Banking intern died after 21-hour shifts

By Paul Gallagher

Moritz Erhard.
Moritz Erhard.

Serious concerns have been raised about the punishing hours endured by interns at London City investment banks after the death of a young Bank of America Merrill Lynch employee.

Moritz Erhardt, 21, was nearing the end of a seven-week internship in London when he collapsed at home after working until 6am for three days in a row.

The circumstances of his death are unknown, but police are not treating them as suspicious. Some reports suggested that Erhardt, from Freiburg, in southwest Germany, was epileptic.

Around 300 interns working at various banks stay at the Claredale House student accommodation complex in Bethnal Green in east London for between seven and 10 weeks over the northern summer. One intern said those in Erhardt's investing banking division group faced the longest hours.

He said: "We all work long hours, but the guys working regularly until 3am or 4am are those in investment banking. People working in markets will have to be in at 6am but not stay as late, so what time you can leave the office depends on your division.

"You're only doing it for up to 10 weeks so there's a general acceptance of it. I see many people wandering around, blurry-eyed and drinking caffeine to get through but people don't complain because the potential rewards are so great. We're competing for some very well-paid jobs."

Another intern living at Claredale claimed that Erhardt, who had been earning 2700 ($5343) a month, collapsed from exhaustion.

"He apparently pulled eight all-nighters in two weeks. They get you working crazy hours and maybe it was just too much for him in the end."

Users of the popular finance blog wallstreetoasis.com insisted Erhardt regularly worked long hours, with his final three days consisting of 21-hour stints in the office.

The bank said it could not comment on the claims about Erhardt's hours.

FinanceInterns, a careers advice group, condemned the City's long-hours culture.

"Young people who jubilantly accept a summer internship thinking they've landed a chance at their dream job find themselves declaring that what should have been a summer full of hope is in fact the 'worst three months' of their lives due to all-nighters, weekend work and the magic roundabout.

"In the toughest job market experienced in recent times, competition is even higher. Consequently these talented, diligent, young people are ever more willing to work hours which more senior staff would not."

- Independent

- NZ Herald

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