Young Bankers Fed Up With 90-Hour Weeks Move to Startups by Dawn Kopecki May 9, 2014 – Bloomberg Markets Hamilton Colwell, an ex-banker at JPMorgan, now produces Maia Yogurt. Photographer: Steven Brahms/Bloomberg Markets May 9 (Bloomberg) -- It was a Friday in the fall of 2004 and Umber Ahmad had been invited to read a poem at the wedding of one of her closest friends. She was planning to catch a 7 p.m. flight from New York to Toronto when a vice president at Morgan Stanley called her in. The client in a big merger deal needed work done over the weekend. A mergers and acquisitions specialist, Ahmad had no choice. She canceled the flight and started revising her analysis of the deal, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its June issue. The missed wedding was just one of dozens of dinners, family get-togethers and other events that Ahmad did not attend as she worked 70- and 80-hour weeks as a young associate at Morgan Stanley and later as a vice president at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Ahmad, the Michigan-born daughter of a Pakistani doctor who taught at Harvard Medical School, likens the long hours and all-nighters to serving in the army. “The military will show you that sleep deprivation is a form of torture,” she says. “Not being able to get regular sleep is a detriment to your life, to your health.” Her life revolved around her job, she says. She dated another banker. Many of her friends were -- and still are -- bankers because they understood last-minute cancellations and upset vacation plans. “You always remain close to the people you’ve gone to war with,” she says. “It’s a lot of misery they can understand.” Ahmad says she loved her job, as exhausting as it was. “It was exciting; it was drinking from a fire hose every day,” she says. Stress Relief She left Goldman in 2007 to start her own investment firm. She didn’t forget that in her rare leisure hours at the banks, she used baking to help ease the stress. So, in 2013, Ahmad founded Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, a New York–based luxury pastry company launched with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. She is also a managing director at New York investment firm Specialized Capital Management & Advisory. For Ahmad, banking was a springboard to her new life as an entrepreneur. “As hard as it was and as trying as it was and as sleepless as it was, it also afforded me the opportunity to be where I am today,” she says. Some of the best and brightest of Wall Street’s young investment bankers are bailing out of their high-paying, prestigious jobs at big financial institutions. Many are setting up their own businesses, especially in technology. While there are no
precise statistics on the trend, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of employees aged 25 to 34 in the New York metropolitan area in finance and insurance fell to 109,187 as of the second quarter of 2013, down 19 percent from the second quarter of 2007.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 6 pages?
- Fall '09
- investment banks, JPMorgan Chase & Co, young bankers, junior bankers