Lazard CEO Says Remote Work Damages Prospects for Young Bankers

thoughts?

Lazard CEO Says Remote Work Damages Prospects for Young Bankers

By Sonali Basak
(Bloomberg) -- Lazard Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Ken
Jacobs said remote work hasn't hurt dealmaking, but it could
have a big impact on prospects for younger bankers across the
industry.
"This ultimately is an in-office experience," Jacobs said
Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview.
Some of the largest banks, including Goldman Sachs Group
Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., are starting to bring staff back
to offices in greater numbers. Jacobs said more of Lazard's
bankers are likely to come back in the fall.
Wall Street firms are seeking to strike a balance between a
flexible work-life schedule and the hard-charging environment
for dealmaking. Young bankers have been grappling from home with
elevated workloads, sparking gripes from many. A group of first-
year analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. complained earlier
this year that they were being overworked and overlooked by
managers.
"This has been an extraordinarily productive year, we
haven't really missed much as a result of being out of the
office," Jacobs said. "Longer term, it has big impacts on the
ability to train, and recruit and retain the best of our
people."

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Comments (26)

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Jun 1, 2021 - 5:01pm

100% true.  WFH has been great for everyone except 1st-year analysts.  The ones that have only worked from home are way behind the curve due to not being in the bullpen around more experienced analysts and senior bankers.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 1, 2021 - 5:29pm

Lol, these senior bankers are just trying to provide more reasons to bring people back. The notion that, "banking is learned at water coolers" (quote by Jamie Dimon) is just a load of bullshit. Being in the bullpen versus in your room doesn't affect your learning unless you are afraid to ask questions. They have unused office space that they don't want to completely write off. The whole industry operates like a fraternity with a tradition of hazing analysts and an ultimate respect of rigid hierarchy and tradition. The job 100% can be done at home and the experience isn't that different, COVID proves that. That said, you are paid not on the work you do, but the abuse you take. Senior bankers are doing this because they need to ensure juniors get the same treatment they did otherwise it wouldn't be fair in their eyes.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Jun 1, 2021 - 11:53pm

Most analysts are afraid to ask questions though, especially ones that have never met most of their peers in person.   The culture does suck, but analysts get very good at their job in a short amount of time by being in close contact with other more experienced analysts into the early hours of the morning.  Analysts this year are way behind the curve.  Don't get me wrong, WFH is great for senior analysts, associates and VPs, but for new analysts, you lose a lot in the way of the training from both more senior bankers on your deal team and others in the bullpen.  

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 2, 2021 - 12:38am

I'm stunned people are monkey shitting at this. I think analysts afraid to ask questions is something that goes back to culture, but for my firm personally, I feel screen sharing has gone way farther teaching me than looking over someone's shoulder ever did. I think it's almost easier to ask questions now than it used to be due to the speed at which you can ping and call people.

Genuinely, I think it's really hard to make a compelling argument that this job can't be done at home or that seniors are really bringing people back for the betterment of the juniors. They are so obviously conflicted, it's ridiculous. They can claim they want to bring people back because of the learning, but really it is 4 reasons, that anyone who has done this job for 12 months gets:

1) They have massive offices they don't want to be just a wasted sunk cost because then real estate clients or the dumbass who accepted the lease terms will be butthurt.

2) They don't want analysts being able to be away from the office because it makes it easier to interview/ escape.

3) They are indignant about the fact that they suffered through the gauntlet of IB in an office and the thought of analysts getting a better experience than them bothers them deeply. They will cry out how it's a soft generation etc etc, but ultimately they are just angry they couldn't have the same experience. This is also the reason why despite being in one of the best M&A markets of all time with many banks having their best years ever, they aren't paying juniors enough to retain them-even to the detriment of their business. They behave out of tradition and jealously and are too competitive to even consider allowing future generations to have a better experience than they did.

4) Senior bankers lose control of the employees and anyone who has ever done this job understands how much most of banking is really just about seniors enforcing various degrees of control on junior individuals to get off on the ego trip. 

Jun 2, 2021 - 8:50am

Totally agree with this. You can "co-pilot" with your new analyst equally (if not more) effectively through screen sharing than being seated next to him/her.

teaching requires 2 things: 1) the ability of the new analyst asking questions and really making sure he understands what is to be done (ie taking notes, asking other individual to slow down for a sec or repeat something, etc), and 2)  it also requires whomever is teaching them to be as specific as possible describing the methodology and expectations.
 

However, one of the downsides of WFH is the ability to ask quick/brief questions to further clarify the task. And I'm not talking about "hey what is xxxx shortcut" (those can be answered with google). Sure you can pick up your phone and ask the question, but this extra step does make it a bit more cumbersome.

Overall, I don't think we need to be at the office. Maybe if you just joined a firm you do want to go into the office for some time to familiarize with everything and get to know some people, but after that there's really no need to be back at the office.

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Jun 2, 2021 - 12:38am

lmao this is patently false. there is such a higher degree of difficulty in teaching fresh new hire right out of UG how to do this job via screen sharing and calls vs dragging them to your desk, sitting them right behind you, and going "ok, sit here and let me show you how to do this"

too much of the time-saving and bust-proofing shit that you learn via the bullpen ether is never learned (e.g. the only way to do this job and see the sun regularly). 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 2, 2021 - 12:45am

AbrahamHParnassus

lmao this is patently false. there is such a higher degree of difficulty in teaching fresh new hire right out of UG how to do this job via screen sharing and calls vs dragging them to your desk, sitting them right behind you, and go "ok, here let me show you how to do this" 

I'm attributing it to a culture problem then. We haven't seen the same problem at my firm/ the analysts that weren't afraid to ask questions ramped at the same speed. From top down a survey was done that indicated this/ my firm from top down doesn't believe analysts this past class ramped slower. I won't disagree that some definitively needed the hand-holding more/ weren't confident enough to call-but again that's a culture problem that they needed to feel more comfortable and confident to ask questions. Also I frankly suspect those same analysts also would have been the ones who wouldn't have asked questions in the office. 

Jun 1, 2021 - 5:44pm

Have mixed feelings. Have not seen any drop in productivity from the junior team, and honestly not in a rush to have anyone back. I don't care as long as they get the shit done. I do feel there is a lot of learning by osmosis just from being around senior bankers. Not face time (fuck face time) but soft skills that are hugely beneficial to juniors aspiring to move up in banking or elsewhere.

Things as simple as listening in on senior bankers conversing with clients / buyside, discussing pitch or deal strategy, fee structures or hell, even just shooting the shit on markets, deals on the wire etc. A lot of my learning has and continues to come from this, listening in to people far more experienced than I do their thing.

The unfortunate reality is that the people we work for are old heads, a lot of whom are stuck in the old ways. Whether conscious or not, there likely will be a bias towards those who come back first and are around - "Out of sight, out of mind". I can sense that with some of the MDs and am starting feel this will impact some of the team's reviews. I fucking hate it but it is what it is.

Jun 1, 2021 - 7:19pm

The million dollar question is will the blur  of the WFH and work from office be enforced, or have Senior bankers just going to say I can schedule work anywhere anytime.

Given travel time, in person meetings and cooler talk, I see things getting significantly worse. If your sleeping at 2am expect 3-4am now

If your sleeping at 3AM imo your done for 

  • Analyst 3+ in CorpStrat
Jun 1, 2021 - 9:51pm

This 100%. I don't see the workloads in IB getting better anytime soon since Zoom meeting have absolutely destroyed any sort of WLB this job had. I'm out of the industry now, but one of the catalysts of my exit would be the incomprehensible lifestyle if I had to pull the WFH hours and workload with the pre-WHF commute and facetime crap.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 1, 2021 - 8:59pm

Ehh I agree to disagree. As someone said previously on here: they need to have bankers come back to justify all that office space that's been vacant so in essence does he really care anyway? Not to sound salty but fuck him lol. Lazard has never recruited at my undergrad anyway  historically only a few made it in so 🤷🏻‍♂️ Lmao

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 1, 2021 - 9:10pm

My biggest question is going to be whether they will fire people who refuse. My bank is already seeing it happen-if you are a senior analyst just riding it out, are they going to can people over not coming into the office?

Jun 2, 2021 - 5:22pm

I don't follow where a lot of the perspectives in this thread are coming from. All the mid level and senior bankers like the WFH model - maybe coming into the office a few days a week when it's required for meetings and for maintaining relationships, but staying home when it's more efficient and avoiding travel as well. It's the analysts and associates, particularly the analysts, that have had an absolutely terrible year WFH and want office life to return to normal. Not just from the perspective of their ramp having been slow but also work vs. home separation and very importantly the bullpen social life. Senior bankers are working from home, juniors are living at work...

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Jun 2, 2021 - 5:38pm

From a junior perspective, I feel that morale will be considerably better and attrition will halve if people are able to become friends with their coworkers, and build deeper bonds. This is something that's mostly lost out with WFH for 1st and second year analysts. 

Jun 2, 2021 - 5:55pm

Y'all are underestimating the 1st year analysts ability to evolve and adjust.  This group have had to deal with 1.5 years of online classes, lockdowns, group projects done remotely, lost senior year parties and muted graduation. These band of brothers/sisters already know how to seek help and guidance even online. This group not only knows how to survive but also thrive in a changing environment.  Actually, I think this group will not only kick ass this first year, but also be the future leaders and be the ball busters of old sop and stagnant ways of IB.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 2, 2021 - 6:54pm

I think as a first-year being in the office and making friends with the other analysts and just being in an environment where they can learn and be social post-grad fresh out of school is the best. A lot of kids are likely new to the city and might not know anyone. However after that first year, literally no reason to not have the job fully remote and despite the increased workload there are so many benefits in the long-run of WFH in being free in your own space, cook, exercise, play music, walk around, no commute/HCOL rent, watch TV when doing mindless tasks, etc. 

Nov 17, 2021 - 11:44am

I work at PE-sponsor backed company (~$1B TEV). My department is about 100 people. I admit to coming to office very often after June last year to meet with senior management/working on cool ad-hoc projects. Got promoted this year and I don't think I would have gotten promoted without being hybrid vs. rest of my dept coworkers who were remote. 

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Nov 17, 2021 - 1:27pm

Guys, we work in finance… if execs thought they could actually run the business at least as well or almost as well remotely as they can in-person, they should be clamoring over themselves to ship jobs out to Kansas and Idaho (or India and the Philippines).
 

I see this sentiment everywhere online that they want to justify these massive offices, but we're talking about people who take most of their comp in equity and get profit-based bonuses… they should be fucking thrilled to pay you 20% less to live somewhere 40% cheaper and ditch their expensive leases in Manhattan, SF, London, whatever.
 

Senior personnel want people back in the office because they genuinely think it's better for business - I've had detailed discussions about this with our partners as they asked the VPs and Associates for input on what we want to do long-term, since they'd love if we could still hit return thresholds without a 30k sqft Midtown office and they could keep taking calls from their poolhouse in the Hamptons (for what it's worth, we're staying hybrid for the foreseeable future). 
 

I enjoy WFH, but I actually agree the vast majority of people will learn more and have better long-term prospects by being in-person

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