“I get anxiety from my work phone”: 100-hour weeks take toll on junior Singapore banker

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“I get anxiety from my work phone”: 100-hour weeks take toll on junior Singapore banker

When I saw the presentation about the horrendous working hours of Goldman Sachs analysts in the US, I felt mostly empathy. It’s the same story here in Singapore for investment banking juniors like me. It actually feels good, in a weird way, to know that we’re not alone, and that this issue is generating attention, although I think achieving real, long-term change is still a long shot.

Similar to the the Goldman first-year analysts, I work 95 to 100 hours a week. I’ve worked every single weekend day since I started at my bulge bracket bank late last year. Everyone at my level is working the same hours. As much as I want to work less, if I do so that just means that a fellow analyst will have to work more to cover me.

I’m young but my health’s been suffering. I’m already getting a little overweight. I have a gym membership, but barely any time to use it.

Right now I’m looking forward to the weekend, when hopefully I’ll have a bit of time off to get a drink, and actually leave the house and do something. But that might not happen. On some previous “weekends”, I’ve worked until 6am on Sunday after starting work early Saturday afternoon. My bank’s “protected Saturday” policy is just on paper.

I think the worst thing about my life is the uncertainty. I just don’t know when a weekend is going to get absolutely ripped to pieces – not even on the day itself. I’ve been scolded for the crime of being out on a weekend and not being able to turn something around. Now I just take my laptop everywhere I go.

I get anxiety from my work phone. Whenever I leave the house, I feel guilty and my heart literally starts jumping. What if I get an email or call from work? The impact on my mental health has been bad. I’ve broken down and cried sometimes. And as much as my girlfriend is super supportive, it’s all really hard to cope with.

Like many juniors, I’ve received a call from HR recently. They basically said, “oh if your workload is too high you know you can speak to your manager”. Managers try to be understanding, especially the mid-level ones (VPs and directors), but that’s mainly in the form of nice things being said. We might get a “thank you” for our efforts…but that’s about it.

Weston Shan (not his real name) is an analyst-level banker at a tier-one bank in Singapore.

Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com or Telegram: @simonmortlock. You can also follow me on LinkedIn.

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