GUEST COMMENT: Three years ago, I worked in financial services in New York, London and Paris. Today, I am one of the new poor

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Feeling down about prospects

Until 2008, I was part of the elite. I worked in banking in New York, London and Paris as a fund manager and trader. And then I lost my job. Since that time, my professional and my psychological situation has deteriorated. Despite all that I’ve done to try and resolve things, nothing has worked.

I have tried to get back into the financial services employment market, and succeeded – briefly. I have also tried a succession of small jobs such as telesales and sushi delivery and succeeded – briefly, too.

And so now I am stuck in Paris, out of work and claiming around €460 a month in employment benefits.

Of course, I would like to work in financial services again. But no one seems willing to take me on. When I send out my CV, I get a range of responses – some people simply ignore it, others say I’m too qualified, too experienced, or that they’ve just hired someone for the role I might have been appropriate for.

The reality is that unemployment is like a scar in France- or syphilis. There’s a real fear here of being unemployed. The French unemployed are like the untouchables in India. For this reason, there’s no second chance.France is a society of risk-averse civil servants. No one wants to associate with an unemployed person for fear it’s catching and they’ll become unemployed too.

I’ve struggled to keep myself together. When I first lost my job, with a minimal redundancy payout (as my former employer falsely accused me of negligence), I drowned myself in alcohol and set off around the world for a year. Now, I attend AA meetings, run 20km every day and try never to plunge into depression again. It’s hard: I’m heavily in debt and in the middle of litigation with my ex-wife.

I’m still looking for a new job, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if and when I find one, it will have to be outside France. My liabilities (tax, pension arrears, debts), make it difficult for me to live here. However, I’m not clear where in the world is better. Alternatively, I can stay in Franceand attempt to clear my name with my former employer – which I suspect feels nervous at the prospect that I may pursue it legally. However, clearing my name requires lawyers. And lawyers require money, which I don’t have.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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