4 July

TP ICAP employee writes mental health book ABCD Finding Happiness

We’re happy to share that TP ICAP employee, mental health champion and This is Me supporter, Nicholas Bunney has written a book called ABCD Finding Happiness

Using lessons from philosophy, scientific research, psychotherapy, and modern media – ABCD builds a framework around the essential themes common to each. It looks at four key building blocks to happiness – Authenticity, Balance, Consistency, and Discipline – aiming to give the readers a greater chance of being their true self.

Our long-standing corporate partners TP ICAP spoke to Nicholas about the publication of the book, his career in The City, and his mental health journey. They have kindly given us permission to share the conversation…

Nicholas, tell us a bit about your career?

I started work in the middle office of a broker called Fimat in 2004. I loved it there. I got on well with everyone and because of this I was given the chance to be a junior on the Equity Derivatives Desk in 2005. I worked on that desk as a broker as the firm changed from Fimat to Newedge and finally was re-absorbed by Societe Generale almost a decade later. Mostly I was exchange-traded derivatives execution for bank clients and internal execution and crossing desk. In fact, some of those who I worked with earlier in the Newedge days have found their way to TP ICAP, so there are some familiar faces here. Since 2018, I have made the move from front office to Compliance, working at Kyte Broking/Market Securities, Daiwa Capital Markets, and now at TP ICAP.

You have written a book about wellbeing and mental health. Can you tell us a bit about the personal journey that took you there?

Towards the end of my career as a broker, I had quite a lot going on in my personal life. This included losing a family member, moving home, and having young children to look after. Nothing different from many of other people, but enough to affect my mental health. The banking/broking environment is a tough one with long hours, late nights, and high pressure. Sometimes it’s difficult to make the right choices to take care of yourself when challenges inevitably come around - as they do for everyone.

So, about five years ago, I started to read a few self-help books, and a lot of the advice began to click with me. It was a real relief to see that others had been through what I was going through. This led to me resigning from my job and taking a few months off to consider what was important to me. This led to a change of career, a better work life balance and improving other aspects that are important to mental health, such as a better diet and having people to talk to. I am now far happier, more balanced, and a better person around my kids. The difference is amazing.

What I’ve learned over the last five years gave me the impetus to write my own book. I wanted to help others like that first self-help book had helped me. I wanted to bring together all the great advice I’ve found and received. The outcome is ‘ABCD: Finding Happiness'. As the title suggests, the book highlights how much of mental health falls into four clear themes – Authenticity, Balance, Consistency, and Discipline – and gives some simple advice and tools to improve these areas in your life.

When you look back, what stopped you getting help and what would have made a difference to you?

In my broker role, there wasn’t really the infrastructure to have easy access to help. In 2017, the subject wasn’t as really talked about, so I don’t blame my employers. But, easy access to counselling, covering mental health-related costs on private medical insurance, and having information available on the company intranet would have been helpful.

The main issue that prevented me, and others I spoke to, from being a bit more open about if they were feeling low, in the same way you’d say you were physically ill, was the fear of being judged. Perhaps being seen as ‘weak’ or ‘not up for the job’. Things have progressed immeasurably, and mental health awareness is now more widely discussed. But to know that your employer, colleagues, and bosses can be approached on that subject would have allowed me to do so more readily.

What did you learn or reflect when researching and writing the book?

Most of all, everyone is going through a lot of the same issues. They might feel very personal to you at the time, but most people have been through similar and come out the other side.

Do you think society is changing in terms of talking about and views of mental health and wellbeing?

Definitely. I think that even the existence of Mental Health Awareness Week and it being supported and publicised by a major global broker TP ICAP is chalk and cheese to how it has been historically. We all have the parent, friend or peer who believes that talking about their feelings is too much or ‘weak’, but I’ve seen first-hand that making small changes can make you far stronger. I’ve got a job I enjoy, a family who love me and I’m fitter at 41 than I was at 31!

What do you know now about mental health that you wish you had known 10 years ago?

To stop worrying about things you can’t control. This is covered in advice from stoic philosophy, religions, contemporary therapy, 12-step programmes and more. Yet, we still control freaks! Letting go of what other people do, how life should be, how you’re perceived, can really have a lasting, positive effect.

What would you say to anyone struggling with mental health today?

Talk to someone about it. These things can eat away at you if you leave them and think everything is ‘fine’. Things probably are, but you won’t know that unless you address them head on.

Nicholas Bunney’s book ‘ABCD: Finding Happiness’ is available to buy on Amazon or you can preview the first five chapters for free on Substack

Join the This is Me movement to end stigma around mental health in the workplace here

Find out more about Corporate Partnerships with The Lord Mayor’s Appeal here

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