Intern's death prompts call for culture change in London's financial district

A man enters a Bank of America August 7, 2013 in Washington, DC.

21-year-old Moritz Erhardt collapsed and died this week after reportedly working very long hours at Bank of America's offices in London. Erhardt, a German business studies undergraduate, was on a seven-week internship. He is said to have been so eager to impress his bosses at Bank of America that he worked almost around the clock three days in a row. He is reported to have died after an epileptic fit while taking a shower. 

Commentaters are now calling for a change in the finance industry’s working practices. Chris Roebuck, a former banker and now professor of leadership at Cass Business School, says  junior employees in London’s financial district are frequently pressured into working up to 100 hours a week.

“This is despite all the evidence we have that clearly shows that should an individual work in excess of 70 to 75 hours, the quality of their decision-making, the quality of their output, falls off dramatically,” says Roebuck.

Bank of America said it was deeply shocked and saddened by the young man’s death and that new staff will be advised on how to cope with the pressures of the job.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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