Wall Street’s Toxic Culture Under Fire as Pressure to Change Grows

Wall Street has provoked outrage and spurred calls for an investigation into an alleged toxic work culture at the Bank of America after a veteran Green Beret died from possible overworking. 

The Wall Street Stir-Up

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This week, the scrutiny over Wall Street’s toxic workplace culture has reached new heights following the tragic death of 35-year-old Bank of America (BofA) employee and Army veteran Leo Lukenas III.

A Veteran’s Journey

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According to early reports, Lukenas – who had been a Green Beret for over a decade – died of a blood clot on Thursday, April 9th. He left military life to “pursue new opportunities for his family” and ended up at BofA, where he worked from July 2023.

Diving into Wall Street’s Workload Woes

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While his death has been labeled “natural causes,” and the coroner’s report did not establish a connection between his work and his death, there has been a huge backlash on social media, with many Wall Street workers coming out against the culture on Wall Street. 

Unpacking Wall Street’s Hours

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Colleagues of Lukenas allege that he had been working over 100 hours a week for almost a month straight, all in preparation for a $2 billion merger project that was completed three days before he passed.

The Backlash Against Wall Street’s Culture

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Bankers and other Wall Street employees have slammed the culture on Wall Street, which they argue promotes unjust working conditions and offers no support. 

Rising Tensions

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Some Wall Street employees have been planning a walkout to protest for better working conditions, while others have been working on lists of demands for staff welfare – which include capping workers’ hours at 80 over a seven-day period and mandating one weekend off per month. They have also called for a formal investigation into Lukenas’ death.

Junior Bankers Speak Out on Workload

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A junior banker for BofA, speaking anonymously with Business Insider, claimed that 100-hour weeks are a common occurrence in the firm.

A Call for Change

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They were quoted saying, “I think what we all would want is some acknowledgment about what happened, and at least not completely dismiss the fact that it could have been work-related.”

Survey Says…

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These comments are backed up by a recent Financial News Survey, which found that 30% of junior bankers reported working more than 81 hours, and 14% reported working more than 90 hours per week. 

Finding New Work

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Over 70% of survey respondents indicated they would be likely to quit their job and find another within the next year.

Stepping Away

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An ex-BofA banker also spoke to Business Insider and explained that they had left last year after suffering through a similar period of 100-hour work weeks. They said, “It got to a point where I would wake up and immediately feel like I needed to throw up… My mental health was really bad. I felt very unsupported by my team.”

The Center of Controversy

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Other Wall Street insiders have condemned the amount of work that they and other employees are tasked to do. Many of them are upset with Gary Howe –  who is co-head of the Financial Institutions Group. 

Fearing the Spotlight

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Howe has received a lot of choice comments on his LinkedIn page over the last few days, which has prompted him to deactivate it, according to the New York Post. 

Wall Street’s Nervous Response

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According to insiders, Lukenas’s death has caused worries to ripple across Wall Street, as firms are worried there may be more scrutiny placed on their working conditions.

Seeking A Work-Life Balance

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Reports also indicate that Lukenas was looking to move roles before his untimely death due to the grueling hours he had to work. 

Douglas Walters on Lukenas’s Goals

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Lukenas had sought out recruiter Douglas Walters to help him find a new role and had mentioned that he would be willing to drop down the pay scale for a better schedule that would let him spend time with his family. 

Trading Time for Money

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According to Walters, Lukenas had told him that he wanted a job where he had to work less than 100 hours of work a week, and “He made a comment saying like, ‘Hey, I’ll trade hours of sleep for a 10% (pay) cut.'”

Wall Street’s Work-Life Balance Battles

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The work-life balance within Wall Street has been a controversial topic for years. Just two years ago, Goldman Sachs analysts walked out following complaints over working all night and receiving low bonuses. 

Analyses, Walkouts, and Leaks

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Their move followed on from a report a year earlier – which was later leaked online- by junior bankers in Goldman Sachs that made claims of regular 100-hour work weeks and abuse from higher-ups that was impacting their mental and physical health.

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The postWall Street’s Toxic Culture Under Fire as Pressure to Change Grows first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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