Busted bankers fall back on charity

Record numbers of City workers are seeking new, less angst-ridden lives in the third sector.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Organisers of Forum3 (a major recruitment event for charities taking place next week) report a boom in the number of people looking to swap the pressure-cooker life of a City worker for a more meaningful – and perhaps more secure – existence in the not-for-profit arena. Approaches from financial types looking for new jobs with charities are up 30% in the last couple of weeks alone, it reports. 

Of course, the idea of big-money financiers wanting to ‘put something back’ after having made their millions on the stockmarket is nothing new.  But this trend must be driven as much by the icy blast of economic reality as by such altruistic desires. All those recently – and very publicly - let-go staffers from Lehman Brothers will be joined in the job market by many more ‘right-sized’ colleagues from any number of struggling financial institutions over the weeks and months to come. And one thing’s for sure, they won’t all be able to get positions with other banks – there may only be half a dozen or so left...

With bonuses evaporating and share options under water, even those still in a job may be questioning the wisdom of continuing to dedicate their lives exclusively to Mammon. But the trading floor’s loss will be charity’s gain, as Forum3 director Debbie Hockham explains. ‘The skills possessed by good finance and sales people are very transferable. They can make extremely good fundraisers’ she says, adding that the current crisis in the markets is acting as a catalyst as much as a cause in itself. ‘Quite often people want to make this kind of career change anyway. Their decision is just speeded up by market jitters or redundancy.’

Of course, we can hear the wags out there in MT land shouting ‘but these people have been working in the not-for-profit sector for years, they just didn’t know it.’ Maybe so, but those that formally make the switch can also expect to discover a ‘more human’ aspect to their working lives says Hockham.  They may even be less disappointed than they expect by the dosh on offer. Large charities these days have to compete for talent with big private sector firms, she claims, so the pay is really much better than it used to be. Nevertheless, we can’t help thinking that there are still going to be a lot of second homes and ‘previously enjoyed’ Porsches on the market.

Here at MT, we think it’s great that some of the world’s most deserving causes stand to benefit from the ongoing financial mayhem. We just hope that our local high street chuggers aren’t about to be replaced by a bunch of former City high-fliers. Offering a free tranche of junk-status credit default swaps for every new donor isn’t going to do anything for their sign-up rates.

For more information about Forum3, check out www.forum3.co.uk

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Busted bankers fall back on charity

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