Think game developers are overworked? Try big bankers

hanselthecaretaker

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Analyst writes -
“What is not ok to me is 110-120 hours over the course of a week! The math is simple, that leaves 4 hours for eating, sleeping, showering bathroom and general transition time. This is beyond the level of ‘hard-working,’ it is inhuman/ abuse,” one analyst griped.

“My body physically hurts all the time and mentally I’m in a really dark place,” another kvetched.

The report included bar charts showing the analysts’ deterioration from job stress. Before they arrived at Goldman, the analysts rated their mental and physical health on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the healthiest, at 8.8 and 9, respectively. Since then, those numbers have plunged to 2.8 and 2.3, respectively, according to the bar charts.


...Although Solomon acknowledged a recent, heavier-than-usual workload in his Sunday note, he said long hours also have been good for business and that more long nights are in the future.

“The good news is, volumes are up because we have an opportunity to work with our clients on so many interesting things right now,” Solomon said. “In the months ahead, there are times when we’re going to feel more stretched than others, but just remember: If we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we’re reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance.”




Guy sounds like a piece o’ work alright (no pun). Yeah I’m sure all he’s doing on those trips to the tropics is work, while he chides the work at home initiative. Also doesn’t sound like much will change for the betterment of the employees’ situation any time soon. What in the world of banking exactly requires that much human effort with all the technology we have now anyways? Good grief. I doubt it’s interacting with customers given the new norm and the fact they probably half look like zombies from the physical toll 20+ hour days take.
 
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thebobmaster

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That's ridiculous. And David Solomon is an absolute piece of work. I almost said something stronger, but I can't really put into words how terrible he is.
 

hanselthecaretaker

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That's ridiculous. And David Solomon is an absolute piece of work. I almost said something stronger, but I can't really put into words how terrible he is.
I’m trying to fathom how someone ends up like that. Did his dad make him memorize college level finance books all night after school and normal homework?
 

Seanchaidh

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...Although Solomon acknowledged a recent, heavier-than-usual workload in his Sunday note, he said long hours also have been good for business and that more long nights are in the future.
Wow, shocking.
 

Agema

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Well, if there was one thing that Marx got right, it's that capitalists will always be inclined to squeeze their workers: and one of the most popular ways is to get them to work unpaid overtime. And in high pressure jobs like banking, do the extra hours or be weeded out quickly. Anyone going into that line of work knows that's what they are supposed to do. They may not truly realise what it's like until they do it. Also, it doesn't make it any less abusive (especially hours as ridiculous as 100+ a week) but in the end people are willing to do it for the rewards, even it breaks a load of them - burnout rates are also apparently high. But for those who get through it, a lot of them will be the sorts of hateable people earning megabucks a few years down the line.

A lot of top bosses have incredible work ethic, let's at least give that to them. They are often people who have been prepared to and still do work hours long beyond what they've been nominally paid for in order to excel and get ahead, and perhaps unsurprisingly they then may often expect that of their junior employees. But the bottom line is why pay them, when they can pressurised into giving their time for nothing?
 

hanselthecaretaker

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Well, if there was one thing that Marx got right, it's that capitalists will always be inclined to squeeze their workers: and one of the most popular ways is to get them to work unpaid overtime. And in high pressure jobs like banking, do the extra hours or be weeded out quickly. Anyone going into that line of work knows that's what they are supposed to do. They may not truly realise what it's like until they do it. Also, it doesn't make it any less abusive (especially hours as ridiculous as 100+ a week) but in the end people are willing to do it for the rewards, even it breaks a load of them - burnout rates are also apparently high. But for those who get through it, a lot of them will be the sorts of hateable people earning megabucks a few years down the line.

A lot of top bosses have incredible work ethic, let's at least give that to them. They are often people who have been prepared to and still do work hours long beyond what they've been nominally paid for in order to excel and get ahead, and perhaps unsurprisingly they then may often expect that of their junior employees. But the bottom line is why pay them, when they can pressurised into giving their time for nothing?
Kinda seems like malignant tumor growth. Is a few million $ less on the balance sheet really such an unacceptable sacrifice to make for treating employees like something more than a cog in the wheel? Sure there’s always going to be someone saying “Oh, well I worked these long hours for years and look at me now...a jaded prick ready to wring out the next batch of peons.”

The first step of an adjustment period is always the most difficult, but it’s gotta start somewhere.
 

Gergar12

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The problem is you hire another worker/banker which means another 401k, and health insurance to pay for. I think that's what goes on in the business calculus.

I just don't get why these bankers treat their employers so badly. You wouldn't treat your friends, and family like this so why treat the people at your company like this.
 

warmachine

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Investment banking, at least in the UK, is ultra-competitive involving huge amounts of money per employee. Pushing workers hard can be very profitable and they're encouraged to do so with large bonuses, macho culture, and firing the bottom 10% every year. To be fair, traders expect this when they join and most expect to quit after ten years.

So what happens when one of them notices a market is turning into a bubble and that everyone involved needs to slow down? They find ways to pump it even harder for profit. It nets them a bigger bonus and keeps them off the firing list. If they're caught with the hot potato when it blows up, they walk away with their previous bonuses and try a different career.
 

Agema

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Kinda seems like malignant tumor growth. Is a few million $ less on the balance sheet really such an unacceptable sacrifice to make for treating employees like something more than a cog in the wheel?
Yes - from the perspective of a banking firm.

The bank exists to create value for shareholders. The executives are both legally required to deliver that, and also receive massive, fat bonuses for delivering it. Therefore the only reason it would not be in their interest to throw junior employees in the meat grinder is if it adversely affected their reputation sufficiently to harm business.

However, it's hard to see it makes a difference to their ability to hire talent, because all the other banks do it too and new employees accept it as the price to pay for a high earnings career. That just leaves public opposition and bad press. But I don't know that really hurts them much, if at all. Not unless the public got really actively hostile.
 

warmachine

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What does bad press matter when you have the political class in your pocket? When something does goes seriously wrong and a bank fails, Congress realises they have to bail the rest out or watch the economy rapidly crash?
 

thebobmaster

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The problem is you hire another worker/banker which means another 401k, and health insurance to pay for. I think that's what goes on in the business calculus.

I just don't get why these bankers treat their employers so badly. You wouldn't treat your friends, and family like this so why treat the people at your company like this.
Because you can't replace friends and family when they burn out.
 
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Seanchaidh

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However, it's hard to see it makes a difference to their ability to hire talent, because all the other banks do it too and new employees accept it as the price to pay for a high earnings career. That just leaves public opposition and bad press. But I don't know that really hurts them much, if at all. Not unless the public got really actively hostile.
There are much better reasons for the public to be hostile to banks, so of course the banks are not going to pay any attention to this one.
 
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Gethsemani

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Kinda seems like malignant tumor growth. Is a few million $ less on the balance sheet really such an unacceptable sacrifice to make for treating employees like something more than a cog in the wheel? Sure there’s always going to be someone saying “Oh, well I worked these long hours for years and look at me now...a jaded prick ready to wring out the next batch of peons.”
Keep in mind that the peons in this case are people who are explicitly in the career because it will ensure them a multi-million dollar fortune, a high prestige job with a ton of perks and lots of power, all within a decade, if they can get past the initial meat grinder. For those of us holding normal jobs it probably seems insane, but the idea behind working newcomers in investment banking to the bone is that all the hopefuls know they need to give up a few years of their lives to get past the hurdle and sit in the lap of luxury. It ensures only the most motivated stick around long enough to earn those promotions and in the end it is good for business.

It is a system totally at odds with the rest of society, but I am also hesitant to say it doesn't work. Just like with military Special Forces there is a special kind of people that seek out investment banking jobs and they generally know the rules going in, even as most other people would take one look at the working conditions and bow out as fast as possible.
 

Dirty Hipsters

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Keep in mind that the peons in this case are people who are explicitly in the career because it will ensure them a multi-million dollar fortune, a high prestige job with a ton of perks and lots of power, all within a decade, if they can get past the initial meat grinder. For those of us holding normal jobs it probably seems insane, but the idea behind working newcomers in investment banking to the bone is that all the hopefuls know they need to give up a few years of their lives to get past the hurdle and sit in the lap of luxury. It ensures only the most motivated stick around long enough to earn those promotions and in the end it is good for business.

It is a system totally at odds with the rest of society, but I am also hesitant to say it doesn't work. Just like with military Special Forces there is a special kind of people that seek out investment banking jobs and they generally know the rules going in, even as most other people would take one look at the working conditions and bow out as fast as possible.
Pretty much this. People make huge fortunes being investment bankers and if they decide they don't like the hours they are free to quit with the nest egg they built up. These aren't people without other options or job prospects, they can literally quit any time they want and will be fine.
 

Gethsemani

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Pretty much this. People make huge fortunes being investment bankers and if they decide they don't like the hours they are free to quit with the nest egg they built up. These aren't people without other options or job prospects, they can literally quit any time they want and will be fine.
Yeah, when your fall back jobs are traditional banking, financial analysis etc., you aren't exactly going to end up on the street. You'll most likely end up in the upper strata of the middle class, instead of the lower strata of the upper class as you would if you succeeded in investment banking.
 

Kwak

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It is a system totally at odds with the rest of society, but I am also hesitant to say it doesn't work. Just like with military Special Forces there is a special kind of people that seek out investment banking jobs and they generally know the rules going in, even as most other people would take one look at the working conditions and bow out as fast as possible.
Sounds like it's a system for creating and rewarding only the best sociopaths.
 

Agema

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Keep in mind that the peons in this case are people who are explicitly in the career because it will ensure them a multi-million dollar fortune, a high prestige job with a ton of perks and lots of power, all within a decade, if they can get past the initial meat grinder.
Rumour has it many investment banking companies have a list of acceptably superior universities, and if you went somewhere other than one of these, your CV will be on the discard pile in a matter of seconds no matter what other information is in it.

They're looking for very specific types of people: people who are smart, self-motivated and dynamic, work incredibly hard, and fit into high status social circle very easily. That essentially means scions of the existing upper-middle classes, who have been filled with expectations and ambitions of their social status, the right way to behave, privately schooled with a ton of self-(over)confidence, got into a top university, and probably with parents who put extreme pressure on them to perform highly thereby making their self-worth unusually dependent on high attainment. I'm sure some of the high achieving riff-raff get in too, mind.

In essence, this is exactly what private schools are for: nurturing the children of the elites for the right attitudes and behaviours for the elites.
 
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tstorm823

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In essence, this is exactly what private schools are for: nurturing the children of the elites for the right attitudes and behaviours for the elites.
I mean, this is quite literally the root of the phrase "liberal arts", they were studying the arts and sciences that were "worthy of free men", as opposed to slaves and laborers. The standard college experience is built on the model of preparing people to do nothing for themselves. And now that we've reached the future where a liberal arts education is nearly universally accessible, high schools are designed to push kids into college.

Obviously there are some who love a subject and make good use of college, and others who require a specific (often grueling) education to be licensed in their desired field, but the modern model of education is largely built to socialize young adults into the behavior of people who think themselves too good for manual labor.
 
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Agema

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I mean, this is quite literally the root of the phrase "liberal arts", they were studying the arts and sciences that were "worthy of free men", as opposed to slaves and laborers. The standard college experience is built on the model of preparing people to do nothing for themselves.
Oh, I think you're underselling it. Liberal arts are just about giving people the training, knowledge and understanding to analyse situations and make decisions.

The function of a private school is partly academic - to coach students above the norm for excellence - but it's about so much more. It's about instilling self-confidence, an assumption of superiority and being destined to achieve. It's about teaching the ways, manners and habits of the elites, so one has the style of the elites as well as knowing the work of them. And it is lot about networking - forging links with a whole load of other people who will be tomorrow's business leaders, politicians, etc.: the "old school tie".

I work in higher education, and I see gifted students doubt if university is even a place "people like them" should be, for whom attaining wealth and status makes them feel uncomfortable that they will never fit in and always be looked down on. And yet a student of the same gifts from Eton would believe that a top degree and top career was their birthright, not a fantasy they should be ashamed to even dream of.
 
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