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Mid-level bankers crushed by fear of layoffs

Depressed

Following the untimely death of a Bank of America intern, banks have concentrated much of their efforts over the last year on improving the work conditions of junior staffers. In doing so, perhaps they have overlooked the “squeezed middle,” those between analyst and executive levels who are facing higher levels of stress than ever before.

A new report from Financial Times, quoting several unnamed sources, details the work environment facing mid-level bankers today. In short: banks are being forced to do more with less, doubling the workload of experienced bankers who know they can be let go at any time. The stress born from the workload and the lack of job security has resulted in levels of depression, anxiety and mental fatigue that weren’t seen before the collapse, according to the report.

Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University, suggests that the reason for the change has as much to do with motivation as it does environmental factors. Pre-crisis, bankers worked long hours for one main purpose: making money. Now, the chief motivation is simply to remain employed, he said. Inspiration, it seems, is being replaced by panic.

The report certainly makes sense. While junior bankers are always on the clock, they aren’t forced to face the same job security fears of more experienced, better-paid colleagues, who are more likely to have families, mortgages and other personal responsibilities. In fact, youth is a hot commodity on Wall Street. Banks are doing plenty of hiring at the junior level, mostly to replace redundant mid-level bankers.

Fortunately, it appears banks are investing more resources into bettering the mental health of its employees. Nearly two-dozen firms, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, have joined the City Mental Health Alliance, a new group aimed at improving the mental well-being of financial professionals. What they can do to quell fears over layoffs is yet to be seen.

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In the latest hiring news roundup, Bank of America hires junior markets bankers, private equity firms eye African expansion and a UK asset manager needs US staffers.

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A book is causing a sensation. ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ by Thomas Piketty, a French economist specializing in the study of inequality, draws important conclusions about the nature of financial success in the 21st century, and about what it means to work in the financial services industry in 2014.

Hefty Sales Goal (Reuters)

Merrill Lynch has increased its top sales and commission target for wealth managers to $8 million, up from $4 million a year ago. Those that hit the target will join the “Pinnacle Club,” which comes with plenty of cash and prizes.

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RIP (Business Insider)

A BNP Paribas banker, his wife and nephew were all shot and killed outside of the couple’s home on Friday night. Benoît Philippens, 37, was a director of BNP Paribas Fortis in the Liège area. No arrests have been made.

Buzz Around the Office

Tell Us How You Really Feel (Business Insider)

Here’s an epic rant from Morgan Stanley’s chief U.S. equity strategist on his hatred for the “limited access to email” excuse, which a red-faced colleague must have given him recently. The oddest part is that the rant was included in a note to clients.

Quote of the Day: “The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters.” – Jean-Paul Kauffmann

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