Bloggers on FIRE – Banker on FIRE

In our Bloggers on FIRE series, we interview European FI bloggers to find out what makes them tick. Our aim is to build up a “who’s who” directory for the European FI blogging world. We hope you enjoy the series and discover some new blogs to follow. You can find a full list of our Bloggers on FIRE interviews here.

Bloggers on FIRE Profile Card Banker on FIRE exp

Please briefly introduce yourself to readers

As the blog name suggests, I am an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker living in London with my wife and our two young children.

We’ve been living here for about ten years but both of us are first-generation immigrants, which goes a long way into shaping our attitudes towards money.

Unlike most other investment bankers, I had a “real” job before moving into banking, so I’d like to think I have a slightly more holistic perspective on life versus that of my colleagues. We go back to the “old country” frequently, which also helps to put things in context.

Both my wife and I are in our 30s, though sadly my days in this age bracket are numbered!

What is your backstory?

I think being an immigrant definitely helps in terms of having a sensible attitude towards money.

When my family first immigrated, no one would give us a credit card or a bank loan, so living within our means was the only option! Over time, you tend to internalize these sorts of things.

That being said, being an immigrant can also be a hindrance. For example, while my parents were (and still are) excellent at saving money, they certainly aren’t as sophisticated about investing.

It took me a long time to learn about and get comfortable with the concepts of stock market and real estate investing.

Why do you want to reach Financial Independence?

Before I became an investment banker, I thought that everyone in this industry is set when it comes to money. But once I joined the industry, I realized that simply wasn’t true.

I saw stressed-out bankers trying to balance long hours, high risk of layoff and exorbitant cost of living, what with central London accommodation and private school fees.

To me it just didn’t make any sense. How can you be paid so well and NOT be in good financial shape after 10+ years in the industry? So early on, I resolved not to fall into the same trap.

Even though I’ve always liked working hard, my priorities have changed as I’ve gotten older and certainly after we had children. Nowadays, I’m much more reluctant to leave house at 4am to catch a 6am flight out of Heathrow or miss bedtime because I’m stuck in the office.

I have a strong suspicion that when I get to fill out the scorecard of my life, I won’t look back and say “boy, I sure wish I worked even more!”.

Hence, I am very focused on building up our family’s “stash” to the point where I can peace out and do something much more relaxing career-wise.

How much is your “enough“?

Good question. I know the answer will have some folks reaching for the pitchforks, but if I’m to continue living in central London, I’d say we are looking at £120k/year in net income + a paid off house.

For full disclosure, this includes roughly £40k/year in private school fees for our two children.

Of course, if we were to up sticks and move elsewhere, that amount would decline materially.

Could we lead an enjoyable life for far less?  Absolutely, but in that scenario I wouldn’t voluntarily quit working.

Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?

Let’s just say we are well on our way.

What do you want to do with your life once you reach Financial Independence?

Plenty of plans! Spending more time with my kids (taking them fishing is high up on the agenda), taking up cycling, rekindling my love affair with weightlifting and finessing that two-handed backhand of mine!

What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?

ETF investing is the absolute cornerstone. I am also scaling up my real estate portfolio and was in the process of adding five new units before Covid struck.

Knowing myself, I’ll keep on working in some capacity post FI so there will be some ongoing income related to that.

What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?

Passive income through real estate and withdrawing 4% of our portfolio.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Coming out of the depths of financial crisis, I tried my hand at day trading.

A few weeks later and three thousand down, I realized there are better ways of making money.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Love this question – I actually think about it all the time because you can take the argument forward and ask yourself “what advice would the 60-year old version of me give me today?”

Anyhow, if I had a chance to go back in time, this is what I would tell the teenage version of myself:

  1. Action beats perfection. The most important thing you can do is to simply get started. Just get going and perfect your approach along the way.
  2. Focus on being the best at whatever you are doing. Whether it’s your studies, your work or your hobbies, there’s something magical about being the absolute master in your domain. In addition, there are significant monetary benefits that typically accrue to those who can be in the top 1% of their chosen field.
  3. Have a plan, don’t worry, be happy. As long as you know where you are going and have a plan for getting there, it makes no sense to worry about the future. Work hard and good things will happen.

What’s your wildest dream?

To spend a full year living in French Polynesia with my family.

What is your favourite just-for-fun activity that brings you joy?

Playing tennis and lifting weights.