Sympathy for the junior bankers who have been overworked to the bone waned a bit yesterday when it was revealed that the leader of the original uprising of Goldman junior bankers was the son of a vice chairman at TPG, the private equity giant and longtime Goldman client.
But as it turns out, twenty-something analysts aren't the only ones struggling with long hours and deteriorating mental health. One trader from UBS's London office says his job was so psychologically demanding that he's now suing UBS for the psychic damage to which he was subjected.
Simon Rope, a 35-year-veteran at UBS, is seeking $273K over alleged "negligence" by the bank's management that led to him developing an anxiety disorder due to the extreme stress of the trading floor,
According to Bloomberg, the case - which was filed in the UK - "offers a window into the stressful world of trading, and the mental toll it can have on workers under pressure to drive profits and not make costly mistakes."
Lawyers for Rope, who has been on medical leave and hasn't been on a trading floor since 2018 (though Rope is still employed at the bank), claim their client was subjected to a "toxic environment" on the trading floor where "often bad tempered" traders would "shout across the trading floor and publicly shame" him. They added that this "generally pressured environment" represents "the unavoidable reality of the work of a City trader," UBS lawyers said.
By 2016, symptoms of a stress and anxiety disorder had begun to develop, and by 2018 he and his three colleagues were trading around 3,500 different stocks. “An exceptionally large number of companies for such a small team to cover,” they said in documents filed at the High Court in February.
The trouble with Rope's claim is that for years beforehand, Rope "not only coped but thrived in for decades, giving the bank a good basis for its belief that he was psychologically able to manage the demands" of his most recent role.
Rope's lawyers wrote that by the beginning of 2018, Rope was experiencing "exhaustion, finding it increasingly difficult to sleep, was no longer able to socialize, and was focusing all his efforts on functioning solely for work."
Most of the joy in Rope's life at this point came from criticizing a group of UBS managers known as "the Shooting Party" (the nickname is related to a practice of leaving the office early on Friday to go "shooting").
Though we very much doubt the humor is intentional, UBS claimed in its defense papers that "disillusionment and discontent with management during times of structural change and rationalization is common on the workplace."
UBS did say that shouting sometimes occurred on the trading floor and that the language of traders was “intemperate” from time to time. The bank denies the claims made by Rope's legal team, and claims he was not "drowning" in work.