Wall Street and City’s 10 Most Stressful Jobs

Working in the world of finance is a wonderfully rewarding experience, but the financial industry can also be challenging and has been under intense pressure since the onset of the financial crisis. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently reported about a series of suicides in London by financial professionals who allowed stress to accumulate beyond a point that they could handle without help. With this terrible news in mind, this article considers the 10 most stressful financial careers.

1. Investment BankerInvestment banking has long been one of the most demanding and stressful positions on Wall Street and in the City. A main reason why the stress is so fierce is that it takes a long time to achieve adequate compensation, which is usually a quite good motivator. After all, Ray Cohen, author of Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, refers to junior banker as a form of legalized slavery.

2. Trader

Traders don’t have to deal with the long hours that investment bankers do, but their stress is more acute and unpredictable. A trader lives and dies on a daily basis, and that can have a tragic long-term effect. Traders need in-the-moment stress management techniques and a positive eye-on-the-prize approach.

3. Risk Management and Compliance

RM&C careers have quickly ascended this list in the last decade. The pressure cooker that is RM&C now wasn’t always the case. Much of that new pressure comes from regulation. The regulatory requirements change at a frenetic pace, and the sheer responsibility of having to keep up with those changes and apply them on a timely basis can overwhelm a person. The upside is often limited.

4. Financial Advisor

The great burden on wealth managers is that they only eat what they kill. The stress is exacerbated when economic conditions make the hunting grounds infertile. To put this into perspective, consider that of all the wealth managers in the industry five years ago, only 1-in-30 is still in the position.

5. Institutional Sales

Stress comes with any sales job, but sales positions in the financial sector are particularly daunting due to the lack of job security and the salary ceiling. Technological automation has had a big effect on the industry, and today, there are more salespeople fighting over a smaller pie.

6. Management Consulting

With management consulting, the stress is in the grind. These professionals are always working, and even when they’re not “working,” they’re at an airport or in a cab and still mulling some complex business problem that needed a solution yesterday.

7. Private Equity

Success in private equity requires smarts, a strong work ethic and a well-balanced life. It can be highly stressful at times, but the stress is not nearly as consistent as it is in investment banking and the salary potential is often higher. It’s no wonder that so many investment bankers are shifting gears.

8. Industrial Coverage and Research Analyst

Fund managers tend to get all the glory, but behind every great trader is a great research analyst. A big reason for the stress in this field is that the research professional shoulders much of the blame and burden but rarely gets the praise, including in a financial sense, relatively.

9. Fund Manager

Fund managers have to make the final call, and putting your name on the line is a substantial source of stress. Great and terrible fund management decisions make and break careers, but middling decisions often fall back on the research analysts.

10. Technology

The modern financial world would crumble without its technology and the professionals who know had to keep it running. Unfortunately, these technical wizards work in a pressure cooker, on call and with compensation that’s very low relative to the great responsibilities they shoulder.


People in the financial industry thrive on challenges, and stress is just another challenge to overcome and then master. Stress may come with the position, but do not forget to make it work for you. Those partnerships we rely on in the financial world can also help us to overcome challenges and get ahead in our personal lives. Considering how you’ve dealt with career stress thus far, have you learned any trade secrets that might help your peers?

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