The world of finance is often depicted as a glamorous place where the money is plentiful, the cars are fast and the champagne flows freely. As Leonardo de Caprio showed in The Wolf of Wall Street, the highs of the finance industry can be very high.
But a series of mysterious disappearances and tragic deaths has thrown a spotlight on the dark underbelly of long hours, extreme pressure and a macho, take-no-prisoners culture. The untimely demise of so many people begs the question, at what price success?
The latest in a string of tragic deaths of finance industry workers involved a 37-year-old JPMorgan executive who died from unknown causes at the start of February.
According to the Financial Post, Ryan Crane, an executive director of a stock trading unit, died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. Bloomberg quoted a spokeswoman for the state’s chief medical examiner who said the cause of Crane’s death would be determined when a toxicology report was completed in the coming weeks.
In January, a UK-based director at insurance group Swiss Re AG, was found dead in mysterious circumstances, reported the The Wall Street Journal. Also in January, David Bird, a finance industry reporter who worked for the Journal, left his New Jersey home for a walk and never returned, while in July last year The Independent reported the death of the 49 year-old CEO of Swisscom who suffered from chronic stress and had become “dangerously addicted” to his smartphone.
Obviously, many industries are stressful and the reasons people die are not always related to work, but the spate of deaths of finance sector workers has not escaped the attention of the financial press.
For anyone working in the industry, the following list makes for grim reading.
• February 18: JP Morgan investment banker Li Junjie jumped to his death from the roof of the 30-storey Chater House in Hong Kong’s central business district. Shocked witnesses told The South China Morning Post that the 33 year-old resisted attempts to talk him down from the top of JP Morgan’s Hong Kong headquarters.
• February 4: Richard Talley, the founder and CEO of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, committed suicide by shooting himself with a nail gun. The 56 year-old was found dead in his garage with up to eight wounds in his torso and head. His death coincided with an investigation by state insurance regulators into the company he founded, according to The Denver Post.
• January 29: Mike Dueker, chief economist at Russell Investments, died from a 50-foot fall from a highway ramp down an embankment in Washington state. Local police were treating the 50 year-old’s death as a suicide, rt.com reported.
• January 28: Gabriel Magee, a vice president with JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank technology arm, jumped to his death from the roof of the 33-storey Canary Wharf Tower in London. The 39 year-old fell from the top of the investment bank’s European headquarters at the peak of the financial district’s rush hour, The London Evening Standard reported.
• January 26: William Broeksmit, a recently retired executive at Deutsche Bank AG, was found dead at his home in London in an apparent suicide. Bloomberg quoted a spokesman for the London police as saying that authorities weren’t treating the death as suspicious.
• Week of December 8: Moritz Erhardt, an intern at the Bank of America, died of a seizure in the shower of his flat in London. His parents were concerned that the 21 year-old, an epileptic, was working through the night after he sent them emails at 5am and 6am, The Guardian reported.
• August 26: Pierre Wauthier, the chief financial officer at one of the world’s biggest underwriters, Zurich Insurance, was found hanging at his home in Zurich, Switzerland. CNNMoney reported that the 53 year-old left two suicide notes: one to his family, the other to his employer. The latter castigated Zurich’s chairman and Deutsche Bank CEO, Josef Ackermann, for his allegedly overbearing and toxic style of management.
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