Finance Employees Adjusting Their Careers

By Staff
September 21, 2009

The deflation of the finance bubble is causing business employees to explore different careers.

The Wall Street Journal reports that according to Moody's, there have been 23,000 lost finance jobs in Chicago, 47,100 in Los Angeles and 437,700 nationwide--a drop of 7.1 percent. Moreover, the White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted in a July report that "business and financial services are predicted to decline substantially from their pre-recession levels."

As a result, many finance workers are changing careers--and sometimes radically. Gordon Jones, for example, who spent 26 years on Wall Street selling stocks and convertible securities, now teaches math at Greenwich High School in Connecticut.

Even though he now earns about a quarter of the $250,000 he averaged annually in finance, he said the rewards of teaching are worth it. "From my first moment back in the classroom, I have been completely re-energized," he told the Journal. "Interacting with the students is a pleasure, and the feeling that you can help them is very satisfying. There are no regrets."

Similarly, Gil Schor, who worked as a portfolio manager for French investment bank Natixis SA until July 2008, now owns and operates Green World Taxi in New Rochelle, New York. Like Jones, his income has shrunk to a quarter of the $200,000 he earned annually in finance. He often starts his work as early as 4:30 a.m. and has no paid vacation, perks or support staff. But he told the Journal that there are certain benefits to his new job.

"You have the power to call important shots," he explained. "You make your own hours. It's erratic, but you get used to that."

Other business employees are pursuing entrepreneurship. The Ashville Citizen-Times in North Carolina reports that Leslie Kirrane created a new food product, Must Have Mustard, after her job as a loan officer was affected by the economic downturn.

"Mortgages aren't good," she told the Citizen-Times, "but the mustard is."

But many laid-off business workers can take heart from a recent report indicating that a significant number of financial companies plan to rehire employees. U.S. News & World Report notes that the study by OI Partners said that about half of financial companies surveyed said that they planned to rehire workers.

"Financial services and manufacturing were among the industries affected most by the recession, and made the deepest workforce cutbacks," said OI Partners Chairman Tim Schoonover. "That is why they may be more ready than other sectors to rehire some employees they had to let go."

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