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Instagram says every bank is a sweatshop; so are buy-side firms

Lloyd Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, is known for his sense of humor and may have been joking. But when he told CNBC yesterday that he was done with banking because he can't hack the 100-hour weeks, Blankfein probably wasn't entirely lying. 

Even with protected Saturdays, even in a down market, many people in banking are still working 80-hour weeks. Nor is there any respite on the buy-side. A new survey by Instagram account Overheard on Wall Street says the industry is full of sweatshops, wherever you look.  

It's not clear how many responded to the survey, but given that most of the sweaty places only had two or three people criticizing them (except Jefferies and Evercore, which had four or five), the survey may not be an infallible guide to places to avoid. And if you were to avoid everywhere on the list, then where would be left to work (except, maybe, BNP Paribas)?

Which are those sweatshops? On the sell-side, the survey calls out:




Bank of America

Cantor Fitzgerald



Credit Agricole 

Deutsche Bank


Goldman Sachs

Houlihan Lokey 







Morgan Stanley


Piper Sandler


PJT Partners



And on the buy-side, it calls out:








Orion Infrastructure 


And others....

The survey confirms what most people already know: banking can be a hard, harsh industry. Some places - like Centerview, which pays well but doesn't do protected weekends - may have longer hours than the rest, but many employers on the buy-side and the sell-side still have teams involving screaming, shouting, hardos, and toxicity. 

Moving down a tier isn't the answer. The alleged sweatshops include banks in the third tier or below, where the survey suggests the hardo factor can be even higher to compensate for the perceived lack of prestige. If you really want to escape the sweatiness, it seems you need to head for an unknown regional player without pretensions like Citizens Capital Markets in Cleveland, where the non-hierarchical culture is "great."

Alternatively, you can get lucky with a good team at an employer where bad teams coexist. Take Apollo, which is criticized by one respondent for its "incredibly toxic culture" and praised for having a "great team and great culture" along with fine pay by another.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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