Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wall Street trader becomes a monk

Brother Nikanor: 'If someone consumes more than they have earned, it means someone else is starving' Photo: REUTERS

Wall Street trader becomes a monk
A former Wall Street broker has swapped Manhattan for a monastery in Bulgaria to become an Orthodox monk
By Nick Squires
Published: 3:56PM BST 02 Oct 2008

Hristo Mishkov had a successful career as a broker on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York until he decided to give it all up to return to his native Bulgaria. His radical change of circumstances may start to look appealing to the tens of thousands of finance sector employees who face the bleak prospect of losing their jobs.

Exchanging tailored suits and expensive shoes for a cassock and sandals, Brother Nikanor, as he is now known, believes Wall Street and the City deserve all they get as the credit crunch bites deeper and the global financial system goes into meltdown.

"It is right to see people who consume more than they deserve shattered by a financial crisis from time to time, to suffer so that they can become more reasonable," he said.

He has scant sympathy for bankers and brokers around the world who are at risk of redundancy.

The collapse of banks and investment firms was a necessary correction because they had grown greedy, he said.

"Many people ... in the world do not realise that they have not earned the food they eat, that they take without giving," said Mr Mishkov, 32, who worked for Karoll, one of Bulgaria's leading brokerages.

"But if someone consumes more than they have earned, it means someone else is starving."

His colleagues were stunned when he decided to become a monk, but he had made up his mind to seek spiritual well-being rather than material wealth.

"Everybody can be a good broker but this does not bring much benefit for the world," he said.

"We always search for happiness in the outside world, in material things, which makes us constantly unsatisfied, angry with ourselves and the world."

Where once he milked the money markets, Mr Mishkov now wakes at dawn to attend to a herd of cheese-producing buffalo in the 12th century Tsurnogorski monastery in which he lives, 30 miles west of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

But he has not entirely turned his back on his past.

When he became a monk five years ago he retained just one luxury – a mobile phone – and has used it to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds from former trading colleagues and Bulgaria's wealthy to rebuild the dilapidated monastery, which was used as a labour camp during the communist era.

Broker turned monk offers home truths to needy

TSURNOGORSKI MONASTERY, Bulgaria (Reuters) - Brother Nikanor, a Nasdaq broker turned monk, advises former colleagues to put a jar with soil on their desks to remind them where we are all heading and what matters in life. As western banks fold into each other like crumpled tickets and commentators portray the current crisis as the last gasp of modern capitalism, Hristo Mishkov, 32, shares the pain -- and offers home truths.

Broker turned monk offers home truths on crisis

Bulgarian monk Brother Nikanor, 32, stands in front of Tsurnogorski monastery, some 50 km (31miles) west of the capital Sofia, September 24, 2008. The Nasdaq broker turned monk advises his former colleagues, shattered by the financial crisis, to keep a jar full of soil on their desks to remind them about where we are all heading to and what really matters in life. Five years ago, after failing to find happiness in the life he lived, the Christian Orthodox who hadn't practised as a child quit the New York-based market for a dilapidated Bulgarian monastery that once served as a communist labour camp. Picture taken September 24, 2008.


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