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Morning Coffee: The tech lifestyle vs. the banking lifestyle (they’re both painful). Gary Cohn’s mistake

Tired man

Investment banking jobs are arduous. Even though some young bankers insist the working hours are bearable, endless 14 hour days extract a toll. Junior bankers are still collapsing with exhaustion, people are still leaving the industry in search of something less demanding. The bad news is that things are no better in Silicon Valley.

In a new(ish) feature on working hours in technology firms, Wired Magazine describes a culture that matches banking seemingly even down to the stress and insomnia induced dermatological reactions.

Working 12 to 14 hours a day is standard in technology firms. says Wired. If you don’t work that long, you’re seen as not being a “cultural fit,” or not, “cut out,” for the industry. As such, insiders say developer jobs which require working weeks of 80 hours+ are only suited to, the sort of junior employee who has ‘little to no [family] responsibility, and honestly who doesn’t know any better.”

If this sounds similar to analyst and associate roles in investment banks, it gets worse. Ex-Goldman Sachs associate-turned-academic Alexandra Michel identified a whole series of physical ailments associated with overwork in banking, but the tech industry stands accused of fetishizing such frailities. Wired points to a presentation by Keith Rabois a technology entrepreneur with links to Paypal and LinkedIn, who cited a NFL football coach’s claim that you know you’re doing your job right when you wake up at 3am with, “a knot in your stomach, a rash on your skin, are losing sleep and losing touch with your wife and kids .”

The big difference between working 14 hour days in tech and 14 hour days in banking is that in banking, at least, you should get paid. David Heinemeier Hanson, creator of the programming language Ruby on Rails, tells Wired that most developers are, “compensated in bananas,” for their 80 hour a week moonshots. The culture in start-ups requires burnout, argues Hanson: ““It’s the logical outcome of trying to compress a lifetime’s worth of work into the abbreviated timeline of a venture fund….There’s little to no consequence to them if the many fall by the wayside, spent to completion trying to hit that home run. Make me rich or die tryin’.”

Separately, New York Magazine thinks Gary Cohn, the ex-Goldman COO who joined the Trump administration, is starting to wonder whether he’s made a mistake. A photographer recently captured Cohn sitting in the White House with his head in his hands while a jazz band played ‘Summertime’ after a conference in the rose garden. When asked on another occasion what it’s like to work for Trump, Cohn is said to have responded, “You can imagine.” NyMag says Cohn’s problem is that he’s an inveterate number two, who specializes in managing up. But Trump can’t be managed: ‘The dream of adulting Trump may in fact be unworkable.’

Meanwhile:

Peer to peer lending bank Zopa wants to hire 40 developers in London. (Telegraph) 

Lloyd Blankfein got duped by Jes Staley’s email trickster even though Goldman has a system for alerting staff that they’re responding to someone outside the company. ‘Users can get inured to such warnings, clicking past them without thinking.’ (WSJ)  

You need to earn $200k a year to be “rich” in NYC. (New York Times) 

A 36 year-old banker sadly died on a Citi Bike in Chelsea yesterday, (NYPost) 

Five questions that will cut through the meaningless blather when you ask about the culture at interviews. (HBR) 

UBS’s new London office at 5 Broadgate has “impact-tested” flower planters made out of steel and concrete outside the building to stop a vehicle packed with explosives driving into it. (Financial News) 


Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com


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