Junior Goldman Sachs bankers report 95-hour work week

Junior staff reported getting five hours of sleep a night, starting at 3am

One staff member said ‘being unemployed is less frightening to me than what my body might succumb to if I keep up this lifestyle. File photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

One staff member said ‘being unemployed is less frightening to me than what my body might succumb to if I keep up this lifestyle. File photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

 

A group of first-year investment banking analysts at Goldman Sachs presented management with a slide deck describing arduous working conditions last month, shining a rare spotlight on the stresses faced by young people working in investment banking.

Based on a survey of 13 analysts, the slide deck reported an average work week of 95 hours, with five hours of sleep a night starting at 3am.

The respondents said the long hours were taking a toll on their physical and mental health, with three-quarters reporting that they felt they had been “victims of workplace abuse”.

“I can’t sleep any more because my anxiety levels are through the roof,” said one of the analysts.

Another said that “being unemployed is less frightening to me than what my body might succumb to if I keep up this lifestyle”.

The slide deck - which was formatted as though it was an official Goldman Sachs presentation - began to circulate on social media on Wednesday, and was available in full on Twitter by Thursday.

A majority of the analysts surveyed reported being blamed without justification, as well as “excessive monitoring or micromanagement”. On a scale of 1-10, the respondents ranked their satisfaction with the job and the firm at 2 on average.

The presentation concluded with several proposals, including capping the work week at 80 hours, scheduling client meetings to provide a week of preparation time, and respecting the company’s policy that junior bankers should not work from Friday at 9pm until Sunday morning.

“We recognise that our people are very busy, because business is strong and volumes are at historic levels,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement. “A year into Covid, people are understandably quite stretched, and that’s why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them.”

A person briefed on the situation described the survey respondents as “self-selected” and said the bank had been working with the group to address their concerns.

They added that Goldman had accelerated the hiring of new junior bankers, shifted personnel to overworked departments, taken a “selective” approach to new business, and reinforced the Saturday work policy.

“No one has been in trouble - these are valid points,” the person said.

Young investment bank recruits are often expected to work very long hours in exchange for higher than average salaries and the prospect of being promoted, but the pressures tend not to be made public.

In 2013, banks in the City of London faced calls to overhaul the working culture for younger staff following the death of a 21-year-old intern at Bank of America. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021