Canary Wharf
Bankers and finance professionals face years of misery due to high pressure working environment.

City bankers can face years of misery in the competitive world of finance, a former JP Morgan employee who is now a life coach has said.

Nathalina Harrison turned her back on an unfulfilling career as a technology project manager at the investment bank in 2007 to help others in their careers.

She had seen first-hand how colleagues' careers rocketed after working with a coach and decided she wanted to be the one they called for help.

Having spent hundreds of hours with bankers, she has identified common themes: a combination of office politics coupled with the competitive nature of the sector means finance professionals can face miserable lives.

She said: "I can speak from first-hand experience from working in an investment bank for 15 years and from experiences my clients have had.

"Common themes I see with bankers are a lack of balance in life and total focus on the job, always trying to do more and work to more aggressive deadlines, work more effectively, efficiently and with lower costs and less people.

She said some experience a loss of personal identity, confusion about how much the job defines their status and how they feel about themselves.

"They feel as though you have to keep up with the Joneses and live at and beyond their means: bonuses are often spent before they are given and paid. 

"Burnouts caused by projects/people not being managed properly and lack of managerial support or managers unable to cope too.

Jp Morgan Hong Kong
 Li Junjie, 33, JP Morgan employee, leaped to his death from the roof of the company's 30-storey Hong Kong office tower on 18 February

"Politics and game playing, people challenging you for your role and being obstructive; this can make for miserable years and roles."

Harrison's comments are tragically apposite. IBTimes UK reported how 12 finance professionals are thought to have committed suicide so far this year.

Although none of the deaths have so far been linked to work conditions, psychologist Sherylin Thompson said the macho world of finance can lead to anxiety, stress and depression in workers. 

And Harrison agreed the environment can be debilitating.

She added: "Long hours, pressure from managers and business leaders as well as high expectations, often from themselves, often means people in banking live on little sleep, anxiety and 'play hard' to help them relax.

She noted that inability to slow down to any state near relaxation outside of the office is a common problem, with many simply opting to just keep going at a full-on pace.

Nathalina Harrison
Nathalina Harrison worked for JP Morgan before deciding to help her follow finance professionals in 2007

"Obviously the body and mind are not inexhaustible and ultimately stress symptoms will show themselves, often as insomnia, dermatological issues, stomach issues such as Irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers, and ultimately psychological issues of anxiety and depression and health problems later in life.

Harrison recommended bankers balance their lives more constructively and focus on life outside Canary Wharf and the City. 

She added: "Bankers are so focused on their work they don't nurture themselves, their relationships or their mental health, perhaps as much as other people with more work-life balance would.

Personality traits commonly found in bankers and high-flying finance professionals include the drive to overachieve and perfectionism, which can be caused by a lack of self-worth or self-confidence.

"Often people go into banking because their parents wanted them too, for the money or because they want the status, this can mean they are constantly questioning why they are there, and I have found a lot of people have an alternative career that they dream of, need to think 'one day I will get out of here' to cope.

"That said, lots of people manage to put boundaries in place, have roles that will not over-extend them too much and go home at a decent time every day."