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Morning Coffee: CEO tells exhausted junior bankers to stop complaining. Parlous state of students who studied art at top universities

If you're looking for some sympathy for your spasming hand, binge eating, premature hair loss and general exhaustion, Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, is not going to be the person to give it.  

Lutnick, who has long presided over one of the more Wall Streetish cultures on Wall Street, suggested yesterday that if you're a junior banker who's suffering after working long hours, then you can do something about it: you can leave the industry.

“Young bankers who decide they’re working too hard -- choose another living is my view,” Lutnick told Bloomberg TV. "These are hard jobs," he explained. “There is a path to becoming an investment banker that requires an enormous amount of work.” The nature of the industry is that clients want deals done under tight deadlines: “You should know that going in.”

Most people do know that going in: the trouble is that the anticipation and the reality are two entirely different things. When 13 Goldman Sachs juniors complained of crushing working hours in March, one of the points they made was that they never expected a standard working day. "I didn't come into this job expecting a 9am to 5pms," said one analyst. "- But I also wasn't expecting consistent 9ams to 5ams either." Another said that outside of work he/she only had four hours for "eating sleeping, showing, bathroom and general transition time." 

The implication of Lutnick's comments is that you maybe need to pause for thought before you join Cantor's M&A team (which it's been building under Sage Kelly) as a junior anytime soon. While it's not really possible to tell clients you can't meet deadlines, it is possible to turn down business to preserve the health and sanity of employees (something that's apparently happening this year) and to enable staffers to protect juniors from exhaustion. - But if the tone from the top is unrepentant, this probably isn't going to happen.

Lutnick's comments might be celebrated as straight-talking in a time of corporate euphemisms. He said, too, that Cantor's front office people will be in the office and should see this as a source of competitive advantage, while middle and back office staff will be more free to work at home. Given some of the things that have allegedly happened in Cantor offices, middle and back office people should probably be thankful for this.

Separately, while junior bankers wilt under the grind, graduates who've chosen other career paths are wilting under their huge debts and diminutive incomes. The Wall Street Journal has an article about Columbia students who didn't study an MBA and go into a bank or hedge fund. - Graduates of Columbia's film program have a median debt of $181k and two years after their Master's degrees, half are making incomes of less than $30k. “There’s always those 2 a.m. panic attacks where you’re thinking, ‘How the hell am I ever going to pay this off?’ said one 29 year-old former film student. “Financially hobbled for life,” said another. Maybe they should have gone to work for Lutnick instead?

Meanwhile...

Bob Diamond wants to take the crypto firm Circle public. It's valued at $5.4bn. (Financial Times) 

Executive search firm Intersection Growth Partners has been finding talent for Circle in return for stock. (Business Insider) 

Binance says it's increased its compliance team by 500% since last year and it wants to double it again by the end of this year. It didn't provide any actual numbers though. (Reuters) 

Bank of America created a new team to research cryptocurrencies led by Alkesh Shah who previously led the global technology research team at the bank. (Bloomberg) 

Low corporate bond yields could spark a new spurt of issuance. “If you didn’t issue already, you are going to jump on it now. How can you not take advantage of that?” (Financial Times)

Wisdom of the man who juggled on Wall Street. "I watch you. I have all the money I want in the world. But I’m not happy. I see you perform, and you’re happy. How do I become happy?’” (New York Times)

A third of people in Saudi Arabia get their government pensions aged 45. The government wants to change that, but raising the retirement age is predictably unpopular. (Yahoo)

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available.

Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

Photo by Konstantine Trundayev on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Fr
    Fred Dibnah
    11 July 2021

    Absolute BS. Nobody works 9am to 5am more than 1 or 2 days. Anyone who thinks it's normal, expected, or even legal is just an idiot.

    I've been there, and been promoted. Sorry, it really doesn't happen unless you let it, or as I said, are an idiot. In which case your prospect there is anything but good.

    Work smarter, not harder.

  • Gi
    Girl Boss
    10 July 2021

    Why would the junior bankers think it would be anything else but working 24/7? Finally a CEO who doesn't lower the bar to allow his staff to meet the subpar standard!

  • Ro
    Robert Matthews
    10 July 2021

    Anyone who thinks HL is just another Wall Street veteran asskicker should check out his Wikipedia entry. Astonishing life journey. No wonder he doesn't have much time for whiners.

  • Ma
    Marcelo
    9 July 2021

    First valid comment I heard from an IB manager for sometime. Going back to the very reason as to why graduate want to do that job? Because it pays above par, does not command much skillset and is safe in the sense that it is an "old business". You can't get the cake and the cherry on top. The problem is many graduate have a total misconception of what the job really entails they don't realize that this is basically blue collar worker on steoird.

  • BH
    B H
    9 July 2021

    What a dumb thing to say by the CEO. Clearly if the hours are long your labor numbers and/or processes suck. Why not improve things instead of blaming people? Automate, increase headcount, reduce headcount after automating. Do something rather than blame the culture and industry. That's a piss poor excuse to try and justify terrible working hours. That's the lazy way. Anyone see the irony?

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