Survey Says New Investment Bankers Face Trying Work Conditions

Junior investment bankers are dissatisfied with pay, damaged relationships, and excessive hours, according to a survey by the finance career news site Wall Street Oasis.

Following the 2021 revelation by 13 Goldman Sachs first-year analysts that they had endured 100-hour work weeks, five hours of sleep per night, and increasing mental health issues, Wall Street Oasis conducted two broader studies. The most recent, which was just released, surveyed 485 bankers from investment banks of varying sizes. About 72% of participants were first, second, or third-year analysts, and about 20% were associates.

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The 2022 Investment Banking Work-Conditions Survey reported that 52% of the respondents said they were not satisfied with their current pay, 14% averaged 91 or more hours of work per week, and 75% said their work hours negatively impacted personal relationships. Also, they reported a 28% decline in their mental health and a 33% drop in physical health since beginning at their current positions.

Those bankers characterized work-life balance as an either-or: an enormous salary or a manageable life. Investment banks have lost new recruits after very short periods of time, according to the survey.

“It’s a work-life balance thing, and it’s a new generation thing where younger people actually value that more,” said Patrick Curtis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wall Street Oasis. “It’s one thing to hear you’re going to work 80 to 90 hours per week, it’s another to live it. The banks are losing a lot of kids even after that first bonus cycle, and private equity firms are more than happy to snatch up good talent early on. People are even joining startups, or working in corporate development or corporate finance.”

Many respondents also said they faced unrealistic deadlines, excessive micromanagement, and workplace abuse. Conditions varied according to the type of bank–bulge, boutique, and middle-market.

In general, it seems like investment banking is a grueling industry requiring a lot of sacrifice, but that was already widely known. It’s difficult to say how much worse it is than other demanding industries (if it is actually worse) without similar surveys with which to compare. But as a Vice President at Brown Brothers Harriman said: "You should know what you're getting into. It sucks, but at this point, you should know."