Hazard of the Trade: Bankers' Health

<p>A University of Southern California researcher found insomnia, alcoholism, heart palpitations, eating disorders and an explosive temper in some of the roughly two dozen entry-level investment bankers she shadowed fresh out of business school.</p>

<p>Every individual she observed over a decade developed a stress-related physical or emotional ailment within several years on the job, she says in a study to be published this month.</p>

<p>Warning:</a> Banking May Be Hazardous to Your Health - WSJ.com</p>

<p>This could have gone in a few forums but I spend the most time here.</p>

<p>Investment banking never seemed that appealing to me...but I guess some people need to have a lot of stress in their lives..</p>

<p>And the money can be very good...</p>

<p>I told my oldest not to go work in investment banking or the hedge fund industry...they are kind of alpha dog places...</p>

<p>Thankfully neither of my children has any interest in the field. My younger son views with disdain those who chose that path.</p>

<p>All I can say is " obvi." As they say, there is a reason that investment bankers are paid the big bucks.</p>

<p>This is not surprising at all. It's a very high stress, unhealthy lifestyle. What is surprising is that she says that only 1/5 of those studied left the profession. That doesn't sound realistic, judging by those I know in IB positions, who tell of a much larger attrition rate.</p>

<p>Wow this is not remotely surprising to me. Who knows a happy investment banker? All the ones I've known say, "oh I'm just doing it for a few years/a few more years...." Of course they get sucked in/trapped by the lifestyle but they don't seem like happy campers to me.</p>

<p>Since I've never known an investment banker, I'm not being facetious when I ask: what are their stressors?</p>

<p>I know an investment banker, worked at Cantor at the WTC. Left August 2001 because he was so fed up and decided he missed his kids too much.</p>

<p>It's a tough profession. I think if you break down the compensation on a per hour basis, it is not that great. Also, the work is repetitive and boring.</p>

<p>Good thing the student did not follow software developers two months before releasing a product :)...</p>

<p>I have to wonder if this shows the effect of being an investment banker, or rather reveals something about the kind of person who becomes an investment banker.</p>

<p>You have got to love the thrill of the chase and the adrenalin rushes, you have got to be genuinely interested in finance and the financial markets, and in particular industry sectors, or have a fascination for financial mathmatics and product design and algorythms. If you don't, then no amount of money will make the stress and long hours worth it. And with this can come the lack of exercise and poor diet, difficulty in meeting a significant other, estrangement from college friends who may earn less than you - which just feeds back into the stress look. All of which CAN happen (not necessarily will, tho). Plus of course, any job that is a series of adrenalin rushes and falls will create stressful feelings, that's just a chemical thing....</p>

<p>My personal opinion: I know several investment bankers in their early thirties from sales to traders to debt capital markets to M&A. One key thing about them: they are all incredible control freaks. I don't know whether it's the lack of control over their working lives that makes them so controlling about other aspects, or whether these types of jobs (and note: the roles I listed above are all quite different) attract that type of personality</p>

<p>Would be interested to know what Oldfort thinks...</p>

<p>(Full disclosure: I am a project manager in i-banking focussing on Risk/Ops/Finance)</p>

<p>This researcher followed 24 investment bankers for TEN years? What a colossal waste of time! Seems that the end result is some entertaining anecdotes, but that's about it. I can tell you some stories too. :D</p>

<p>Following people around can result in some pretty useful information. My mother is in a long-term research study for nurses and doctors (we're talking decades) and there have been many useful findings from that research.</p>

<p>Ten is a pretty small number unless it is unusually representative.</p>

<p>Some people would argue that the two years of sacrifice (typical length of investment banking analyst contract) is worth the financial comfort down the road.</p>

<p>And the attrition rate for investment banking in particular definitely hire than 1/5. Most people leave after 2-3 years for private equity, hedge fund, etc.</p>

<p>Stress also can cause sudden cramping of the sphincter which hurts like a SOB. At the colo-rectal clinic where my wife works they just call it Microsoft Butt because it is so common among the folks that work there.</p>

<p>LOL! MSFT_B (Is that preferred stock? no, it's.....)</p>

<p>True investment banking is a grind - lots of all-nighters, constantly changing pitch books, etc. There are jobs at investment banks that do not require this 24/7 dedication, such as traders and analysts. Granted, these jobs require 12 hour workdays, but it's not the same as the pure investment banking where you are constantly pitching to clients and/or working on deals.</p>

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<p>Perhaps if you work in a place where there is a monopsony employer that is shrinking, it can get away with making employees do 80-120 hour weeks on a regular basis. It is not generally the case in competitive labor markets that software developers have to do this (don't recall ever having to do an 80+ hour week in many years in the industry).</p>

<p>I worked 80+ hour work weeks as a software engineer for a few releases; there is downtime where you go to 40 hour weeks but it can get pretty intense as you approach deadlines. That period of time was not a good one for my health.</p>