Wall Street banker’s death ignites anger at long workweeks, could prompt walkout

The demise of a Financial institution of America affiliate final week has ignited a firestorm on Wall Road as some bankers slam the poisonous work tradition they really feel contributed to his demise — together with reported complaints over 100-hour workweeks.

Leo Lukenas III, a former Inexperienced Beret who was a part of the financial institution’s Monetary Establishments Group, died of “acute coronary artery thrombus” at age 35 final Thursday, according to a Reuters report. He leaves behind a spouse and two younger youngsters.

His demise got here after he had allegedly been working some 100 hours every week for a number of weeks in a row on a $2 billion merger that was accomplished final Monday — three days earlier than his tragic demise.

Lukenas III died on Could 2 after allegedly working 100-hour weeks to get a deal closed. Leo Lukenas/linkedin

A lot of the outcry on social media web site Reddit from purported financial institution staffers has been directed at Lukenas’ boss Gary Howe, co-head of the monetary establishments group. Howe took down his LinkedIn web page throughout the previous couple of days.

Some staff have reportedly messaged one another a few doable walkout in an effort to cut price for higher working circumstances, based on widespread monetary web site and chat board Wall Road Oasis.

One put up from an nameless banker highlighted an inventory of calls for for workers’ welfare that generated greater than 450 feedback in response.

The calls for embody “proactive insurance policies” that cap work schedules at a median of 80 hours over a seven-day interval, and that staff get not less than one weekend off per thirty days. It additionally referred to as for an investigation into Lukenas’ demise.

To date, employees have remained at their desks — partly as a result of they concern retribution for elevating considerations in regards to the poisonous tradition, sources mentioned.

A Financial institution of America spokesperson didn’t remark a few doable walkout or the accusations of retribution when reached by The Put up.

Leo Lukenas III leaves behind a spouse and two children. Les Lukenas/linkedin

The rep mentioned the financial institution has no plans to take any motion towards Howe or to analyze complaints that its junior bankers are pressured to place in 100-hour weeks.

“We’re very saddened by the lack of our teammate. We proceed to give attention to doing no matter we are able to to help the household and our group particularly those that labored intently with him,” the BoA spokesperson informed The Put up.

Howe didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

A financial institution spokesperson informed The Put up it has no plans to analyze complaints that employees are pressured to log 100 hours every week. UCG/Common Photographs Group by way of Getty Photographs

Lukena, who lived in Brooklyn, had been a Inexperienced Beret for greater than a decade — from 2013 till he joined the financial institution as a full-time worker final July — based on his LinkedIn web page. He posted information in regards to the deal between UMB Monetary and Heartland Monetary on LinkedIn days earlier than his demise.

He was a member of 51 Vets, a nonprofit devoted to connecting transitioning and transitioned veterans from elite army communities with main companies, based on its web site.

“51 Vets fully modified the trajectory of my put up army profession. Excellent group with an unbelievable mission,” Lukenas had lately posted on LinkedIn.

A fundraiser for his family, launched by 51 Vets, has already raised $258,962 as of early Thursday afternoon, together with $10,000 from hedge fund titan Invoice Ackman.

“This was an natural marketing campaign organized by our members,” 51 Vets founder Jordan Selleck informed The Put up. “This speaks to the ache within the veteran group and Leo’s popularity locally.”

“On Could 2nd, 2024, 51 Vets misplaced a father, husband, son, Inexperienced Beret and member,” 51 Vets says on its web site. “Leo left behind a spouse, and two younger youngsters. Leo spent over a decade in Military Particular Operations, deploying a number of instances with 1st Particular Forces Group. He was devoted to all the pieces he did, by no means settling for ok. He all the time set the instance and held himself to the best requirements, prioritizing the group and mission success over himself.”

Lukenas’ dedication to work is why some on Wall Road are fast to hyperlink his passing to a tradition they imagine values wealth over well-being.

Whereas there isn’t a direct proof to recommend his work had something to do together with his demise, numerous studies have linked acute stress to thrombosis.

Lukenas’ stunning demise reopened a longstanding debate on Wall Road a few financial institution’s accountability to staff.

Greater than a decade in the past, Moritz Erhardt, a 21-year-old intern at Financial institution of America in London, died after working till 6 a.m. three nights in a row. A coroner concluded that Erhardt’s demise from an epileptic seizure that restricted his oxygen provide might have been triggered by fatigue.

Junior bankers at Financial institution of America had mentioned a doable walkout over work circumstances however feared retribution, sources mentioned. Common Photographs Group by way of Getty Photographs

Following his demise, banks made an effort to restrict employee work hours.

That dialogue was reignited in 2021 after a PowerPoint presentation, compiled by 13 Goldman Sachs junior bankers and calling out brutal workweeks, leaked to the favored Wall Road influencer Litquidity. 

“What just isn’t alright to me is 110-120 hours over the course of every week! The maths is straightforward, that leaves 4 hours for consuming, sleeping, showering toilet and common transition time. That is past the extent of ‘hard-working,’ it’s inhuman/ abuse,” one analyst wrote on the time.

In response, banks started hiring extra workers to lighten junior staff’ workloads and restrict hours. 

However during the last yr, as Wall Road earnings dropped and companies ready for a doable recession, a number of banks — together with Financial institution of America — reduce the workforce as soon as once more.


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