The Junior Banker Survival Cocktail: "Zero Social Life, Coffee, Propranolol And Modafinil"

Tyler Durden's picture

Most people on Wall Street know all about it: the junior banker hazing ritual. Fresh out of college, pulling all nighters after long hours of starting at an excel screen playing solitaire in the background, writing and re-writing pitch books for the sake of generating work which nobody will read, waiting for senior bankers to get back with their revisions, eating (expensed) meals after midnight, and so on. The justification is well-known: greater money and benefits than anyone can make in any other job. But is the trade off worth it? Increasingly more banks and their executives are asking that question, leading to various banks telling their young bankers to take one, even (gasp) two weekends off per month.

So how are the young bankers themselves seeing these developments? According to a recent FT poll, many are unhappy but there is little they won't do for the almighty buck.

Bankers say working conditions for young staff have become tougher in recent years as investment banks – suffering from lower profits – have loaded more work on to junior staff.


The high workload is illustrated by a poll of more than 550 Financial Times readers working in the financial services sector, aged between 18 and 25. It showed that just over half were working more than 60 hours a week. Nearly one in seven respondents said they were working 90 hours a week or more.


Mirroring the tone from the top, just over half of the young employees said the working culture needed to change. But only about 18 per cent of those polled said they had seen any attempts.


“There are occasional token comments and emails mentioned, particularly during times of the year when the workload is OK. But when push comes to shove during busy season, it won’t change,” said one UK-based financial services employee.

Of course it won't: feel overworked? Well the local Starbucks is hiring. At minimum wage - you are lucky to get some benefits. There are 100 other people hungry for your spot. Naturally this means that the whole "we love our junior bankers" campaign was merely a PR stunt aimed at difusing public hostility over yet another aspect of banker folklore.

So how are the young professionals coping with the long hours? Caffeine, alcohol and working out are the most commonly mentioned strategies. Taking naps in the bathroom and suicidal thoughts get a few mentions, as do drugs.

“A cocktail of zero social life, coffee, propranolol (helps with stress and panic attacks) and modafinil (keeps you up all night),” wrote one UK-based banking employee. Another noted that the “emotional stress” had been reduced since “splitting from my partner”.

That's all good, just don't overindulge in the cocaine: remember that according to Berlusconi coke was the drug responsible for market volatility. Come to think of it, perhaps the reason there is so little volatility these days is because nobody is doing blow anymore?

The bottom line is that as it was then, so it is now: "Research published this week by High Fliers, which monitors graduate recruitment, found investment banking remains a popular career choice among top graduates. One in eight of those graduating from top universities wanted to go into the sector – a return to pre-recession levels."

Of course, they do: the voluntary choice of hardship is merely to chase the money, and until the second coming of the Soc Intern has put a maximum wage cap and a millionaire tax in every country crushing all ambitions for greed and, well, ambition, this won't change. The bigger problem for all young aspiring bankers is whether there is even a capital market left by the time they get to the really big money: at the rate the Fed is going, the far biggest threat to the livelihoods of junior bankers everywhere is not a life of hard work but ubiquitous central planning. Hopefully they, too, understand this.

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Four chan's picture

the worlds smallest violin wont even play for these sociopaths.

knukles's picture

The top of the USDA approved food pyramid for the Street is Drugs and Alcohol.

outofideas's picture

so they really are drug addicted gamblers, as we have all suspected.

cynicalskeptic's picture

and future sociopaths (if not so already)

A lack of morals and ethics is a job requirement - along with an ability to lie convincingly

Skateboarder's picture

In the pursuit of perfection of sociopathy (reaching the CEO level), the resentment has built so high by the time they are senior bankers that they want to fuck everyone over and they want everyone to eat shit and die (products of their own doing). And they'll make sure the junior bankers work twi- no, thrice as long as they had to.

All with a smile, of course, if you can still call it one.

Scarlett's picture

Jim Rogers says these people are the next taxi drviers; and that Farmers will be driving the Ferraris.  Let's hope he's right.

Jadr's picture

When I was in college preceeding the financial crash I wanted to get into banking more than anything.  I had always loved studying markets and following world news of both foreign policy and economics/financial developments.  However, with the crash and reading Zerohedge I came to find out the twisted ways in which banks and other financial corporations acted (specifically the big banks screwing their clients) and I couldn't compromise my morals to work for one of those firms.  Fortunately I have been able to work for a private equity fund.  While many people here will think I am evil for even taking part in a company which makes investments, I can look at myself in the mirror and feel good about what I do because I know we aren't screwing our investors, we only make money if they make money and since that part of the compensation isn't provided until the end of the fund we aren't pushing for short term profits each year to get compensation.  It is all based on the final results.

Skateboarder's picture

Tell yourself that my friend. You're a bit better than Skateboarder's cuz who sold his soul to the squid first before going to a small PE. VCs and PEs are middlemen, and I say no thanks to middlemen and encourage other people to do the same.

If you create or help create useful things, music, art, something of value to the hearts of other humans, that is work. Too many people fail to understand this basic expectation.

It's very easy to be a middleman and not think you are. Sorry if I offend - you sound like a nice guy. But nice is not enough.

Jadr's picture

We create value for our investors and for the communities we operate in.  My fund operates in a space which many ZH articles deride, the market for single family residential homes.  We buy homes, renovate them and lease them.  We take homes that were trashed by people who were foreclosed on or otherwise neglected, renovate them into a property someone could actually live in and lease them up. Having severely damaged and neglected homes sitting vacant hurts the other people who live in those areas by reducing their property values and creating other risks (such as these vacant homes being used for drug dens and other illicit activities).  I look at homes all day and you can see many areas which have been revitalized by people fixing up these properties and making those communities a place where someone would actually want to live.  The actions of our fund provides work for probably 100 construction contractors, 5 real estate agents (talking about middlemen, RE agents are the worse) and a staff of 15+ at our various property management companies.  I could see your point if we were operating in equities where it is a zero sum game but my fund actually has real world effects and I think it is a beneficial effect. 

Skateboarder's picture

There are exceptions, and you seem to be in one of them. A fund like yours that buys broken-down homes and revitalizes them, making individual streets or entire areas more attractive to live in - that's a good example of a venture that involves real risk in doing constructive work and hedging on the returns on the work performed. I am not a fan of deep-pocketed entities owning large numbers of housing units. However, benevolent deep pockets can often do much bigger and faster damage in fixing things than can individual contributors. I prefer that individual people buy broken-down properties and fix them up for resale. Let me tell you a story.

My folks and I visited a house recently. It was built by the owner, an engineer who built it to spec for thermal and spatial efficiency. Fenced front yard with step-raised flower beds next to the driveway, sweet pathway around the side and back of the house with creepers on the street-facing side, killer deck for sunrise watching, lawn, raised garden, and RV parking space in the backyard. All built by hand. He bought the place in the 80s and it was a complete shithole. Had to be scrapped. There were two lame 30-foot trees in the backyard that needed to go. Homeboy, now in his 70s, was much more active in the eighties and climbed up the trees, cut down the branches, tied a rope to the tops of the trees and the other end to his wife's truck. "When I say go, haul ass!" That's the kind of DIY people I'm talking about. Neighbors would sit outside and watch him build his new house, laughing when he fucked up on something.

He paid peanuts for it in the 80s, sold it for a sweet 825K in 2013, and some people are (hopefully) really happy in a perfectly engineered house for an exorbitant price lol.

No soul, no story in bigPocket enterprises. Enjoy your money though.

Dr Benway's picture

Funds such as yours inflate the price of housing and create ultimately catastrophic bubbles, by tapping into the vast sea of sloshing liquidity created by central banks. You price out people who would buy the property as a place to live in, and not as an investment.

You obviously think you are doing good, but there are vast unintended consequences for wellintentioned actions in manipulated markets, as the markets for housing and money are.

Also, many such funds are straight up scams, not collecting enough rent to pay their dividends, but instead paying the dividends out of capital raisings.

Skateboarder's picture

Yeah, I don't know why I was cuttin him slack. People tell themselves whatever they need to hear.

zhandax's picture

He is on the buy side.  Is this still Fight Club?

Jadr's picture

Maybe you were cutting me some slack because our company does produce value for the communities we operate in and you can understand that.  We are honest and fair landlords and we aren't looking to screw anyone over.  We invest in tangible things which creates value for our investors as well as the people who rent our homes and the other homeowners in the communities we invest in.

Due to our relatively small size we do not have access to the huge amount of Fed created liquidity and we pay higher interest rates than home buyers getting FHA or conventional loans (excluding mortgage insurance premiums).  We see a market that has distressed properties in neighborhoods which were nearly destroyed by the housing crash and we restore vitality to them.  I could show you pictures of areas which 2-3 years ago looked horrible with neglected homes up and down the street which have been restored into nice homes which any family would be happy to live in.

I don't think I am deluding myself to think that what we are doing is ok.  While prices have increased for properties, the areas we operate in are still at historically affordable levels and the increases were pretty much guaranteed to occur since many places overcorrected far beyond the fundamental value of the homes.  Even after two years of large % increases in home prices in the areas we operate, we are still buying properties below 60% of the peak housing bubble prices and below replacement cost.

Jadr's picture

You could look at it from that perspective you like but the flipside is that institutional buyers put a floor on home prices and helped stop the spiraling down in property prices and helped reduced rent since vacant bank owned foreclosure properties were not available as part of the rental stock thus the rental price for apartments and homes increased.  If you look at the areas where institutional buyers have been active (i.e pheonix, atlanta etc) have had rental prices decrease.  Homes are still extremely affordable in many areas (especially the areas we buy in) given the areas median incomes to property price ratio.  Does our fund's purchases increase the cost of housing?  Maybe to some extent but I think it is outweighed by the fact that we are primarily taking extremely damaged homes which most home buyers would not have the funds to fix up.  We provide high quality rentals to people and when we exit the market the new home buyers will have a nice home to live in with minimal renovation needs.

People have been buying homes for a long time for use as rentals, are all of these people the source of the bubble?  In case you weren't aware, even after the huge purchases made by groups like Blackstone, Colony American Homes, American Homes 4 Rent only about 20% of the rental housing stock is owned by institutional players while the rest are owned by smaller players often owning 4 homes or less.  We are good landlords.  When something is broke we fix it immediately.  If it is an issue that makes the house unlivable we pay for the tenant to stay at a hotel while the home is being worked on.  When someone is having financial difficulty and gets behind on their rent we are flexible and try our best to avoid evicting anyone.  We also will overrule our property manager's assessed late fees in order to reduce additional financial burdens on tenants going through tough times.  Unless you are trying to paint anyone who owns a rental home as a bad person then I don't see why my company is any worse than others doing the same thing.

Also, while I do not doubt there are scam funds out there we are not one and the only capital that was raised was from the initial offering and that will be the only funds that we raise.  There are scams in many (all?) sectors.  If you have read Zerohedge for a long time period you will have seen evidence of many of them (the Muddy Waters pieces).

Ban KKiller's picture

Fuck you. You know you don't have good title to those homes that the Banksters stole, right? You got special warranty feeds. Don't kid yourself, you are the problem as you are bank stooge. 

Jadr's picture

Actually, we have general warranty deeds.  When I purchase the homes I look at the tax records of who owned them and while I have seen some homes which looked to have been packaged into a MBS, none of the homes we have purchased have been one.  We buy many short sale properties which allows people who were underwater to get out of loans which were made during the housing bubble and let them get out from those horrible loans.  Many normal buyers do not like to buy short sale properties since it can take 3-9 months get to bank approval for the property's sale and these sellers would otherwise have to declare bankruptcy or face paying off unreasonable loans based on property values which were insane.  Plus, every time we buy a shortsale property we are forcing a bank to take a loss which is good in my book.

Ban KKiller's picture

Fuck you. You know you don't have good title to those homes that the Banksters stole, right? You got special warranty feeds. Don't kid yourself, you are the problem as you are bank stooge. Jadr....that is.

kaiserhoff's picture

Many moons ago, I read that the way people rise to the top in large, hyper-competitive organizations, is that they are willing to do things that no one else is willing to do.  There is much more to it than that, but it's true of the two large companies I worked for.  Not a pretty picture, but this is what many of us trained for, in fact, competed for many years before things got so strange.

Life its own self.

knukles's picture

Well said Kaiser...
"before things got so strange"

I'd always marveled at apparent sturdiness of the thin veneer of civilization and oft wondered when it would be sloughed from the more evil behavior of mankind.
And here we are....

Vendetta's picture

That is true.  I got a 50% pay increase and 100% personal life decrease  ... they didn't mention that part in the statement of work ..

max2205's picture

Hey they aren't traders so give them some credit for trying...they are just stupid...maybe 2% will make it to the deal sad

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

yep, it is the modern day gladiator games and the best sociopath wins, further hardening himself. like a fight club except you throw 1 knife in the mix.



Freddie's picture

LOL!  They should just sit around and smoke crack all day.  They are scum. 

cynicalskeptic's picture

crack is for losers... best coke during the day for a boost, bottle service at titty bars and hookers at night

the0ther's picture

If bankers sniff lines I'd say crack is more virtuous. 

jimmytorpedo's picture

Dear Tylers,..

Please make 4Chans avatar bigger.

I'm only going to ask 999 more times.

Disclosure, I'm actually an ass man, but I HAVE to see those titties more clearly.

The binoculars aren't doing it for me.

StychoKiller's picture

The most perfect set I've ever seen belong to Danni Ashe!  Not only is she drop-dead gorgeous, but smart and wealthy also!

Ban KKiller's picture

AND... sell your soul to the devil, aka, "money" god of doom. Easy enough! Where do I sign up?

rtalcott's picture

BFD it's their choice...been there with was my choice.

Urban Redneck's picture

Bankers can't pull all-nighters and Marine Corps bitches can't do three pull-ups... What the fuck is this world coming to???

Too many whiners, the herd needs to be thinned, just like it always does, but instead they lower the bar, and then wonder why shit keeps getting worse.

Life and career don't actually get easier as one progresses (forward or upward), you just adapt and improve your skills (hopefully including time management).

Kamehameha's picture

For your Freedom and Lives, your Children and Wives,

To defend is the Time, now or never—

Then Tyrants oppose, and America's foes,

And be Freemen both now and forever.


Your Guardians of old, were courageous and bold,

By the Smiles and Blessings of Heaven,

Obtained this Land, and by their Command,

To you as their Heirs it was given.


Now may Heaven inspire you, their sons with their Fire,

For greater your Danger was never,

And if Trumpet Alarms, should sound you to Arms,

Be valiant your Rights to recover.


Boston Gazette and Country Journal

6 March 1775

pitz's picture

Why don't they just hire more employees, pay them closer-to-average salaries, and put them on a normal work-week? 

knukles's picture

In the interests of diversity, progressiveness, opportunity, fairness and egality, all the folks on the dole should be put to work in the banking business.
And since they're now gonna make $10.10/hour plus medical and retirement, the problem's moved off the dole and onto Lloyd and Jamie's shoulders.


And in the furtherance of the Rockefellers and Gates Eugenics programs, they can all drink the blood and feast upon the meat of Paul Krugman on their first day at work to get a taste of reality.

Dr Benway's picture

Because there are already so many junior IBs when compared to the number of available senior IB roles. Usually it's two years and then up or out.

kaiserhoff's picture

and repeat every two or three years there after.

Bangin7GramRocks's picture

Less people that know the details of the crimes the better. Also, if they didn't pay huge sums, there would be more whitleblowers. These are, after all, criminal syndicates.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

shouldnt this be a pretty easy job with all this fed printing? Its been a pretty predictable year for popular stock chasing

I am Jobe's picture

Suprised no Hookers in  the mix. Sheesh, 

disabledvet's picture

exactly. "once the City blows up the Bank ceases to exist." And we've got a lot of Cities that need fixin I might add. You want a solution? that's mine....

Volaille de Bresse's picture


Then the last thing they heard was the "chak-a-chak" of an AK-47. 

denverdolomte's picture

Bring Kevorkian back. This story reminds me of hearing a liberal saying they are digusted with Obama. Deal with it Bitchez.

disabledvet's picture