The Evening Standard ran an excellent article by Simon English yesterday entitled “Fear and self-loathing in the City”. At the moment, there is a palpable feeling of hatred towards bankers – and unsurprisingly. I feel as let down by the financial system as anyone. However there are 400,000 people in the City of London, and over two million people working in financial services around the country and I believe that the vast majority of them are hard working, honest people who, though they may be high earners, do not earn £25 million and are at least as horrified and embarrassed about all the scandals as us on the outside. Having worked in one of the ‘big banks’ myself earlier in my career, I met up with a friend working in the structured products side of things (a lot of which are linked to LIBOR etc.) and, cynical as she usually is, she said that even she was ‘shocked’ at the recent scandal.
For these people life is tough at the moment. I met another friend of mine whose job I wasn’t aware of at a function the other day and, when I asked how he was, he very quickly wanted me to know that neither he, nor his brother are ‘bankers’ in the way we understand it – though both of them work for very well known banks! That sort of feeling doesn’t do a lot for your self-esteem. There is huge insecurity – the ES article says that traders are shedding staff by the hundred. There are rumours of another big clear out in the big banks. There’s a feeling of injustice as bankers seem to take all the flak – most of it from MPs and journalists who are can hardly claim to be squeaky clean – and nobody much bothers about GlaxoSmithKline who have just paid out £1.9 billion in the largest healthcare fraud in history.
A positive approach to insecurity
Many in the industry are certainly wishing they had made different career choices – and
wondering where to go from here if they lose their job – or even if they don’t lose their job but want to get out of the industry anyway. If you’re in this situation there are options. It is possible to change careers and many skills are transferrable. A good first step is to have a think about your values – what really matters to you? What makes you happy? What about your current role - what do you like/not like about it etc.? Once you know what’s important to you and what you enjoy, options will become clearer and more defined.
Think before applying blanket criticism
And if you’re one of those crying out for the bankers to be lined up and shot, it is worth considering that the vast majority of them are almost certainly innocent of any wrongdoing, have mortgages and families to support just like the rest of us and life isn’t easy for them right now either – it could even be worse. And if those lower down the banking hierarchy become so disillusioned that they stop caring ... things could even get worse for all of us. There’s a great maxim in NLP which is to criticise the behaviour rather than the person...worth bearing in mind!
If you’d like more information on coaching for career-change or stress management, feel free to get in touch.