Death of Bank of America Associate Ignites Renewed Scrutiny of Investment Banking Workloads

Bank of America investment banking associate Leo Lukenas III died last week after what those close to the situation have described as an intense period of work in support of an active M&A process.

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The New York Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has classified the death a result of natural causes—an 'acute coronary artery thrombus,' which causes the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel of the heart, the office said. Lukenas was a 35-year-old married father of two.

Social media posts circulated this weekend cited sources within Bank of America’s Financial Institutions Group (FIG) claiming that junior bankers, including Lukenas, had worked in excess of 120 hours per week for each of the four weeks leading up to his death. These claims could not be independently verified.

The same sources referenced Bank of America’s buy-side advisory role on UMB Financial’s $2 billion acquisition of Heartland Financial, announced on April 29th. In the week prior to his death, a Bank of America spokesperson separately confirmed that Lukenas had been staffed on an unnamed bank acquisition through late April.

Lukenas joined Bank of America as a full-time associate last July after having completed a summer associate internship through the Veteran Associate Program. Lukenas previously served 10 years as a Special Forces Officer in the U.S. Army—a Green Beret—and had completed more than a dozen combat tours.

Lukenas was placed on the bank’s FIG team immediately upon joining the firm, according to a Bank of America employee who requested their name be withheld. When asked for comment, Bank of America would only say, “Our focus is on doing whatever we can to support the family and our team, who are devastated.”

Bank of America has previously fielded allegations of excessive junior banker workloads. In 2014, ABC News published a story called “Confessions of a Real-Life Bank of America Junior Banker” in which the subject claimed 90-hour work weeks were a regular occurrence at the firm.

That story was in response to the 2013 death of 21-year-old Bank of America intern Moritz Erhardt in London. Erhadt suffered a fatal epileptic fit after working without sleep for three days straight, according to initial reports.

In the aftermath of Erhadt’s death, Bank of America had joined Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase in agreeing to limit the number of permitted working hours for junior bankers.

Note: Colleagues and friends have organized a fundraiser in support of the Lukenas family.

Bob Clair

Bob Clair is a reporter at Transacted covering private equity and investment banking. He has covered breaking M&A news for several years and is a general assignment freelance reporter for The New York Times, where he shared in a 2021 Pulitzer Prize win.