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GUEST COMMENT: You really escaped the City? Give me a break

Life after banking

Every once in a while, some ex-banker somewhere is profiled in a glossy magazine under the headline “I escaped the City”. Almost invariably, they have been made redundant (although this is not mentioned) from some drab finance job, taken most of their pinstriped suits to Oxfam, and sunk their bonuses into a new and quirky business.

The archetypal escapee story is full of trite clichés about how, in their new lives, ex-bankers “work longer, for less” but are “excited to get up for work each day”.

Even eFinancialCareers is guilty of this: “I’ve worked at Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. Now I run a bar. I have no regrets” The Financial Times had a go at it last weekend, with rather more truthfulness and rather less success.

Read these ‘escape the City’ articles carefully, however, and you’ll see that mostly, these guys were unsuited to finance in the first place. They came into the City under the misguided notion that it’s an exciting and glamorous place to be, but ended up advising Belgian pension funds or writing high yield bond legal documentation.

Ex-bankers’ business plans are almost all a variation on one theme: selling over-priced services or premium goods to people who are bankers still. Since they know the lifestyle well, they understand how to extract money from the wallets of former colleagues. Who wants to spend all day on derivatives documentation that when you could be selling premium-priced Burritos at Spitalfields market?

In some cases, these ex-banker-business will be a success. But we don’t hear when they aren’t. The media is oh-so-keen to publicise people turning their backs on the cutthroat City, but less so in following their stories through to the bitter end.

Well, I don’t wish to sound bitter, or pompous, but long hours, difficult bosses, and tough markets not withstanding, I like my job. I don’t want to set up my own business. Nor do I want a lot of sanctimonious preaching from ex-bankers who have.

The author is in no danger of leaving his job in asset management to set up a juice bar

Comments (8)

  1. It’s almost like somebody had an idea for an article, but couldn’t finish it so just added a bitter full stop. This could have ben interesting if it had gone somewhere.

  2. “misguided notion that it’s an exciting and glamorous place to be” – enjoy your unexciting unglamorous life being unexcited to get up for work each day to advise Belgian pension funds. The rest of your life is solely for the purpose to ingratiate yourself to your boss to get paid. Whoever started your asset management firm was an entrepreneur just like every other company you have ever seen, so perhaps you should encourage people to create something for the future not just do someone else’s bidding for the rest of your unexciting working life.

  3. Sarah – sadly, eFC’s editorial content (anything not written by you, that is) has come to be associated in the minds of its readers with anonymous b**tchfests by people pretending to be highflying bankers.

    If this is the sort of thing that actually attracts more clients (i.e. recruiters) and users to eFC then it’s an even sad state of affairs in the industry than everyone believes.

  4. There’s a life beyond financial service and those who make the jump should be applauded.
    I left private equity to start my own business and love it.
    Get off the conveyer belt and see the real world

  5. My career has been in the commenrcial property development and investment market. So, when i was looking to put some PV cells on the roof of a building I was developing (yes it is still a good idea in some places wit the right product) – I spoke to the MD of alocal company who put these things on / in to a building. Turns out he is an ex-hedge fund Manager who got out and set up a company which does something which is in demand at the moment. Added to which he is playing a long-game by only doing B2B at sensible prices rather than the B2C market which is currently a ‘south-sea bubble’ about to pop.

    So sound idea with a long-term game plan. Who said it was all short-term.

  6. I started a career in the City hoping that I could make a difference and what i have found is people who devote all their time and energy to concentrate power and money instead of focussing on what they are paid to do, i.e. deliver financial services at the best possible value to the “real economy”. Everything else is make-up and story telling. It is time for those people to bite the dust. Nothing else to say for now. To be followed I guess lol.

  7. cool story but what really is the point of this article?

  8. Good for you. Do you want a medal or something? You sound like a complete tw*t.

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