Time to follow your dream ?
With thousands of jobs axed and many more under threat in London's financial center, City workers are leading an exodus from the City as they consider alternative careers and dramatic life changes.
Simon Broomer, managing director and founder of career specialists CareerBalance, told CNBC that he had seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of City workers calling on his company for advice on what to do after losing their jobs.
"Some of those who have only worked in the City feel that it will be difficult to get another job in the City because the work for which they have the skills and expertise has dried up. High earners [also] find it hard to accept that they are not going to get the kinds of salaries and packages they got five or ten years ago," Broomer told CNBC. "Jobs are no longer waiting for you to walk into them," he said, adding that he had seen a lot of financial workers become despondent during their job searches.
Banks across Europe have been speeding up job cuts as they seek to improve capital ratios, London's 320,000 financial workers are being particularly hard hit. Barclays , RBS and HSBC are just a few of the banks which have announced significant job losses .
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Many of those workers are turning to career coaches and advisors to enhance their resumes as the competition heats up, while others, Broomer said, "just want to get away from the City and do something different."
Mike Lousada, an investment banker turned sex therapist, told CNBC that City workers should "follow their passion" and find an interest they could even develop into their own business. Having worked for two decades at Nomura, JP Morgan, Barclays and Societe Generale "amongst others," Lousada told CNBC that his change of career from banking to sexual healing was a life choice.
"I felt my City career no longer had meaning for me and I wanted to pursue something which gave my life meaning and purpose. As I grew, emotionally, I realized how unfulfilled I felt and I knew that there was something else calling me which would be more fulfilling," he told CNBC.
Called the "orgasm guru" among London's chattering classes, Lousada has built up a reputation as a talented sex therapist with a long waiting list of clients paying 300 pounds ($454) for a therapy session with him. He said he had met a lot of City workers who wanted to get out of frenetic City life and work.
"I realized how many people I would talk with in my banking days who all told the same story: "If I had enough money, I would give this up and.....start a bike shop/become an artist/teach yoga/run a hotel/train horses - whatever it was, most people I spoke to were dreaming of doing something other than what they actually spent the vast majority of their time doing," he said.
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He remarked that there was money to be made in alternative careers if someone has a talent that other people need. "Don't listen to the people who tell you, you can't follow your dreams or have money and a fulfilling job or career," he said.
Nataliya Grigorova is another high profile "defector" from the banking world. She wanted to pursue a dream and maintain a standard of life that she had become accustomed to while working in various European investment banks, including SocGen and HSBC. She left her job working for ING's equity capital markets department to open her own dance business, Dancebuzz, almost three years ago.
"I always wanted to run my own business but, like many others, the changes in the economic environment and the banking sector itself pushed me to rethink my career path and what I really wanted to do. I decided to quit the banking industry as I couldn't see the same scope of career development I had planned for when I first joined and focused on finding out how to do something I loved - whilst not giving up the standard of life I was already used to when working in banking," she told CNBC.
Broomer said that job losses could be a positive opportunity to embark on a new career. "Some say they have never been happy and have only stayed in it for the money," he said. "Now that the glamour and the effervescent salaries are disappearing , the City has become a harsher place to work with strict performance targets being set by employers. If you cannot show that you are adding a lot of value, your job is at risk," he said.
Jobs were no longer "waiting for you to walk into them," Broomer said, adding that he had seen a lot of financial workers become despondent during their job hunts. For those set on staying in finance he advised job seekers to "keep calm and carry on looking."
Self-employed business owner Grigorova would not look back, however, having embraced life "after the City."
"I do know quite a few people who left the industry and started up something completely different. In fact, there are various communities of ex-City professionals who have escaped the City or are thinking of doing so in the near future and joining them can be helpful in terms of getting advice and inspiration," she said.