So how bad is it really for interns and junior bankers at investment banks that are putting limits on work hours? While working until 2 a.m. and on weekends isn't unusual, many junior bankers accept offers knowing they will gain valuable experience, prestige and "exit opportunities," says one Bank of America analyst.
This week, Bank of America joined Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase in limiting the hours worked for junior bankers following the death of a 21-year old intern in London in August.
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Arthur, a fake name for an employee who is not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, is a first-year "Global Banking and Markets" analyst in New York City for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Within the Global Banking and Markets group, which includes corporate banking, sales and trading, and capital markets, investment banking analysts likely have the worst hours, he said.
An intern with Bank of America before he graduated in the spring, he said investment banking analysts are "thrown into the fire" compared to other roles.
"One investment banking analyst didn't get out of work until 2 a.m. during the first week on the job. It's definitely a harsh awakening," Arthur said, adding that stories like that are "not necessarily abnormal."
A former analyst for Citibank shared similar stories of his two years working in banking that included several nights returning home at 10:45 p.m.
"I think the commonality between analysts is that you're the bottom rung of the whole corporation," said the Citibank analyst, named Benjamin, who requested to remain anonymous.
The hardest part was managing the expectations of various managers, some who were "really bad bosses," Benjamin said.
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For some junior bankers, working on a trading-floor environment is high-stress without any privacy.
"I would get chewed up by a manager in front of the whole floor. It's not the best feeling to go home with after a while, but I know they have extreme pressure from managing directors above them," Benjamin said.
His bosses never swore at him but they had no problem laying on pressure publicly, he said. The worst censure by his boss was when she threatened the whole floor with his deadline.
"She told [us], 'If you don't finish this report, nobody gets to go home.' It put a lot of pressure on my partner and me," Benjamin said. "That affects the office environment. It's not necessarily abusive words but office politics. Your coworkers might not like you that much the next day."
And it's no bonanza, at least at first. The salaries for investment banking interns and other junior bankers aren't very flashy if you break them down by hourly wage.
For some investment banking analysts who work 90 to 100 hour weeks with a $70,000 or so salary, that might not translate to more than what a food service worker earns.