UK

Moritz Erhardt's Death Sparks City Internship Culture Concern

21/08/2013 12:06 BST
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Concerns have arisen about the working culture for interns in the City's investment banks after the death of Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt.

The 21-year old German business studies undergraduate was found dead last Thursday at his student accommodation in Claredale House, in Bethnal Green. Erhardt had nearly finished his seven-week internship at Merrill Lynch, Bank of America's investment arm, when he reportedly collapsed after working seveal days in a row until 6am.

Erhardt had previously completed internships at KPMG, Mogan Stanley and Deutsche Bank. His internship at Merrill Lynch paid around £2,700 a month.

He is reported to have been one of the many banking interns caught on the working schedule dubbed "the magic roundabout", where a taxi takes interns home and waits outside while they shower and change so they can be ferried back to the office to begin another working day.

“Internships are not designed to be a sweatshop or to give everyone a horrible feel,” one banker told the Financial Times.

A Bank of America Merrill Lynch spokesman refused to comment on whether staff commonly worked through the night.

“I have not got any comment to make on our work patterns," he said. “Do people in investment banking sometimes work long hours? Yes they do.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has said it is "providing full support to our interns" following Erhardt's death, giving other interns the option to finish their placements early, while they conduct their own enquiries.

“Being an intern doesn’t mean you work any less hard than the full-timers,” a former BAML intern who stayed at Claredale House in 2011 told City AM. “If no bank subjected their juniors to that sort of thing, then none of them would need to. But the fact that the entire industry does it means that a more lenient bank would start to struggle.”

Another intern living at Claredale claimed that Erhardt had collapsed from exhaustion.

“He apparently pulled eight all-nighters in two weeks. They get you working crazy hours and maybe it was just too much for him in the end,” they told the Independent.

Chris Roebuck, a visiting professor of leadership at Cass Business School, said bank bosses had a "moral and legal duty" to ensure staff were not working more than they could manage.

Erhardt was an exchange student at the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business until May, before attending WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany.