Why Investment Bankers Are Satisfied With Their (Long) Hours

by Derek Loosvelt | June 07, 2011

It's widely known that junior investment bankers -- analysts and associates -- work more hours per week than just about any other young professionals. It's common for analysts to log between 80 and 90 hours per week, and for associates to log between 70 and 80. And if you're not one of them, or don't know one of them, you might think, That sucks. You might also think, They must be miserable. Perhaps, in addition, you might think, They have no life.

200 west street goldman headquartersIn all cases you would be wrong.

In fact, young bankers are overwhelmingly satisfied with the hours they put in week in and week out (and weekend in and weekend out). And it's not due to what you might think -- that they're satisfied because they're paid well for their time.

While true that young bankers make a lot of dough, much more than your Average Joe, it's not their paychecks that keep them returning to their cubes, but something more rewarding.

In Vault's latest Banking Survey, being administered now to the top investment banks in North America, respondents at the analyst and associate level have overwhelmingly told us that they're incredibly satisfied with their positions, and that they don't mind the hours they spend in the office -- which can near triple digits (that is, 100) per week.

Of those surveyed so far, 70 percent have rated their overall job satisfaction an 8, 9 or 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is extremely dissatisfied and 10 is extremely satisfied). And just 3 percent have given their satisfaction a 1, 2 or 3.

"I'm constantly challenged and excited to come to work everyday," says one analyst who took the survey. "While the hours are very long, and the projects very intense, the people on our teams and the work we're doing make it a very rewarding experience."

An associate says, "Everyday is different from the last. Some days are action-packed and full of high-pressure situations -- when I'm working on transactions. Other days are focused on managing client relationships and improving the skill set of teammates."

Other reasons cited for feeling satisfied include "interesting work," "intellectually stimulating work," "deal experience," "exposure to senior MDs," "great exit opportunities," "the ability to make an impact on projects," "high level of responsibility," and "the opportunity to meet with some of the most famous investors in the world -- and to present your analysis to them."

Still, the hours aren't easy, and can grind a young banker down.

"Of course there are days when I wish I could work 40 hours in a week and that would be it," says one analyst, "but overall, I find my work challenging and interesting so I'm excited to be here. As long as you plan in advance, managers are accommodating and will work with you to create a schedule that works best for you."

And although another banker admits that "you can find yourself working multiple 120-hour weeks," he says that "face time is non-existent -- if you have nothing else to do for the night, you can leave at 5."

That's 5 p.m., I assume.

In any case, the bottom line seems to be this: "Hours can be long, but the high-quality work and noteworthy deals justify them."

(Vault: 2010 Banking Rankings: Overall Satisfaction)

(Related: Cube Life Is Killing Me)

Filed Under: Finance


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