Broker turned monk offers home truths on crisis

Wed Oct 1, 2008 8:14am EDT
 
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By Anna Mudeva

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.

His story partly resembles that of Brother Ty, the monk-tycoon protagonist of the 1998 satire "God is my Broker" by U.S. writers Christopher Buckley and John Tierney -- he failed on Wall Street and became a monk.

But 10 years later, the similarities are superficial: the Bulgarian had a successful broking career, does not write self-help manuals and aims to get happy, not rich.

His interest in financial markets began under communism in the 1980s when he and other children created their own play stock exchange in their apartment block's basement in Sofia.

Five years ago, after failing to find happiness in the life he lived, the Christian Orthodox who hadn't practiced as a child quit the New York-based market for a dilapidated Bulgarian monastery that once served as a communist labor camp.

Retaining one luxury -- a mobile phone, which connects him with both potential donors and former trading colleagues -- he has brought the rigor of his broking experience to his faith.

He has helped to raise hundreds of thousands of levs (dollars) to rebuild the monastery -- a hard task in a country where charity is not part of the mentality and building shopping malls and golf courses is a priority.   Continued...

 
<p>Bulgarian monk Brother Nikanor, 32, speaks to Reuters at 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. To match feature FINANCIAL/MONK REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov</p>