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God told me to leave banking. My colleagues congratulated me on getting out

God told me to leave banking

I spent three years working in finance and left in August 2017. The job was interesting and I had a good future ahead of me. I worked in macro sales for Barclays and I’d just been promoted. It had been an interesting ride, with the removal of the floor on the Swiss franc in 2015 and the Brexit referendum in July 2017, but my faith told me to leave.

I became a Christian in 2011 and joined Barclays’ graduate programme in August 2014. I’d already put a lot of time into my banking career. – I studied economics at Plymouth University and was accepted by Barclays only after volunteering for a small professional services firm (I was rejected for most spring internships at big banks) and then completing an internship in Santander’s banking and financial markets division. Barclays made me an offer before I graduated. Although I was already wondering whether to spread the gospel, it seemed too good to turn down.

Like most people who go into finance, my expectations were high. It seemed a glamorous path and in many ways it was: I was paid well and I had opportunities to travel, However, it wasn’t all that. In university everyone talks about finance as if it’s something really, really special, but ultimately it’s a job. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the job that made me leave: it was my faith.

It wasn’t an easy decision. During the three years I was at Barclays I married and we had a daughter. As a father, I have responsibilities. Walking away from the rewards in banking was tough. My wife and I prayed for guidance and we decided that we were not going to allow money to decide what we do in our lives. If God is calling me to spend my time spreading the gospel, this is what I will do.

When I told colleagues I was leaving the response surprised me. Colleagues I didn’t even know well came up and said things like, “That’s so amazing you’ve got out!” It was like I’d escaped the chains and they were left behind.

That’s sad. There’s nothing wrong with finance careers. We all have our calling and I fully believe that some people are called to work in finance. For these people, the job has a purpose. But if you only go into finance for the money, you will end up feeling trapped. This is a shame: we need Christians in banking who can live with purpose and enjoy their roles. I still invest on a personal basis: Christians aren’t against money itself – it’s the love of money that can lead to evil.

I’m now training as a pastor at a church. I’m being paid, although it’s obviously nowhere near what I was getting at Barclays. This isn’t the point though. Life is not about making comparisons between yourself and other people: you can look at the lifestyle of a hedge fund client on Instagram and think they’re having an amazing time, but you won’t really understand what it means to be them – what their life is actually like. I’m learning to be content with what I have. I have no regrets.


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Comments (6)

Comments
  1. Smart decision. Banks are risk averse nowadays. But in order to generate same amount of money like good old days, trader need to take much bigger risk, which will decrease return on capital which bank management do not like.
    Another thing is technology are getting rid of more front office jobs. For example, lots of analytics have been automated by AI.
    Banks are all about minimizing cost today so no future working in banks.

  2. Oh wow, interesting. Makes you think..

  3. “Christians aren’t against money itself […]”. Sorry to be a drag, but this is specious. What about Jesus’s attitude to the money changers in the Temple, calling them thieves? Or Mark 10:25 the famous camel through needle’s eyes etc… In its original form at least, the Christian Church does specifically states that it is indeed not impossible but it is very, very, difficult to live by the Christian faith and become rich, whatever that may mean.
    I respect your view but I find it disingenuous to be surprised by the reactions of your colleagues.

  4. Well done on taking that step of faith Moses!

  5. Hey Arn,

    I know a lot of very very rich Christians – so no, Christians are not against money. If you were against something, you wouldn’t use it. It’s when you make it the ‘be all and end all’, that’s the issue.

    It’s quite dangerous to take ancient texts out of context, the scripture you quoted was when Jesus went to the temple during the passover. There, He found people selling, and all sorts. The next verse he was angry that they literally turned the church into a shopping mall. Imagine going somewhere to worship – and you find that? .. Not too sure how that relates to Christians being against money?

    Secondly, God (Christian) does not condemn anyone for having riches, but He gives grave warnings to those who seek after them more than they seek after God, and trust in them more than in God. Which summarises your second point. Money is not everything, there are poor happy people, and rich miserable people (and vice versa). It sure can buy you things, but when you’re sick (physically or mentally) do you call on money to help?

    Yes, I do believe some colleagues were surprised. Some people in finance are tied down to their job because of several factors including lifestyle, some may be in mass debt. It takes courage to leave such behind for what you truly believe in. Some people are still in their careers simply because of fear, and not because of love for their job.

    Good on you Moses!

  6. Hard-hitting but necessary article. Important to get the “big picture” straight about life, and not sugar-coatting an industry (we aren’t in the 80s anymore). Banking requires certain people and it would do no good for people whose calling is elsewhere to get into it. I myself thought I was made for that path but in the past 10 years (my 20s), I realised I had other values.

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