Credit Suisse has become the latest global investment bank to introduce new working guidelines for junior bankers as financial services firms try to attract and keep young talent amid lower bonuses and stiff competition from Silicon Valley.
Junior bankers should not be in the office on Saturdays unless they are working on a ‘live’ deal, according to a memo sent by Jim Amine, global head of investment banking. The memo, sent to members of his team in the Americas – which includes businesses such as corporate advisory and underwriting – was first reported by Bloomberg but obtained by the Financial Times and confirmed by the bank.
Credit Suisse follows other big banks, including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, which have taken similar steps to improve conditions for the next generation of talent. Investment banks, having lost some of their cachet since the financial crisis, are competing with fast-growing tech firms where perquisites including anything from beer fridges to wearing shorts to work can help lock in fresh graduates.
Credit Suisse’s measures included avoiding arranging conference calls for non-live projects on Saturdays and asking junior bankers to alert their seniors if they were working after midnight on a Sunday on a deal or pitch. Since August, the bank has introduced a fast-track program for top-performing analysts, as well as a mentoring program to offer support to junior bankers.
Bank of America sent a similar memo to staff on Friday discouraging weekend work by junior employees. The memo, sent by Christian Meissner, head of global corporate and investment banking, said analysts and associates – generally junior bankers – should take a minimum of four weekend days off a month.
BofA was in the spotlight last year after the death of an intern who was working in its London offices. Moritz Erhardt, a 21-year-old German undergraduate, was found dead in the shower of his accommodation in London last year during a two month summer program at the bank. A coroner’s inquest found that his death was caused by an epileptic fit, but that work overload could have triggered the seizure.
Goldman Sachs introduced its own measures in October, including the creation of a “junior banker task force”, as well as discouraging work at the weekends. Last month, JPMorgan stipulated that junior bankers had one protected weekend a month and said it would increase its analyst and associate staff levels by 10 per cent in 2014.
While many banks have joined the chorus, the memos sent to staff contain caveats – such as if bankers are on a “live” deal – or use language such as “discourage” rather than ban, ensuring that there is still wiggle room for them to have young bankers working long hours.
Campaign groups such as Intern Aware, a charity campaigning for the better treatment of interns, have hit out at the treatment of young bankers facing a 100-hour-a-week working culture.