How Many Hours do Investment Bankers Really Work? (2024)

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Overview

Without a doubt, one of the scariest aspects of a career in investment banking is the sheer brutality of the hours. It’s easy to be attracted to a career like banking because of how lucrative it is (even at the junior level), but sooner or later you’ll have to confront the grim reality: investment banking requires a lot of work.

There’s no way around it – getting any deal done takes a crazy amount of firepower and energy. There are a large number of moving pieces in even the simplest of financial transactions. As such, mergers and acquisitions require large amounts of effort to complete and they are typically accompanied with tons of analysis.

I do think, however that there tends to be a brutal exaggeration of investment banking hours.

I personally don’t think anyone consistently averages 100 hours or even 90 hours over the course of months. There is a limit to the human soul and it breaks well before that point.

I find that many bankers (mostly post-MBA associates and college students with <2 months of work experience) often view the hours they work as a vanity metric and are tempted to exaggerate about how much they work.

It’s not necessarily intentional; the grim nights are what people remember and the memory of grim nights often leads us to believe that we’re working harder and longer than we really are.

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In this post, I’ll summarize observations from my own experience in banking and the experience of many of my peers.

Distribution of Hours Worked

I was an investment banking analyst at an elite boutique in New York for two years. I did my best to keep track of the hours I worked back then (using taxi and Seamless receipts as a reference). Below is how I would generally chart out my experience in investment banking.

I think the median of my hours worked was around 70 hours per week. The vast majority of my weeks were spent in that 60 to 80 hour range.

I would say that this distribution is probably true for most analysts and associates across most bulge brackets and elite boutiques.

What 60 Hours per Week Looks Like

60 hours is tough, but it’s still pretty doable for most people.

Many non-banking professions require you to do 60 hours of work (consulting, scrappy startups, some accounting firms). In fact, most private equity and hedge fund people probably average 60 hours. Although the buy side tends to be a much more grueling 60 hours, the point stands.

60 hours means you get home between 8-10pm (depending on your start time) and you have a few hours to yourself before you have to go to sleep. Considering you’d probably have to cook and eat dinner if you worked a normal job, you’re not losing that much free time compared to a 9-5 gig.

You’re probably losing 1-2 hours of pure free time a day and you’ll have to do a little bit of work on the weekend.

At 60 hours per week, you can still celebrate a glorious work-free Friday night. You can get off around 5-6 pm and not touch your laptop until Sunday. At 60 hours, you can have one full free day off and generally only have to do some light work on the other day. You might not get to choose exactly when that time is, but in general, this is survivable.

You’ll see from the schedule that most people get into work around 10am in banking. This is the hidden gift of banking… the days can sometimes start super late. This is partially because people don’t always know when you stopped working the night before. You typically start way later than other professions. I’ve seen some banking groups have people stroll in at 11am or noon.

What 80 Hours per Week Looks Like

The difference between working 60 and 80 hours is pretty dramatic.

And the difference is often based on whether you’re on a live deal or not. You can get to 60 hours just being on pitches and doing face time, but getting to 80 hours often means you have consistent deadlines or you’re pushing towards a deal announcement.

How Many Hours do Investment Bankers Really Work? (2)

I do think 80 hours is the point when your physique starts to noticeably erode. You have time to maybe go to the gym once or twice per week if you're willful.

You’re generally getting less than 6 hours of sleep and you don’t have a single day off, so you almost never feel well rested. And let me tell you, the difference between 2 days off and 1 is already enormous. But the difference between 1 day off and 0 is even bigger.

I’ll note that for me at least, I still always needed an hour or 30 minutes at least after I got home to decompress, watch TV or have a lonely drink. Regardless of the hour, even if I got home at 3am, I still generally needed some amount of time to myself, even if it was coming directly out of sleep.

Secondly, I do think that Friday nights are still sacred. Even during super busy seasons, people do their best to honor Friday nights as best they can.

Consistently Working 100 Hours is Torture

I think people tend to gravitate to the 100 hours trope because 100 is a nice round number.

100 hours is not a nice round way of life.

I can tell you that 100 hours is pure insanity, far past what the human psyche can typically withstand.

It takes an extraordinary level of commitment to consistently work at this level, because this is well past the point where you start infringing on your sleep, your social relationships, the gym, eating, and basic hygiene. I probably only worked 100 hours when I was either in the peak of a live deal, I had two projects blowing up at the same time, or I was working on some cross-border awfulness.

I would estimate that I probably had a 100 hour week only about once every few months.

Quiet Periods Don’t Last Long

On the other end of the spectrum, there still tends to be a floor to how much work you’ll have. Non-deal mode doesn't mean you get to completely slack off. The bittersweet part about having a chill week in banking is that you know in the back of your head that it won’t last. Not for long.

If you consistently have less than 60 hours of work, that generally means you’re not on live deals and your group’s partners are about to start pitching. Partners try to operate their groups like efficient teams and if there’s a lot of excess capacity, they’ll take on additional projects.

I found that whenever things were getting too quiet in the office, our firm’s partners would just ramp up the amount of pitching and client servicing they did. There would always be a steady amount of work to do.

The weeks when you can most reliably get to 40-50 hours of work are around the holidays. I would say the week of Christmas, the week of the holiday party, and that last week in August when all of the senior people go on vacation are times when you can perceivably get to 40 hours.

Second Year and First Year are Different Beasts

Another important distinction is that your schedule can be completely different as an analyst in your first and second year. This is extremely bank dependent, but I’ve observed some groups having a very strong “pay your dues” culture, when the first years get grinded like crazy while the second years waltz around like aimless cherubs.

I’ve also seen the reverse, where the second years are the only ones that can be trusted with the actual work to do and so they’re the ones who get grinded. This can be hard to predict and difficult to make career decisions around, but it’s a trend worth noticing.

Summary

In summary, I think you can generally expect most of your weeks in investment banking to be between 60 and 80 hours. I’d say 60 hours is doable, while 80 hours will really start to push you.

I think anyone who says that they work 100 hours on average is probably lying.

How Many Hours do Investment Bankers Really Work? (2024)

FAQs

How Many Hours do Investment Bankers Really Work? ›

Investment bankers work notoriously long hours, with the typical work week filling in 60-80 hours per week, and the occasional high-intensity work week that can push a banker to 100+ hours.

How many hours do investment bankers actually work? ›

On average, an investment banker works for 80 hours a week. But, yes, there may be some weeks where their working hours may go around to 100 hours a week. The working hours will also differ for different positions of employees.

How many days off do investment bankers get? ›

Seniority plays a big role in vacation time as more experienced bankers are typically given more time off to recharge and take a break from the grueling demands of the job. Typically, entry-level investment bankers, for instance, can expect to receive around 10-15 days of vacation per year.

Do investment bankers have free time? ›

A Week in the Life of an Investment Banker

In an average week, you will not have much free time on weekdays. Many Analysts are in the office from 9 AM to 1 AM each day, and sometimes a bit less than that on Friday or other “slow days.”

Do investment bankers make 500K a year? ›

Ways to make a lot of money in this world

Sure, anybody can make a good living being a doctor or a lawyer or an investment banker where you can make ~$200-500K per year a few years after you finish with your studies, but you hit a ceiling very quickly unless you start your own practice (aka start your own business).

Do investment bankers really work 80 hours? ›

The well-known bulge bracket banks like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Bank of America tend to work analyst-level investment bankers at the industry standard scale of 60-80 hours per week. Example Bulge Bracket Banks: Goldman Sachs.

How stressful is investment banking? ›

Investment banking is a demanding and competitive field that can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Long hours, high pressure, and tight deadlines can cause stress, burnout, and anxiety. However, there are ways to cope with these challenges and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

How much sleep do investment bankers get? ›

While working in Investment Banking, the average bedtime on weekdays for me was 1:29 AM, with an average sleep duration of 5 hours and 56 minutes. On weekends, the average bedtime was 12:02 AM, with an average sleep duration of 8 hours and 29 minutes. However, behind these figures are large fluctuations day by day.

Do investment bankers make a lot of money? ›

Can you become a millionaire as an investment banker? It is possible to become a millionaire as an investment banker, but it is not easy. Investment bankers typically earn salaries in the $200,000 to $700,000 range, with bonuses that can bring their total income up to several million dollars per year.

What is the average day of an investment banker? ›

Investment bankers meet with clients, send emails, prepare offers, conduct financial projections, work on signing new clients to the company, providing initial public offerings (IPOs), and mergers and acquisitions. These are some of the tasks an investment banker must do on a daily or weekly basis.

At what age do investment bankers retire? ›

Age Range: It's nearly impossible to reach this level before your early 30's, so we'll say 35-50 for the range. Few MDs continue working until the official retirement age (65-70); it's a stressful, high-pressure job, and past a certain net worth, it's just not worth it.

How is the life of an investment banker? ›

Long Hours: Investment banking is known for its grueling work hours. Stress: High stakes and tight deadlines can make the job highly stressful. Work-Life Balance: The demanding nature of the job can affect work-life balance.

What is the personality of an investment banker? ›

Essential Qualities for an Investment Banker

Finally, would-be investment bankers need to be self-motivated, good communicators, natural leaders, and team players, too. You also need to have a strong sense of professionalism at all times.

Why are investment bankers so rich? ›

Investment bankers make money through the fees charged to their clients. As discussed above, this includes underwriting fees for arranging the sale of securities and advisory fees for providing strategic guidance.

Who earns 2 million a year? ›

There are a few jobs that make a million or more dollars per year. Some of these jobs include investment bankers, surgeons, and CEOs of major corporations. However, there are a few other jobs that make a million or more per year that are not as well-known. One such job is a professional gambler.

How much do investment bankers make at 30? ›

2024 Investment Banker Salary and Bonus Report: The Ugly, the Ugly, and the Ugly
Position TitleTypical Age RangeBase Salary (USD)
Analyst22-27$100-$125K
Associate25-35$175-$225K
Vice President (VP)28-40$250-$300K
Director / Senior Vice President (SVP)32-45$300-$350K
1 more row

How many days do investment bankers work a week? ›

Many Analysts might be working more like 80-90 hours per week rather than 70-80. That may not sound significant, but it's the difference between 12.5 hours per day for 6 days with one day off and 12.1 hours per day with no days off.

How many hours do VP investment bankers work? ›

Investment Banking VP Hours: Average hours at this level are around 55-70 per week, mostly because the work shifts to project management rather than last-minute presentations and requests. Promotion Time: It usually takes 3-4 years to be promoted to Director, assuming you perform well.

How many hours do MD investment bankers work? ›

Investment Banking MD Hours

On paper, Managing Directors have the best hours of any banker, with a likely range of 50-60 hours per week.

References

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