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Remember when IBD analysts at Citi requested subsidized underwear?

Banker working hours

When analysts wanted their underwear paid for by their employer.

This year’s investment banking analysts are finding their feet in an environment which may be turning increasingly hostile. However, they are at least benefiting from big banks’ concerted efforts to cut juniors’ working hours. If you’re slaving away in an investment banking division (IBD) until 3am tomorrow morning, be thankful that you will at least have Saturday off.

15 years ago, there were no such ‘perks’. Fed up with being overworked and underpaid, one Citi analyst famously took things into his own hands and pushed for analyst empowerment. The uprising, which was recorded by various news outlets at the time but has since gone forgotten, was led by Paul Leung, a then 23 year-old first year analyst in Citi’s technology group. Leung sent a memo (the ‘Brutal Memo’) to Citi’s management listing a series of 36 demands. These included:

1. A room in which to sleep.

2. Permission to expense toothbrushes.

3. Permission to expense underwear.

4. Being mentored by senior bankers,

5. For associates hired from business schools to stop considering some work beneath them.

6. For analysts to be given more ‘big picture information’ of the deals they’re working on.

7. Faster expense reimbursement.

8. An end to the $20 cap on weekend meals.

9. Permission for analysts to get bumped up to first class on flights.

10. Casual dress when not meeting clients.

11. More social events.

12. Corporate cards where the analysts never sees the bill, but accumulates reward points.

13. Laptops with dial-up internet access.

14. Cell phones.

15. A concierge service to pick up dry cleaning.

16. Use of the company gym at weekends.

17. Easing of conflict of interest rules so that analysts can invest in deals.

18. A coffee bar.

Leung’s email was sent in April 2000 at the height of the dot com bubble, when banks like Citi were losing staff to ‘dot com start-ups’. Surprisingly, some – but not all – of his requests were implemented. Equally surprisingly, Leung stayed on at Citi for another year after he sent the memo before moving to the buy-side. He’s now an analyst at San Francisco private equity firm RS Investments. When you get a concierge to pick up your dry cleaning, you know who to thank.  Even if you do have to buy your own underwear.

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