With minor tweak, bank creates seemingly legitimate junior workload rules

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Within the last month, nearly every big bank has unveiled initiatives aimed at lightening the workload – or at least the stress level – of its junior staffers. The plans have been met with quiet cheers, but also skepticism. Does anyone honestly expect junior bankers to take the weekend off during the final stages of deal, or senior bankers to not email associates late on a Friday night?

The argument against the rules is that they are designed to be ignored, making some believe they are more banter for PR than actual decrees. One bank seems to understand that, and has created rules that may actually be (somewhat) enforceable.

Likely the best decision Bank of Montreal made when designing its rules was including the input of the bankers themselves; they had an outside firm get the pulse of analysts and associates, who said they are fine working hard but prefer their time be used more effectively, according to The Globe & Mail

So one thing the bank is telling its workers is to stop sitting behind their desk just because the boss is watching. One U.S. investment banker told us this is a common occurrence. First-year analysts will stay until 8 p.m. even if they finished work at 5 p.m. just because others remain and they don’t want to look lazy, he said.

Like other firms, Bank of Montreal is also introducing a protected weekend, but with one key tweak. If the workload suddenly becomes too much, they can bank the weekend and save it for a later date. This should help eliminate the concerns many have with the rules of other banks: either the office is short-staffed at a critical time, or the guidelines are completely ignored (the much likelier scenario).

The bank also added an interesting addendum. Senior bankers can’t assign work on Friday afternoons without the express written consent of their boss. “We will monitor it and hold senior bankers accountable,” Darryl White, BMO’s global head of investment and corporate banking, told The Globe & Mail.

At the least, it’s a better, more realistic effort.

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In case you didn’t know, Jamie Dimon is getting a pay raise for 2013, despite all of the bank’s legal problems and the fact that staff pay will remain flat. So, what makes Jamie so deserving? Well…

Gorman Too (Reuters)

Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman also got a raise. He received a $4.9 million stock bonus for 2013, up 86% over last year.

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No Skin in the Game (NY Times)

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Buzz Around the Office

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When the headline reads: “Ghost ship crewed only by cannibal rats feared to be heading for Scottish coast,” you assume it’s a joke. But it’s not. And it’s the Canadians fault apparently.

Quote of the Day: "You are not the slave of your thoughts. One way is to just gaze at them … like a shepherd sitting above a meadow watching the sheep," said French monk Matthieu Ricard, speaking to a host of bankers at the World Economic Forum.

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