Merchant Innovation

Big Banks Millennial Employees’ Struggle

In the most powerful banks on Wall Street, the career path of aspiring financiers has been set in stone for decades: Grind out 12-hour days during the first few years, work up to a position of moderate power and then reap in a massive payday for the rest of your career. However, big banks are finding that millennial employees just aren’t putting up with that nonsense anymore.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and more are all struggling to transform the grueling cut-your-teeth-before-you-make-it culture that’s ruled Manhattan banks since the dawn of the all-powerful financial institution. And the clock is ticking because more and more junior bankers are choosing careers in other industries rather than remaining in their positions with nothing but the promise of a bigger paycheck a few years out to keep them going.

In fact, one of Goldman Sachs most popular training programs for upper-level employees is the charmingly titled “Managing Millennials.”

“We’re focused on trying to understand what’s important to the folks we hire right out of school,” John Waldron, co-head of Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division, told WSJ.

That may be the company line of most big banks, but whether they can easily change a culture that’s entrenched itself into the very day-to-day activities performed by most financial employees is another question entirely. According to data obtained by WSJ, the average tenure for a junior banker at one of the 12 major banks has been in steady decline since 1996, when it sat at just above two and a half years.

As of 2015, that figure had dipped to just under 18 months.

“Same spreadsheets, same pricing models, same slides,” Lee Tsai, a former associate at JPMorgan, said of his time at the bank.

Tsai chose to leave his high-paying — or, at least, soon-to-be high-paying — job to learn to code, which, according to him, must be an improvement over his junior banking position.


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