City hedge fund manager’s suicide indicative of wider sector Covid stress

A hedge fund manager who took his own life last year was experiencing high stress amid a tough time for the business, in a sign of the pain being felt across financial services during the pandemic.

Former Polar Capital fund manager Guy Rushton, 36, was found dead last May following his discharge from a psychiatric hospital. His death was attributed to “high stress” from being unable to take time off at work and anxiety about the future of the fund he managed, his widow said, particularly “about the value of his own money invested in the fund”.

Alannah Rushton told the Wiltshire and Swindon assistant courier at a March inquest that her husband had been “extremely stressed at work”, The Times reported. A month prior to Guy Rushton’s death, Polar Capital said it was winding down his £292m UK Absolute Equity Fund due to the “poor health of the individual fund manager”, which had apparently lost about £180m in value during the pandemic.

Workers across the City have struggled under the immense pressures brought about by the pandemic and Brexit, working “much longer hours” than they were previously used to.

In a February survey of senior finance executives by Financial News, 60% said Covid has made their lives more stressful, while 42% said the crisis, as well as Brexit, has made them reconsider their careers.

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Junior bankers entering the sector have been under the highest duress, working 80-hour weeks from cramped apartments. In turn, banks have begun offering perks to stop employees from fleeing the industry.

New recruits at JPMorgan have been offered virtual boxing, as well as ‘escape room’ games and wine-tasting. Goldman Sachs’ Plumtree Court fitness centre offers Zoom workouts to analysts, while managing directors are conducting MP-style office ‘open hours’ for new recruits to connect.

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Alannah Rushton said her husband had been experiencing “angry outbursts” prior to checking himself into a psychiatric hospital in Devizes, Wiltshire. In May, he transferred a large amount of money to his wife’s bank account and made her his contact on Facebook in case of death, The Times reported.

The assistant coroner Ian Singleton adjourned the inquest after asking for further representations from the family. He could not be reached for comment.

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