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Life lessons from a homeless banker

Luck is an undeniable factor in life. Aged 50, French banker Jean-Paul Allou has had more than his fair share of bad luck. His first became ill with cancer and spent a fortune on futile quack remedies, leaving him bereaved and nearly penniless. And then, several years later when he was piecing his life back together, his second wife left in a costly divorce. And then he lost his job.

A former director of a wealth management department, who then ran his own consultancy (on finance control, risk advice and restructuring), Jean Paul Allou was used to earning €6-10k a month (a lot of money in Paris) before he found himself unemployed, with no money, and no home.

Today, Jean Paul works as the manager of a bowling alley. He’s written a book (in French) about his experiences, and granted us a long telephone interview during which he imparted what he’s learned about life. This included the following:

1) Always pay your taxes

“Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the advice I gave my own clients. If I had done, I could possibly have avoided having to make a repayment of €350k of back taxes.”

2) It’s not good to be provocative

“My provocative character contributed to my rise, both socially and professionally. But it also contributed to my downfall.

When you reach a certain age, provocation gets people’s backs up. This is not very productive.”

3) Take nothing for granted

“The material comforts of a financial services career can create the illusion that everything is fine. And then one day or the next, everything changes dramatically and without warning,”

4) Cultivate a strong network

“There was a time when I had a strong network of friends and professional contacts. But I didn’t maintain that when my life fell apart because I imagined they’d think I wanted them to save me and that they wouldn’t ever want to be in my position. Despite this, it’s very important to maintain a network of contacts if you’re not going to be completely isolated.”

5) Tell people about your situation. Let them know your history

“One day, I came across a journalist who was interviewing someone in a café about football. I approached them and passed them my telephone number, explaining that I was a former banker who’d become homeless.

Because of this, my life was turned around. I received several offers of publishing housing and I was offered me three jobs. I accepted the job in a bowling alley because I wanted to work with young people. At the end of this month, my contract will finish. I’ll therefore need to look for something else- why not in finance.”

A longer version of this article is available on our French website.

Comments (16)

  1. ehm….. not sure you can define this guy as a Banker….

    I mean, he worked for a Bank but it definitely was not a Banker.

  2. Can you explain which detail of being a banker you emphasize please…

  3. wealth manager = private banker.

    Therefore by loose definition he is a banker stupid.

    dumb above poster Reply
  4. usual superficial staff… I m sorry but they dont know what to write these people. Because not only him had a difficult life.

  5. I take from this: lesson 1. trust your GP and medical professionals – don’t waste money on herbal pish. 2. Get a pre-nup if you are that way inclined. 3. Don’t be a tit to people (hard for some – why should we feel sorry for him again?) 4. Don’t put all your oeuffs in one basket.

  6. Andrea – Improve your language skills a bit before commenting here, this is a high-quality site for high-quality comments.

  7. I like working with young people too.

  8. a career in recruitment is alway a good option

  9. Banker – that was a usless comment, rightly, a top-quality site requires top quality comments

  10. Alex – Nobody with sub-standard English should be allowed to comment on this site.

  11. Banker – No-one with sub-standard manners like yours should be allowed to comment anywhere on anything. Can’t you see what a t*t you are!

    Andreaandalexsmum Reply
  12. I am just trying to maintain quality. I see falling standards everywhere. Few people like my direct style but at least I say what I think and I deserve praise for being so honest in such a dishonest world.

  13. I loved the clarification “€6-10k a month (a lot of money in Paris)”.

    now certainly city bankers with stellar packages can put things in perspective and sigh with disgust at such tiny figures…

  14. Banker, never thought English might not be her first language? You look like a very pretentious person, and much like the guy in this article used to be. That is if you are really a banker…

  15. C’set la vie

  16. @ Jay – I am a banker and English is NOT my native language. If I could learn the language reasonably well, others can do the same. What do you think?

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