For as scared as everyone gets about the prospect of losing their job, it’s remarkable how often the de-commissioned sound relaxed, even pleased, about what’s just happened to them.
Tim Hannon, a 14-year veteran of Goldman Sachs JBWere Asset Management, is a classic case. His job as head of property securities was made redundant last month, a pruning near the top of the tree which has been repeated at other houses like State Street and Wellington.
But when he spoke to me just a few days afterward, Hannon sounded on top of the world. “After 10 years of managing portfolios, I can’t tell you how good it feels to wake up in the morning and not have that pressure,” he said. Hannon talked enthusiastically about his plans to set up his own business, in the sustainable property area for which he’s long held a passion.
Although at the insistence of his wife, a few weeks’ holiday in Italy will come before the detailed planning begins. Another retrenched executive who is taking his time, for the first time in a long time, swung by the Conexus office last month to drop off a book he’d recommended to us. He’d been doing lots of reading, a luxury probably not enjoyed by those still among the reduced headcount of his former shop.
You could tell he was enjoying wearing sandals and T-shirt on a baking 35 degree day in the city, too. This exec was determined not to rush into a job hunt, judging that for at least the next six months, to do so would be to compromise. “The restaurants are empty and the coffee shops are full,” he observed.
“But there’s quicksand in those coffee shops.” Another investment professional, who had moved interstate for her now ex-job only a year ago, was also content to live off the retrenchment pay-out for a while. “I’m so glad to be out of there, it’s a relief because for the past three months everyone’s been coming to work wondering if today would be the day,” she says.
“Asset management was not a fun place to work last year and I don’t think it will be this year either.” However she was not planning to disengage from the corporate world, but rather volunteer for an industry association one day a week while
weighing up her next move.
A new beginning is certainly what the global financial system needs, and perhaps a few financial servants will benefit from one too. Not that I’d wish unemployment on myself or anyone else, but it’s nice to talk to these folks and remember that losing your job does not mean all is lost. In fact, there’s probably a fair bit to gain from the experience.