The investment banking culture has long been viewed as a macho, testosterone-fueled world where working 100-hour weeks and pulling all-nighters before a deal were commonplace. Analysts would brag about going home only to change their clothes.
The payoff, in many cases, are enormous. Starting salaries and bonuses easily top $100,000. Incomes are two to three times higher than comparable finance jobs, enabling young bankers to enjoy the trappings of wealth and a high-status social life well before age 30. Senior bankers jet around the world to meet with clients and there is the adrenelin rush of seeing the results of your hard work show up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The analytical skills and knowledge gained after a few years in an investment banking job also prepare you for a broad range of financial careers.
While the financial crisis has put a damper on hiring and slightly tarnished the image of Wall Street investment banks, the big bucks, intense work environment and exposure to high level financial decision-makers still lures many ambitious graduates from the top business schools across the country.
Investment banking remains a “sink-or-swim” culture, where you have to prove your ability every day. You have to be mentally and physically prepared for the toll that 100-hour work weeks are going to take on you and your personal life, which is going to have to take a back seat to your career for a number of years.
On the other hand, many investment bankers say they enjoy the camaraderie of working in a close-knit team. Some likened their deal team as “another family” with its nurturing and mentoring qualities. In a best-case scenario, team members help each other out in a pinch, and there’s a healthy sense of pride and competitiveness as each deal team tries to outdo each other with the size, complexity and profitability of their transactions.
Next time, we’ll look at what investment banks are doing to improve work-life balance for some of their employees.