Bank intern's death raises questions over workaholic race to wealth

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:46pm EDT
 
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of an intern working at the London offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch has prompted calls for city firms to take more responsibility for the ambitious graduates who push themselves to the limit to secure jobs at the world's top banks.

Attracted to the glass towers of finance in London, New York and Singapore by the prospect of securing a full-time job and hefty wage, future "masters of the universe" often face 20-hour days in some of the most adrenaline-soaked offices on earth.

Weekends at work and meals in the office are par for the course with anecdotal reports of the "magic roundabout" where interns get a taxi home after dawn and leave it waiting while they have a quick shower and then return to work.

But serious concerns about interns working long hours and even through the night were raised on Wednesday after the death of Moritz Erhardt, 21, who was found dead late last week at his London accommodation towards the end of a seven-week internship.

The German intern allegedly worked for 72 hours without sleep in the Bank of America's investment banking division. The cause of his death was unknown pending post-mortem tests.

A Bank of America spokesman said the bank was waiting for the facts about Erhardt's death before deciding whether to review its internship program.

Some politicians and an intern campaign group condemned the workload on interns dubbed "slavery in the city" by one British newspaper, calling on the banks to take measures to ensure their staff were not worked to exhaustion.

"Exploitation of youth is unacceptable," tweeted European Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor.   Continued...