The Junior Banker Lifestyle is About to Get BetterThe Latest Wall Street Career Trends

A street sign in New York showing the cross streets of Wall Street and Broadway where the finance and investment banking offices are typically located

We are career contrarians here at Tapwage. The herd is almost always a lagging indicator of where the market and trends are headed (although it always feels so safe to follow). So when we see Harvard MBAs flock to the startup world, we have advised graduates that perhaps it’s time to take Wall Street more seriously as a career option after all, especially since historical analyses have proven Harvard MBA’s career choices as a lagging indicator.

Recently, Goldman Sachs gave people a few more reasons to consider banking as a potential career choice. They have made a number of organizational changes to make the career more exciting for junior bankers.

1. More technology to do away with busy work

Our take: There is always a ton of busy work, whether its checking share counts, or making sure formatting is just right. We are not completely convinced of this since technology has continued to impact the life of junior bankers, but busy work just evolves, never goes away.

2. 12-month rotation program to experience other parts of the bank

Our take: This is an excellent addition. Banking tends to be so client focused that most junior bankers never realize the complex financial machinery at the heart of the big banks that creates so much opportunity for learning and career development.

3. Accelerated promotions to Associate

Our take: This is a good move to promote analysts to associates directly after 2 years. However, this doesn’t address the deeper issue which is that private equity and startup jobs seem much more appealing to a junior banker than the associate role does. This could be compelling if similar positive changes impact the associate role as well, making the career path in banking more attractive.

All this comes after years of incremental improvements around the analyst program at major banks to address the loss of talent at the end of the analyst program to private equity. Protected Saturdays and weekends are some of the most important measures implemented in recent times, but so often they get undermined by the time-sensitive nature of the job. However, there is a renewed urgency among banks recently as they are beginning to lose talent for their prestigious analyst programs not only to private equity but to silicon valley as well.

So how bad is the junior banker lifestyle?

It’s still pretty rough. In previous articles we have talked about the investment banking lifestyle, and why people leave banking.

A Bloomberg article from 2006 captures the junior banker lifestyle really well, and much of it still holds true. It discusses the typical workday of an Indiana grad in an analyst role at Goldman Sachs. You will likely spot a few trends in his description of his workday:

  1. The hours do seem long but they don’t start very early. In fact, he doesn’t really get going with work until 11am! And sure it ends at 2am, but that accounts for a couple of hours at the company gym.
  2. The typical day has a lot of lulls and waiting around, and it also has a lot of time spent doing things that are more mechanical.
  3. It’s not the hours that get to you. It’s the unpredictability. The canceling plans at the last minute, and sometimes canceling vacations. You need an understanding set of friends and family to survive the job.

Despite the stresses of it all, it’s rewarding and intellectually challenging. And as it turns out from the recent Goldman announcements, it’s about to get even better.

Are you looking to break into investment banking? We have a curated collection of junior jobs in banking, in credit risk, and in investing. These collections are updated with new jobs every day.

Did you find this helpful? Subscribe to our newsletter

Trendy Thomas is a team of Tapwage journalists who stay abreast of the latest news and gossip from the world of business and recruiting, so you always have the latest scoop.

Discussion