Sunday, February 25, 2024

Surprise: Goldman Sachs bankers are most satisfied with their lifestyles

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Banking is a tough job – everyone knows it. But how are the bankers feeling about their lives?

We might be able to answer that for you. We had over 1,000 replies to our lifestyle survey, and they suggest that things are not great, but not that bad either.

What we found is that, at the start of 2024, our respondents were… Moderately happy with life. The average lifestyle score was 5.75 out of 10. There were, however, variations both by sector, age, and bank.

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Contrary to popular perception, our survey suggested that people working in financial services become less, not more, happy with age, with lifestyle satisfaction declining solidly from the age of 20 to 50. Only at 50+ do people become more satisfied again. 

We also found that the people most satisfied with their lives are working in technology, followed by another middle office function: compliance. The least satisfied are working in accounting departments, by quite some margin, followed by operations.

Also interesting is that some of the hardest-working bankers were the happiest. Goldman Sachs has a reputation for working people hard, and yet it came on top of our rankings for lifestyle satisfaction, followed by Bank of America and Société Générale.

Interestingly, despite Goldman’s reputation, many respondents at the firm saw their jobs as offering a good work-life balance. They included associates, vice presidents (VPs), and managing directors (MDs), in diverse divisions including sales & trading and risk. “Earning enough to save some for the future after spending something at present,” one Goldman respondent said.

One UK-based VP, in Morgan Stanley’s debt capital markets (DCM) team in his 20s, gave his lifestyle a score of two. Despite being on between $250k and $300k in total compensation, he bemoaned his “lean team,” said he was “overworked”, and complained of being paid 40% below the market average.

At the other end of the scale, one Barclays sales & trading VP in New York gave his lifestyle a score of nine, noting his hybrid working regime (from 7am to 5pm), as well as low-workload weekends and his “ability to go to the gym for a workout during the day.” He did, however, note that New York is a very expensive place, “especially for new parents.” Budgeting can be tight, even if you’re on over $300k.


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