The 10,000-Hour Rule: Why Junior Bankers Work Long Weeks

(Bloomberg) There’s a reason junior bankers just starting out on Wall Street work 12-hour days, six days a week, says Mary Erdoes, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s asset and wealth management business.

That level of intense training will help them master the job in two to three years, instead of the five years it might take if they eased up a bit, said Erdoes, whose unit manages roughly $4 trillion.

"If you think 10,000 hours is about what you need to master any subject, if someone comes in and has a regular, eight-hour-a-day job, five days a week, it’s gonna take about five years to have a base-level mastery,” she said to David Rubenstein, the co-founder of Carlyle Group, on Bloomberg TV.

“On Wall Street, it’s more like 12 hours a day, six days a week. That cuts you down to about two and a half years before you become mastered in something.”

Erdoes has certainly mastered the 10,000 hours.

On the show, she recounts how she started in the industry at age 6 balancing her grandmother’s checkbook, earning a fee of a few dollars a month. “My first foray into the money management business,” she jokes. Erdoes, 53, graduated from Georgetown University with a math degree in 1989, got an MBA at Harvard Business School and was hired at JPMorgan in 1996.

Then, in 2009, she took over the firm’s asset management group — which directs investments for wealthy individuals, institutions and sovereign wealth funds.

She replaced Jes Staley, who was promoted to run the investment bank. Staley, now CEO of Barclays, told Bloomberg in 2013 that he remembered seeing her at her desk, late at night, long after everyone else had gone home.

Wall Street’s grueling hours — albeit with base pay topping $100,000 — have gotten something of a re-evaluation during the pandemic. In response to junior bankers’ concerns about their physical and mental health, some banks have pledged to be mindful and offered higher pay, bonuses and other perks. Goldman Sachs said it would back off, allowing workers to exhale between 9 p.m. Friday evening and 9 a.m. Sunday.

Still, the lucrative positions in banking are sought-after, and not just by the applicants. Wealthy clients who want their children to have Wall Street careers often call up the bank and ask whether their kids can be hired, Erdoes said.

“That happens all the time,” she said. “We always want qualified candidates. So we encourage everybody to apply.”

This summer, Erdoes said, 2,200 analysts will be starting their training with JPMorgan, the largest bank in the U.S., which has more than 250,000 employees globally. During their two or three years in training, the bank will assess their skills. “Which ones actually are good at stock investing?” she said. “Which ones are good at M&A transactions? Which one are good at helping people understand things in a more simplistic manner?”

Erdoes said one of the trickiest parts of wealth management — in which bankers help people plan financial moves — is handling conflict among generations or between couples, especially when one spouse is kept in the dark about financial decisions. “If you think about it early enough, it becomes much less emotional,” she said.



More Articles