It is 6 am and time to start your shift. This is, of course, following a 19-hour workday that ended well past midnight. You cannot see straight and who knows the last time you ate.
Ah, yes. The life of an investment banker.
We have all heard the tales – but what is it really like in the field? Below we separate fact from fiction for all those that are considering entering it or simply curious.
Bankers work over 100 hours a week, every week Though it is true that investment bankers work abnormal and often times excessive hours (see above), there is likely not a single one alive who has clocked in 100 hours or more every week since starting out. Most workers in the industry report averaging between 80 and 100 hours each week; but just like any other profession, individual weeks vary. Some are slow, others chaotic.
Verdict: myth. An emergency pillow and blanket at work may not be such a bad idea, however.
Bankers at boutique firms work less and get paid more By virtue of their size and independence, small, private banks can at times be subject to rumors. For instance, it is often assumed that the hours and pay are far more favorable at boutique than at bulge bracket firms. There is, though, some truth to this. Boutique investment banks are highly specialized niche players that tend to be very selective when it comes to hiring. Because they pick from a more concentrated and talented pool of candidates, they are generally expected to offer superior perks.
Verdict: truth. Only because they are the cream of the crop.
It gets better Analysts spend a great deal of time learning the ropes and are usually required to work long hours and complete random tasks assigned by senior bankers. As they gain more experience, things start to change. Fresh recruits and interns are around to share the load and time has passed to figure out who gives out the most work. But it is not that simple. With seniority comes more responsibility and naturally, added risk.
Verdict: myth. What is lost in hours is gained in stress.
Bankers dress like the Donald Hate him or love him, the Donald cleans up well. And although he is not a banker, his taste and style are felt across industries. The world of finance is largely about two things: performance and power. Performance based on ability to deliver positive results and power measured, to some degree, by physical presence – confidence and appearance. Those that survive and progress are the ones that prove capable of delivering on both fronts.
Verdict: truth. But come on, the man is a fashion icon.
The money is unbelievable It is a widely held belief that investment bankers make very good money. Once again, however, it is not that simple. Comparatively speaking, the field does pay on the high side: most investment bankers earn more than their friends. But upon closer inspection (some basic math), it turns out that the average rate of pay for an analyst ($70,000 per year) divided by the average amount of time worked (90 hours per week) comes out to a little less than $15 an hour. Not chump change but certainly not beyond belief.
Verdict: truth. But the hours sort of stink.
Bankers are all male Investment banking has long been associated with a male-dominated culture. A notion, like many others, that stems from the past. Today women occupy 25% of the positions in the field within in the United States. And while one in four may not be substantial or even close to equal, the gender disparity continues show positive signs and decrease by the day.
Verdict: part myth, part truth. Fortunately, things are changing for the better.
Investment banking: not quite as extreme as it is frequently made out to be but also not conventional. Think you are cut out for it? Find out before you take the plunge.