Investment banking hours are notoriously long — a job in investment banking can involve working over 100 hours per week. However, investment bankers do not always work that many hours, and not every minute of every day is spent agonizing over Excel spreadsheets.
In this guide, we’ll go over:
- How Many Hours Do Investment Bankers Actually Work?
- How Are Investment Banking Hours Spent?
- Why Do Investment Bankers Work Such Long Hours?
- How Do Investment Bankers Cope With the Hours?
How Many Hours Do Investment Bankers Actually Work?
Investment banking is not a normal 9-to-5 job — investment bankers can work anywhere from 60 to over 100 hours per week, depending on the company and the deals at hand. According to a 2021 Working Conditions Survey by Goldman Sachs, first-year investment banking analysts work more than 95 hours per week, on average.
But, not every day is that intense. How many hours you work depends heavily on what market you’re working in, what company you work for, and how senior your position is.
“Technically, your day, in terms of the active market that you’re working on, is a very short day as the official [New York Stock Exchange] market opens between 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” says Oliver Rolfe, investment banking specialist and founder and CEO of Spartan International. “After that, what you’re doing is other productive activities, which are preparing client pitches for next day, meetings with new or potential clients, traveling, taking people out for dinner, reconnecting, and growing your network, both internally and externally.”
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How Are Investment Banking Hours Spent?
While 60 to 100 hours sounds extreme, not every moment of that is spent actively working. Especially for first-year analysts, a lot of the day is spent waiting for feedback from higher-ups on various projects.
“When you’re early in your career, it’s basically a lot about facilitation to those around you,” says Rolfe. “If you’re an investment banker, you are preparing investment pack notes for the senior investment bankers’ meetings with clients, preparing prospective offers, running financial projections, working on pitchbooks for potential clients, and anything in-between that helps generate new clients.”
Typical Daily Tasks for Investment Bankers
- Creating financial models in Excel
- Putting together PowerPoint presentations for client meetings
- Making corrections or changes to models and presentations
- Researching potential clients
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Why Do Investment Bankers Work Such Long Hours?
The investment banking industry is highly lucrative — and, by extension, highly competitive: If one bank can’t do the work for a client, another bank will. Similarly, if one analyst can’t do the work, another analyst will. This can create an unpredictable workflow; banks are trying to keep their clients satisfied regardless of how unreasonable the requests may seem, and analysts are trying to impress their superiors.
“The reason investment bankers have all-nighters or very late nights is because there are deals happening at that moment, which go all the way through the evening and have to be completed no matter where they are,” Rolfe says.
The long hours (and substandard work-life balance) have become embedded in the industry’s culture: Those higher up the ladder sometimes believe that because they had to work those hours as analysts, the new analysts have to, too.
However, there is hope. The 2021 Goldman Sachs Working Conditions Survey hints that investment banks may slowly be transitioning towards slightly healthier, sustainable hours. A key takeaway of the survey was that Goldman Sachs should cap the workweek at 80 hours, amongst other directives aimed at improving the health and happiness of their employees.
Trade-Offs For the Long Hours
For people truly passionate about investment banking, the long hours could prove worthwhile as they’re associated with the following trade-offs:
The long hours are not forever.
As investment bankers gain seniority, rising from analyst to associate to vice president, the hours worked per week go down. While higher-ranked bankers have better hours, they also have more responsibility and accountability for the deals they are working on.
The hours serve a purpose: learning.
The knowledge gained in those first two or three grueling years as an analyst is invaluable. There are countless paths for an analyst to take from there, such as transitioning to something like private equity or hedge fund management.
Investment bankers make a lot of money.
The big investment banking companies pay their first-year analysts incredibly well. For example, JPMorgan Chase & Co. is reported to offer a base salary of $110,000. That figure doesn’t include additional compensation, like year-end bonuses.
Learn more about the pros and cons of investment banking to determine if the career path is right for you.
How Do Investment Bankers Cope With the Hours?
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all way to cope with such demanding hours. One key way to handle the hours is to be truly passionate about the work. Some other ways to cope include:
- Eat healthy food.
- Get good sleep.
- Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs or alcohol.
- Use downtime purposefully — see friends, foster your hobbies, rest, etc.
- Work with a therapist or doctor to find coping mechanisms that work best for you.
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