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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