Some people think that if you're based in Paris or Frankfurt as a junior investment banker, you will have an easier life than bankers in London or New York. As an associate for a European bank in Germany, I want to clarify that this is not the case.
Frankfurt bankers kill themselves for clients just as much as bankers elsewhere.
German clients are incredibly demanding and expect you to be available 24/7. For the past three years, I have barely had any time off. I have worked for weeks on end with 2-4 hours sleep each night and no weekends.
It means that even though we theoretically have more holidays than our American counterparts, the reality is that you we cannot possibly take them. Right now, I have 70 days of holiday that I have not taken. Not is it clear when I will be able to.
I know that I am on the brink of burnout. Sometimes I go to bed at 5am after sending presentations out and fantasize about not getting up again three hours later. There hasn't really been much change to my working hours despite all the talk about trying to limit them. The only thing that's happened really has been to heavily increase my compensation.
I worry a bit about my health: alongside the lack of sleep and constant exhaustion there are a whole host of other issues including bad posture from constantly sitting at my desk, and the temptation to eat a poor diet to compensate for being so tired. - Sometimes I'm too tired even to chat to my family at weekends.
However, and despite all the hardships, I think this job is worthwhile. I'm developing an incredible skill set that will hopefully be the foundation for doing something more entrepreneurial in the future!
Annina Schult is a pseudonym
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