A high-flying city executive has revealed how a career change - and massive drop in income - has brought her happiness.

SHE thought she had it all.

A high-flying career negotiating multi-million pound deals in London’s investment banks lining the Square Mile, meals at the trendiest City restaurants, designer shopping sprees with the girls and flights to New York.

On paper she had the Sex and the City-style lifestyle most women would dream of – and the six-figure salary to enjoy it.

But one thing was missing – happiness.

At the age of 40, Annabel Hornsby took the brave step of giving up her 15-year career as a sales trader to re-train and begin a new life as a freelance make-up artist.

Annabel, said: “It was a grim reality.

“My alarm would go just after 5am, I’d grab a Costa coffee on the way in and be at my desk by 6.30am to catch up on all the news from New York, Asia and London before the markets opened at 8am. It would be full-on, frantic, proper burnout, and there was barely time to get a sandwich, so you’d be running on adrenaline.

"It wasn’t at all healthy, it would be exhausting, it was a male-dominated atmosphere which could be imposing at times and women were not treated as well. The ‘Boys club’ is rife in the city.

“I always felt on the edge. When a deal came off, you would fill with euphoria but then inevitably you experience the opposite to that. I realised one day that yes I earn a good six-figure salary, eat in the best restaurants and have the best designer handbags but with all that stress, a room-full of handbags is not a fair trade-off.

“What I experienced was nothing unusual. I sold my soul to the city, that’s the City lifestyle.

You are on a hamster wheel.”

But stopping it wasn’t easy.

“I had to get out and retrain. It was very hard to leave a successful career, people said I was mad, but once I made the decision to jump, a load of weight was lifted from my shoulders.

“A lot of women at the moment are leaving the city and re-training to become entrepreneurs. People are opting for quality of life and more flexible working conditions. I think we are seeing women are more and more in charge of their own destiny”

Annabel trained at the prestigious Christine Blundell Make-Up Academy.

And now she has swapped the frantic male-dominated world of banking for feminine makeovers working for herself from her Lymington home. Her impressive portfolio features everything from blockbuster films to short films, music videos and fashion shoots.

She has styled characters in hits including Sherlock Holmes, London Boulevard starring Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone and Colin Farrell and Brighton Rock starring Helen Mirren.

She works for TV stars including celebrity chef Rachel Allen who she styles for her TV series and recipe book shoots.

And Annabel enjoys nothing more than doing wedding make-up and hair, to make women across the county feel special on their big day.

On her days off she kicks off her killer heels and prefers to pull on her wellies and go out walking with her Border Terrier pup Saba in the forest, followed by a pub lunch or a cosy afternoon in updating her make-up blog.

Annabel, who said she earns less than one quarter of what she used to earn, believes nothing can beat happiness. She said: “I am in charge of my own destiny and that is empowering.

“I am my own boss, I make my own decisions and I no longer feel like someone is holding my head down under water. I have always been creative and I love what I do and I am passionate about making people look their best.

“I no longer have the same self-doubts. I don’t worry I have taken five minutes too long to get a sandwich. There are of course different pressures, but the main difference is that I am happy.

“I’d say to other women don’t be afraid to make the jump but do your research first and make sure you have got some financial security.

“It is liberating. I’ve been inspired by the entrepreneurial women I have met since. It is amazing that I have left the “big city” but my life has opened up so much more.”