After Stephen Ridley graduated from one of the best universities in Britain, he joined an investment banking division that was a top revenue generator at a large European bank. Sixteen months later, he quit.He took to the popular Wall Street Oasis Forum yesterday to write about his experience in bank and why he ultimately quit his job. The result was a brutally honest, self-reflective and rather philosophical essay on life and happiness.
Ridley described his life in banking as an endless string of:
“… emails, excel, PowerPoint, meetings, endless drafts and markups about shit I couldn’t give less of a fuck about, edits, drafts, edits, drafts, edits, send to printers, pick up, courier, meetings, more work, multitasking, boredom, boredom, tired, boredom, avoiding the staffer on a Friday, more work, depression, tired, tired, tired, fucking miserable.”
Like many others in the industry, Ridley initially believed that the positives of working in investment banking—mainly, the extra money he would earn—could outweigh the negatives. But that wasn’t the case as he worked longer and longer hours and the job became more exhausting than ever. His most epic paragraph is perhaps this assessment of his co-workers and bosses:
Even though I got paid well, I wasn’t going out buying a different coloured helicopters every weekend, rolling in designer threads, splashing £30k on a night out and holidaying every other week in some exotic location whenever you can be bothered to charter your private jet. You’ll be above average, but still pretty average. Sure, you can buy an MacBook air without really thinking about it, and you can take taxis instead of the bus. But that’s it. I was amazed how modestly people lived in banking given all the hype that surrounds it. They were just sad middle class bland people, with unexciting lives, and unexciting prospects. A bunch of nerds who got caught up in a cage made of money and dreams and greed, and never got out. There had to be more to life than this.
Ultimately, Ridley quit his job on the spot before he could secure another full-time gig. Now—6 months later—he plays piano on the streets of London and has just recorded his first album.