Financial services careers are not cool. The only people now who want to wed themselves to a life staring at spreadsheets or Bloomberg terminals are the people with a seriously intense interest in finance. All others are dropping away according to senior careers advisers at universities and business schools.
If you work in finance and are feeling the pull of something more aspirational, you may want to let Marc Langsman be your guide. Like millions of others, Langsman went into finance out of university. He spent five years in the industry and then quit. He’s metamorphosed into a DJ/Producer and digital innovation manager at Universal Music in London.
“I worked in finance for a few years and then I just left,” Langsman tells us. “It wasn’t a difficult decision – I put some money aside and went back to university and retrained.”
Langsman spent four years at Lehman Brothers as a technology associate and one year at De Putron Fund Management as an execution trader. “I was at university and banks sent around information saying that they were interested in people who’d studied scientific and mathematical subjects. I didn’t have anything lined up and had studied technology. I thought banking would be an interesting thing to do – I just fell into it really,” he tells us, “It was never really a passion.”
Langsman says working in finance was ok until he left Lehman (in 2003) for De Putron. “I didn’t have a bad experience at Lehman, I just didn’t find it very fulfilling. But working for the hedge fund was very highly-pressured and the hours were difficult – we were trading a number of different markets in different time zones. One week I’d be doing nights and trading Australasia, another I’d be doing early mornings and trading London.”
Lacking sleep, Langsman left, retrained in media and got a whole new job as a studio assistant. “I was a definite pay cut after working in banking,” he says. Thereafter, he got various jobs in and around London’s Soho before becoming head of development and digital production at Virgin Digital Publishing in 2011 and a digital innovation manager at Universal late last year.
In his current position, Langsman says he’s ‘responsible for the creative development and product management of new digital music products and services’ at Universal and is at the forefront of the future of the music industry.
Langsman has some advice for other non-passionate financial services professionals who have fallen into the industry by accident. “Seize the day,” he suggests. “Change is always scary. The unknown is always scary, but you have to try these things.”
He also says that leaving finance isn’t as final as some people make out. “I left nearly 10 years ago and I still get called up by recruiters asking if I’m looking for work. You can always go back – it seems there’s no lack of opportunities.”