Credit Suisse Tells Junior Bankers to Avoid Office on Saturdays

Jan 13, 2014 7:08 pm ET

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-largest lender, told junior investment bankers to take much of their weekends off as Wall Street firms seek to improve working conditions.

Analysts and associates in the U.S. investment banking division should be out of the office from 6 p.m. Friday until 10 a.m. Sunday unless they’re working on an active deal, according to an internal memo from Jim Amine, the firm’s global head of investment banking. Jack Grone, a spokesman for the Zurich-based company, confirmed the contents of the memo.

The changes could soften the image of early Wall Street careers as endurance contests, with 100-hour work-weeks and no time off. Banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. are changing their policies as merger deals and initial public offerings have fallen from pre-crisis peaks and average pay drops at the largest U.S. firms.

Credit Suisse still expects junior bankers to reply to e- mails over the weekend “in a timely manner,” Amine said in the memo. A team not working on an active deal that needs analysts and associates in the office can obtain pre-approval for such a request, he wrote.

The policy is part of the firm’s efforts “to improve the junior banker experience” that include increased training and a program that allows top analysts to be promoted more quickly to associate, Amine wrote.

Recent Graduates

Analysts are often recent college graduates, and associates usually are employees who have been at the company for about two years or who completed business school. The junior-banker title of analyst doesn’t refer to research analysts who recommend stocks to investors.

Goldman Sachs and Bank of America also have encouraged time off on weekends for junior bankers as mergers remain below their pre-crisis peak.

Companies globally announced $1.8 trillion of mergers and acquisitions last year, 46 percent lower than the 2007 high of $3.32 trillion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Deal volume hasn’t topped $2 trillion since the financial crisis, after surpassing the mark each year in the four years ended in 2008.

Goldman Sachs said last year the New York-based firm would hire more analysts to spread the work around, and it restricted weekend work to “critical client activity.” Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America recommended this month that analysts and associates take at least four weekend days off a month.

--Editors: Rick Green, Peter Eichenbaum