The Myth of the 100-Hour Week

Hi all,

I am a first-year Analyst at one of those, wants to be a BB but isn't but also is not quite a MM either firms. Anyway, I have just gotten done my first 5 months and I cannot for the life of me understand where this myth of 100 hour weeks came from. Sure things get terribly busy sometimes and once in a while you will see someone pull such a week but people genuinely feel bad for that person and senior folk will go out of their way to thank them for putting in the effort. I never see anyone working those hours consistently. Even working 80 hours per week is exhausting and is a fairly busy week.

Yet everytime anyone talks about investment banking during college you always hear "are you ready for 80-100 hour weeks?" Why are we perpetuating this myth to each other if we all know it isn't the case? It is extremely annoying to me because I feel as though all it does is cause new analysts to force themselves to stay in the office for projects they don't necessarily need to be spending that much time on just to meet some prior expectation of their work-life. Further, it only deters good people from entering the business altogether who, if told the truth that they would really be working an average of about 70 hours per week, would have loved the job.

Is this all just for some perverse sense of pride? Please be honest in your responses as to the cause of this phenomenon. I know that we have all pulled something like a 100 hour week but can we stop pretending that we do it all the time.

Comments (83)

Dec 26, 2018

Have you thought maybe its just your bank? Do you have friends at other banks?

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Dec 26, 2018

Feels like you're at a decent group. Friend a Moelis (lol) got destroyed weekly 80-100 hours a week

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Dec 26, 2018

Huge difference between 80 and 100.

Dec 26, 2018

"Not a BB, but not quite MM" uh so RBC? Have never heard of any other bank that openly aspires to be a BB (ex. Boutiques don't)

Senior people give a shit about you? That's a new one.

Consider yourself lucky, some groups and banks have higher expectations for Face-time than your shop does, thus treating junior talent as expendable resources or a depreciable, living asset.

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Dec 26, 2018

Wells Fargo lol

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Dec 26, 2018

RBC also came to mind for me.

Work hard, work clean, & most of all do not give up.

Dec 27, 2018
high hopes:

"Not a BB, but not quite MM" uh so RBC? Have never heard of any other bank that openly aspires to be a BB

He's a five month analyst... probably doesn't have the strategic vision of the executives in mind yet

Jan 14, 2019

Pretty sure even students who got passed to first round wirh RBC would know that about the bank. It's like one of their most obvious traits.

Dec 26, 2018

The truth is that working hours vary by bank, and even by groups within banks. Congratulations, you got lucky on your group placement.

Dec 26, 2018

70 hours is still ass dude. That's 9am-11pm Monday thru Friday, or alternatively, 9am-9pm Monday thru Friday + 11am-9pm Sunday.

The worst part is the unpredictable nature and near-immediate deadlines. The most I've worked in AM (vs what I did in my very brief stint in IB) was maybe 65 hours per week; I average 50 hrs/week. That's 9am-7pm Mon-Fri, and it's very consistent. There're rarely an immediate deadline, so when I get a project on Mon, it's generally not due end of day, but often just by Friday or next Monday. Which is great because when a friend wants to grab dinner on a Wednesday or I want to go to a happy hour, I can peace out, and leave maybe at 6pm that day and stay till 8pm the next day. Control over the schedule is critical.

This is opposed to IB where at least 60% of the plans I made just blew up due to idiotic requests by MDs who know jack shit about the company and just read industry slides to impress clients while praying to be let in on a deal. Not saying AM is the only path here, HF and PE are, on average, much better with regards to work-life balance as well (there will be some long weeks, of course). Corp Fin, VC, pretty much all have some solid work/life balance and comp trajectories on average

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Dec 26, 2018

This guy quit IB cause he couldn't handle the hours and now he's at a sleepy life insurance company where his pay progression slowed dramatically. He's constantly on here touting how great his work life balance is in AM in order to justify the decision he made.

The fact is some people would rather grind it out in IB. You're rewarded for sticking around for two years with much better exit ops than managing high yield bonds at PIMCO

Edit: Just FYI to everyone in this thread, look at @AFJ9 post history. He always comes on threads to backup the @therealgekko meaning that afj9 is gekko's alt account. If you look at AFJ9 further, you'll see that he / gekko is considering a move to RBC's energy group in nyc in order to get better access to the hedge fund world LOLOLOLLLO

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Most Helpful
Dec 26, 2018

And you're a kid who hasn't even held his first job yet and worships IB without knowing anything about it, so you have nothing to contribute to this conversation. Let me ask you, would you take seriously the advice of a guy who had never weight-lifted as to how eventually reach a 3-plate bench? Lmao, and no, I'm not complaining about six-figure comp with potential for 7 figures in less than a decade working 50 hours/week (realize this flex is a bit douchy, but eh, I'm only human).

IB has great exit opps; when have I ever debated that? But if you know you love AM/HF world, a stint as a research associate at T. Rowe Price or Royce & Associates will far better prepare you, as you're performing the job function itself instead of a path to get to the job function you want. Not everyone will A, know if that's what they want, or B, be able to get there post-undergrad without doing a stint in IB. That's fine. But I do think it's valuable to have kids realize that there is more than the one path to get there with the insane levels of herd mentality. As someone who went to one of these target schools, even coming in knowing I wanted to get into equity investing, I pretty much got swept along with the herd for such a long time; just want to let other students know of the possibilities.

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Dec 26, 2018

Whats wrong with being an HY manager at PIMCO? That sounds a lot more interesting than being an IB analyst/associate by a long shot. Whats the reasoning here?

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Dec 26, 2018

Some places are sweatshops, the places you describe (wants to be a bb but to big to be a mm) sound like the RBC, Wells, Nomura, Mizuho, etc. of the world and those banks have way better hours than a lot of the lean elite botiques like Laz and Moelis. BB hours are somewhere in the middle. I know because I actually worked at one (as a SA).

In general people do inflate IB hours. Average where I was (JPM/MS/GS) was ~9:00am - ~11:00pm and then 5 - 10 hours of weekend work. Crunch time can get into the red zone easily if that's you're base, but nobody wants/expects you to be in the office past 1:00am if it's avoidable.

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Dec 26, 2018

I guess that I am better off than I may realize at my firm due to what you described. But even you are admitting that people inflate hours. No one at my firm works more than 80 hours per week consistently without looking for a solution to the problem. I just don't think people step back and think about what they are saying when they claim to work 100 hours per week. That would be 9am-11pm every single day. Who could survive like that?

Dec 26, 2018

Deleted.

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Dec 27, 2018

I know you're getting MS for everything else on this thread but regarding the breakdown of UMM-BB-EB hours, this is pretty accurate from what I know. Poor kids at EB's get crushed compared to everyone else. Also people do inflate IB hours. I do it sometimes, people like to make it out to be a badge or honor or something.

However, idk how people at a top BB didn't expect you to be in the office after 1am. I'm at a boutique firm (national, but not elite) and I stay past 1 relatively often during crunch times.

Dec 26, 2018

RBC nice

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Dec 26, 2018

My hours are garbage and consistently over 80 with no opportunities for time off, so there's a counter anecdote to your anecdote. Both are equally meaningless to draw a conclusion from. See how that works?

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Dec 26, 2018

Some groups actually make you work 80-90 hours per week on average. Granted this probably isn't the majority, the issue here still is that when you have worked +100 hours for 3 weeks straight to close a deal followed by light staffing bringing your hours down to 65 hours per week, the "70 hours on average" doesn't sound reflective of your worse weeks. I mean, an average of 65 and 100 is 82.5, and time-weighted ~80 probably sounds right. Also, 80-100 average hours can also depend on how you define the time period, like your league table.

But if you have never had a +80 hour week in IB... either wait till it comes or consider yourself lucky. For most people, their highest records are probably at +120.

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Dec 26, 2018

115 is my record

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Dec 26, 2018

I do think the "average 100 hour week" can be the case for some groups, and definitely not the norm for other groups.

My record for a 7-day stretch (not necessarily a calendar week) is roughly 100 hours, with average being around 70 and multiple weeks in the 50s range when things were slow (mostly when I first hit the desk and summer was ending, and in the weeks leading up to the holiday break). I've had 3 nights in a row where I was leaving at 5am, and multiple days where I left at 5-6pm with some of the analysts/associates and got drinks. For reference, one of the top groups at my BB.

That being said, we also are not representative of the broader bank as we're known to have the best work-life across the groups and I know some of my friends in other sweatshop groups have been getting absolutely worked, easily 100 hour weeks multiple times a month.

I think the takeaway here is not EVERY group will be 100 hour weeks, just really comes down to whether the seniors/staffer are considerate of work/life balance or if they treat juniors like replaceable cogs.

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Dec 27, 2018

You've been working five months at one bank and you're out here acting like you know about everyone's hours. Just because you're in a group with better hours or weak deal flow over the last half year, doesn't mean anything about the broader industry or other banks/groups.

I'm an A2A and I've worked at three banks (EB & Two BBs) and I can absolutely say that there are plenty of 100 hr weeks out there. I spent an entire half-year averaging near 100. It fucking sucks. People should know that since the industry is brutal and unforgiving at a lot of shops.

You're protecting the industry right now and justifying yourself because you just started and you're excited. Don't worry, once it breaks you down and spits you out, this phase will end too and you'll be back here like the rest of us jaded folks talking about how brutal banking is.

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Jan 17, 2019

Are you US or UK? How many days of holiday did you have a year on average? Thanks

Dec 27, 2018

3 years in mid-tier BB banking including a stint in M&A. I probably worked 5 or 6 ~100 hour weeks with the worst being 112 hours. I had good colleagues and managers, so I was shielded from the worst of it. Typical week was probably 80 hours in the first couple of years, but there were some long periods of downtime due to internal reshuffling, the rolling off period, and overstaffing. Alternating between being crushed and being bored to tears isn't that compelling a lifestyle either. Many people regularly put in 100 hour weeks, but they are in the minority at most places. I think 80 was average at my bank with some people accomplishing much more in that time than others.

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Jan 17, 2019

How does the 80 hour week look like in terms of your schedule? When are you normally working / in the office? Weekends?

Jan 4, 2019

I completely agree with this statement. 100 hour weeks are incredibly brutal and should be a rarity, not the norm. If they are the norm, you are doing something wrong.

There is also massive inflation on the hours people "report", and I've also found that the junior bankers most focused on the # of hours worked tend to be inefficient during the day and then stay up all night.

For reference, I started as an analyst nearly a decade ago and have gone straight up the ladder, all working in NYC M&A in a big and highly active group.

Jan 11, 2019

I got halfway thought this entire thread and when I realized that half of the pontificating about work life balance, firm prestige, career path, hours, and comp was being spewed by kids that haven't even graduated college yet and can't even take the time to proofread their three-sentence comment here, I just scrolled to the bottom to comment.

Kiddos... take some advice from someone who has been on/using this site since you were literally in elementary school... stop talking so much. Stop writing about things you know nothing about, or only know about from some bullshit you read on another blog, or regurgitating some crap your 1st year analyst buddy told to you when he blew 10% of his bonus to impress you with models and bottles one night in meatpacking.

Wanna work in IB? It's going to suck a lot of the time, bottom line. Make stupid typos... its going to suck ALL of the time. Want to make $1mm by the time you are 30? Bust your ass, meet the right people, work for the right company, impress your boss, and you can do it. But for the time being... just. stop. talking. Read, absorb, ask intelligent fucking questions, and then maybe the senior people on this site will actually fucking respond to you with meaningful answers rather than taking 5 minutes out of their day to shit on you for being an unappreciative whiny entitled little bitch like I have just done here.

Godspeed to you all.

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Jan 11, 2019

Best response yet.

Yes IB can brutally suck, but is usually worth it on the other side. OP sounds like he either got lucky as heck or landed in a place that isn't ever lead left/has weak deal flow. Hopefully for his sake it's the former.

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Jan 13, 2019

Only leaving "data points":

  • Working in Continental Europe, in an international European IB's M&A team as an Off-cycle hire, my first 3 months with peak execution work were a constant 9am to 1/2am with frequent 3am's. Then things became more okay with 11pm hrs. Rarely wknds.

-Friend in another city at elite MM, also interning, is constantly in the office till 2/3am and more flexible wknd work hrs (every week).

Jan 14, 2019

Difficult for me to comment on regular hours since my hours were so highly variable. I worked at a "sweatshop" bank and honestly had to stay till 2am at least once every two weeks for pitches. Deal hours were definitely worse. Sometimes the hours would get close to 90, but I'd say I was usually around the 70-75 hours a week. I was usually in the office on Sundays for a decent portion as well.

I did that for a few years and by the end of it I was sick of the firm, culture and unpredictability in hours worked.

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Jan 16, 2019
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Aug 20, 2019
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