Any Other Former Diplobrats on Here Freaking Out About their Futures?

Hey Guys,

I thought that if any forum would be able to empathise/sympathise with me, this would be the one. I went to two top universities in the UK, I'm British/American, in Big 4 audit and because of failing some exams I'm only going to qualify this September at the age of 28. I'm actually trying to transition into ER, but let's save that for another, less emotional, forum post. More importantly, my father is a diplomat and I grew up in Australia/Switzerland/the US, so I have experience with a wide range of countries, albeit within very privileged bubbles. 

It's sort of hit me over the past year or two just how hard it's going to be to get my 'lifestyle' back, especially if I were to decide to have a family one day, and it's really been freaking me out. I had no idea skiing annually (by myself) really required at least a £60k income, and even on that you need to sacrifice other areas of your life. I mean, to live in Westchester/Balham/anywhere east of Sydney CBD and to send your kid to the same private schools I went to, you need at least a £200k/$300k USD/AUD (and that New York number is low) joint income. 

I was sleeping with a girl the other day who's around my age and she blurted out that she wanted to have kids in the next 5-6 years. For a girl I guess 33 is reasonable, but I'm sitting here thinking "b**ch (sarcastically), I have 5 figures in my bank account, in 5 years it would be an achievement if I could buy my starter flat in Lewisham/Queens/Parramatta, do you think I want that outcome for my kid?". It's gonna take me til my 40s to get the result I want, maybe late 30s in Brisbane/Birmingham/Denver/Geneva or whatever. Realistically, I feel like I've kind of screwed up my life. Thank god I'm in audit in the UK and not the US won't have to be a slave to MBA debt to make something of myself. 

I don't have anyone else to talk to about this in real life because all of my friends, despite some being in similar professional positions, have substantial family money to help them out with various things. Is anyone else here feeling the same way? Just trying to find a connection. Thanks for reading this guys.

 

Ex UN kid here - grew up in CH, US, DE, ... 10 countries by 15.

1) It is no longer possible to reach my previous lifestyle, at any age. Inflation, CoL, mass layoffs, salaries not keeping up with any of that in almost any industry.
Therefore, it's no longer my goal to "keep up with my parents generation", I just live my life as it comes. Stopped worrying years ago.

2) I am now at director level and I have plateaued out, this would be it for me. With a better industry outlook some headhunter might have called, but the calls are... just not coming in.

3) Like you said, I could spend everything I have just on me alone and barely make some kind of "lifestyle". There is no way I could have kids in decent private schools while I have to entertain/wine/dine/shop for the missus. Not going to happen. The decent ladies in NYC and London have an appetite/shopping list that could destroy any wallet. Only the Dodi Al Fayed's of the world could keep up with that, and you've seen what happened to him...

4) On a different topic, a lot of expensive things in life are also on their way out - among them marriage and having a family. The vast majority of people I know aren't married and aren't planning any changes either. So, maybe we will all look after ourselves going forward and hook up with a few randoms here and there... and that's it? (there was a recent future survey which showed even more females being unmarried by 2030)

5) A lot of other services/products are now a lot cheaper than when our parents were thriving, among them technology, transportation, airfare, connectivity, commute/remote work, ... - so here is a point where all humans have access to better opportunities.

6) One of the biggest cost aspects, personal car ownership, is also less relevant than ever before. Cars will be electrified first, and ultimately be autonomous. Waymo/Uber type combos will be everywhere if you even have to go somewhere in the first place. Among my friends more and more are ditching having a driver's license/owning a car/parking space/maintenance and are just ubering everywhere now. I am a car guy and know a lot of them.

The friends and my colleague circle who have a higher standard of living often fall into the following buckets:
1) Mystery inheritance. This is a big one. Great aunt Birgit from Liechtenstein leaves them 600K $US and they "suddenly have a nice house and a new car". yeah, that group is bigger than one would imagine. It is stunning how few children are in some families and how much of a net worth they can have at the drop of hat (or body).
In most Western nations the government would get all of your net worth once you die, and most people on that death bed wouldn't want that. Regardless of how much they hate their family - it's better giving to blood than country.

2) Entrepreneurship or some form of investment luck
Yeah, the bitcoin millionaires are now in their 20s and can reap the benefits from putting their bar mitzvah coins into the digital space. There are quite a few young kids who made a decent return on BTC, meme stock, and other kind of investments. There is a neighbor here who has a son with a Ferrari thanks to Bitcoin, his dad still drives a 15 year old BMW. (I don't cover SMEs on my job, but I can imagine a part of the kids out there will also inherit a car wash or laundromat or motel or ...)

3) A smaller chunk, but still a visible group, have questionable business interests
It could be a controlled substance, adult content, or weird foreign relations that bring substantial returns. I go to car meets all the time, made many contacts in that space, and I am astonished what level of income some young folks have. They are very young, typically have no degree and no inheritance.. but have unlimited supplies of cash. what can one say about that...

 

This is depressing as fuck (and please, someone else come in with a rosier outlook) but thank you for your input, I really appreciate it. I do think there are a few professions that would allow us to have the same lifestyle, namely most of the ones on this site like ER/AM/IBD/CO. I think once you get to six figures GBP you can have that same lifestyle individually and even with a wife as long as she earns £50-70k. The main worry is thinking about what I can realistically buy property-wise for myself and it increasingly is looking bang average, even on £100k individually. £1m doesn't get you shit compared to what I've lived in growing up, not even close! Anyway, do you think that combined salary I mentioned in my post (£200k/$300k) is what it would realistically take for a family to have that same living standard as our parents, with a family? By ourselves, is £70-100k fine? Sounds kind of crazy, but no-one on £200k could afford the international school in Switzerland (lol), but is one notch below that (like a decent private school here in the UK) doable?

What frustrates me the most is that both our parents are public servants and never thought about money, whereas I'm going to have to make accumulating money one of the key drivers of my life to even get close. It's insane.

 

1) My parents never cared about money. Ever. They gave their lives and salaries to the public good of all nations within the UN. And guess what - they ended up becoming millionaires. It is so absurd that it is actually funny. My mum never owned a single branded handbag and my dad drove used Opel's while in Switzerland (Vauxhall/GM for the UK/US folks). It is amazing what compounded interest and savings can do to a life if you don't waste your income on the latest iPhone and clothes.

2) Even though my salary jumped about 500% through the years- it isn't that much. After taxes, cost of living, travel, expenses, cost of doing business, .. I can afford a good life in key cities in the world. But I can't afford any lifestyle I want just because I want them. I still don't know when my career will end and how I will live life after that. It can be over at any moment in time... (we are talking a normal life here, not Ferrari and yacht)

3) Funny you mentioned a "combined salary". The women I know and date don't work at all. Nor are they planning to.
0$ income. They live off of me or their parents. Now, why are they doing this? Their parents also have money and it would come in through other channels... mainly through a form of "an unofficial dowry" when we get married. It is fairly common in Western countries that the parents of the bride pay for the wedding and assist with the down payment of a house. It pays off to date in certain circles and classes.
(My current gf does have a job but I don't think she wants to work in the future)

 

On the property front, the biggest wealth transfer in the history is on its way, slowly but surely, and I believe most properties of any note will be inherited. Although, I suspect you would most definitely not plateau at £100k, and eventually with some luck breaking into the £2-3+MM is a very realistic possibility you can bank on. With that said, no chance I’m “starting” a family in here anytime soon.

Just out of curiosity, were you never inclined to pursue the same foreign affairs line of work as your parents? That would be the best way to ensure the "quality" of living does not drop/remains largely the same as you make your way up that ladder

 
mech60

Ex UN kid here - grew up in CH, US, DE, ... 10 countries by 15.

4) On a different topic, a lot of expensive things in life are also on their way out - among them marriage and having a family. The vast majority of people I know aren't married and aren't planning any changes either. So, maybe we will all look after ourselves going forward and hook up with a few randoms here and there... and that's it? (there was a recent future survey which showed even more females being unmarried by 2030)

People that think like this are the reason the movie, "Idiocracy", is slowly becoming a documentary...

 

So a couple things here:

1.) No one ever talks about it but for all the “started in the mail room and made it to MD” there has to be social class/wealth retrenchment in a sense bc if not you’d continually just be adding to an ever expanding elite (yes I know this isn’t quantified but hopefully the point makes sense)

2.) The expat packages of years past- 50% comp increase for the “hardship posting” of Singapore or high end country club memberships for mid level colonial government bureaucrats just doesn’t exit any more (a whole other debate for why this is)

3.) Distorted perceptions where the children of a diplomat/NGOs/government officials who got a lot of benefits in the form of perks perceived a similar level of wealth as expat businessmen who instead generally got cash (the implication cash was portable to home countries whereas perks were not or ended after employment)

4.) Bc of the expat bubble not being exposed to competition/developing a work ethic/being forced to think about careers etc

Not trying to pile on but hopefully one perspective on this dynamic. I was personally fortunate to realize this early in my career and as such stopped being a slacker.

So what to do? Love the answer about ratcheting down expectations. But that’s tough- it’s easy too long for the “good old days.” It is easier to come to terms with the fact it really does exist on scale anymore.

Other practical suggestions- 1.) manage to cost side of your income statement and look for lower COL places; 2.) look to boost your income- UK is not the place to be for this as doesn’t really reward hustlers who find their place later in life (not debating better or worse just how it is). In that sense wouldn’t knock the MBA as could lift your prospects dramatically from audit. 3.) alter your lifestyle in the sense of no kids, delayed kids etc as you suggest.

It sounds cliche but the key is looking forward not backward and realizing it’s on you to build the life you want from what is available (you’re still really young). I see many TCK who continue down the kind of path you’re laying out and I see others that recreate an awesome new exciting, but different, life than the one they grew up with.

 

Thank you for this detailed response. I don't regret anything I've really done since I started working or from the ages of 6-18, but I do regret not trying my hardest while I was at university to get a 'good' job, as most people from my department managed to do. It's led to this uphill struggle where I'm honestly not earning enough to meaningfully save any money, which is a situation I never expected to find myself in. This is going to sound very arrogant, but I'd always thought all of the problems the world is facing wouldn't affect me in any way. 

Anyway, as soon as I get my qualification later this year I'll start looking at alternatives. I'm trying to decide between consulting and equity research. Thank god I have friends from school and from university who are in these professions who can help me out. I still think it's possible to get that 'expat businessman in Dubai' lifestyle 'domestically', you just need to be reasonably high up (probably VP level) in any of the professions touted on this site. I've realised that my aspirations aren't really that high compared to many people on here -- as long as I can go skiing every year and buy a nice house in a nice area I'd be happy, all this talk about flying first class or buying designer handbags just really never crossed my mind. I just hope the best of life in every respect is yet to come, whether that be emotionally or financially. I'm planning on either visiting Australia (again) with my signing bonus or going to Vancouver for the skiing in Whistler. Hopefully next year (in a better profession or in an MBA) can be the start of a brand new life for me.

 

Again I hate the cliche but recognition is the first part. And the most important thing is your expectations are bounded and reasonable so with a little effort I think you can earn some success. The professional part may actually even come before the emotional one and know the latter may seem like it will never go away, but it is better to at least have the professional success so keep moving forward. 

I think you may need to grind for a few years for the MBA and career shift but you may be a good candidate for something unconventional given you want a solid income/lifestyle not from the rat race. Down the road check out SMB Twitter ie becoming a small business owner with your savings from the say 5-10 years in a higher octane career and pick in a spot you like. Not the most prestigious but can definitely earn say 300k in a nice place and take the vacays you describe.

So what does it take to recreate the expat lifestyle- id guess for a tier one global city like NYC suburbs  it is 1 mn so I’d argue more than VP unless you look for lower cost of living. Simplistically 400k to the tax man, 100k on a mortgage/house, 150k for retirement, 100 k for schools, 50k for clubs, and 150k other discretionary gets you to 950k. This is just rough- in a tier 2/3 US city prob can recreate for more like 400-500 and as noted 300 is prob enough in a smaller urban locale.

 
Vagabond85

So a couple things here:

2.) The expat packages of years past- 50% comp increase for the "hardship posting" of Singapore or high end country club memberships for mid level colonial government bureaucrats just doesn't exit any more (a whole other debate for why this is)

I assume there are no more expat packages to placed like Singapore, is because the standard of living there is higher than here? I assume they are still high in places like India and Saudi Arabia?

 

Ok so some may disagree with me but a few thioughts. Of course expat packages exist, but I'd argue they are stingier, a smaller opportunity set, and reserved for "tougher" locations/work. IMO 2 things have driven this:

1.) the internet/communications- once upon a time the person on the ground in XYZ really was the decision maker on topics that couldn't wait so you had to pay up for an experienced hand. Now, you can make all the important decisions from London/New York etc. in real time so don't need a BSD MD there anymore

2.) increased educational access in the top universities of the world for local elite plus more complex local political economies have made them a better fit for these jobs...and they are willing to take these opportunities for a lower total comp package so no need to offer expat packages

To answer your question yes you can get an expat comp package as an oil worker in Angola, but as you say you're no longer getting it for working in debt capital markets in Singapore. I am less knowledgeable but seems like the diplomatic corps has scaled back perks as well though to be fair this seemed to be an ex US phenomenon.

 

lol i remember my family put me through one of the best private school in UK in late 90s/early 2000s earning 30-40k interest on savings in bank (poor financial literacy for surviving parent). Think those were the days of 5-7% rates. now a years fee is probably 24-32k in same place. not to mention would prob need 5 times the amount of capital to generate same interest income

 

Dad was a diplomat from a South Asian country (not India), and we have some extended relatives running a pretty large business back home, that my nuclear family isn't involved with, but does get to profit from dividend wise.  I've lived in about 8 countries, went to school and started working in the US now.  

I don't think it's possible to replicate that old school, relaxed, lifestyle in today's age.  The world just seems too 'complicated, or complex for that to ever be a reality again.  The previous generation of diplomats, WorldBank, UN, etc...had perks that allowed them to essentially live a lifestyle that was a marketed upgrade from what their salaries should have provided them.  Growing up in that type of environment, like many of us here commenting did, isn't an achievable outcome for a government servant any longer.  

It astounds me, however, how much private wealth there is globally.  The kids of these large private companies are the inheritors of this century.  The lifestyle they have, the trips they take, makes me realize how truly unequal things are.  Being in a diplomatic circle growing up gave me the false illusion that I 'belonged' with the jet set crowd, but now in my late 20s, it's clear that I was never part of it to begin with lol. 

The best we can do is to work hard, and capitalize on whatever opportunities get thrown at us.  My parents have saved a decent amount, ensuring I'll never truly struggle, but compared to the lives of my distant cousins, and the global elite business class, it's nothing in comparison.  

Probably comes off as sour grapes to all who grew up in more pedestrian circumstances, but idk, it bothers me a bit as well.  I don't like the idea of not being able to provide my future kids the same quality of life I experienced.  Then again, the world seems like it's entering a totally new era, from the previous post 1945 consensus, so in many ways, there isn't much point in worrying about a future that may be dramatically different from current norms.

 

I'm really glad to have found someone on this forum who really gets it. When I see the facebook posts of many of the people I grew up going to school with I often gawk in amazement, like wow, you guys have really had a shiny silver spoon handed to you your entire lives, haven't you? I've discovered that there's a big difference between me being able to go to/ to live in Dubai/South Africa/New York because my parents are stationed there and my friends being able to go to these places just because their parents felt like gifting them $20k to 'see the world'. It's truly astonishing.

The problem is that my life experiences and expectations for the future are aligned with the 'global elite' even though the actual money that my family has mirrors that of some random government official somewhere in Western Europe. My other parent (completely separately from all this) is actually working in corporate finance in new york as an ex- investment banker raising 2 kids in an upperish middle class manner. When I hear about their lifestyle consisting of only going on local vacations and going to some random public schools until the kids are in high school I immediately think "what a bunch of fing peasants ", but in reality I don't have a leg to stand on!

It's also tough to sort of sympathise with the parent who raised me who is now retired in the small town they grew up in. I actually asked them if they were ashamed they had to move to a shitehole in the middle of nowhere (the apartment is probably worth €200k) and they said that every property I've ever lived in is worth at least $2m, where did I expect them to retire? It really threw me for a loop. It's even worse with people at work who think I'm the equivalent of a posh wanker from Eton when I talk about everywhere I've been to.

I don't really know what to expect in the future but to be honest, as long as we don't have kids we can pretty much do whatever we want holiday-wise as soon as we pass the £60k/$120k threshold anyway as long as we prioritise it. As you've said, we just have to follow our interests and the money as far as we reasonably can and see where they take us and try not to devolve into resentful, bitter pieces of crap.

 

I can go on for days.  In the DC area right now, and I have a few friends, from international backgrounds, studying random Masters programs at Georgetown, while partying every weekend, and travelling to exotic locations at least once a month.  They're either clever/sly enough to not talk about it with outsiders, or stupidly oblivious to their environment, but either way, its nakedly obvious they come from some serious concentrated wealth.  I try to avoid taking a look at their social media, especially when I'm working as some consultant cog, not even clearing $200k lol.  It's not a lifestyle I can emulate outside of leeching from my relatives, every once in a while.  

In a way, we're tortured by the fact that we know, and have witnessed firsthand, how good it gets at the top.  Some of my more humble friends wouldn't be able to comprehend the lifestyles of these princelings and future moguls.  The 'elite', so to speak, is an amorphous entity, to them, and since they haven't really lived a similar life, they aren't bothered by the fact that they'll never get to experience it.  Still would take my upbringing over theirs, anytime.  

Might be different for you, coming from a developed western european country, but for me whenever I go back home, I only get more envious.  The business class has exploded post 2008, and what used to be hotels for trekkers and hippies, are now multi-million leased properties, joint operations with some of the fanciest hotel brands in the planet, offering caviar and champagne.  Sometimes my dad wishes he got into the ruling apparatus and made a fortune, but instead he took the safe route of being a diplomat and here we are.  The regular population is quite, pathetically poor, and while one would think that'd be humbling, the inability to connect with them, and the lack of any actual shared social commonality, doesn't even allow for that.  Not saying I don't empathize with their struggle though, I do, as 3rd world poverty is a grinding, hellish existence.  

It's the way the world has always worked though.  I guess I'm just happy that I got to see it once, and occasionally get invited by more financially successful family and friends, to experience it periodically.  

Always nice to meet someone else whose experienced the same thing.  A good day to you mate :)

 

To your second paragraph, in a vacuum, life is a lot better when you remove the comparison scope to others. Especially now for you for example, thinking some working folks' holiday plans etc are "peasant" level shouldn't jive with your way of thinking as at its core as your way of thinking should just be encompassing what you are able to achieve and want to achieve. The more you benchmark yourself against what you were given, not earned, and against what other people are living out, the more miserable and uncomfortable you'll be. Try and mold your way of thinking to reflect a mentality that encompasses only what is currently within your grasp and what you want to be in your grasp. Letting thoughts astray about what others are doing is only a distraction. Best of luck my friend - I hear you as I've talked through this with a couple close friends who went through similar predicaments and ways of thought.

 

FWIW I have seen formerly expat kids already "retreat" to the proverbial home country village, so many are already a step ahead trying to "make it." At the risk of sounding crass earning a higher income does take care of a lot of problems. It comes down to- does one want to chill or have disposable cash? As many noted it wasn't a trade off before, but alas it is now. As a final note at the risk of stating the obvious, but jet set lifestyle does not necessarily correlate highly with happy/successful kids, which should be encouraging for the "can't give my kids what I got" fear.

As an addendum now that you got me thinking I can think of handful of true ($$$) global elites that are living quite simple lives (not necessarily by choice) due to their own errors/$ train running low so don't believe everything you see on social. As you're in your 20's it's still a bit early to see how things actually turn out (including for yourself!) 

 

You'd think you'd be right but it's actually much better to move over into ER/IBD/CO here than it is in the US, I know lots of people who have jumped there directly from my current firm whereas in the US you'd need (a T15/25) MBA to make the same move. You kind of get punished twice in the US, whereas over here you're genuinely given a second chance. Once I make that move though I'm definitely giving the US a look-in after 2-3 years, the top 10% or so of the US make out like bandits in comparison. People tell you to stop complaining here if you make $100k!

 

This times 1000. Accountancy as a profession/training ground is far more respected in the UK than the US- see many BSD's/Captain's of Industry/prominent fund manager in the UK + commonwealth got their start in audit/CA/big four. Your plan is a good one though as naked ambition/greed is far more socially acceptable/attainable in the US.

 

1.) it's not too late- I know of equity research folks that went back and got PhDs in political science and pivoted to diplo/think tank work

2.) with an IBD background try to pivot to something international ish- IFC, foreign coverage etc and that can set you up to join things as a "private sector expert" down the road.

Personally it came down to 1.) desiring to be more in control over my own trajectory, 2.) wanting a faster paced career, and 3.) the $

 

Appreciate the encouragement, but def too late for me haha. Wayyyy too comfortable.

I did try to recruit into the IFC and ADB but didn't really scratch that itch you know. My sibling was in the crisis team at the UN during the avian flu outbreak and was then posted in the Iraq office when they started importing democracy. A lot more exciting than building P&U models for emerging economies. 

 
rabbit

Question for all you diplobrats. Why did you choose not to follow the parents footsteps?

Am really fascinated by that world, sibling is career UN. Really regret not going into the foreign service. 

I got a verbal offer from the UN in Nuclear Disarmament in 2011 but it fell through. Would have been an interesting role.

https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/disarmament#:~:text=The%20UN%20has%….

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

That is tough to compete with but if you speak to those folks (can't say for your sibling) they complain of the bureaucracy, comp, and feeling of "did they actually make an impact?" Grass is greener etc. 

Tougher on the micro side to scratch that itch, but I would say EM macro investing does for many (lots of political analysis, frontier markets, interaction with diplomats etc).

Your other option if you become super successful would be late in life to try and go down the political appointee type route but as noted high $.

 

Well on my end it's basically everything Vagabond has said above - for most of your career as a diplomat you have 0 (or at least very little) control over where you live and what you actually work on, and at the end of the day the marginal impact you make on anything is very small at best and you end up sort of resigned to clock in and clock out until retirement just like any other government employee. Workplace culture can often feel very old-fashioned as well, especially in smaller embassies. I also don't have anything in common with 99% of people from my "home" country (though I'm also American and British now), nor do I even really speak the language, so there's no way I could even do it if I wanted to, which I don't. 

If we really want to talk seriously/deeply though, ever since I started thinking about money for the first time when I was 21 (I know ...), I always kind of felt like Tom Wambsgans from Succession, this random kid from the Midwest who marries into this uber wealthy billionaire family and tries his hardest to fit in and secure his place. I don't want to feel like Tom anymore (you can't imagine the number of times I've heard "that family has money, they have properties, we don't" or "you act like you're richer than you actually are", it infuriates me). That negative resentment/chip on my shoulder is probably deep down a big driver in my life whether I like it or not to be honest, and I'm sure many others in my position can attest to that feeling too.

 

My mother is in US diplomacy / foreign service. I’ve always thought I would have gone down that path if I didn’t choose finance. We were exclusively in DC and other US states though so that’s cool you had the international experience. The stories she tells me of her meeting my dad during their time overseas seem a lot more exciting than my likely path in a New York or Greenwich office building…

To your point I think you can focus on cross border M&A, sovereign advisory, etc. to get a similar cultural flavor but finance careers are never going to be exciting in the same way as diplomacy. Lifestyle is only as good when you’re both making good money plus bonuses or carry and are senior enough to have good hours.

 

Thanks for your input! It's tough to gauge what lifestyle really means to be honest. I was born in DC when my parents met there and my mother bought a townhouse in Georgetown in the 1990s when I was born. In the private sector, I don't know who can buy a townhouse there or in the upper-west-side in New York or Westchester nowadays (are those NY neighbourhoods more exclusive? I don't even know).

I think financially it's not that hard to get to the same level, but yeah, the 9-5 lifestyle of a diplomat and the material trappings will take some time, though maybe corporate finance or in-house M&A at Exxon or something might be similar (?). My dad is in a role like that and he's chilling (he burned out of BB M&A) and raising a family of 4 on his single salary, though I can tell that their living standards are (albeit still very high) 1 notch below what mine were (nothing that will actually matter though, it's more like apartment size and the fact that Catholic schools in New York don't have sports teams or MUN/debating teams). I'm just aiming to get the best quality of life I can get doing the most interesting work I can find, and once this audit qualification is over with I'll turn my attention to either ER or consulting. 

Edit: But you're right about the excitement man, the stories she tells me about meeting politicians, black tie events, bidding for weapons deals, and generally wild and crazy stuff sound completely alien to anyone working in consulting/finance. I don't know if I'll ever wear my tuxedo again, to be completely honest. I feel like you need to be super, super senior in the private sector to go to these sorts of meetings and meet these sorts of people. That is definitely something we're going to sacrifice sitting behind our desks for 14 hours a day like peons.

 

Love this thread, but a few other observations.

1.) Sounds like agreement that the $ portion can be replicated but re: the diplo 9-5 is there not some sort of intertemporal trade off? Bc as you note it all kind of comes to a halt with retirement whereas in the private sector if you put in those extra hours you should in theory get a cushier retirement. Individual preferences dictate what is more desirable.

2.) I think it is unfair to compare the "highlight reel" of a diplomat's career with the first inning of a finance one. Generally the first diplo posting overseas is processing passports/visa applications. I will say your average diplomat probably gets access to "cooler" stuff than the average mid level financier, but it can be replicated in the private sector.  In certain international focused investment roles it is not unusual for midlevel analysts to meet finance ministers. Again, not saying the median outcome is comparable but look at the World for Sale and the commodity trader financing the Libyan revolution. One difference I think is in finance socialization tends to be less part of the job but if you get the $ will have plenty of black tie events to go to (gauche to be seen spending clients $ on socialization). In general I think there are international focused parts of finance that close the gap a lot (now if you were talking intelligence etc totally different ballgame)

 

Second this. I was born to dirt poor immigrant parents and in the Midwest US (assuming most commenters are from EMEA) and need a bit of background haha. As someone who has no clue about the lifestyle, this thread is still very interesting

 

Never was one and don't know any but the stereotype as I know it is that Children of diplobrats, similar to their parents and other politicians, live lives well beyond the means that their parent's salary provides them because of the perks the government provides and the power associated with being a politician. People know who you are, invite you to fancy things, etc. They hang out with the other wealthy/powerful kids, go to the same schools, parties, and view themselves as peers, but their position only lasts as long as their parents hold the position, after which they lose all of the perks that having the political associations create.

Their friends parents, on the other hand, generally still have the money they made in the private sector and continue to go on lavish trips and live lifestyles that the diplobrat can only admire from afar.

 

This post brings back memories. My dad was a diplomat for one of the East Asian countries and I got to live in the US, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Portugal as a kid. Went to an international school for highschool and I remember the tuition was $30k (a big sum 15 years ago). My friends were sons/daughters of multi-billion $ companies, granddaughter of prime minister, etc etc who would take a private jet to travel during summer vacay. Some have taken over the family legacy now and I can say I was able to see “crazy rich asians” in first-hand. Overall, I think it was good childhood memories and now I’m just hustling to provide a comfortable life for my family

 

I have recently graduated from a UK target and joined an international organization.

Aside from an amazing salary, while living a very low CoL country, I was also granted the diplomatic status (so living tax-free) by working with this institution. Constantly flying business class at no cost and enjoying various privileges.

That’s to say that some jobs, albeit hidden/hard to find, will offer the life style you have experienced as a kid.

I would encourage you to do an MBA and then seek such positions at the likes of the World Bank, UN, IMF, Middle-Eastern SWFs...

 

The way you wrote that made me think it was while you were sleeping with her that she blurted that out which is pretty funny.

On the actual topic I wasn’t a diplobrat but I know many and have had similar thoughts to the ones you’re experiencing. I don’t think there’s any correct to this but just remember that the path to success is not a straight road as much as especially some on this website think it is. You’re not primarily competing with your friends or your parents or anyone in your life you just need to be better then you were previously. Everyone is on their own journey and it’s your prerogative to progress at your own pace. If you don’t feel you can afford the quality you want for prospective kids now then you’re not ready to have kids and maybe youll achieve that lifestyle or maybe your thinking will change. Comparison is the thief of joy and that includes comparing yourself to your parents.

 

I do believe it’s difficult to NOT compare oneself to one’s parents. For the early formative years, their life is your life and so are their achievements/qualifications.

I think part of the disappointment comes from knowing that the best “life” lived was the life left behind and now it is all about trying to hold a candle to that.

 

shostyroth

Hey Guys,

I thought that if any forum would be able to empathise/sympathise with me, this would be the one. I went to two top universities in the UK, I'm British/American, in Big 4 audit and because of failing some exams I'm only going to qualify this September at the age of 28. I'm actually trying to transition into ER, but let's save that for another, less emotional, forum post. More importantly, my father is a diplomat and I grew up in Australia/Switzerland/the US, so I have experience with a wide range of countries, albeit within very privileged bubbles. 

It's sort of hit me over the past year or two just how hard it's going to be to get my 'lifestyle' back, especially if I were to decide to have a family one day, and it's really been freaking me out. I had no idea skiing annually (by myself) really required at least a £60k income, and even on that you need to sacrifice other areas of your life. I mean, to live in Westchester/Balham/anywhere east of Sydney CBD and to send your kid to the same private schools I went to, you need at least a £200k/$300k USD/AUD (and that New York number is low) joint income. 

I was sleeping with a girl the other day who's around my age and she blurted out that she wanted to have kids in the next 5-6 years. For a girl I guess 33 is reasonable, but I'm sitting here thinking "b**ch (sarcastically), I have 5 figures in my bank account, in 5 years it would be an achievement if I could buy my starter flat in Lewisham/Queens/Parramatta, do you think I want that outcome for my kid?". It's gonna take me til my 40s to get the result I want, maybe late 30s in Brisbane/Birmingham/Denver/Geneva or whatever. Realistically, I feel like I've kind of screwed up my life. Thank god I'm in audit in the UK and not the US won't have to be a slave to MBA debt to make something of myself. 

I don't have anyone else to talk to about this in real life because all of my friends, despite some being in similar professional positions, have substantial family money to help them out with various things. Is anyone else here feeling the same way? Just trying to find a connection. Thanks for reading this guys.

I carefully read your post. Let me say this.

The truth is a painful little thing indeed. Go sip on some Yorkshire tea my friend because after you read my post, you'll understand the situation a whole a lot better.

(1) What happened in your youth is simple. It isn't difficult to understand. Your parents didn't have the wealth but they had status, does that make some sense?   

(2)  It's fairly common for the kids of former diplo's to attend some nice top notched schools their families ordinarily couldn't afford and be taught by "well-to-do" teachers and sit next to some snot-nosed rich kids as their classmates for the next 4 years or so. That was your problem...THAT was the environment your parents threw you into. They didn't prepare you properly for your life ahead.

(3) The good news. Time is on your side because you're still young. In the meanwhile you cannot compare yourself to others. I will explain why but I need to better understand your situation first. Why you feel you've screwed up your life?

P.S. i sent you a PM.

 
Most Helpful

TCK here. Lived and worked in six countries across the development scale and visited another ~25. Currently live in London. I’d echo some of the commenters here and say that expectations need to be adjusted to reality but would also agree that it is hard.

However, these benefits are still available cheaply in dozens of countries around the world. The absolute amount you make is far less important than the relative purchasing power of your post-tax income. If you’re so worried about lifestyle/house/spousal expectations/schooling/university, you need to consider broadening the list of countries/cities you’re willing to live in. The likeliest way to get there is to engage in some kind of entrepreneurship based out of countries overlooked by Western media.

For example, Malaysia offers all the consumer conveniences of “developed” countries plus far superior PUBLIC healthcare (even though you would be using five star private healthcare), better roads, airports and infrastructure for half the share of your income relative to Western countries. It’s insanely cheap to buy a standalone house close to the centre of the city. International schools are still affordable, as are country club memberships. You’ll get far better holidays there (from an air travel and lodging perspective) close by for far cheaper than equivalent near the US/UK. All their cities are also safer than pretty much every American city and quite a few European ones.

This is just one country. There are dozens of countries, overlooked by the usual suspects, that are handing out residence permits to skilled foreigners who want to start a business or have a good job offer. They have lower taxes (think <25%), lower cost of living, business-friendly regulation, and nothing like the kind of petty corruption Western media like to hallucinate about.

My advice is to start by looking for professional opportunities (say, consulting) in the offices that never have enough people - Istanbul, KL, HCMC, Nairobi etc. - and, after you get comfy with the locality, try and get into some kind of business. Part of your savings is probably enough to buy a stake in a well-run SME there. You can grow that and try to expand to other countries in the region and beyond.

Benefits of the above: 1) You can probably obtain some, if not all, of the comforts you grew up with at prices you can stomach 2) If you do it right, you might replicate your parents’ likely work-related travel, except as a businessperson 3) You’ll probably earn a lot more on a PPP basis than you would even with a consulting / IB gig in London/NY after paying taxes / COL. It would be exciting, materially comfortable and, possibly, emotionally rewarding.

Is this scenario improbable if you give it a go? Yes, but so is landing a front office role in IB/MC in London and New York.

 

Great thread, one of the best and most interesting I’ve read. Don’t forget that building wealth takes time. I’m sure you parents had to start somewhere and it probably took them awhile to get to the point where they were being sent all around the globe. But I could be wrong.

I was reading that only 5% of people with a Net worth of $5 MM+ dollars are under 40, and the vast majority are in their 50s and 60s. Even just saving like 1 or 2 grand per month and earning 7% returns means you will be worth at least a few million when you are 50 or 60. It takes time so just trust the process and keep climbing the ladder and getting 20-30% raises every few years. Careers are not linear and you have will have ups and downs but just invest in yourself and make sure the long term trend is upwards.

Also, important to get on the property ladder as soon as you can (even if it is a bad starter home) so you can build equity in your home and are not pissing away all your money on rent and can benefit from housing price appreciation. That said now is a bad time due to macro factors and I’m hoping prices will come down in the next few years.

 

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“Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory. ” - Leonardo da Vinci
 

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