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XENIA TCHOUMITCHEVA : Why I decided that a career in financial services was not for me

Firstly, let me say that I am aware of how much controversy and discussion an article of this type can create (yes, I am young and my experience is limited) and I’m not a big fan of self-centered articles (I have already enough pictures of myself, so when I write I’d rather be talking about something else), but I’ve been asked infinite times why I didn’t decide to pursue a career at an investment bank and the only way to answer to this question is to discuss my personal experiences.

The very short time I spent in the financial industry has been a great school for me, not only in terms of the products I became acquainted with and understanding I gained of how the banking system as a whole works, but from a personal point of view. I deeply respect the amount of loyalty and commitment each financial employee puts into his daily job, and – through tough times like downturns or recessions – the guts they have to keep looking forward and trying be a high achiever.

I also admire the way the whole hierarchical system works, the automatic respect for superiors and the self-discipline it produces, which is an absolute necessity for big structures. The breadth of the informational and knowledge platform that was offered to me while I was working in banking was unique: I could literally reach out to an incredibly structured database of intelligence and get any hard-to-find piece of news or particular information. On the flip side, my personal impression was that the learning curve of a specific sector flattens quite rapidly into, almost, a plain execution role. There’s a risk of getting stuck instead of switching to bigger responsibilities.

Having said that, I think it’s quite important to figure out if your personality is cut out for banking. It can be hard to be honest with yourself when you have the security of a big salary and you’re working for a prestigious organization. In many ways, financial services is a career for the risk averse: while having a relatively big decision power over considerable amounts of money – the responsibility you bare isn’t, in my opinion, always proportionate – the biggest downside risk is that of losing your job.

Conversely, I am creative, not risk averse and I love to take full responsibility for what I do. This is part of the education my parents have given me and it means I am naturally suited to a more entrepreneurial career. Although I am always happy to start at the bottom and to play the game from scratch, I am not the typical employee-type. I have been raised as a very independent and responsible little girl, and – by self-managing my image, jobs and business for some years already – I have become used to being my own boss.

I consider every bit of what I’ve achieved until now to be due to a mixture of luck and hard work: you have to “carpe diem” but after that, it’s up to your own effort. Banking has given me better tools and better self-discipline. I am now able to apply these to running my own business, which is and has always been my dream occupation. I will always treasure my financial experience and will miss its very academic, intellectually stimulating environment. But long term, it’s not for me.

Comments (52)

  1. 1st comment?

    Everything you said is spot on! And good luck!

  2. Thanks for this post.

    After the ridiculous reaction to your last one I hope you get a more measured response.

    You seem very self aware. I’m sure you’ll do well in whatever you settle on doing.

  3. Thanks for your insightful comments but what have you achieved?

  4. Don’t go. We need more attractive young ladies with brains, poise, grace, and knowledge of how to take care of oneself (too many puffy faced, bad teeth, bad skin chain smoking salad dodgers, which goes for both men and women). Anyway, good luck in your business endeavours, and as the economy is up the creek, could be a smart move on your part.

  5. Like she was ever going to work in a bank. C’mon no way was she gonna hang out with the drones at JP Moron. Money or no money…. we are still dorks !

  6. The fact that you are a stunningly beautiful goddess excludes you from the discourse about people’s future in financial services, because you will have always your looks to make money from. Long term, most of us only have our brains to make money from.

    Regardless, good luck, but I do wish Butcher and Clarke start producing something useful for us mere mortals who are up sh*t creek without so much as a paddle.

    StateTheObvious Reply
  7. Oh please! Spare me this nonsensical / naive drivel. You can afford to take the so callled “risks” because you are a pretty girl..not everyone has that luxury. Do you honestly believe that you got those internship offers on your intellect alone…I can bet that you looks had a lot to do with it (not saying you are not smart) but I know how bankers think. Without your looks do you think you will be writing on efinancial or people talking about you???? Grow up!! Your worst case scenario is that you meet some rich HF manager or some old money type and you are set for life!!!

  8. I like the entrepreneurial spirit, something I am feeling after 6 years in IB. I definitely think this line is true, “There’s a risk of getting stuck instead of switching to bigger responsibilities.” and I feel the IB ceiling. I think I’ll start a business…..

    Well written article I must say, you’re not just ridiculously good looking!

    FutureisBright Reply
  9. efinancialcareers, you are a joke.

  10. I dont understand the purpose of this article especially in times of crisis. Grow up a bit and as someone said here, without your looks you will not be even writing for EF. Cannot believe my eyes, guys wake up a bit…

  11. OMG, seriously efinancialcareers, do not insult us like this. Would we even give this woman the time of day if she was say 20 pounds heavier? NO! Why do we even care if some young woman fortunate to be born with an attractive bone structure, has rejected a career in banking? What has she accomplished that gives her the right to our audience? NOTHING!

    Enough of this bull and bring back quality articles. Dare I say it…but I’d rather read a Dominic Connor article, telling us how senior managers can be unethical (lol) .

    Ex-Sarah Fan due to this article Reply
  12. bla bla bla … the first 4 paragraphs are very long and very boring ! stop this “cirage de pompes”. i also see many young people thinking like that : they don t want to be an employee, they have that entrepreneurial way of thinking and you are absolutely right ! don t waste your time being what you are not ! anyway IB is full of non intelligent people.

  13. Well, looks like eFC is turning into a Hello Magazine’s website. Next time, we’ll get some sneaky clichés of Jamie Dimon’s new squeeze.

  14. People seem to generalise too much these days. Including this Xenia girl. Why not just say M&A or something along the lines of that rather than branding whole financial services as “risk averse: while having a relatively big decision power over considerable amounts of money”… try to be a trader and take some risks then.

  15. i ve checked few pictures. this girl is very cute but not that beautiful for a Model. she is quite short (1M73) and she has big teeth (grosses dents), that s why she never sMiles

  16. Du bist sehr vielfältig interessiert und bist dich immer noch am Entdecken. Du wirst die Schatztruhe deines Lebensweges bestimmt mit Bravour finden.

  17. In this article, you had to spell one word wrong and it happens to be “bare”? Or is that a Freudian slip?

  18. What’s the obsession with pretty girls?

    Self pr – eat your heart out. Stop being vain and get on with whatever business you are in to!

    PS sales was a good role for you :) but methinks it wasn’t financial products you are best suited at selling

  19. Banking & financial services is all about policy & procedure. Why would you get into it, if you are not the standard employee?
    You have wasted not only your time, but everyone who has helped you get the role, do the role, and manage an exit, & all of us who have read your comments.
    You have set women in finance back.

    eFin, stop giving this person more opportunities to comment on an industry she wants no part in.

    Disappointed & female Reply
  20. So why did you do four internships, every time from scatch with a different employer, if you don’t like the industry?…

  21. “I consider every bit of what I’ve achieved until now to be due to a mixture of luck and hard work”

    “It is obviously because of my hard work that I got the “Best Bikini Body” award in Switzertland.”

  22. call me when you get a chance i want to discuss further

  23. Good article.
    We are in it only for the money. If you can spend your life doing something interesting and meaningful, just go on.

  24. this is just noise. What s next? guest comments of teenagers who contemplate careers in finance? we are people who learned far more than this privileged lady will probably ever learn, given that most ppl here have to earn their chances, building themselves in this very process

  25. I am so gutted that I can’t even be bothered to make my usual “small provincial town” comment on this article.

  26. This is unbelievable. Just because she is attractive eFin puts her up here. What about 1,000s of others with far more experience? She has zero experience in banking but her word is being taken as gospel by eFin. I think it’s time eFin is sold to The Sun or Hello magazine. Jesus, if the articles aren’t about praising Goldman Sachs they are about young graduates with Nostradamus like insights.

    P.S. She will end up marrying a banker/ PE/ hedge fund guy in the long run!

  27. @AliDesai. Think positive and talk frankly. You will come out of the gutted Scenario. So says a fan of Ali Desai.

    Fan of Ali Desai Reply
  28. @Dave and others: I take offence at the suggestion that marriage is a career plan.
    1: It is the year 2011 and most people have pre-nups
    2: If HF guys like Paulson can go broke as quickly as they rose to stardom, where does that leave their wives
    3: This attitude is partly to blame for the fact women are let go first and paid less – as if they would be out following some hobby while their husbands bring home the dough

  29. @AliDesai. Personally take yourself out of the gutted scenario and your provincial town wit will come back.
    Another Fan who knows you.

  30. agree with all the comments above…WTF is that? a spoiled kid who lectures us about hard work? I rather read an article written by Sarah Butcher….

  31. It’s like there’s a lag between a story going up and morons figuring out how to smash their fingers into their keyboard in such a way as to be simultaneously irrelevant and offensive.

    This thread starts well and slowly deteriorates.

  32. Still do not understand what she has achieved?

  33. this woman is ugly.

  34. Ignoring the fact this woman is a model (although it is an easy angle from which to knock her) she is just a former banking intern. Would I take career advice or learn about banking from an Intern? ….No. In fact would I take any advice from an Intern… well perhaps if it was advice on how to use the photcopier or make a cup of tea. Clearly reading this bland article Xenia is still a naive and not very well informed young lady and has nothing of value to contribute to a finance website. I wish her well in her career outside banking and I’m sure she’ll do well for herself.

  35. Xenia, what will you be when you grow up?

  36. @Ricky and everyone – This is not an article offering an advice. It is an article offering an opinion. You are welcome to comment on the opinion that’s being offered.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  37. Sarah, in which way are Xenias “opinions” more interesting than any other intern who at least got interernships based on merit alone?
    aside of this question on the form, the content of the article itself is full of obvious clichés you would expect from a very inexperienced person: yes life as employee generally entails repetitive tasks, and can t compare to a entrepreneurial career in terms of ownership and creativity..thanks! I do not wish to bash Xenia. I think it is very good she chose the harder/”dignity” way (for some time), rather than the playboy bunny life many fit girls would prefer. She at least has my esteem for that. But thats it.

  38. “bugs bunny ” has lot of experience in eating carrots why dont you give him the opportunity to share his experience with us? ….it will defo be better reading that Xenia’s..

  39. you look great, similar to the 10 other models i went out with last month.

    off topic oops.

    now back to work

  40. Just get them out.

  41. Jokers, these interns take themselves a little too seriously these days. Lets face it working in Financial Services is about as boring as it gets, no legacy and certainly nothing to tell the grand kids about. I for one have decided to change jobs and become a Lion tamer I feel my skills as an accountant would be very useful.

  42. I think some of the comments are rather ungallant. This girl has spent the last few months as a tethered goat at JP… I for one am very interested in her insightful thoughts. Well done Xenia.

    IB so good for you Reply
  43. Hope Xenia does well, but lets not lose sight here… she was an intern. I’ve never met an intern that wasn’t full of it due to lack of real experience.

    Shows hows good EFC is that an intern is getting so many comments.

    And yes she’s nice looking… most interns are easy on the eyes due to their 10 hour a night sleeping patterns!

  44. I arrived to almost the same conclusion and done almost the same choice. You are perfectly right. Good luck

  45. Sarah…. how is the job of the EF editor being measured? if it’s about content, well good riddance…. if it s all about the n.of clicks employ this xenia full time in your team (and perhaps let her pose in undies for the website too). Advertisers adn ultimately your boss will appreciate.

    p.s never seen 60 comments on here

  46. Jordan, Jodie Marsh and now Xenia…………. another perfect role model for young girls to aspire to. ……those age old entrepreneurial skills!!!

  47. milky milky u triggered a lol

  48. Who is this lady?

  49. the word goes in M&A that EFC is to be acquired by the Sun

  50. “I’ve been asked infinite times why I didn’t decide to pursue a career at an investment bank.” I know the answer. Its because you never got an offer….

  51. I find it amazing how black and white the reactions (comments) are. Just how many Supermodels do you know who have spent time in the international banking industry? Her insights on healthy living are accurate of IB as they are of IT. Only it’s easier to be passionate about IT because there is always something new to learn. I’d judge that most of the reactions are Mirror Reactions – people seeing her then reflect on their own image in the mirror and blanch. Surface comments based on an underlining dislike of their image. Perhaps you should look at Xenia’s other articles on how appearance isn’t terminal among wealthy bankers. Nice article lady – and yes I can see how an internship in finance would help any person in business – that’s obvious.

    Do The Math Yourself Reply

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