London - The pressure on London bankers to get to grips with the
global financial crisis has led to stress, depression and insomnia
among City workers, affecting even the most experienced bosses.
The phenomenon was brought to light when the chief
executive of Lloyds Banking Group, Antonio Horta-Osario, announced that
he was stepping down from his post until the end of the year for
Reports claimed the Portuguese-born director, who earns
a basic annual salary of more than £1 million ($1.6 million, 1.2
million euros), was suffering from fatigue after just six months at the
helm of the bailed-out bank.
The shock announcement came as the financial sector
grappled with the latest developments in the eurozone debt crisis,
stirring anxiety among investors and sending shares in the banking giant
Horta-Osario highlighted a worrying trend among
bankers, said Dr Michael Sinclair, clinical director of City Psychology
Group, which treats patients from offices in the City and Canary Wharf,
London's second business centre.
"There's definitely an increase in (patients)
presenting to us with stress-related conditions, a whole host of anxiety
disorder and depression," Sinclair told AFP.
Sinclair blames the current economic turmoil for the
growth in cases of stress-related illness, which can cause a range of
physical symptoms including headaches, back pain, heart conditions and
"Since the recession, things have changed," said Cary
Cooper, a professor of psychology and health at Lancaster University in
In the wake of the global economic crisis, many
companies were forced to shed employees and increase workloads for their
current workers, which has driven up stress levels, Cooper said.
As the eurozone crisis deepens, Cooper said job
insecurity is a further source of worry for workers, many of whom
remember the traumatic scenes of September 2008 when London employees at
failed US bank Lehman Brothers lost their jobs overnight.
A recent study by research institute the Centre for
Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has added to financial workers'
CEBR estimates that more jobs in the financial sector
will be slashed this year, bringing the number of employees in the
industry back down to 1998 levels.
In this high-pressure environment, Cooper suggests
there is a 'survival of the fittest' mentality, with bankers, brokers
and other management staff likely to try desperately to hide any stress
symptoms from their employers.
"The majority of people working the financial sector
would not admit to not coping because it could mean they are highly
vulnerable to job loss," Cooper said.
Bankers are unlikely to turn to outsiders for help for
their "businessman blues" because of public animosity towards their
profession, Cooper added.
Recent reports of hefty bonus payments for staff at
banks that were rescued from collapse by state bailouts has done little
to improve their reputation in the eyes of the general public.
"The public perception of them and the media's attack
on them has made their job more stressful," Cooper said, adding that
many even lie about their job when asked.
According to Sinclair, the British public's lack of
compassion for bankers has forced many to turn to drugs and alcohol in a
bid to relieve the stress.
"It's a vicious circle that makes the problems worse in the end," he said.