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 reflecting. “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. 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.
And though they were previously inured to the suffering of their youngest employees, senior executives across Wall Street started to notice, worry, and collectively decide something had to be done. First, there was the great "Protected Weekend Movement," wherein banks enacted policies that, depending on where junior bankers worked, they were either given one free weekend a month to do as they pleased or told to leave the office by 9PM on Friday and not even think about coming back until 9AM on Sunday. Summer interns, who banks were hoping to convert to junior employees come graduation, were told to get wild and stay out of the office between midnight and 7AM. And now? Junior bankers at Goldman Sachs are being told, among other things, not to work all night on those pitchbooks. Two AM should suffice. Hard stop at 3AM.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said faster promotions, third-year rotations and more automation of grunt work are among the latest changes the firm is making to improve life for its youngest investment bankers and head off defections. The world’s top merger adviser will promote all analysts to associates after two years, and let them switch to different teams in their third year to broaden skills, said David Solomon, co-head of the firm’s investment bank. Top workers will be able to advance from associate to vice president in 3 1/2 years, cutting the previous timetable by 12 months, he said...Goldman Sachs has developed technology that handles many of the most rote tasks for analysts, Solomon said. The firm already rolled out an internal search engine that cut down on e-mailed inquiries to and from junior bankers and a program that takes an hour to pull together calendar and fee information for initial-public-offering clients, a process that used to take analysts 12 hours, he said. The firm also is encouraging more focused pitchbooks that take less time, he said.