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An insight into the life and motivations of the Bank of America intern who died last week

Moritz Erhardt, a 21-year-old who was interning at Bank of America in London, tragically died a week before completing the summer programme.

Erhardt was found unconscious at Claredale House, a student halls of residence in East London, on Friday and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Details have yet to emerge about the circumstances of his death, although police are treating it as non-suspicious. However, anonymous posters on the forum Wall Street Oasis suggested that he had worked an excessive number of hours in the time immediately before he died – perhaps even three all-nighters.

It’s also sent shockwaves among those on the summer programmes in the City and Canary Wharf, with one intern at another bulge bracket bank telling us that it was a “real tragedy” that had caused unrest through this year’s intern class.

Related articles:

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Senior investment bankers desperately try to sell the industry to interns

Erhardt was an exchange student at University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and attended WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany.

Erhardt has a Seelio page that offers an insight into his personality and life philosophy, which he said was guided by the Reinhold Niebuhr quote “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

“I have grown up in a family that expected me, in whatever, respect to excel in life,” he wrote. “By implication, I somehow felt pressurized.” As a result, he said, in the early part of his life, he had a tendency to “be overambitious, which resulted in severe injuries” while playing sport such as skiing, tennis, athletics and soccer.

“My father, however, recognised that I may have overestimated my capabilities in some situations and taught me that if I wanted to be successful in life, I would have to sharpen my focus on a specific field of interest that particularly excites me as a person. Trying to achieve everything would eventually demoralise me and wear me out, he told me,” he wrote.

As a result, he focused on tennis, and instead developed other interests such as economics and finance, as well as becoming a member of the youth organisation of Germany’s large political party, CDU. “My maxim is to live on the now and to focus on the respectively current challenges and learning,” he wrote.

Bank of America described him as “highly diligent intern at our company with a promising future” in a statement. Erhardt had also completed internships at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and KPMG.

Erhardt is not the first student to die while undertaking an investment banking summer internship. In 2011, a female intern working in J.P. Morgan’s markets division tragically passed away.

In recent years, interns in both the City and Wall Street have been expected to work the sort of hours usually reserved for first year analysts – namely working into the early hours and being expected to come in at weekends if the workload demanded it. Our intern diarist, who is in their final week of the programme, said: “Competitive people drive competition, and the competitiveness inspires competitive people to go into banking. Your body, mindset and lifestyle all adapt remarkably quickly to the environment. And it fuels ‘typical banker’ behaviour.”

Comments (2)

Comments
  1. Such a sad sad story. I wish it served as a wake-up call for management who is ultimately responsible for the unsustainable and toxic culture of fake deadlines and face time that is prevalent in investment banking. With competition for junior positions getting more cutthroat, interns and analysts are caught in an “arms race” that is unproductive and potentialy hazardous.

  2. Typical of the society that has been created. Facebook interns don’t get paid whilst a top boss pockets $91m in one week. Abuse,abuse and down right slavery all on a promise of a sparkling career. If you want to be an overly competitive mutton-head and swallow the crap HR and management give out then you had it coming. At the other end we have zero hours contracts and the unemployed made to feel like they caused all the problems of a country with crippling debt issues. Why would any one want to work at these corrupt and bankrupt organisations.

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