The Truth about "Hours" at the Analyst Level

Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

One of the most popular questions on this forum, whether it's for firm comparisons, rankings (ugh), or general information, is one that asks about the hours of a firm. The question is legitimate and important to ask; the answers that are thrown around, however, are not always that helpful.

The truth is, if you work at a reputable bank with deal flow, you will work banking hours, which means an ebb and flow of 55-100 hour work weeks depending on a couple of factors:

The Staffing

Are you on a mega-merger with exploding deadlines? Yeah, you might have a 100/hr week(s). Starting out on a sell-side process for a smaller firm? Things might be chill if the firm drags their feet and you can get out by 7pm on Friday to make your dinner plans. Building a pitch deck? This one will depend on how much your MD loves to give comments and how good your associate is at translating these comments. What type of deal you're on, how many people are on the deal, what your MD is like, your team's work flow and organization - these factors cause a drastic variation in hours, a variation that is seen in all banks. Banks don't have an "hours average" target that they try to hit.

The Deal Flow

Zooming out of the dynamics of an individual deal, if there's a lot going on with your firm, you're more likely to get worked harder. In slower months such as the summers where all the execs want to be lounging in the hamptons, things will get slower. This also varies depending on the group you're in and the macroeconomic environment (hello coronavirus). Once again you see variation.

The Culture

So this is one of the reasons why the average hours per week per bank tends to be different across the banks. Note that culture is more than just work/life balance but nonetheless plays an important role. Are you at a bank with a heavy facetime culture or one where people are big on the workaholic competition (who can work more hours?) culture? Yeah, expect more hours on average. Do most people in the bank get in late, leave early on Fridays, no facetime, etc.? You can expect fewer hours on average. Individuals who are senior to you can respect your work/life balance out of individual personalities, but if the firm culture compels the majority of seniors to give you a life, you'll have better hours on average. I won't name banks, but across my friends and myself, EBs tend to be better in the culture front (but even this is wrong as you can't classify all EBs as an identical group) than BBs. Did I mention that intragroup and intrateam culture matters too? No one on WSO is gonna out themselves this specifically, so save for hearsay, you won't get a great view on this.

But again, this is on average. Pulling a ton of hours at a place with good culture? See #1 and #2.

The Self

No one really talks about this but it's honestly one of the most important determinants. How ambitious are you? How hardworking? How much do you like your job? You can do the minimal level of work as an analyst, do what your seniors tell you, and clock out. You can pass on the harder staffings (depending on your staffing process), go into a group with lesser deal flow, and coast (this is a relative term) to get better hours. If you're hungrier, take time to synthesize through the information on every deal, do good work and voluntarily take on big deals, yeah you'll work more.

Last note pertaining to the self is your reputation, which is a function of the above. If you're seen as a lazier worker you'll find that you'll be put on shittier deals, but if your reputation is stellar you might get rogue staffed on the next huge deal because your seniors enjoy working with you and can trust you. Over time as your rapport begins to develop with your deal team members and seniors, you might find fewer hours from the refined work process you've developed, or more hours because they trust you with more responsibilities.

TLDR: While it is true that some firms may demand fewer / more hours than others on average, the truth about banking is that your hours will sometimes be awful, sometimes be okay, mostly be somewhere inbetween, but will never be amazing. There's an incredible amount of variation and that's what you should expect. As a result, comparing hours between firms is not an incredibly productive task, as you'll likely reach both spectrums throughout your two years. Focus on what'll make you enjoy those hours.

Comments (23)

Mar 28, 2020

Agreed, as an analyst at a very boutique Chicago firm, it flows up and down. Weeks like this past one, I worked about 65 hours. Theres weeks where it peaks around 80-90 and weeks where 60 is all that needs to worked. Further, speaking to a lot of friends with experience at MM (Blair, Lincoln, HL), the hours can b very similar 70-90 hours. I am not able to speak to NY BB/EB lifestyle but it seems to be quite rare to see an around here analyst put in 90+ hours a week consistently. This topic has been brought up many times on WSO but I perceived the concept differently as an undergrad from the outside looking in. That's my 2 cents.

    • 2
Mar 29, 2020

who are you with in Chicago? I just started looking for opportunities there... any recommendations for low hanging fruit in the area? and personally I'm a fan of the West Loop, great views and time out is down the road for awesome meals lol

    • 2
Most Helpful
Mar 28, 2020

Great post, 100% accurate judging from my experience.

Being at a BB, my hours tend to be 50-70 when chill, 70-80 when average, and 80-100+ when busy, based on the parameters OP laid out.

Worthy to note is, that after a while you get kind of used to the hours. What truly gets to me is being on call 24/7 and almost never being able to plan ahead..

    • 12
Mar 29, 2020

Are your hours you're referring to spread out over a 5 day or 7 day week?

    • 5
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 30, 2020

Poster you responded to refers to over a 7 day week. Weekend work is common, and in those 80-100 weeks, you can work just as many hours on a weekend as compared to a weekday.

Definitely want to emphasize the poster's point about getting used to the hours but never being able to plan ahead. That's probably the largest issue with work/life balance for me.

Funniest
Apr 1, 2020

There are no 5 day weeks in IB my friend.

    • 2
Mar 30, 2020

I would like to add a few insights to the hours,

  1. Some firm may demand more hours overall, but it is also HIGHLY group dependent. Some group during a specific time/special situations will demand much more hours. One example might be RX group during times of economic downturn.
  2. Your overall deal team cohesiveness will affect your hours much more than the type of deal you are working on. Some team felt like an All Star, some felt like a lottery team. But from experience, working on a "Lottery" team gave you so much insight on how to lead and how to make everything efficient and smooth.

That's my 2c

    • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 30, 2020

Agree. Intra-group and intra-deal-team dynamics and culture is something that is especially important but almost never highlighted, but mostly because it's hard to get so granular.

Mar 30, 2020

For those of you who are associate or higher, have the hours improved or have you gotten more flexibility? For those who left post-2 years as analyst (particularly to PE), has you're lifestyle gotten more manageable and how if so?

    • 3
Mar 30, 2020

Broadly speaking, how do M&A (not trading/mkts) hours differ between NY and West Coast? Do NYC analysts in GS TMT work more than their counterparts in SF?

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 30, 2020

At my bank, the SF team works way harder than the NY team. SF works until 11 or 12 every weekday while NY works until 7 or 8 every weekday not working on the weekends

Mar 31, 2020

M&A getting out at 8PM???? Or did you mean 8AM

Array

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2020

You work at the esteemed FTP brah?

Mar 31, 2020

Back in 2009-11, a number of Mining, O&G and ECM teams in Europe were leaving by 6pm at the very latest. In some cases you can pitch as hard as you want, but if equity markets are shut or your clients are exclusively focused on slashing costs and preserving cash, there is nothing you can do.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 31, 2020

To shed some light into intrateam dynamics, the best teams I've worked on had the following in common:

  1. Higher-ups on a deal would give a heads up on weeks that they anticipated would require more hours. This way, the analysts wouldn't be blindsided
  2. The associates were willing to do work. They wouldn't just circle/mark every single miniscule damn thing and throw it back to the analysts. For smaller items, they would fix it themselves and just let the analysts know for next time. This eliminates a ton of the back and forth
  3. Everyone wanted to enjoy their lives out of the office and understood that everyone else did too
    • 2
Mar 31, 2020

Would anybody find it helpful or interesting if I did a best week / worst week from my analyst experience sort of like the old one on M&I? Just gauging interest

    • 10
  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020

yes pls!!!

Mar 31, 2020

Yes

Array

Apr 1, 2020

Ok cool, I'll bang it out by the end of the week

    • 1
Apr 3, 2020
Comment

Progress is impossible without change...

  • Prospect in 
Mar 31, 2020