It’s only the end of January and I am already exhausted. It’s easy to forget how relentless working in investment banking can be during the Christmas break; the reality is tougher than a lot of people imagine. And it’s not made any easier by the attitude of today’s banking juniors.
I began my own career in finance over a decade ago and I have always tried to stay mindful of how fortunate I am. For a long time I wasn’t even sure that I would make it into this industry – it was a hard struggle and I had to work very long hours in another job to get in. I know that there are no easy options, even outside of finance. Ever since I’ve been in banking, I’ve worked as long as I’ve needed to in order to win clients; that’s not always easy in a European bank. My ethos is one reason I’ve been consistently promoted.
The juniors on my team do not have this approach. The millennial generation do not carry their weight in banking. I see this every day; it makes my job harder still. Worse is the fact that the old school managing directors refuse to believe that the new analysts and associates are an issue. It’s like a global warming effect: I have to work around lazy juniors, while the MDs refuse to believe they exist.
Not all young people are like this, but in the bank I work for the term ‘millennial’ has become synonymous with ‘lazy and disinterested,’ someone who sees no real purpose in working hard. Nor do millenials see any purpose in collaboration or empathy: they are quite happy to sit there wearing noise canceling headphones all day, to ignore everyone else while they do their work, and then leave.
I appreciate that empathy may seem too much to ask when you’re expecting people to work until 2am, but when I was a junior it wasn’t like this. We also worked until the early mornings and we talked to each other, ate with each other, interacted with senior staff and jumped on emails together to help the team. I don’t see this at all now.
This new generation seems unsuited to working in an investment banking division. Their focus is ‘work-life balance’ and ‘work hygiene’ – getting work done with the minimum effort possible. They continuously take the shortest possible route to completing a task, even if that means producing work of lower quality, and they have no interest in work’s intrinsic value. This is sad: being genuinely bothered about what you do can be a source of pleasure. It’s also frustrating: I do care, I’ve done my share of all-nighters, and I am still having to work hard to compensate for those who don’t want to.
Damian Mich – Read more on efinancialcareers.com