Banking may be bad for your health

Add investment banking to the list of things that could be dangerous to your health.

A University of Southern California researcher found insomnia, alcoholism, heart palpitations, eating disorders and an explosive temper in some of the roughly two dozen entry-level investment bankers she shadowed fresh out of business school.

Every individual she observed over a decade developed a stress-related physical or emotional ailment within several years on the job, she says in a study to be published this month.

Investment banking has long been a beacon for ambitious people who crave competition, big money, steak dinners and paid-for town-car service. The 100-hour workweek, these ironmen and ironwomen tell themselves, is just the opening ante in a high-stakes game.

But investment bankers, salespeople and traders are only human. Under the immense stress of their jobs, many suffer personal and emotional problems that escalate into full-blown crises, with some bankers developing conditions that linger long after they have left the industry.

Of course, no one is being drafted into high finance. Aspiring Wall Street stars sign up for the punishing hours with eyes open. What's more, the study's small size and the lack of a control group raise questions about how closely the findings apply to the broader population of roughly 267,000 would-be masters of the universe.

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