End Of An Era

End of an era

First, the Queen passed on, capping off an unprecedented 70-year run.

Concurrently, the UK has experienced a period of tremendous political and economic upheaval, as the country cycled through multiple prime ministers in record time.

And now, in news that is bound to send equally powerful shockwaves through this country’s establishment, the Banker on FIRE is preparing to depart the UK.

The Sands of Time

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may recall some of the soul-searching I’ve done upon turning 40 last year.

There was always the question of what to do next.  But figuring out where to do it was equally high up on the agenda.

While we absolutely loved living in London, it was also clear that we’ve run down the shot clock quite a bit, in particular when it comes to maxing out on time with our respective families.

Family reunions, as fun and exciting as they may be, only last so long.  You may not want to live next to your parents and siblings, but you don’t necessarily want to live an 8-hour flight away from them either.

Engineering geographical moves is never easy.  In addition to disrupting every single facet of life, they also involve a fair bit of career choreography, especially at the more senior levels which I am now approaching.

And so, when my employer reached out over the summer, asking whether I would consider taking a slightly more senior role back across the pond, I was ready for a serious conversation.

One thing led to another, and before too long, I was signing on the dotted line while my wife was submitting her own resignation letter and looking up new schools for our children.

Wherever you happen to live, it’s easy to focus on all the negatives in your life – and the UK has certainly had its fair share of, ahem, challenges over the past few years.

But as I look back at our 10+ years here, there is an extremely long list of things I will miss about living in this country, and certainly about being in central London.

First and foremost, there’s the cadence of holidays.

The amazing lead-up to Christmas, which always felt more drawn out, less commercial (and ever-so-slightly more debauched!) than it did in North America.

The weekend ski jaunts in the winter.  The short beach getaways around Easter, soaking up that long-awaited sunshine.

Finally, the almost-institutionalized summer holiday in August, when even banking activity grinds to a halt and everyone descends on the beaches of southern Europe.

I’ll miss the density of living.  When you live in central London, you certainly don’t get to live in a 4,000-square-foot mansion.  We’ve spent most of our time here in relatively compact flats.

What you do get, instead, is the ability to lead a “car-light” lifestyle, walking or taking public transport pretty much everywhere.

Some of my most favourite memories include walking our daughter to school in the mornings, watching her ride her bike along the leafy streets of South Kensington.

On the days I was working from home, it was picking our son up from daycare, and possibly making a detour to the local gelato place on the way home.

As surprising as it may seem, I’ll also miss the weather.

Perhaps not the gloominess or the incessant rain.

But anyone who spent time in the Midwest or the Northeast will appreciate not having to dig out from 5 inches of snow overnight, and not having to wear anything more than a light coat and a scarf come winter.

The list goes on and on.

There’s nothing quite like the flexibility of jumping on a Eurostar (or EasyJet) on a Friday afternoon for a last-minute weekend getaway.  The lazy summertime Saturday afternoon picnics in Hyde Park.  The cozy pub evenings next to a crackling fireplace.

Most of all, I’ll miss being just one short tube ride away from central London, one of the most special cities in the entire world.

Don’t get me wrong, we are beyond excited about our move.

First of all, it is nice to be coming home, especially after such a long time away.  We look forward to reconnecting with our families and old friends.

Career-wise, I’m taking on a new and expanded role, which is always a fun challenge.

My wife is looking forward to trading her intense finance job in for something with a bit more flexibility.

And if my early read is correct, I will probably manage a slightly better work-life balance myself, courtesy of no longer being based in London and finally getting some family help with the kids.

Unsurprisingly, the kids are also pumped up for a new adventure.  Highest up on the agenda?  Enjoying “real snow” in the winter.  Let’s see how long that excitement lasts!

Knowing ourselves well, I’d say there’s a 50%+ chance we will end up back in London or Europe at some point over the next 20 years.

The good news is that you won’t need to wait that long for the next post as I definitely plan to keep the blog up.

London, it’s been amazing.  Till we meet again.


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Banker On FIRE is an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker. I am passionate about capital markets, behavioural economics, financial independence, and living the best life possible.

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49 thoughts on “End Of An Era”

  1. Wishing you all the best for the move – I think you are making it at a great time 😀 chaos will ensue here….! I really enjoy following your journey & really helpful posts to hope you keep it up.

    All the best,
    G

    1. Thanks a lot Grace!

      Let’s see what happens from here onwards. Agree not a straightforward situation but have a feeling Rishi could do reasonably well

      Time will tell. In the meantime, life goes on, economic crises or not!

  2. Really enjoy all your posts so am very glad you will be keeping them up from the other side of the pond. London isn’t going anywhere so you can always easily return and visit. Wishing you and your family all the very best in this new adventure!

    1. Thanks a lot Barry, much appreciated!

      And yes, agree – London will remain a big part of our life given the social and professional relationships we’ve built up here.

  3. An avid reader of your blog.

    Agree with most of your comments about the positives of being in central London. However, respectfully disagree about living in small flats here being a positive – us Londoners desperately need more breathing and storage space!

    Hope your move goes well. Look forward to reading about your new life in the States.

    1. Thanks very much Azam!

      I don’t disagree with you at all, more space (to an extent) is always welcome. But it’s the other side of the coin from having dense, walkable neighbourhoods.

      Where I come from, everyone wants to live in a large detached house with a big backyard and a two car garage – but most people “wish” they could walk over to a pub or a coffee shop instead of having to drive everywhere.

      The ideal setup is clearly somewhere in between being cramped and contributing to urban sprawl, but it’s all part of a trade off

      We are now back to owning two cars – will be an adjustment to say the least!

  4. I’ve been a fan for a couple of years now and commented concerns or twice too. I really enjoy your take on things so delighted you plan to continue your blogs.

    All the very best to you and your family on this new adventure!

    Warm wishes,

    David

  5. Best of luck with the move and thank you for everything you have posted (so far!). Like you I moved away from London despite loving it. However, more affordable space definitely has its advantages and definitely much less pollution!

    1. Thanks for the well wishes Alan.

      So to be perfectly candid, the pollution is one aspect I will not miss.

      Easy to get used to it when you live here, but very noticeable anytime we are back from holiday. And not to state the obvious, but becomes a much more important consideration once you have kids.

  6. ryangibsonclever

    Wishing you all the best BOF.

    I’m a huge fan of the blog and think you are one of the most grounded individuals I have had the pleasure of reading. There’s no ego.

    I hope the move goes well and we’d love an update once you are settled.

    1. Cheers Ryan, very happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog!

      Being helpful to people like you is why I keep putting pen to paper every week.

  7. I’ve only been reading your posts since earlier this year and enjoyed them immensely. I hope we get an update once the dust settles over there for you. No doubt you’ll be sad to leave London, which will always welcome you back. Then again you are escaping the political & economic circus in town. All the best with the move fella and take care.

    1. Thanks Darrin, appreciate it.

      Agree it’s probably going to be choppy near term but have full (perhaps somewhat unfounded) confidence the country will come out stronger and better on the other side.

  8. Yes! – best wishes for this next chapter in your life/work/family life.
    I am looking forward to your postings from an American perspective.

  9. Best wishes for the future, hope you all enjoy the new location and, selfishly, hope you get time to continue with the blog as planned.

  10. Good luck BoF. It’s ‘when’ you do stuff not just ‘what’ you do. And your timing’s good for this. All the best and I hope you’ll keep blogging once you’re outside and over there. Global perspective from you will really help to keep

    1. Yes excellent point. Felt like the right time to be honest, especially as the perspective shifted post the big 4-0.

      Will definitely keep the blog up!

  11. Haven’t commented in a while but this definitely deserves one: all the very best to you and your family! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts over the years and, while they might not be as applicable in the future given you won’t be in the UK, I’ll continue reading just as before.

    Enjoy home!

    1. Much appreciated!

      For better or worse, a very significant chunk of our net worth is still in UK investment vehicles, so I probably will keep writing about pensions, ISAs, and all the other good stuff.

  12. All the best!

    Plus, hope you realise just how important the work you do on this blog is. I learnt the hard way over many years, now I am 100% passive and 70% of that s&p 500 and the rest global tracker.

    Keep banging this drum and also the do not panic as well!

    If you get one or two folks to take notice you will be impacting on their lives more than could be imagined.

    1. Thanks for the kind words!

      As a bigger blog, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m “shouting into the void” – but it still feels great to know my writing makes a difference!

  13. All the best on the move! I too came from the other side of the pond 15 years ago and would consider a move back for the right opportunity. So do keep us avid readers updated on how it all pans out–personally, professionally and FIRE-wise! Would be eager to hear how the tax efficiencies may be different and what will you do with your ISAs, pensions, etc.

    1. Absolutely.

      Given the complexities, I have a feeling I will leave my UK instruments as is until I pull the rip cord on retirement.

  14. Congratulations on the move and the promotion! Having lived in London for 8 years, then Hong Kong for 4, and then finally moved back to Australia, I’ve found that every city has it’s own good and bad characteristics.

    Being closer to family is a great reason to move though, and although there’s tradeoffs with this as well it’s definitely been a net positive.

    All the best with the move!

  15. Congratulations and best of luck on the move! As an avid reader of this blog, I owe it to you on how I go about with my investments. I can’t thank you enough and I look forward to reading what the next chapter has install for you

    1. Thanks very much Manyi, it means a lot. Very happy you’ve found the blog helpful and that it made a positive difference to your journey.

  16. If you’ve still time, I’d strongly suggest ticking as many things off your UK/European bucket list as possible before you leave. 🙂

    Very good friends of mine left the UK a decade ago to return to the States. They expected to be back with a year or possibly two for a holiday…

    Ten years in, they’ve still not returned! True kids were new to them after getting back, and that was obviously a lifestyle bombshell. But also it became harder as I understand it to justify the long schlep to Europe when they’d already ‘done’ it and there was so much more of the US (and friends / family) to visit…

    1. Good advice and thank you.

      We’ve ticked off quite a few boxes but not all of them. Sadly was tough to do with schools etc, but we’ve already booked not one but two return trips to Europe next year!

  17. Congrats on your decision, I look forward to hearing all about it in the coming months. Never been to London, or Europe for that matter, but it is on the ‘bucket list’. Safe travels!

    1. Thanks Jim, appreciate it.

      I’m a massive fan of London, would definitely try to cross this one off your list when you can!

  18. Oh, you’re moving! But we don’t know where or what you’ll be doing. Where are you guys going? And how old are your kids now?

    I didn’t realize your wife also worked in finance. That’s really great for the Wallet to have two high income earners.

    My wife left the finance industry in 2015 when she turned 35 as well. I told her that when I left in 2012, she could also leave by 35 if things went OK.

    There was no way she wanted to continue working Longer than she had to because she saw how much happier I was due to the freedom.

    But since then, I have tried to encourage her to seek freelance opportunities or employment opportunities to keep her busy. But she doesn’t want to.

    I’m curious to know whether your wife has any desire to retire early? Or does she have an innate desire to work and earn money? Once we had kids in 2017, my wife’s desire to go back to work basically went to 0. And it’s still zero today.

  19. Hey, I started following your blog recently as your content aligns with my views – passive investing, FIRE, etc.

    I’m currently an IB analyst in London, and home for me is not the UK either. I do, also, intend to return home in the future, and wanted to ask if you had any advice for me.

    1) Timing – am I right to think that I should move within the analyst / associate years, since the role becomes more relationship based after, and the client network I build here won’t be that useful anymore when I do move home? Just surprised that you stayed 10+ years, and wanted to know if you had any advice based on your experience.

    2) Credentials – slightly worried that it’s going to be tough moving back because the firm I’m at is an independent one (Laz/Roth/Moelis/PJT/PWP/Evercore/Centerview) that isn’t very well known back in my hometown. Do you have any thoughts on how I can optimize my opportunities (buyside/sellside/industry) back home?

  20. All the very best with your move.
    Hope it all works out well for you & yours.
    Glad to hear you will be still blogging.
    Maybe your next move will be that “coast move” we talked about from time to time?

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