policy vs Bank B, if they have offers from both, they will go with Bank A (OTE).

....

    • 12
Jul 31, 2018

Patrick,

I think you're spot on on with the incremental value aspect. At some point, there is no incremental value. If you look at the way hospitals run residency on-call programs, the general guidelines are for 16 hour shifts, with 8 hours for on-call time and up to 4 hours for patient transition time. Most importantly, the guidelines changed to provide either a place to sleep or transportation for residents after a 24 hour shift if fatigued. They also have a maximum cap of 80 hours a week worked regardless of where it's done (ex. writing reports and dictating from home vs. the hospital) and requires an exemption for when work needs to go over 80 hours a week. Many of these changes were done because fatigue directly impacted the quality of work and a resident's ability to diagnose or operate. I think that, in general, you might need to include a maximum cap rule and an exemption policy (ex. 80 hours a week max, unless during a live deal).

Jul 31, 2018

Given the fact that there are a great deal of juniors working really hard to break into banking it is probably less of a problem then we think.

If you don't like the hours, get out. At the end of the day, no one is forcing you to be a banker. Given the knowledge, education, and work ethic of junior bankers there are plenty of opportunities out there where you can succeed. Everyone knows what they are signing up for when they get their offer. It is the nature of the business.

Down the road, if management sees that they can't get the talent they want they will have to adapt or be proactive. At this point, there is no need to change because there are more than enough people that will happily replace a quitter.

    • 4
Jul 31, 2018

We saw this same argument in the Moelis staffer email thread and I still think it's stupid. This whole 'if you don't like it then quit' mentality is dated and fucks up any job. I agree some jobs carry more stress than others but firms should be actively looking to make jobs less stressful and more bearable at least for junior staff. It's also a benefit for the firm to have a low turnover - if people change year after year you never get teams that develop a long-term understanding of the business and you end up spending thousands on training new kids on the same shit over and over.

    • 4
Jul 31, 2018

Regulation. Hold company's financially responsible. Make it easier for employees to sue for damages.

    • 2
    • 1
Jul 31, 2018

This fucking pisses me off. Honestly surprised nobody at my MM has died in recent memory since people get absolutely worked. Biggest issue I see is conflicts of interest - staffer is usually a tryhard VP trying to get promoted so they don't give a shit, group head is friends with MDs who are friends with principals who are friends with the VP, etc., people tracking hours have to be outside of banking - some non-biased 3rd party in HR or something since at my bank it's all tracked within IB only.

    • 1
Jul 31, 2018

Not sure if that is ever realistic, but what if WSO created and promoted a "Junior Banker Protection Pact" that tried to draw more attention /commitment at the senior levels of all IBs?

I could see this working - the rules would be pretty simple, the hard part is the tracking of violations and the enforcement. I think WSO could become a buffer of sorts to protect individuals who are smart enough never to go to HR directly...we already know what banks are working their junior staff the most (we have avg hrs worked by bank)...we could try to set limits and reduce the excessive abuse at the worst banks first and if they don't comply it's their choice and we will just make it widely known.

Again, I think there is some bite if/when you make recruiting/retention very difficult for the firms that are working their junior bankers to the bone. I'm even not talking 70hr weeks, I'm talking 80-110hr weeks consistently. I think those conditions are obviously the most dangerous...it's not about trying to get rid of long hours and all of the stress and urgency, it's about managing the most demanding groups and most demanding firms such that there is more of a tangible cost of pushing your junior staff too far, too frequently.

I can tell you I've already had firms that rank near the top of the Avg Hrs Worked/Week reach out to me upset because it hurts their ability to bring in interns. I think we can turn up the volume and get this done for the better of Junior Bankers (and the firms may actually be pleasantly surprised that their Junior Bankers get significantly more efficient working 60-70hrs/week vs 80-90)!

We're working on something tangible and will release it soon for community feedback.
-Patrick

    • 9
Jul 31, 2018

Sounds like a great idea - I feel like unless it becomes more public such as through WSO, banks won't give a shit ever.

Jul 31, 2018

Patrick,

I've been giving it some thought and I would suggest looking into the Broker Recruiting Protocol. The Protocol did something similar for financial adviser recruiting. It was signed by UBS, Citi and Merrill Lynch in 2004. This was a big deal in the wealth management business because it changed how brokers could move from firm to firm. It started with 3 major signatories (Citi, UBS and ML), and ended up having 1,600 total firms on board with it. The original signatories were 3 of the biggest WM shops by adviser headcount, so getting them on board helped move this along very quickly. For this to Junior Banker Protection Pact to get critical mass and support across the industry, you don't just need 3 major players in the space, you need to get all of the bulge brackets - BAML, BarCap, Citi, CS, DB, GS, JPM, UBS - to sign on to this in order to get the EBs and lower ranked banks to adopt it. If you want to push for PE as well, you need the funds and shops at the top to adopt this as well. If you have banks you're already talking to, having them be initial signatories alongside the bulge bracket only strengthens the agreement.

Jul 31, 2018

Few things I'll call out
- Is this about interns or full times? Some responses seem to be focused on saying let's improve intern life. Any times I've seen interns work long hours - it was because of full time analysts who wanted to give them real "taste" or wanted to make interns do stuff they didn't want to do. Nothing to do with VPs or MDs. Senior people had little idea that interns were spinning wheels
- As you may have noticed in other threads, some interns prefer working the hours because it's a good way to collect 1.5x hourly rate depending on the bank
- Interns (including me when I was one) have a tendency to not speak up or say anything with the abuse / hours, especially when pushed on to them by full time analysts and associates. This goes back to #1. I compare this more to hazing by the guy year before you that we saw back in college vs MD/VP focusing on screwing people's Friday night
- if it's about full time - hiring more people has one negative impact that no one would appreciate. EOD, analysts / associates wants to deal. If there are lot of them, not everyone gets enough (I've seen it happen) and then people are unhappy too because they aren't getting the right exposure. Every first year wants to be a deal monster by January so they can recruit for PE - but you can't do that with big classes. And unfortunately, pitching hard is part of winning the business at any given time, there are 8 BBS, 6 EBs and another 5-10 MM guys chasing the same one client - only one gets the deal.
- Regardless of big or small classes, you end up having cyclical issues in banking. It's always few vs many deals / books / accounts that mess up the hours. Tbh once people get used to the big classes and free time, it's very hard to get them back to not make plans Friday night when things do come up. The job by design requires lot of sacrifice at all levels (think of MDs traveling 4 days a week to 4 cities at 6am flight everyday - they don't really want to do it either)
- There are certain groups that have cultural issues that you should be aware of in advance. Most M&A groups, certain FIG groups, most EBs, Moelis, Jefferies have a rep about hours / demanding culture. In the same time, most analysts are attracted by the exit opportunities and sign up for them. And the exit opportunities come from working harder than others. Most of you have the power to choose your path - if a group / bank has a rep or when you talk with them, the issues come up, don't go there. But if you do, it comes with a price (and no - shouldn't be what happened to the intern at Lincoln). The number of group ranking / exit opportunity post tells me the people who are actually choosing groups / banks will keep doing what they are doing. And if I posted tomorrow morning I have a summer offer for Moelis and Nomura what should I do - you'd tell me to go to Moelis, regardless of the staffer email and whatever else

    • 5
Jul 31, 2018

Some great points. I'd love to push a bit more.

abacab:

Few things I'll call out
- Is this about interns or full times? Some responses seem to be focused on saying let's improve intern life. Any times I've seen interns work long hours - it was because of full time analysts who wanted to give them real "taste" or wanted to make interns do stuff they didn't want to do. Nothing to do with VPs or MDs. Senior people had little idea that interns were spinning wheels

This is about interns AND full-time analysts/associates. Basically, any junior banker that is largely told what to do and is actively staffed on projects.

You say that senior bankers are rarely aware, but I'd argue it's more that they just don't care because they have their own problems/stress. When they are getting emails from their team between 1am-4am, how are they not aware? It should be very easy to see if an intern is getting abused based on when they are in the office and when their communications are going out.

abacab:

- As you may have noticed in other threads, some interns prefer working the hours because it's a good way to collect 1.5x hourly rate depending on the bank

How is this relevant? So they collect the 1.5x over a standard hrs. I'm not calling for a massive drop in hours, I'm calling for some common sense protections. For example, max 24 HOUR work DAY...avg 80 Hour work week for a 4-week consecutive period (so if you need a junior banker to work 100+hrs one week, that's fine, just make sure the weeks following are much lighter).

abacab:

- Interns (including me when I was one) have a tendency to not speak up or say anything with the abuse / hours, especially when pushed on to them by full time analysts and associates. This goes back to #1. I compare this more to hazing by the guy year before you that we saw back in college vs MD/VP focusing on screwing people's Friday night

Of course they don't speak up - that's the entire point why protection and anonymity is needed and HR never works. Regardless if it's the analyst/associate/VP or MD who is overworking those beneath him or her, isn't any sort of "hazing" a bad outcome for the firm (from a productivity, morale and retention standpoint)?

abacab:

- if it's about full time - hiring more people has one negative impact that no one would appreciate. EOD, analysts / associates wants to deal. If there are lot of them, not everyone gets enough (I've seen it happen) and then people are unhappy too because they aren't getting the right exposure. Every first year wants to be a deal monster by January so they can recruit for PE - but you can't do that with big classes. And unfortunately, pitching hard is part of winning the business at any given time, there are 8 BBS, 6 EBs and another 5-10 MM guys chasing the same one client - only one gets the deal.

For the record, PE and a lot of buyside recruiting has already moved well into December and continues to creep forward to the point where many, if not the majority of the top candidates don't have 1 closed deal on their resume (they've only been on the job for ~5 months and on the desk for ~4).

So I agree that pitching needs to keep happening to bring in business and that the junior bankers need to put in very long hours, but do you really think it's a benefit to work junior bankers over 80+hr per week? Don't you think they might be more efficient during the day if their average was closer to 75hrs vs 85-90hrs? Have you read any studies on productivity that proves out this point?

abacab:

- Regardless of big or small classes, you end up having cyclical issues in banking. It's always few vs many deals / books / accounts that mess up the hours. Tbh once people get used to the big classes and free time, it's very hard to get them back to not make plans Friday night when things do come up. The job by design requires lot of sacrifice at all levels (think of MDs traveling 4 days a week to 4 cities at 6am flight everyday - they don't really want to do it either)

Yes, the cyclical issues do make things harder, especially for smaller firms that run leaner.

In terms of your "get used to", if someone is working 75-80hrs/week, they are working almost every Friday night and at least one full day on the weekend. So if that not enough, do they need to sleep in the office a few times a week so that they don't get "soft"?

Marginal benefit <<<< Marginal cost after 80+hrs/week ...the problem is the firms don't feel any of that cost, since junior banker pay is largely fixed and there is pressure on seniors to win business. (this is why I think some protections should exist to protect the kids that are getting abused the worst)

abacab:

- There are certain groups that have cultural issues that you should be aware of in advance. Most M&A groups, certain FIG groups, most EBs, Moelis, Jefferies have a rep about hours / demanding culture. In the same time, most analysts are attracted by the exit opportunities and sign up for them. And the exit opportunities come from working harder than others. Most of you have the power to choose your path - if a group / bank has a rep or when you talk with them, the issues come up, don't go there. But if you do, it comes with a price (and no - shouldn't be what happened to the intern at Lincoln). The number of group ranking / exit opportunity post tells me the people who are actually choosing groups / banks will keep doing what they are doing. And if I posted tomorrow morning I have a summer offer for Moelis and Nomura what should I do - you'd tell me to go to Moelis, regardless of the staffer email and whatever else

This isn't about trying to stop kids from choosing the optimal career path that has the best future exit opps or to prevent them from working long hours. This is about trying to protect them (health wise) from an industry and culture that has become accustomed to excessive overwork on the junior staff and to try rebalance some of the incentives for senior staff to notice the analyst that hasn't left the office for 48 hours.

It's one thing to hear "you will average 80+hr work weeks", it's entirely another thing to experience it first hand. I would know.

Maybe nobody will change and maybe this won't go anywhere. But if WSO can give enough of a voice to Junior Bankers and we can work with firms to find reasonable limits (ie very long hours but hours that don't put juniors at significant risk), I think we could at least reduce some of the excessive abuse that still seems rampant on the street.

Thank you for your thoughts,
Patrick

    • 4
Aug 1, 2018

Thank you for taking the lead to do something. You definitely have my emotional support. I would probably be of more help if I were in a bank. But you are right, for anyone who is and will join IB, we should do something.

Aug 1, 2018

For what it's worth, allowing anyone responsible for risk (in any form) work long hours is poor risk management. People get tired, that leads to f*ckups, which leads to lost money. Been there, tried that.

Aug 4, 2018

I think the only realistic way is to somehow convince banks to institute a policy in which keyfobs stop working after a certain time/on certain days AND remote access is blocked during those times. I don't know the exact FINRA exams bankers have to take or what regulatory bodies the banking side needs to report to (I was on the trading side), but there should be an affirmation made when licensed as a manager and recertified during continuing education that VP and up (and the bank) will be criminally and civilly liable should those policies be broken.

Maybe we petition FINRA and the SEC.

Aug 5, 2018

I know that Intel has a policy which blocks you from using your laptop after X hours worked. Not sure exact number of hours, or how it is governed. But I do know that it exists and it does its job.

...

Aug 6, 2018

I think one of the smallest changes I've seen make a huge difference is the ability to process turns at home. My friend works at a smaller tech advisory firm on the West Coast and all the seniors upload turns to a shared drive where they can be accessed from anywhere so that they can process turns while waiting at home. This allows the junior staff to be in the office when required but relax comfortably at home while making edits to models/decks. A prerequisite to this is that they obviously need laptops.

Aug 21, 2018

Sleep is a biological necessity. Depriving people of that is the same as depriving them of food or water. Sleep is literally when the brain cleans and refreshes, as it does not have regular circulation like most of the rest of the body. Deprive the body of sleep past a point...you will die.

Not sure why banks would be allowed to run things the way they do when sleep deprivation is literally classified as a form of torture.

Aug 21, 2018

Interesting...they typically work you harder in Asian countries and have different cultural standards - ex., in Japan, overtime is expected as part of the job, and it is incredibly frowned upon if you leave w/o putting in overtime.

Not surprising that work exhaustion is a problem in Asia.

Aug 21, 2018

Bet the dude was your standard Chinese 2 pack a day chain smoker.

Aug 21, 2018

Meh, that guy's death is lame compared to this guy's:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/467900/20130515/...

Aug 21, 2018
NorthSider:

Meh, that guy's death is lame compared to this guy's:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/467900/20130515/...

Darwin Award of the decade, perhaps?

"There are only two opinions in this world: Mine and the wrong one." -Jeremy Clarkson

Aug 21, 2018
NorthSider:

Meh, that guy's death is lame compared to this guy's:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/467900/20130515/...

Achievement unlocked.

Aug 21, 2018

"To attempt to have intercourse with a hornet's nest is a very bad idea," Siv During Livh, a psychologist and expert on sex fantasies told the news website.

Haha, no shit.

Aug 21, 2018
streetwannabe:

"To attempt to have intercourse with a hornet's nest is a very bad idea," Siv During Livh, a psychologist and expert on sex fantasies told the news website.

Haha, no shit.

The best part is that the authors of the article felt it necessary to identify (or even consult) this Siv guy as an "expert on sex fantasies"...

As if a non-expert would be uncertain about the safety of having intercourse with a hornet's nest...

Aug 21, 2018
Aug 21, 2018
Aug 21, 2018