You won't hear this said very often, but when you work in finance it's not just about you. This is such a demanding career, that it's partly about having a spouse who's committed to you working in finance and is tolerant of your long hours. And finance is an industry that's so difficult to get into, that your more presence in this sector is often a testimony to the effort your parents put into your upbringing. Once you make it to the top, therefore, you have a chance to give them something back.
I've tried to give back as much as I can.
My own father was a driver. He spent 40 years at the wheel, taking people from point A to point B and after those 40 years, he had less money saved up than I had accumulated in six years in banking.
He moved people. I move money. Guess which pays better?
The way I see it, though, this money isn't entirely mine. My parents invested heavily in me, and it's my responsibility to give them something in return.
When I was a junior, it was just small things. I made sure I stopped being a burden to them: I didn't live with them and I always had a spare bedroom in my own place so that they could come and visit.
After I'd worked in banking for a few years, I was able to do more. I sent my parents on a holiday. They loved it. So, I sent them on some other, better, holidays. When they came to visit me, I took them out for expensive dinners. They loved that too!
This is what people don't tell you about finance jobs. The pleasure of giving back. People think "bankers" are selfish materialists, but a lot are among the most generous people I know. In my case, being able to treat my parents felt awesome. It felt good take care and look after the people that made me who I am. No matter who we are, we only got there because we stood on others' shoulders.
This isn't to say that generosity always comes easily. Finance is a career with its ups and downs. Last year, I was stressed and between jobs. Nothing was working in my life and my parents wanted to buy a place in California. They didn't have enough money, and since they were retired a mortgage wasn't an option either. Being the oldest son from an emerging markets country, I knew it was my duty and responsibility to help. Even so, I was stressed. When I wired them the money I was very conscious that it was a whole year's bonus.
But guess what? A year has gone by now and I've got a new job. It feels great to see my parents settled and it feels great to that I was able to do something for them. The older I get, the more I realize that only 5-10% of what I've achieved is because of me: 90% was due to my parents, mentors, teachers. I want to give them something back.
Of course, my parent don't really understand what I do for a living, but that's not the point. When I'm 70, I figure I won't really know the jobs my kids are doing either. The important thing is I helped my parents when they needed me and that they are they are proud.
What else matters?
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