It's nearly a year since the tragic passing of Moritz Erhardt, the ex-Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) intern who died of an epileptic fit after working three days and nights without sleeping. And it's nearly six months since banks introduced various policies to prevent highly motivated junior bankers like Erhardt from overdoing it. Are those policies working?
According to Christian Meissner, head of investment banking operations at BAML, they are. In the wake of Erhardt's death, BAML introduced a policy of allowing its junior staff at least four weekend days off each month. Any juniors wishing to contravene the rule must get permission from the regional heads of their business areas. In an interview with Bloomberg, Meissner said the weekend-day-off rule has become a key part of BAML's culture. "It's working and it's been very important for us," he said, whilst admitting that M&A bankers were at their busiest for years as deals surge to levels not seen since 2007.
In the circumstances, BAML's attempt to mitigate junior overwork is admirable. However, Meissner's confidence that juniors are no longer working to extremes may be misplaced.“If you have 80 hours of work to do in a week, you’re going to have 80 hours of work to do in a week, regardless of whether you’re working Saturdays or not,” one junior told the New York Times in April.
Separately, spending time in Australia can be a route to a massive promotion, as long as you work for UBS. The Swiss bank is one of the market leaders in Australia, with an 11% share of secondary equity trading, a 43% share in equity capital markets and a 25% share of M&A. For this reason, time spent in Oz with UBS can be a route to rapid advancement. - Just ask Gary Head, who's just been promoted to global head of equities at the Swiss bank. Financial News reports that British born Head, who was most recently UBS''s co-head of cash equities trading in Australia, has been named as the replacement for Phil Allison, former head of cash equities trading at UBS, who left for KCG Group (as we were first to report) in March.
Head is relocating from Sydney to London to take on his new role. His transfer can be expected to ruffle a few feathers around UBS's office in Broadgate - there's no shortage of London-based equities bankers who wanted Allison's job. Now they're having to tolerate it going to someone who's been gallivanting Down Under while they've been toiling in the dismal City.
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SocGen just wants all its bankers to be happy. (Bloomberg)
Gary Cohn says Goldman will stay in commodities and that there's been an 'outpouring of emotion' from clients who want to see this happen. (Financial Times)
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Shock as Australian UBS banker requests demotion. (Fin News)
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