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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