Life After Wall Street: For Many, Job Loss Brings Big Changes
The financial crisis took a heavy toll on Wall Street. Nearly 200,000 financial professionals lost their jobs in New York alone—500,000 nationwide.
And with the collapse of such major institutions as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, many of those jobs disappeared forever.
Some Wall Streeters have found new jobs in the financial sector. Others have moved on to different career choices. And some still haven't decided what to do with the rest of their lives.
While Friday's unemployment report showed some improvement in the jobs picture, many Americans are still struggling to find work. And Wall Street is no different, despite the sharp rebound in the stock market and strong earnings at many big financial institutions.
CNBC.com interviewed four people who were laid off during the financial crisis and asked what their lives are like now. Here are their stories.
Still Looking for Work
"I had a variety of roles in investment banking, securities and lending operations," says Tom Dietsch, who was managing director at JP Morgan Chase for eleven years. Dietsch, 50 years old, was let go from JPM in October of 2009 in a restructuring move.
"It was a shock for sure," says Dietsch, who lives in Monmouth County, New Jersey with his wife and four children. "My initial reaction was to just re-connect with my family and recharge my batteries and then get right back into the game. My full time job now is to find a job."
Dietsch says his wife doesn't work but that he was making a six figure salary and received a severance package. So for a while, he's OK financially.
But the money won't last forever. And just as importantly, he wants to work again in the financial sector. To do that, he says, he would even move overseas to get a job.
"It's challenging to say the least," Dietsch says. "I have several irons in the fire and I'm reaching out to people and doing my networking. I'm excited about the prospects."
In the meantime, Dietsch uses career services to improve his resume and job search strategy. He hunts down job leads and reaches out to contacts by networking. He spends time with his family. And just as he did when he was working, he gives time to local sports coaching activities.
Dietsch remains optimistic—but realizes it might take a while to be employed.
"It could be the next two months or six months when I find a job," he acknowledges. "You have to let companies know how you can help them. And in the end, part of it is being at the right place at the right time."
Taking a New Career Path
For Claire DiLorenzo Paquin, the financial crisis was the right time to look in another direction for her career.
"I had been on the Street for 11 years, working in institutional convertible bond sales and ending up as a managing director at Bear Sterns," says the 34-year-old Paquin, who lives in Scarsdale, New York with her husband—who works on Wall Street—and two small children.
"When Bear collapsed (and sold to JP Morgan in 2008), I thought it was a natural break if there ever was one," says Paquin who new runs her owninterior design start up businessout of her home.
Paquin admits the financial lure of investment banking is strong.
"It's hard to get off the Street—they offer you so much in bonuses and stock but I wanted to try something new."
So Paquin turned to her creative side.
"I had always been into photography or art of some form and I didn't know if I would get other offers—and other firms were not doing well. So I thought I'd start my own business," Paquin says.
Paquin started her firm just a couple months after leaving her job and says it's been profitable. "I don't have much overhead and I've been using my own money," Paquin admits. "Just a laptop and a filing cabinet to tell you the truth."
Paquin gets most of her customers from referrals from friends and from offering her expertise to charities and marketing herself. She says she wants to make her business grow to the point where she takes on other designers. That's a two to three year plan.
As for heading back to Wall Street, that door is still open—if only a crack.
"If I can't make my business successful, I will try and go back," she acknowledges. "But I want to give this a 100 percent shot before that happens."
- Slideshow: Biggest Executive Bonuses of Past Decade