A brutal email sent to young Wall Street bankers shows exactly why too much success can be a bad thing

A 2006 photo of Ken Moelis (left) at a charity fundraiser with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt and producer Jeffrey Kramer. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images
  • A brutal email sent by a staffer at Moelis & Co, an investment bank, shows how tough it can be for young Wall Streeters.
  • The note, which has been making the rounds on social media, said “the only way I can think of to differentiate among you is to see who is in the office in the wee hours of the morning.”
  • The note sheds light on the breakneck growth of Moelis & Co, which is aggressively hiring.

A brutal email sent out to junior bankers at independent investment bank Moelis & Co has been making the rounds on social media, and it shows how tough it can be for young Wall Streeters.

In the email, an unidentified staffer said: “I know that you are ALL working very hard and are stretched thin across multiple projects. Given that new staffings continue to flow in and you are all very near capacity, the only way I can think of to differentiate among you is to see who is in the office in the wee hours of the morning.”

The email got more than 100 responses on forum Wall Street Oasis. “I can only imagine, this is a brutal look for Moelis,” one person wrote.

The email sheds light on a well-know Wall Street reality. Investment banking is never a nine to five job. But closer examination also reveals something specifically about Moelis, which was founded in 2007 by Ken Moelis as a top-tier boutique investment bank: Its bankers are taking on more work as it continues to eat up marketshare and hunt for more talent.

Moelis ranked tenth for US merger and acquisition revenue in the first quarter, up from sixteenth during the same period a year earlier, according to Dealogic.

Dealogic

The tax over-haul signed into law by President Donald Trump last year has been a boon for the firm, according to Moelis.

“I think what the tax overhaul did was just make every asset more profitable,” Ken Moelis said during an earnings call in February.

“I believe that what the tax [law] did was give people more, call it, animal spirit, to go execute on their strategic imperative.”

At the same time, the company is ramping up hiring efforts and working with its people on ways to manage through this heightened level of activity. It increased its headcount by 15% last year and is welcoming its largest intern class in its history this summer.

The firm is known for hiring younger bankers. Ken Moelis once said during an earnings call that the firm is particularly focused on hiring younger talent that has the potential to grow with the firm.

“What we don’t want to do is hire what I call peak talent,” Moelis told analysts. “There is a moment where you’re paying for peak and you’re not going get the growth.”

When pressed by an analyst about hiring younger bankers, he had a simple retort: “If you have any names, email them to us,” 59-year-old Moelis said. “We’re very interested in growing.”

Still, just because the firm is out looking for talent doesn’t mean they will get it exactly when they need it. Onboarding a junior staffer is a long process and the process doesn’t always sync with the ebs and flows of dealmaking.

Also, Wall Street is in the midst of bonus season, a period of attrition for some companies as talent leaves for other firms.

But the bank isn’t pointing to its growth as an excuse for having young bankers work all hours. The company held a meeting to remind senior bankers to treat junior bankers with respect, Bloomberg reported.

“As an entrepreneurial growth company, in times of elevated deal activity we remain focused on enhancing our generalist experience, which gives young bankers exposure to transactions across every product and sector,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to Business Insider.

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