Investment banks say they want to cut working hours. To some extent, the measures they've put in place to curtail junior bankers' weeks can be said to have been a success - average weekly hours at Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan were a "mere" 72 and 69 last year according to forum site Wall Street Oasis. Not working each and every weekend clearly helps.
However, if banks want to get really serious about preventing juniors from pulling all-nighters, they could try a technique described by private equity boss Thomas Von Koch at a conference in London this week.
Speaking at the London School of Economics' Alternative Investments Conference, Von Koch, managing partner of private equity fund EQT, said that as a 27 year-old working in corporate finance he had a "bony ass," was "the master of spreadsheets," and regularly worked all through the night.
This latter habit was curtailed however, by an interesting innovation at Von Koch's employer - the Swedish investment firm, Investor AB. "They had a negative overtime system where, when you worked past midnight you got negative overtime," said Von Koch.
In other words, his pay was cut when he worked past 12am. Von Koch soon gave up the all-nighter habit as a result.
Later in his presentation, he cautioned junior finance professionals against letting their success go to their heads. "The amount of arrogance in our industry is hard to measure," he said. "People come out of school and get the EQT business card and they think they are big dogs. – They are not big dogs...Don’t be formal. Formal people are boring people."
The most important thing in life is respect, said Von Koch. "Pay respect to the taxi driver and to the receptionist – we are creating value through people."
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