In his latest column, a reader asked him how bankers can work crazy hours and still maintain a social life.
Harold asks: How can bankers consistently work 100-hour weeks? How can someone keep this up for 10-20 years? How can they date, have families, and be normal, social, friendly individuals who can smalltalk about sports, movies, music, whatever? Why don’t investment banks hire more people, pay them less, and have them work saner hours?
So there are three questions here. One is: how can bankers consistently work 100-hour weeks without, y’know, dying? Lots of junior investment bankers really are at work all the time. The way work flows work at banks, though, junior bankers spend much of their day more or less sitting around and listening in on conference calls, and really start pounding out the Excel models after their bosses dump a pile of work on them and leave for the night. It’s not, like, 100 hours of manual labour, or even intellectual labour. It’s 100 hours of being there.
Another is: how can they be normal? One obvious answer to that is that they probably can’t; many well-adjusted humans find investment bankers unpleasant to be around, or at least imagine that they do without much evidence. Another answer uses the horrible expression “work hard play hard”: you can work 100 hour weeks and have an active social life if you’re willing to sacrifice sleep. Cocaine, obviously, helps, though its heyday in the financial industry is long past.
Also, most trading floors have big TVs showing CNBC on mute; during big sporting events people change the channel and half-watch sports at work. So you can keep up on sports.
The first two to five years are the rough ones, he says.
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