The high-achieving college students bound for Wall Street jobs have heard the stories of long nights and weekends spent at the office, a grueling schedule etched into big bank culture.
But this year, many of the fresh recruits will encounter a new, unfamiliar reality: mandatory time off.
The leading Wall Street banks are taking a close look at the work environment of their interns and junior bankers, known as analysts and associates, after the death of an intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London last summer. In an internal memo on Friday, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said analysts and associates should spend four weekend days away from the office each month, part of a broader effort to improve working conditions.
It remains to be seen whether this guideline and others being implemented at other firms will significantly alter the hard-charging culture of these highly coveted and intensely demanding jobs. But in any event, 2014 will probably be remembered as the year Wall Street tried to offer some relief to the grunts who work behind the scenes — tweaking spreadsheets and preparing presentations — to help the bank run.
In addition to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, several other large banks are thinking hard about the workload of their junior employees.
Morgan Stanley has formed a committee to look at broader issues around career development and training for those lowest on the totem pole, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. The Wall Street Journal reported the existence of the committee earlier.
JPMorgan Chase plans to increase its number of junior bankers by 10 percent this year, a person briefed on the matter said. The plans, announced internally in December, also include providing analysts and associates with one "protected weekend" set aside for rest each month.