I’ve read a lot here about the lifestyles of junior bankers in M&A – the sleepless nights, the lost weekends, the cancelled holidays. It sounds brutal and if you work in IBD I guess it is, but I just want to say that I work on the trading floor of a major bank and my lifestyle is NOTHING like that.
As far as I’m concerned, the lifestyle here is pretty awesome.
How so? Well, I start early, but not that early. 7.15am to 7.30am is pretty standard and it’s actually got later over recent years. For a while, it seems that banks were in competition to see who could have the earliest morning meeting, but that’s been dispensed with. Admittedly, equities traders seem to start earlier (I work in credit default swaps), so you might want to avoid that.
I also finish early. Most people here are done with the real work by 5.30pm, if not 5.01pm. We then get to go out to all the nice shiny new expensive restaurants with the salespeople and brokers we’ve been talking to each day. Admittedly, their expense limits are lower than they used to be, but they’re still not low – £100 a head still seems to be pretty standard.
Unlike IBD, no one works weekends in sales and trading, so when I leave the office on a Friday, I’m free until Monday morning.
And then, of course, there’s the pay. Salaries for traders are now so high and bonuses are so low that a lot of people are taking it easier than in the past. You can get paid now even if you don’t make decent P&L. Why kill yourself?
As far as I’m aware, this applies across pretty much all banks for fixed income trading in London. Salespeople don’t have it quite so easy – they’re making a lot less than in the past and are living in constant fear of being replaced by e-trading systems. Wall Street traders seem to start earlier – they send out runs from 6.30am, but they’re even stricter about finishing promptly than we are in Europe.
So yes, if you don’t want to work 80-hour weeks, don’t work as a junior M&A. But don’t assume that all jobs in banking are equally punishing, because in my experience they’re really not.”
Silas Letts is the pseudonym of a CDS trader at a global bank in London.