If you want an easy life in financial services, you don't want to work in New York City. Nor do you want to be a managing director or someone engaged in a "support function." You might want to work in compliance, but you'll need to be prepared to be bullied if you do. You might also want to work in IT, where you'll feel nicely nurtured, but will still have to work hard. Most of all, you probably want to work in Paris, where the pace is sedate and your boss will be respectful of your time and help you get along. Failing that, you can always try moving into consulting instead.
So says a new survey of 579 financial services and consulting professionals from Emolument.com. Emolument asked a selection of questions about bullying, overwork, and work-related exhaustion across front, middle and back office positions in finance. The results are "informative."
If you're looking for an easy life in banking, you don't want to go to New York City. As Mark Romeo, a former Credit Suisse prime brokerage client relations manager, wrote here in February, people don't take sick days or annual leave in New York. "You can smell the competition," said Romeo. People in New York are "willing to work harder than anywhere else," he added. In Manhattan, you "don't get sick."
All this is borne out by Emolument's survey results. The found that 73% of bankers in New York felt that work had made them ill and that a similar proportion had worked when they were sick.
By comparison, just 11% of bankers in Paris said work had made them ill, and just 44% said they'd worked while unwell.
Paris, in other words, is gentle. It's no wonder that senior Goldman Sachs bankers want to move there.
You might think that front office corporate finance jobs are the worst in banking for long working hours and general exhaustion. After all, it's here that people most commonly complain of 80 hour weeks.
Emolument's research suggest it's the support staff working in back office operations jobs who are worst off though. Not only do a very high proportion of support staff (over 90%) say that work has made them ill, but 80% of them say they've been bullied at work. Similarly, 80% of compliance professionals say they've been bullied and only 10% say they feel "nurtured."
By comparison, the least amount of bullying goes on in technology teams. This might be because many teams are located in remote offices and are therefore protected from stressed-out traders. In testimony to banks' attempts to keep technologists on side, a high proportion of technologists also say they feel "nurtured" and respected by their bosses. However, nearly 70% also claim that work levels have made them ill.
The middle years are the sweet-spot for finance careers. Although vice presidents have their own stresses (lack of promotional opportunities, trying to juggle the demands of MDs with the capacity of analysts and associates), a comparatively high proportion of VPs told Emolument they were coping physically with their workloads. - Only 47% said work had made them ill and only 44% said they'd worked when unwell. This compared to 67% of analysts (on both measures) and over 90% of managing directors.
It's not all great in the mid-ranks though. Mid-ranking and senior staff in investment banks also feel put-upon. A comparatively high proportion of VPs and directors complained of bullying, along with a very high proportion of MDs. Although directors feel nurtured (possibly because they're being groomed to become managing directors), MDs feel cast adrift, bullied and abused by their bosses. None of this apparent at the start, however. - Banks' efforts to make their most junior staff happier appear to be paying off: all the analysts Emolument spoke to said their bosses respected their time, half felt they were being encouraged to grow.
Move to Paris and start your career in finance and get out before you reach the top. Alternatively, move to consulting. Emolument found just 20% of consultants have ever had work-related illnesses. Consultants typically earn less than finance professionals, but there's a definite upside.
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