BofA banker whose death shook Wall Street was looking for new job and willing to take a lower salary for better hours, recruiter says: report

Leo Lukenas III was an investment banker at Bank of America.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • The Bank of America banker who died on May 2 wanted a better work-life balance, a recruiter told Reuters.

  • The recruiter said he was in touch with Leo Lukenas III about a new job prior to his death.

  • Lukenas said he had been working more than 100 hours a week, the recruiter said.

The Bank of America banker whose death this month renewed concerns about Wall Street’s grueling working conditions had been looking for a new job with a better work-life balance, an executive recruiter told Reuters.

Leo Lukenas III, a 35-year-old Army veteran, became an investment-banking associate at Bank of America last year, where he worked on transactions for financial-services companies.

He died on May 2. Reuters reported that the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner deemed the cause of death “acute coronary artery thrombus,” which causes blood to clot in the heart. The coroner’s report did not establish a connection between Lukenas’ working conditions and his death.

A new report from Reuters released Wednesday raised more questions about the hours Lukenas may have been logging leading up to his untimely death.

Douglas Walters, an executive recruiter and managing partner at GrayFox Recruitment, told Reuters in an interview that he was in touch with Lukenas in the months before he died and that the banker was seeking a job with better hours. Walters said Lukenas told him he was putting in more than 100 hours a week at Bank of America.

Lukenas was even willing to take a pay cut to work at a boutique investment-banking firm as long as the hours were better, according to Walters’ interview with Reuters. The recruiter declined to share the name of the firm. “He made a comment saying like, ‘Hey, I’ll trade hours of sleep for a 10% (pay) cut,'” Walters told Reuters.

Walters said he had helped Lukenas put together his application for that firm. He also told the outlet Lukenas asked if it was normal to work 110-hour weeks. Walters said he told Lukenas that was excessive, even by Wall Street’s standards.

Walters did not return requests for comment sent via LinkedIn by BI on Wednesday, and GrayFox Recruitment could not be reached. GrayFox says it services companies in investment banking, private equity, and corporate mergers and acquisitions.

Bank of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI. In an emailed statement to BI last week, a spokesperson for the bank said: “We are very saddened by the loss of our teammate. We continue to focus on doing whatever we can to support the family and our team, especially those who worked closely with him.”

Current and former investment bankers told Business Insider following Lukenas’ death that his passing had dominated industry chatter and sparked concerns within the firm and the investment-banking sector — a pressure-cooker business known for its onerous work culture, and often crushing demands on junior professionals.

Prior to Lukenas’ death, he had been participating on deal work related to UMB’s $2 billion all-stock acquisition of Heartland Financial USA — a transaction that was announced in late April. Last week, the nonprofit organization 51 Vets launched a fundraiser for the Lukenas family, which has raised more than $380,000 of its intended $1 million goal.

Are you a Bank of America or Wall Street employee with details to share? Contact these reporters. Reed Alexander can be reached via email at [email protected], or SMS/the encrypted app Signal at 561-247-5758.

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