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Morning Coffee: A guide to living meaningfully when you earn $1m+. Horribly demanding job advertisement

Chris Evans knows a few things about earning a lot of money and burning out. The British TV 'personality' and DJ is one of the highest paid people at the BBC, earning approximately £2.2m ($2.6m) a year, and with an accumulated net worth of around £55m. While this may not put him in the same league as U.S. counterparts, it has nonetheless afforded him a life of drinking, car-collecting and multiple marriages. However, aged 53, the enfant terrible has now turned himself around thanks to a lot of gurus and some Buddhist-style revelations that might help finance professionals concerned that their lives are going off-course too.

Evans' biggest and potentially most clichéd observation is that we definitionally live in the 'now': "It’s always “now” and it can never not be “now”, and that if you try to escape “the now” by projecting to the future or lamenting the past, you’ll never be truly here." The person that we "are" is simply a still "witnessing presence," says Evans - all else is just an imagined identity, a 'story we tell ourselves' - and we need to keep that story simple ("Keeping it simple will keep you sane").

If this sounds a bit deep for Monday morning, Evans also has some observations on careers and money. The art of having a good career is to follow the Japanese practice of 'ikigai', says Evans. Combine, "what you’re good at with what you can be paid for with what you love and what the world needs, underpinned with passion, a higher purpose, vocation and attention." 

Theoretically, it should be possible to follow ikigai with a banking career. Witness people like Ken Costa, the former Lazard and UBS banker who considered M&A his calling. However, Evans cautions that a life spent earning money can easily go wrong if money is the aim.

"Lots of rich people end up deeply unhappy and eventually very angry," he says. "They sacrifice the first half of their lives gathering fortunes they don’t need and can never spend, and then the second half guarding their spoils from equally “lost” predators trying to take it from them. What a load of old nonsense. And so bloody exhausting and futile."

The cure, says Evans is to take the time to establish what you really want (which perversely he says you will already have), to stop the ego taking control, and to keep the stories you tell yourself about yourself simple rather than adding and adding to the person you think you are. Exercise, eat well, drink very moderately, sleep long. And work, but take time every day to totally disengage. "[I] give my job all of my attention while I’m at work. Barely think about my job when I’m not at work," Evans says. Plenty of people in finance might like to do the same.

Separately, while banks these days are attempting to moderate the working hours of their employees, the U.K. civil service seems to be moving in the opposite direction. In a blog post, Dominic Cummings, the special advisor to British prime minister Boris Johnson, said he wants to hire "data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos," to replace the bureaucrats already working at the top of the British government. "In many aspects of government, as in the tech world and investing, brains and temperament smash experience and seniority out of the park,” writes Cummings.  

However, the opportunity to displace incumbents comes at a cost: "You will not have weekday date nights, you will sacrifice many weekends. Frankly it will be hard having a boy/girlfriend at all,” says Cummings. He's also upfront about the fact that working as his assistant will include “uninteresting trivia that makes my life easier which you won’t enjoy.” Could this be a new decade of frank job advertisements? Happy New Year.


Credit Suisse CEO Tijane Thiam will be glad that the holidays provided a break from all the spying allegations, the most recent of which involved a 'striking blonde' allegedly trailing the head of a joint venture between Credit Suisse and Palantir around Long Island. (Bloomberg) 

Alan Howard of Brevan Howard is seeking Cyprus citizenship for after Brexit. (Reuters) 

BlueCrest made gains of 50% last year. This might explain why Michael Platt was so pleased with himself in that cab. (Financial Times)

It's been a bad time for hedge funds: The S&P 500 delivered a 28% gain this year through November, the Bloomberg Equity Hedge Fund Index only managed 10%. (Bloomberg) 

Someone at SoftBank's Vision Fund earned $7m. It was probably Rajeev Misra. (Telegraph)

Private equity funds have $1.5 trillion in unspent capital ready to deploy in 2020. (Bloomberg) 

Deutsche Bank is still serving fancy wine from a famous French vineyard at shareholder meetings, but stocks are running low and Christian Sewing has cautioned that they won't be replaced. (Financial Times) 

Women at Hong Kong brokerage CLSA say it was hard for them to take maternity leave. "I was asked why I couldn’t be ‘normal’ and just mark off the 16 weeks [of maternity leave] in the calendar and then work as and when I was required.” CLSA disagrees. (Financial Times) 

Citi's Hong Kong revenues rose 8% last year, despite the protests. (Financial Times)

The European Union is underlining the UK's need to adhere to European rules after Brexit if it wants access to EU financial markets based on the “equivalence” regime. This provides access if the UK mirrors European rules. Access can be withdrawn or restricted on a sector-by-sector basis with 30 days’ notice. Detractors say equivalence can be withdrawn for political as well as technical reasons. (The Times) 

Goldman Sachs banker Mark Sorrell, the son of advertising man Sir Martin Sorrell, advised on $42.7 billion (£32.6 billion) of deals last year, more than any other individual in Europe. (ThisisMoney)

How Iran's hackers may strike back. (Wired)

Someone wants a nanny to cook and clean for their 18 year-old daughter at university. (Scotsman) 

Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • An
    6 January 2020

    The FT link to the CLSA article is broken, but what do CLSA say in disagreement?

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