☰ Menu eFinancialCareers

Guest comment: Is a banking career worth the sacrifice?

Are long hours, high pressure and bonus obsession worth it? The premature death of a close relative has helped one ex-banker put things into perspective.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions about my recent life. My cousin, one of my best friends and more akin to a sister than a cousin, died two weeks ago at just 42. A life tragically cut short, suddenly one sunny January Monday morning. She leaves behind a husband, two young toddlers who don’t understand what has happened and will not remember their mother, and a wealth of grief compounded by legal and tax hell.

For 15 years I worked hard in the City. I was obsessed with doing a good job, working long hours, winning mandates, getting paid and promoted. It was exciting to be a ‘name’ in the market and to be cited in the financial press. It gave me a buzz.

The accolades of my clients and colleagues were crystallized in a year-end review and bonus number. I felt worthy.

My firm had a genuine commitment to work-life balance, and as an MD, I was encouraged to promote it. But for most of my career, I didn’t really follow it myself. Many of the people I worked with were the same: we thrived in the high pressure environment. I had an adrenaline rush from going to work, wrapped up in the excitement of doing deals.

My friends stopped calling me as I was never available (or if I did make plans I generally had to change them), my husband was fed up with the phone ringing in the middle of the night, and at me for constantly focusing on my Blackberry. I didn’t care; I was seduced by my work. I was ensconced in my own bubble.

These days, I think about my cousin, her children and husband constantly. The things I could have said and done. How often I blew her off because I had to work, how often I forgot to call back, called her back with my mind on other things, didn’t go to see her, was critical of her. I can’t sleep.

I quit work 18 months ago to spend time with my family, to change my life, to get to know my children, to reconnect with my husband, to have a life. Yes, we have less money than before – we have gone from two incomes to one. But we are happier. The stress has dissipated. My husband and I have a normal relationship. Our children know both their parents. It was the right decision. My life has moved on. I wish I could have shared it with my cousin for longer.

Comments (4)

  1. worth a minutes read

    smalakar@westpac.com.au, anoop@hotmail.com Reply
  2. The most telling part of the article is the buzz the writer got from the work and her sense of worth being measured in her bonus and if she was recognized by her peers.

    If you have good self esteem, you’re half way to having a rounded life.

  3. Hospital or Home?

    I’m 29 and I’ve been feeling like I’m 129, my Heart has been telling me to chill out NOW or it’s all over…

    All the travel,money and projects have been great but I have no balance. What I need is my Wife and my Children… and they’ve been waiting for me. I’m the luckiest man alive!

    Heart’s gone Home not to the Hospital. Try it.

  4. nice to read and gud to follow ..
    thxnx ..

The comment is under moderation. It will appear shortly.


Screen Name


Consult our community guidelines here