Citibank sent junior bankers to work shorter hours on a gorgeous Spanish beach. There’s just one catch – Fortune

A few dozen young Citibank analysts just started a two-year stint on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, during which they’ll work about half as much as their counterparts in the world’s major financial hubs.

The program, announced in March, is an attempt by the financial services giant to disrupt the traditional path into banking, where new analysts are put to the test by working long, punishing hours

In Málaga, one of Spain’s oldest and warmest cities, analysts will be expected to log eight-hour days, far less than many of their colleagues in New York or London. But as a result, they’ll make about half what those colleagues elsewhere earn.

“The new EMEA Banking Analytics Group will offer improved work-life balance to attract top talent that may not ordinarily consider a career in investment banking, which will both broaden and enhance the diversity of the bank’s talent pool,” the bank said in announcing the program.

The program received over 3,000 applications, according to data that Citi shared with Fortune, with applicants coming from every market in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, along with others from Asia and the Americas.

The program’s inaugural cohort has 27 analysts representing 22 nationalities and 15 languages, including English. They’re primarily recent college graduates between 22 and 26 years old. The group is split 59% male and 41% female.

The analysts will work from an office located in central Málaga, a city Citi chose for the program due to its “growing reputation” for tech-driven business and innovation, as well as its convenient location to other European finance hubs. 

The hub’s launch comes as executives worry that talented individuals are opting not to pursue banking due to fears about overwork.

“Low levels of junior banker retention are being seen across the industry, and the message is clear: The key driver behind many junior-level departures is the search for a better work-life balance,” said Manolo Falcó, Citi’s global cohead of banking, capital markets, and advisory, in a press release. 

The program’s launch does not mean that the bank is changing its fundamental career model, he added: Existing hubs including Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris will all operate as they traditionally have.

Earlier this year, a group of Goldman Sachs junior bankers conducted an internal survey of their peers, finding that many were suffering from 100-hour-plus workweeks.

“It is a critical time for our industry, and we need to provide alternative solutions to meet these challenges and develop the talented bankers of the future,” Nacho Gutiérrez-Orrantia, Citi’s head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa banking, capital markets, and advisory, said in the release. “We believe this will continue to be a competitive advantage in retaining and attracting the best possible talent as we continue to grow and better serve our clients.”

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