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Meet the man who cures senior bankers’ existential angst

There is money to made from curing existential angst.

There is money to made from curing existential angst.

Banking is an industry where money talks. Although most bankers have far less money to articulate with than previously, some can still make the average annual salary in a few days. In the circumstances, it’s inevitable that a handful will pay handsomely to better themselves.

Senior bankers are paying people to write their CVs, to polish their LinkedIn profiles, to teach them foreign languages and to appease their existential anxieties. The going rate is $500 per hour, plus.

“Senior bankers who come to me on a private basis are typically interested in help with one of three things: career transition, creating some meaning and purpose in their lives or preventing burnout,” says Graham Ward, a top coach who used to be co-head of the European equities business at Goldman Sachs and is now Coaching Practice Director at the INSEAD Leadership Centre. “People will sometimes hire a coach because they’re not sure whether they want to continue in their careers  – they might not find their job meaningful any more, or they might be looking for some balance,” he adds.

Ward does most of his coaching at board level and one rung below. He’s currently coaching an unnamed banking CEO, with whom he interacts virtually. In cases of “situational emergency” Ward says he has offered advice to senior bankers in cars en-route to airports. His technique involves a mixture of psychology and business advice. “People like the fact that I have a banking background and psychological training,” he reflects.

When it comes to adding meaning, Ward says he encourages his clients to look the intersection between what they’re really good at and what they really value.”Very often, people will become very good at something like trading, but to find meaning and purpose in your life you need to find out not only what you’re good at but where your values like and what’s important to you,” he says.

In many cases, Ward’s services are paid for by the company itself. But in others, senior bankers will hire him privately and although Ward declined to say how much he charges, it’s understood that his services do not come cheaply at all.

Nor is it not only senior banking professionals who will pay for betterment. Matt Bardin, a tutor famous for charging $600 an hour for teaching the children of wealthy parents, says his services are also used by junior bankers seeking help with the GMAT exam ahead of their MBA application. He too delivers his teaching by Skype: “We help people to become more efficient in their learning,” Bardin explains.

In London, Angela Abramson of Quintessentially Education counts various bankers and their wives among her clients. “We offer a kind of life tutoring for people who’ve just moved to London and want to know the history of the city,” she explains. “We also offer language tuition, both to people working in the finance industry and to their spouses.” Abramson’s tutors charge anything from £60 to £500 an hour.

More prosaically, people with banking careers can be found paying for résumé writing and LinkedIn profile assemblage. Financial services professionals are time-poor, says Victoria MacLean, a former Goldman Sachs recruiter who founded London-based City CV. Left to their own devices, MacLean says they often produce résumés with, “silly typos and spelling errors and over use of clichés.” Her clients range from graduates to MDs. “We get quite a few directors who want help with CVs that will bring them up to MD level,” MacLean says. Her fee? £199 to £399 for a CV. £100 for a profile on LinkedIn.

 

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