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Every Wall Street wolf was once a pup, and being a junior banker is not for the faint of heart. All-nighters spent staring at excel sheets, pumping out aesthetically pleasing charts, and aligning logos on pitch books are a right of passage for fresh-faced grads.
All banks fret about being able to woo and hang on to enough of them. Citi has a plan -- on Wednesday the investment bank opened a new hub for junior bankers in the idyllic beach town of Málaga, Spain. Is it a PR stunt, or a sustainable program? Depends on who you ask.
Nine to Five (a.m.)
Wall Street has a reputation for eating its young. Every few years, an incident will prompt a streetwide review of junior banker policies. Most recently, Goldman became the center of attention after a well-circulated slide deck exposed brutal hours and allegations of workplace harassment. Banks leaned on their most reliable lever, the USD, and raised salaries for first-year analysts to $100k or more. A gargantuan sum for someone in their early 20s, yes -- but it comes with the expectation of being on the clock 24/7.
Citi is betting that the next generation of rainmakers will ascribe value to a more relaxed lifestyle -- and if the early results on the southern Mediterranean seaside are any indication, they may be on to something:
- Over 3,000 Málaga hopefuls applied for just 27 slots in the two-year program, which promises eight-hour days and work-free weekends -- practically unheard of in the traditional banking hubs in Manhattan and London. In exchange, Málaga analysts will earn roughly half the starting salaries of their peers.
- The new Spain office will represent just a minuscule number of the 160 analysts Citi hired in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, on top of another 300+ in New York.
"This is not a gimmick, it is a reality: the incredible reaction internally and from our competition has confirmed that the project is off to a good start," Manolo Falcó, global co-head of investment banking at Citi, told the Financial Times. "We suffer from a lot of churn like the rest of the industry, we lose talent to private equity and tech, so we are eager to understand if we can stop that by offering a better work-life balance."
Still, others argue that beginning your career in such a remote location -- however nice it sounds -- could blunt analysts' career development. Even María Díaz del Río, chief of staff for the unit in Málaga, conceded "If you want to go all the way, you have to move from Málaga eventually." Because if you're not inside, you're outside.