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Morning Coffee: The 38-year-old banker commuting 3.5 hours for a better life. Citi's unlikely protected employees

How long does it take before driving hours into work becomes intolerable, and you return to the city for a stiflingly short commute on public transport? The Financial Times has unearthed various financial services professionals who are several years in and who, just about, have no regrets.

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“You notice a difference in the air," declares Mohammed Marikar, an Imperial College graduate and circa 38-year-old wealth manager at RBC who moved from London to Wales in 2022 and now drives in and out of the City.  Even in London, Marikar commuted a non-terse 75 minutes. Now he commutes three and a half (or maybe four) hours each way.

He's not alone. Last year, a technologist wrote here about his 16-hour days involving four hours of train rides, 10 hours of work and a 45-minute walk to the station at 4.30am because "there are no reliable taxis in the countryside."  "Very similar schedule to someone in the acute phase of psychosis," said someone in response. "Just Stop. No job, literally NO job is worth doing this to yourself," said another.  

People working in financial services, usually men, have been living in city pied-à-terres while their families live in the countryside for years, but as bonuses shrivel and house prices rise,  pied-à-terres are becoming rarer and commutes are getting longer. Combined with the unreliability of trains in the UK, it's leading some to question whether it's all worth it. 

"Sometimes I do wonder if this will impact my long-term health, it's not the greatest quality of life," one woman commuting two hours each way to a software engineering job in Canary Wharf, said in response to our article last year. “When I was younger it was easier,” Andrew Wilson, director of communications and responsible banking at Santander UK, confessed to the Financial Times, of his commute from Edinburgh to London. “A very early start to the day means that by the end of a commute day you are tired,” he observed. 

Marikar gets up at 5am in Wales on Tuesday and is at his London desk at 10am. He works until circa 8pm and then stays at an unspecified location in the city until Thursday night, when he drives another 3.5 hours back home. He avoids the trains because they're unpredictable. He says it's worth it, but mostly for the weekends, when there's more to do with his family in Wales than in London. 

Will Marikar think the same in another two years time? Responses to our article last year suggested long term commutes don't work long term. There were cautionary tales about sleep loss and illness. There were also smug responses from the childless who can afford to live in London. "I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Central London, which also cost £600k," said one respondent. "You pay your money, and you take your choice."

Separately, Citi is theoretically now moving into the second phase of its job cuts, which is supposed to involve removing 10,000 people from non-revenue generating roles including technology and operations. 

The bank's latest layoff filings with the New York State department of Labor suggest, however, that for the moment at least technology jobs will be safe. Citi has made three filings for job cuts to start in June: one for Citibank, which mostly includes its branch network; one for Citigroup Global Markets, which includes the sales and trading business; and one for Citigroup Technology Inc. While the Citibank cuts will number 363 people, and the global markets cuts will number 62 people, just four people are being cut from technology. 

Something similar happened last time Citi filed New York job cuts in February. Maybe the bank wants to keep tech staff more than it's letting on?


Citi cut TMT banking MDs Yaseen Choudhury and Abhi Singhal. (Bloomberg) 

Ken Griffin says that only 1% of people who apply for jobs at Citadel get in. (WSJ) 

McKinsey & Co is paying UK managers to spend nine months of the year "on search," meaning they will spend their time looking for a new job, rather than working on client projects. If they don't find a job at the end, they'll be let go. (The Times) 

Jefferies' investment banking rebound bodes well for rivals. (Bloomberg) 

Bridgewater has been enforcing a policy of mandating two years of unpaid gardening leave on employees who didn't even choose to leave. (Bloomberg)

The richer your university friends are, the more you will earn. (University of St. Gallen) 

Gen Z are being drawn to the manual trades, which may more than in the past. Someone graduating five years ago from the trade schools the association runs might have made $35k a year; these days it is closer to $60k. (WSJ) 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available (Telegram: @SarahButcher)

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
  • Ou
    4 April 2024

    I'll summarise.

    City banker on six figure salary commutes 3.5 hours on Tuesday, stays in London, works until Thursday, then drives back home.

    Poor him.

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