World Economy

UK Bankers More Stressed Than Ever

UK Bankers More Stressed Than Ever
UK Bankers More Stressed Than Ever

It might be time to feel sorry for Britain’s bankers. Apparently turning into social pariahs after the financial crisis has taken its toll on their mental health.

Demand for insurance to protect revenues against the cost of paying staff who are too stressed to work has surged, according to data from financial services group Willis Towers Watson, cited by Reuters.

“The problem has gone into a new stratosphere since the financial crisis.... Those who still have a job are vilified,” Jagdev Kenth, director of risk and regulatory strategy at Willis Towers Watson, told the news wire.

“Most haven’t had anything to do with the scandals. They’re working longer hours, doing two to three jobs, under greater pressure. Something has to give.”

Banking has changed somewhat since the Greed is Good heydays of the 1980s. Stricter regulation, a raft of penalties for manipulating markets and tougher capital controls, have led to substantial job cuts. The ten largest European banks have slashed around 130,000 jobs since June.

As a result, bankers are working longer and longer hours to meet their ever-increasing workloads.

 Feeling the Pinch

It’s not just tired traders, miffed middle-office workers and beleaguered back-office staff who are feeling the pinch; chief executives are stressed too.

Lloyds boss Antonio Horta-Osorio took two months off back in 2011, which he attributed to sleep deprivation and exhaustion, while in 2013 Hector Sants was signed off from his role as head of compliance at Barclays due to stress and later resigned.

Almost three out of four bank workers said they were suffering from anxiety attacks, insomnia, headaches and depression, according to a survey by trade union Unite between September and December.

Most cited heavier workloads as the cause of the stress, with 72% considering quitting their jobs.

The City of London has the highest suicide mortality rates per 100,000 people than any other London borough, according to official statistics.

In 2013 stressed banker Nico Lambrechts, 46, who had recently moved from Merrill Lynch to Investec, jumped to his death.