How do investment bankers handle long hours?

"I worked 70 hours last week," says an analyst at RBS, which as a state owned institution might be expected to go easier on people. "There are no restrictions on our hours at all. It's normal to work from 9am to midnight."

This quote is taken from an EFC report about the long hours associated with investment banking. 70 hours per week is considered the minimum and can go up to as many as 100 hours per week. How do investment bankers handle these long hours? How do you keep yourself from being burned out?

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Comments (45)

Nov 8, 2016 - 5:14pm

1) 9am - 12am Monday - Friday gives you 7+ hours of sleep each night, a 75 hour work week and a free weekend. Sure there will be a particularly bad week here and there, but that's a sustainable lifestyle for a couple of years without going crazy.

2) Junior bankers, on the whole, just do not average a 100+ hour work week. For whatever reason some like to over-exaggerate, but with banks implementing stricter rules on junior work-life balance, the hours really aren't as bad as people would like you to believe.

Nov 8, 2016 - 5:49pm
WSO062014:
2) Junior bankers, on the whole, just do not average a 100+ hour work week. For whatever reason some like to over-exaggerate, but with banks implementing stricter rules on junior work-life balance, the hours really aren't as bad as people would like you to believe.

I like to think of it as adj. hours worked per week. Jaded junior bankers add in or round up questionable figures to their hours worked so that they can drunkenly rant about working 100 hour weeks on one of their few nights spent out of the office.

May 14, 2018 - 5:44am

One thing I never understood is how people work these hours but claim to get 7-8 hours sleep.

In my first job I was working 50 hour weeks, still never managed to get 7 hours every night. I guess if you leave bang on midnight, 20 mins home, stumble in, strip off, hang up your suit, brush your teeth, and hit the bed by 12:40 then 7 hours sleep gets you to 7:40am, shower, dress, eat and leave by 8.30, get to work at 9, then the maths adds up.... but how would you get to work early, or have time to drop off dry-cleaning, or go to the local shop, or even stop for a chat with a friend and still hit 7 hours? crazy i tell you

Nov 8, 2016 - 5:50pm

If you cut down on everything else you'll be fine biologically. Wake up, get to work, come home, go straight to bed. Don't stay up later than need watching netflix. Weekend sleep in as much as possible. You won't be sleep deprived. The problem though becomes dealing with feeling down because you do nothing other than work. Most people rationalize that it's temporary, and spend money to remind themselves of what this job means financially.

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Nov 14, 2016 - 3:42pm

Spoken like Mark Hanna himself. I applaud you.

The fool thinks himself to be a wise man, while the wise man thinks himself to be a fool.
Nov 8, 2016 - 11:10pm

Not a banker, but a former military guy here. I had to deal with this a lot. I was regularly pulling > 80 hours a week in some jobs, and during my university years my training involved multiple military schools where I had to function over a month at a time never getting more than 4 hours a night.

There isn't much you can do. The biggest part of it is stay in shape. Sure that workload prevents you from ever becoming a bodybuilder but you can do a lot with a few minutes of HIIT training(google it) every day or two.

Second be pepared and in good health. The less sugar/caffeine/alcohol you body is used to going in the easier it will be to keep you energy levels up.

Stay as active as possible. Not just mentally but physically. Falling asleep at you chair? Stand up if you can. If you cant push your chair aside and kneel for a few minutes. Still not working? Get to the stairwell, do some pushups, then hop/sprint up the stairs a few stories until you blood is pumping a bit faster.

Last but not least master the art of the mini-nap. While in basic training I had a watch with some semi-digital features(this was back in 2005). I set it to beep every two minutes and by doing so I was able to keep myself right at a perpetual haze where I just barely had my eyes open and was hovering between sleep and awake. I never got caught. Use the same principle and learn how to catch 5 minute shit-naps.

Nov 9, 2016 - 6:30pm

As WSO062014 pointed out, you can work 70+ hrs a week and still get 7hrs of sleep so you're not in a constant zombie mode.

The reality is that during your day, you're not usually working the full 12+ hrs at 100%, for several reasons (usually waiting for your VP/Ds/MDs to give you comments on your work, or like waiting on a business to update their forecast for you to put in your model). So you end up browsing the net (Hi WSO!). At the associate level you spent a big chunk of our day time sitting (or snoozing) through meetings. So your day is not THAT eventful or tiring, you chit-chat/go to coffee with teammates or clients etc..

I do find that the evening is busier though, that's usually when VPs and above leave for the day and drop some shit on your desk on their way out, or when the client finally goes home and you can start doing the work you were supposed to do during he day but they kept calling you to rant about Trump being elected as president.

Add to the fact that people (especially juniors) like to brag about how busy they are and feel important sitting waiting for your associate/ VP to give you formatting comments on your pitch, and you get that long-hours/hard working reputation.

Note: just a caveat, what I wrote above isn't entirely true when you're staffed on some intense transactions where you wont sleep for a good few months. A colleague in m&a just closed a deal that's been running since august and has not gone home before 3am since, yes even on weekends. How you deal with that? Lots of caffeine, and an eye for the light at the end of the tunnel (Hi buyside!)

Nov 13, 2016 - 11:38am

So I agree with what a lot of people above have to say regarding staying healthy but I have an additional angle to give. Note: I actually did not make healthy choices in my first three years and am paying the price for it now, but I am trying to get back in shape, etc. Not easy when you are almost 30 working the same hour workloads.

So I am not in IBD/M&A, but I work in a BB in a role that does require me to pull some ~70 hour weeks at least twice per month (on average - minimum being 60 hours a week, max 120 but those are one-offs). I recently thought about how many hours I worked/work and I realized something: My job has actually become more interesting the more senior I have become. Instead of constantly taking orders from people my job has evolved from taking orders and doing the grunt work, repeat--> taking orders, grunt work repeat, but building my own client book --> grunt work, managing client list, idea generation --> grunt work, managing client list, and launching all and every idea as well as cross-sector collaborative efforts. So, my role has gotten exponentially more interesting and you just get very good at the grunt work since you are essentially a robot after five years when it comes to models/valuation/tricks/nuances/etc. So, since the grunt work goes away as a massive % of your time, you end up doing the interesting work more often, which actually includes client dinners, trips for conferences, company visits, client marketing events, etc.

Sometimes I work 120 hour weeks because I am on my computer all day for ~10 hours then out with clients, or in a plane reading about the latest industry trends for six hours at a time, and then replying to emails when I check-in at a hotel in some random city due to client trips... So, even though the hours remain long for a longtime, they definitely become more interesting and more about high impact activity. Since I now take less orders, I can finally do my work the way I want to do it, like reading elaborate memos on Sundays, hitting the gym at 7pm during the week, watch the TV shows that I want to watch when I want them, taking conference calls with Asia at 10pm if I want to, etc. I also have no cap on vacation days, which is nice I guess. My role at the bank is very unsupervised, so I can disappear for two weeks at a time and as long as the revenue keeps coming in no one asks any questions. After 5 years on the job, things get very manageable but you are still actually working a lot of hours, you just get to dictate how you work them. Also, there is no such thing as face time when you manage your own client book + revenue keeps rolling in, which has helped me get back into shape.

.
  • 1
Nov 14, 2016 - 4:03pm

1) Realize that most junior bankers DO NOT work 100 hrs. a week. Many don't even work 80 hrs. They may be at the office for that amount of time, but if they were at Big 4 accounting or Big Law, their time sheets would not say 80+ billable hrs. week-in and week-out
2) Quit eating like crap and using caffeine as a crutch. Sugar and simple carbs bring crashes and you build a tolerance to caffeine, which eventually catches up to you
3) Work out (sorry - not cardio bunny style). Go lift and do strength exercises. Gals this goes for you too
4) Set aside time for yourself on the weekend to do something that you WANT to do, even if this is only for an hour or two
5) Get faster at what you have to do so that you have more time to do what you want to do

The burnout comes and goes in waves - not really a way to avoid that as it just depends on the deals and how hard the team is pushing to get them done.

Nov 15, 2016 - 11:55pm

The cause of the misery is always different, but it is always that way.

if it's not working 100 hours a week making you miserable, it's your bitchy girlfriend, overbearing parents, lack of income, cancer, world hunger, Hillary Clinton, crappy TV shows, a car accident, your children becoming drug addicts, or a million other things making your life miserable.

I choose working to make me miserable!

Nov 16, 2016 - 12:01am
Alexey Kirilov:
The cause of the misery is always different, but it is always that way.

if it's not working 100 hours a week making you miserable, it's your bitchy girlfriend, overbearing parents, lack of income, cancer, world hunger, Hillary Clinton, crappy TV shows, a car accident, your children becoming drug addicts, or a million other things making your life miserable.

I choose working to make me miserable!

Hillary Clinton's voice makes me want to punch myself in the face.

Nov 16, 2016 - 12:02am

hey man, I hear ya. In a way, working puts me in a zone and makes me forget about other shit in life. When I put on my headphone and turn up my Armin van Buuren, it's me and finance in a state of trance :-)

Nov 15, 2016 - 11:59pm
ibkarmino:
But these are different in a way. working 100 hr is not only miserably mentally, but also physically.

But doesn't everyday have a lot of downtown during the day so you can get to the gym at least for an hour a day?

Nov 15, 2016 - 11:58pm

Your body adjusts to an extent. After a few months you can deal with it (I was going to say easily, but that is probably not the case - you just seem to be able to cope)

From the ghetto....

From the ghetto....
Nov 16, 2016 - 12:05am

It's cool there's still trance fans out there. ASOT 300 is going to be amazing. Something about trance just gets me in the zone, I put on my Sony V6s and some ASOT and I can study/work forever. I did a 6 hour marathon studying for an accounting final last semester and burned through 3 episodes of ASOT no problem. I could have gone 6 more. good stuff :)

Nov 16, 2016 - 12:07am

I bought a decent pair of bose headphones. Plan to use them later at night when the senior ppl are gone as I saw a good few people doing that during my internship (not other interns admittedly). Love trance as well though guess I won't be doing any more proper clubbing come July.

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