JPMorgan Said to Plan 10% Increase in Number of Junior Bankers

JPMorgan Chase & Co. plans to boost the number of junior investment bankers it employs by about 10 percent and provide them with “protected weekends” to reduce their workload, a person familiar with the matter said.

Jeff Urwin, the New York-based company’s global head of investment banking, announced the changes on an internal conference call today, said the person, who didn’t say how many people would be affected and asked not to be identified because the new policies aren’t public. Jennifer Zuccarelli, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan, declined to comment.

All of the major Wall Street firms are planning to increase investment-banking staff in 2014, according to Jeanne Branthover, the head of financial-services recruitment at Boyden Global Executive Search in New York. They are also trying to protect their best employees from poaching as average pay at the biggest banks declines.

“Business is better and they’ve stayed lean for so long,” Branthover said. “People are burned out.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which lowered the amount it set aside for employee compensation by 5 percent in the first nine months of the year, said in October that it was discouraging investment-banking analysts from working weekends.

Morgan Stanley abandoned an attempt this year to block first-year bankers from talking with recruiters for outside firms after employees complained, people with knowledge of the matter said in April.

Deal Volume

At JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank, Urwin is increasing staff worldwide in 2014 to handle the firm’s growing volume of deals, the person said, adding that some of the added employees will include support staff.

Junior investment bankers, defined as analysts and associates, will get one weekend a month starting in January, when they won’t be expected to work either from the office or home or to answer calls or e-mails, the person said. Employees will be allowed to choose which weekends are protected and can defer them to future months.

Dealbreaker reported the decision to reduce weekend duties yesterday.

The market for talent is highly competitive and banks are hoping that more flexible work conditions will help them recruit and retain top employees, Branthover said.

“They’re pouring a lot of money into these people to make them as good as they can be,” she said. “They don’t want to lose the good ones.”

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