After graduating from Cambridge you spent a year in India selling trinkets. How did you go from that to working in The City? Was it a career destination you were looking at whilst at university?
I never even thought about entering The City. My brother conned me into getting a job and I still don't know whether to beat him up or hug him for it!
Your first book, Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile, lifted the lid on life within the financial world. Having been very much part of the investment banking culture for over ten years, at what point did you decide it was no longer for you and wanted to get out? Was there a straw that broke the camel's back?
I had misgivings from my very first day in banking. I thought I'd do it for four or five years and then find something useful to do with my life but those nasty bosses pay you more and more and it's very hard to leave (especially lacking an alternative). It was a motorcycle accident in August 2007 that almost killed me that made me reappraise life's priorities!
What was the reaction of your friends and colleagues within the banking community after you publicly revealed that you were behind the 'City Boy' column in The London Paper? Were you blacklisted from any social circles?
Oh yes, it was a terrible tragedy when The City blackballed me as a traitor ... I think I can just about live with it.
Do you think the credit crunch/financial meltdown and the ensuing backlash against bankers and financiers in the media will deter students from applying for jobs in the industry over the long term?
The main reason one chooses to work in The City is money. That will be less abundant and hence applicants will be fewer. No bad thing ... smart people may do something useful with their lives that help the world rather than pointlessly push around bits of paper.
Do you agree with the accusations from the media that bankers' greed has been largely responsible for the onset of the credit crunch and economic downturn or has it been blown out of proportion?
Greed or stupidity explains the credit crunch. Either bankers really believed the housing bubble could go on forever and hence the loans backed by it were worth something or they knew they'd explode within a few years but calculated that they'd make millions in the interim period. I opt for the latter explanation.
Do you think banks will be able to justify paying out huge amounts in salaries and bonuses in the future? Do you think these salaries are still justified given the redundancies/ pay freezes being experienced by many workers?
Banks, especially ones that have been bailed out by the taxpayers, will struggle to justify huge pay packets. Going forward bankers will demand vast bonuses but hopefully banks' shareholders will demand that they prove that their seemingly profitable actions are profitable long-term.
Having experienced the best and worst of the financial sector, what advice would you give to a young person (including many of The Gateway's readers) looking at The City as a career destination. Would you try and deter them?
I would rarely tell anyone what to do. However, I do believe that life is short, it's not a dress rehearsal and that you could get run over by a bus tomorrow. If you believe those things then it's hard to justify working 80 hour weeks surrounded by tossers for the next 20 years!
What plans do you have going forward? Can you see yourself ever going back into finance?
I will never go back in finance and they wouldn't have me even if I did! I've started my next book, a thriller set in The City and will continue my journalism (especially my column in thelondonpaper). I'm also going to try and do some good - I've got 12 years of repentance to do to make up for my 12 years of serving Mammon in the City!