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Working in the financial sector: Holy Grail or Mirage?

What comes to mind when the words Financial Advisor, Investment Banker or Trader are heard? Well it wouldn’t be surprising if an image of Leonardo DiCaprio wearing an Armani suit came to mind. But how is life really like in the world of Finance and are the big bonus checks and hours really as glamorous as many believe to be.

Wall Street Jobs have been glorified for the past decades and will most likely be glorified for the decades to come. Goldman Sachs, a leading Investment Bank, illustrates a $367,564 average compensation package for the firms most recent financial disclosure, which is significantly higher than the $56,516 median household income in the US. Along with the above average salary, Goldman employees also worked an average of 74.5 hours a week in the year 2018, which is significantly higher than the average 9-5. For analysts hired straight out of University, they could be expected to work 100+ hours a week to meet deadlines, especially in large M&A deals, with a typical starting salary of £50,000 in the UK. This equates to around £9.61 an hour, which is lower than what an entry level Lidl employee in London makes. This doesn’t sound like the extravagant life which Finance was thought to give.

Another aspect to consider is the effect on mental health. Two out of three people working in financial services have experienced mental health issues as a result of a work or work-related factor according to a 2018 survey. This poll questioned over 4600 British employees from a range of industries. Also, 44 percent of banking employees said they felt under excessive pressure to perform in their work according to a survey with over 70,000 people by Britain’s Banking Standards board last year. This elaborates how the Financial sector has a huge impact on the mental health of an individual and furthermore their quality of life. In light of the suicide rate increase and mental health awareness in recent years, firms have prepared methods of approaching mental health problems and preventing them. JPMorgan this summer is expected to have the UK’s first on-site counsellor, with already having full-time counsellors in nine U.S. locations, including New York, Delaware, Chicago and Texas. Alongside this, they have also offered a Resilience App providing stress management tips.

The financial sector may be offering large compensation packages and the belief of a greater quality of life. However, it is important to understand the demands it requires. Working in the financial sector requires mental strength, time management skills and the ability to live a particular lifestyle that not all are able to adapt to. The financial sector could be the golden goose for some, as some roles such as an Investment banker allows one to work on cross-border M&A deals which form the headlines. Other roles such as an asset manager, allows one to learn about the different asset classes and how investments are actively managed to give superior returns to the investors. However, it is important to always keep things in perspective and not lose yourself.

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