In a profession known for its gruelling schedules, banks around the world are trying to lighten workloads to lower stress levels, especially among junior bankers. UBS are now telling their bankers they can take two hours of personal time a week. Sarah Charlton reports.
UBS is telling stressed bankers to take a break. The Swiss lender now allowing staff up to two hours' personal time each week. Reuters M&A correspondent Pamela Barbaglia says the industry has woken up to a staff health crisis: SOUNDBITE: Reuters M&A correspondent, Pamela Barbaglia, saying (English): "Well UBS here is trying to help its employees to take more time off and avoid stress because this is becoming a really big problem in the city of London. So even demand for insurance products has increased in relation to stress because financial services institutions, including banks, have to pay for employees to be home sick with stress, and this is an industry where people are working all night long, they never take a break, where people can sometimes work 100 hours a week." In 2013 a Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern died after allegedly going 72 hours without sleep. Now UBS hopes the new scheme will allow bankers to get the odd lie in. Dubbed 'take two', the personal time plan was suggested by employees. The question is whether ambitious and fiercely competitive staff will feel able to take up the offer. SOUNDBITE: Reuters M&A correspondent, Pamela Barbaglia, saying (English): "It's just been introduced a month ago so it's very early days. The problem with investment banking is that when there's a deal you can't just stop and take a break. Sometimes you need to go on all night so it's very difficult to time personal time." Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan among other big banks looking for ways to ease pressure. The lenders all have one big incentive to make such schemes work. Many new graduates already seeing venture capital firms and tech startups as more attractive places to work... If banks can't change that, they just might miss out on the best talent.