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Rothschild's junior bankers berated for 10.30am arrival after working until 4am

As banks compete hard for work in the Middle East, Dubai is emerging as one of the most grueling places to work. Juniors at Rothschild, which is expanding in the UAE, claim they are being driven to the point of exhaustion.

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In one email, seen by eFinancialCareers, and sent last summer by an assistant director (AD) in Dubai at the bank in the emirate, juniors were berated for arriving in the office at 10.30am after sending a deck at 4am when a "large RFP" was due.

"It's not like you have done an all-nighter," wrote the assistant director, adding that they had "f*cked up big time" for not arriving before 9am. He added that a four-hour sleep schedule is hard "but manageable" and that "everyone in the team at VP/D/MD level has done that when business required (and, trust me, for far smaller RFPs)." 

Rothschild declined to comment.

The AD who sent the email is understood to be at Rothschild still, as is the director who was copied in. In the same email, he claimed that he'd worked until 2.45am himself but had been up at 7.45am to review the deck. "A critical part of our job is availability," he said, claiming that juniors who are not available are failing at this key aspect of the role. 

The email has come to light following the death of Leo Lukenas, a Bank of America associate two weeks ago. Although the coroner deemed that Lukenas died of natural causes and although Bank of America's records show that his hours were not as excessive as some have claimed, his death has sparked renewed concerns about junior bankers' working hours. A recruiter who claims to have been working with Lukenas prior to his death, says he was seeking to change jobs after working 110-hour weeks. 

Rothschild juniors in Dubai say they are regularly requested to work long hours to the point of it being detrimental to their health. One Rothschild junior in the Emirate was taken to hospital with chest pains and shortness of breath after returning from holiday on Monday. However, it's understood that her condition was not work related.

In the past, Rothschild has been praised for its fair working hours. It operates a protected weekend policy and in France stipulates no work past 8pm on weekdays and no work at weekends. The AD also praised the juniors on his team for completing the project and promised to invite them all for a "nice couple of beers (and tequila shots) and tapas."

One banker said Dubai is particularly challenging placer to work and that Rothschild isn't the only bank working juniors hard there: "It's like a pressure cooker. Everyone is investing in the Middle East."

In 2020 a VP at PJT Partners emailed some junior bankers complaining that they hadn't promptly responded to his emails at 3am. 

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Photo by David Rodrigo on Unsplash


AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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