Time was, the life of a junior investment banker meant making an obscene amount of money for someone just out of college, in exchange for, well, everything. Weekends were a privilege, not a right, all-nighters were a way of life, and if your boss wasn’t barking increasingly onerous demands at you, ripping your head off moments after you turned in a one-hundred page pitch book you missed your grandmother’s 90th birthday to finish, and telling you to do it again, and try, this time, “not to fuck it up,” something was very wrong.
Then the financial crisis hit, and Wall Street started paying less, and junior investment bankers started to do some reflection. “Hey,” they said, “We’re not making the kind of money they talked about in Liar’s Poker and The Last Tycoons. Telling girls we work at banks doesn’t melt panties like it used to and gone are the days of Christmas parties on yachts featuring shrimp the size of a fist and hookers brought in at a ratio of 2:1. And what the hell gives re: dinner allowances when working late? Twenty bucks barely covers an appetizer, entree, and Coke.”
So the junior investment bankers got together, like a long-oppressed people often do, and decided they weren’t going to stand for it any longer. First things first, they were going to start interviewing with hedge funds and private equity firms before their two years of servitude were up. They were going to write books about what a hell-hole their employers were, and how they ripped off clients and probably couldn’t even recite John C. Whitehead’s 14 Business Principles if they tried. They were going to tell each other that the trade off for working 100 hours a week (the possibility of one day having a conversation with Gary Cohn’s grundle) was no longer worth it. They were going to leave for Silicon Valley. They were going to tell the younger generations that there wasn’t much difference between being a junior investment banker and a lawyer.
For one bank, Goldman Sachs, that was a bridge too far. So it got a “task force” together to figure out what it could do to make its junior mistmakers slightly less miserable and after a lot of memos and committee meetings and back and forths finally decided to very generously allow the young people to take some (SOME. NOT ALL.) weekends off, in addition to implementing a new system that minimizes the instances of senior bankers making vague requests of underlings and subsequently being forced to ask said underling if they were “some kind of idiot” and stressing that that was “an actual question” awaiting an actual answer.
Basically, it’s an embarrassment of riches that would have been unheard of prior to 2008 and even today might shock some investment banking vets. Read more »