• C++ Programming for Financial Engineering
    Highly recommended by thousands of MFE students. Covers essential C++ topics with applications to financial engineering. Learn more Join!
    Python for Finance with Intro to Data Science
    Gain practical understanding of Python to read, understand, and write professional Python code for your first day on the job. Learn more Join!
    An Intuition-Based Options Primer for FE
    Ideal for entry level positions interviews and graduate studies, specializing in options trading arbitrage and options valuation models. Learn more Join!

BoA intern dies

Story in The Independent:

A 21-year-old who was interning at a London investment bank has died after reportedly working 72 hours in a row.

Moritz Erhardt was an exchange student from Germany studying at the University of Michigan and was interning at the Bank of America in London when he died, seven days before he was due to complete his summer internship.

...

One 20-year-old told the Evening Standard in 2011 that "you work whatever hours you’re asked to".

He added: "Every intern’s worst nightmare is what’s called 'the Magic Roundabout' – which is when you get a taxi to drive you home at 7am and then it waits for you while you shower and change and then takes you back to the office."
 
Sounds about right, survival of the fittest and all that. I hope students realize it is not a glamorous life and/or is not for everyone.

There is a macho culture in finance that nobody wants to admit their inability to cope with the stress and long hour. Some even see their ability to do that as a badge of pride.
Eventually, some will give up. Some will just literally pass out.
 
Last edited:
What's the productivity level after 12 hours work? Not very high I would imagaine.

That's the thing -- what's the f***ing use of having them put in such long hours when productivity declines precipitously after a certain number of hours? The only thing one can do is automatic and mechanical things like operate the photocopier, make some coffee, etc.
 
That's the thing -- what's the f***ing use of having them put in such long hours when productivity declines precipitously after a certain number of hours? The only thing one can do is automatic and mechanical things like operate the photocopier, make some coffee, etc.

What do you think IBD analysts do?

Sad news, and as above, an utterly pointless waste. I long for the days when the EU working time directives are strictly enforced and get-out clauses are not allowed.
 
Sounds about right, survival of the fittest and all that. I hope students realize it is not a glamorous life and/or is not for everyone.

There is a macho culture in finance that nobody wants to admit their inability to cope with the stress and long hour. Some even see their ability to do that as a badge of pride.
Eventually, some will give up. Some will just literally pass out.

What happens if you refuse to conform to the bullshit? E.g. you strictly worked hours 8-6. Sacked rather quickly?
 
Sad news, and as above, an utterly pointless waste. I long for the days when the EU working time directives are strictly enforced and get-out clauses are not allowed.

It seems putting in long hours -- irrespective of output -- has become a fetish, an end in itself. I bought a copy of Jonathan Crary's recent book, 24/7, a few weeks back. Here's a review of it in New Statesman:

Sleep, indeed, is a standing affront to capitalism. That is the argument of Jonathan Crary’s provocative and fascinating essay, which takes “24/7” as a spectral umbrella term for round-the-clock consumption and production in today’s world. The human power nap is a macho response to what Crary notes is the alarming shrinkage of sleep in modernity. “The average North American adult now sleeps approximately six and a half hours a night,” he observes, which is “an erosion from eight hours a generation ago” and “ten hours in the early 20th century”.

Back in 1996, Stanley Coren’s book Sleep Thieves blamed insufficient rest for industrial disasters such as the Chernobyl meltdown. Crary is worried about the encroachment on sleep because it represents one of the last remaining zones of dissidence, of anti-productivity and even of solidarity. Isn’t it quite disgusting that, as he notices, public benches are now deliberately engineered to prevent human beings from sleeping on them?

And another (more intellectually demanding) review here:

Sleep is a blockage, a paradoxically animal impediment to time that would be better spent on work, communication, consumption and marketing. As recently mapped by historians such as Ekirch and Koslofsky, early modernity saw the beginning of a disenchantment of the night through the use of lighting, fireworks and, for certain classes in Europe, the ostentatious occupation of darkness as if it were day. There is a glittery thrill in bucking the solar cycle and inhabiting the dazzling spaces of illuminated night. Crary shows us how this tendency has become massified and rather tending to loose its appealing shine in an overstocked zone of endless neon, halogen and LCD light. The latter is what especially concerns him. On the other side of all those screens are information systems that never stop churning, alerting and eliciting, logging data and corralling attention. Sleep, for Crary, is a means of asserting both a reminder of vulnerable physicality and a requirement for social forms that protect it. As such it is both intransigent and rather frail, but what he establishes is that the specific inflection given to sleep as a social form is telling of the nature of its politics. Here the book nimbly assays numerous examples of the configuration of sleep from philosophy and literature, and it is the particular quality of sleep in its ability to pick out those that slumber and those that watch, and those that are rendered unable to shut their eyes, that gives the book a real acuity in re-reading authors such as Kafka or Arendt for their figurations of the sleeper and the solicitude that they require.
 
I once stated in an interview that if the firm wanted me to pull 100 hour weeks, then I wasn't the right guy for their team. They made me smile when they replied, "er, we just tend to think that if you're still here afer 6pm, you either have too much work assigned, or you don't know what you're doing". Good answer.
 
In general why is such disparity between work satisfaction in finance and tech? Both are cutting edge, both employ smart young people. Why such difference?
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
That's the thing -- what's the f***ing use of having them put in such long hours when productivity declines precipitously after a certain number of hours? The only thing one can do is automatic and mechanical things like operate the photocopier, make some coffee, etc.


I would say after 7-9 hours work the productivity is O(exp(-6)). IMO you are better off going to the gym or park.

Certainly in mainland Europe I reckon very very few work > 9 hours per day. (unless you are self-employed). I have the feeling UK hours are nowhere near US levels.

On the other hand, finding a bug can easily take 60 hours.
 
Last edited:
Certainly in mainland Europe I reckon very very few work > 9 hours per day. (unless you are self-employed). I have the feeling UK hours are nowhere near US levels.

Mainland Europe is civilised. I've just come back from a vacation in Norway -- I doubt anyone even puts in an honest 8 hours there. But no-one has any stress there, no dysfunctionality. All the stress and anxiety begin the moment I'm back in the USA.
 
Ha! Funny how the Berkley article has no mention of the classmate interviews where they said he slept less than 3 hours a night and studied till he died.

Well he, er, just sort of died, you know.

In the old days:

http://slumberwise.com/science/your-ancestors-didnt-sleep-like-you/

His research found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk. We used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night. This range was about 12 hours long, and began with a sleep of three to four hours, wakefulness of two to three hours, then sleep again until morning.

References are scattered throughout literature, court documents, personal papers, and the ephemera of the past. What is surprising is not that people slept in two sessions, but that the concept was so incredibly common. Two-piece sleeping was the standard, accepted way to sleep.
 
Top