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Are today’s young bankers just ungrateful?

Ungrateful bankers

Could show more appreciation

It’s not like it was in the old days. Not at all. Time was when 25-year-old investment bankers would have been more than happy with six figures a year and 80 hours a week. Now they want to earn more money while working less hours, and it’s not on.

“They’re prima donnas,” says the head of one recruiting firm in London, speaking off the record. “They seem to think you can earn £100k a year without working weekends and by working 9am to 7pm during the week. That’s unrealistic. Where are you going to make that sort of money?”

Symptomatic of this lack of gratitude is a survey of bankers with one to two years’ experience by recruitment firm Morgan McKinley. It found that 83% of young people in the City of London are unhappy with their past year’s bonus; 25% are threatening to quit their jobs because of it. This is despite the fact that 30% of them received an increase in salary to compensate for their lower bonus, that banks have done their utmost to cut junior’s working hours, and that juniors in IBD with one to three years’ experience earn an average of £77k to £109k ($112k to $159k), which is not bad when you’re just starting out.

A VP at one European bank says precocious analysts are a pain in the backside, but that their gripes are justified because their long term earning power is less. “The analysts especially are getting too demanding and sometimes arrogant. It’s understandable though as pay is not that great any more.”

In theory, the millennial generation just isn’t that interested in money. In reality, this may not apply to the millennials who apply to work in banking. “Nowadays it’s all about how much money they’re going to make,” says the head of another recruitment firm in the City, also speaking on condition of anonymity. “Most of the juniors we speak to don’t genuinely enjoy the job. Therefore, they’re only really interested in the pay.” He cites the example of one analyst who had 18 months’ experience in banking and demanded a salary of £80k, plus an equivalent bonus.

The head of HR at another European bank in London says it’s not that simple though: millennial bankers don’t just want money; they want everything.

“It’s not that today’s juniors are more or less interested in pay, it’s that pay is one of a number of things they rate equally,” she says. “They want pay, but they also want work-life balance and to feel that they’re making a contribution. They like constant feedback and they like to know how their contribution fits in the wider scheme of things. It’s not like it used to be – they’re not prepared to just roll up their sleeves and do whatever’s asked of them. This makes them more difficult to manage.”

One recruiter offers a more succinct evaluation. He says today’s banking juniors are all about instant gratification: “They want to be successes from the start rather than working towards something. It’s the unicorn mentality – everyone focuses on the overnight successes and no one remembers the ponies in the pack.”

Not everyone is down on today’s analysts and associates though. Richard Hoar at recruitment firm Goodman Masson says contemporary young bankers are no worse than their predecessors; “People have always been quite demanding.”

And another VP says it’s not the analysts and associates who are the problem, it’s the MDs: “The new generation of bankers are in it for the long term and have a client-centric focus. The old school bankers have a mentality of squeezing every penny out of a client and then getting out. These senior guys need to move on as soon as possible.”

Photo credit: Jarod by Alan Nakkash is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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