Apr 09

Wall Street’s Playbook for Managing Millennials – MoneyBeat – WSJ

As detailed in a Wall Street Journal story Friday, Wall Street banks have recently have launched a range of initiatives designed to help retain junior bankers. Here are some of the ways that firms are trying to appeal to their younger employees:

Softening the Tone
Banks are teaching managers to be more sensitive in their dealings with junior employees, particularly when asking them to log late hours or weekend duty. Credit Suisse Group AG recently appointed a senior leader, Nancy Nightingale, to liaise with junior bankers and their managers. Ms. Nightingale has urged vice presidents to avoid terse orders when asking analysts or associates to work on protected days off. Instead, she’s advised them to “lead with the client issue,” and explain how the younger worker’s contribution will help meet the client’s need.

Reducing Grunt Work
To free young workers for more stimulating projects, some firms are cutting back on entry-level drudgery like regulatory paperwork and spreadsheet models. Goldman Sachs Group, for example, plans to ramp up its investments in technology so younger bankers spend less time on rote tasks like preparing “pitch books” for deals. And some firms are working to delegate some menial work to back-office positions or outside contractors.

Finding Balance
Since 2013, Goldman Sachs investment bankers have gotten some of their weekend to themselves—from 9 p.m. Friday night to 9 a.m. Sunday morning. Citigroup has a similar policy: Bankers are allowed out-of-office time from Friday 10 p.m. to Sunday 10 a.m. Morgan Stanley has said it monitors young bankers’ work hours and tries to avoid staffing them on new projects right before a weekend. Bank of America in 2014 gave bankers four weekend days off each month, and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. most recently eliminated weekend work for all its investment bankers. J.P. Morgan calls the effort “Pencils Down.”

Speeding the Path to Promotions
A typical progression for a J.P. Morgan investment banker starts with three years as an analyst, followed by 3½ years as an associate, then three years as a vice president, and three years as an executive director before reaching the managing director title. These days, star performers can shave off up to one year at each position. At Goldman, managers begin talking to entry-level staffers about promotions six months into the job, around the time that recruiters from outside the firm typically start making overtures.

Emphasizing recognition
Credit Suisse’s Ms. Nightingale has encouraged firm leaders to email junior bankers directly to praise individual achievements. Other firms, including ING Group, induct promising recent graduates into leadership-development programs, which typically include international rotations and facilitate mentorships with senior executives.

Changing Perceptions
Banks are cutting deeper inroads into philanthropy and encouraging more employees to volunteer–attempts to combat negative perceptions of banking. At Citigroup, for example, new hires can apply to work at a nonprofit for a year before they begin with the bank.

Eight years after the financial crisis, though, this may be a tough task. “A lot of millennials just don’t consider [finance] an honorable profession,” says Kathleen Dunlap, a former managing director at Barclays PLC’s investment bank. A 2014 report from the Brookings Institution concluded “millennials are likely to… find an outlet for their desire to change the world for the better somewhere other than on Wall Street.”

Before Carles Alonso quit J.P. Morgan’s trading desk after 14 months, he sent an email to colleagues urging them to “consider the amount of problems affecting the world, and your ability to do anything about them while sitting behind six screens.” The 24-year old is currently pursuing international-development work.

Source: Wall Street’s Playbook for Managing Millennials – MoneyBeat – WSJ

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