You can't say that Nick Segrue didn't try with financial services. After an internship at Royal Bank of Scotland and five years as a fixed income trader at Marex Spectron in London, he went into the closely allied area of fixed income headhunting. Eventually, he decided to leave the industry behind.
"To be honest, my partner told me she didn't want me to continue with my trading career," says Segrue. "We wanted a baby and that didn't fit with me working as a trader."
Trading is a notoriously time-consuming occupation. Hedge fund manager Greg Coffey, who was known to bring his screens with him wherever he went (including family holidays), retired in 2012 to spend more time with his wife and children. In Segrue's case, however, it wasn't the time he spent trading that was the problem: it was the time he spent on his trading-related social life.
"It varies from institution to institution, but there's a very collegiate atmosphere on most trading floors," says Segrue. "You're in at 6.30am and you leave at 6.30pm to go out drinking with 15 or so people from your team. There were nights I'd be out until 3.30am and I would often be out until 11.30pm on a week night."
A heavy drinking culture can be a problem in both sales and trading roles: in sales you're expected to go out drinking with clients; in trading you're expected to go out with your team or with brokers. "It starts on the grad programme," says Segrue. "To begin with there's an expectation you'll go along with the team, and then you keep going because you don't want to miss opportunities for promotion."
Segrue stopped trading in 2013. He spent another year working as a headhunter placing fixed income traders before leaving finance entirely. "I thought headhunting would be an easier option and that I could use my trading contacts," he says. "But actually, there's a lot less business in headhunting than there used to be and too many people fighting over a smaller pie."
Today, Segrue works for CaretoShare, a skills exchange website he conceived while working in headhunting. The site allows users to swap skills - initially without the exchange of payment, although Segrue says it will ultimately allow trade users to advertise services in areas like DIY. The site already has 1,000 users and is in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign to build its business.
Segrue has no regrets about leaving the trading floor. "It's fine when you're young and unattached," he says, "but it's a problem when you want a life outside work. You see these battle-hardened people who've been doing it for 15 to 20 years who lament their poor health and wonder aloud about cutting their alcohol consumption.... I have a daughter and I have much more time to spend with her than if I was still in trading."
Photo credit: All My Reasons by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY 2.0.