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The banks with the best and worst working hours

2021 was a year of truth about working hours in the banking industry. Goldman Sachs' analysts complaints about 100 hour working weeks during the pandemic triggered an industry-wide rethink both of working hours and of pay for analysts and associates, which has risen repetitively in response.  

However, anyone who goes into banking thinking 100-hour weeks are the norm stands to be pleasantly surprised. Really long hours only apply to people working in front office jobs in M&A and corporate finance and even here, average working hours are often considerably less. 

Forum website Wall Street Oasis has been recording users' submissions for working hours by bank for years. In 2021, it says average weekly working hours at 32 leading banks and boutiques were closer to 72. However, some banks work their staff far harder than others. 

Wall Street Oasis' figures are based on submissions from the site's users and have not been validated by the banks concerned. They suggest that working hours are significantly longer at some boutique M&A firms (Arma Partners, RW Baird, PJT Partners, Evercore), and significantly shorter at French banks like SocGen and BNP Paribas. They also suggest that the bank with the longest working hours in 2021 was...Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs paid its junior bankers unusually well for 2021, with top analysts on packages of $180k in their first year and senior associates reportedly earning up to $500k four or five years in. French banks usually pay a lot less. However, it's notable that junior bankers' salaries and working hours aren't always closely correlated. - Working hours at William Blair, for example, are comparatively moderate, even though its salaries are some of the most generous in the market. 

If you don't want to work 88, or even 61-hour weeks in banking, there are alternatives. Our recent compensation survey and guide suggested that median compensation in sales and trading is $280k and average working hours are just 55 a week. 

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Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • pb
    pbug56
    3 February 2022

    What articles like this seem to assume is that all the employees in IB's are highly compensated bankers and super-techies that both see themselves as better than anyone else in a firm - in fact see anyone else as there to be their servants. Most employees in IB's are underpaid, and while most don't work 100 hour weeks, odds are that they work a lot more hours than they should have to, primarily because to save money to pay the biggies, they badly understaff and underpay the areas that make it all work. IOTW, back and middle office, trade floor support, most of the IT people, sourcing, compliance and others. I was responsible for about $25 million in spend at one job, badly underpaid, and worked 60 to 70 hours per week - the longer times if I was working remotely rather than a very long daily commute. But do nothing or incompetent bosses worked fewer hours and got paid a lot more.

  • Oc
    Octav Ciobanu
    31 December 2021

    The problem with this all company's is, make the people slaves , and the people I see like to be slaves accepting to play how the rich people likes they to play, this is wrong, and I think to make an appeal to all wich sleep, guys wakeup, don't sleep to long in your fear, and leave this rich people to brush the floor with you, stand up and deal with them by your rights!

  • He
    HedgeFundKing
    12 February 2021

    According to David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, they track the hours their Investment Bankers work. According to an interview in 2020, the average GS Investment Banker works 65 hours (see here: https://www.youtube.com/wat..., i.e. an astonishing 10 hours less than the table above. Probably the other numbers are equally inflated (I work in M&A and surely for an average week they are inflated).

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