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Steven's Excellent Iowa Adventure

StevenSteven Senior MemberPosts: 5,113 Senior Member
Executive Summary: Like I said, it wasn't voluntarily but it turned out fantastically well.

So, I got the boom lowered on me back in mid-April. Caught me completely unawares.

The assistant Director of Research had actually been up to Chicago about three months early. We had had a very good meeting, and I thought we had had a serious discussion about me getting bumped up from Senior V.P. to Managing Director. My numbers were good, at least as good as some recent new promotions.

Fast forward three months later, both the DOR and the assistant DOR are in town, supposedly doing their annual coverage meetings - basically discuss with the analysts what stocks they might be picking up and what stocks they could drop. I run into the assistant DOR that morning and we're joking about the Cubs (he's originally from Chicago). The Department of Labor dropped its final fiduciary rule that day, so I'm dealing with that, talking with clients, sales people, and our management about what it means.

Anyway, 11:30 rolls around and I meet with these guys. The start asking about the DOL rule and what it means, it's all good. Then my boss says, "we're switching it up on you." Revenues are down, people need to be let go, and given that the senior insurance investment banker is retiring, and his second-in-command quit a week ago to go to industry, we've decided not to rebuild the insurance practice. So we're letting you go.

I was livid, but signed an agreement that I would continue to work through July 15, in return for which I would continue to be paid and eventually receive severance. So I worked for the three months, while conducting a job search. The one thing I knew is that I wanted to move to corporate. I didn't want to stay sell-side or move to the buy-side. Both business are likely in a secular decline due to low rates, low volatility, and the growth of ETFs, and it's a young man's game anyway.

I worked contacts, most of which didn't pan out of course, but there was always something to stay positive about. My wife was a trooper.

I let the CFO of the company I'm now working for know about the situation, and he said there might be something here for me to do. (I didn't know at the time, but he was looking for somebody to take over investor relations for the company. He had been handling it, but it had gotten to be too much as the company had grown). He was going to let our CEO know that I was going to be out of work in three months.

So the CEO calls a few days later to hear the story and find out when I might be available to work. I tell him the deal, but hell, I have no idea what severance will be and I'll go to work tomorrow if it means a job. He says, he wants to think about some stuff, is going on vacation, but wants to get back to me when he gets back.

By the time he gets back and is ready to talk it's late May. I'm talking to people about some things, but the potential options have begun to dwindle or get delayed. The CEO says to me, I thought about it a lot, but I've come to the conclusion, that you're worth a lot more to us on the sell-side, than working for us. I just laughed and said, "Be that as it may be, there's no way I'm staying sell-side. You know I could call up Wells, or Jefferies, or Credit Suisse and get an interview tomorrow, but I haven't done it. It's time I made the change." He said, "Ok, now I really have to think about this, we'll talk soon."

Meanwhile, I'm traveling with companies (they all know what's going on), and seeing clients. Sometime around late June, people at my former company started to hear what was going on, and approaching me to ask if I needed anything. Some clients had heard as well.

I was actually scheduled to market with my new company in late June in Boston and Chicago. The CFO calls to ask if I would come out to Des Moines for a round of interviews (these were all with people I've known for about a decade, so I'm hoping it's a formality) and then I'd fly on the company plane (all the companies here have their own planes, there are not a lot of commercial flights in and out of Des Moines International) to Boston rather than meet them there.

Everything goes well, and I've got an offer letter by the first week of July. We negotiate a little about pay, and I sign by the second week. Meanwhile, my former colleagues in Chicago decide they're going to throw a big blast for my "retirement" party, and the more astute have figured out where I'm going. It was a great party with colleagues, former colleagues, and a bunch of Chicago clients all there.

Not to down play it, but the severance check was very, very good.

The next weekend, Karyn and I flew to Des Moines, met with a real estate broker that works with my company, to look at places to rent because we had no idea where we wanted to live. We settled on our place in Urbandale. It's a three bedroom with fully exposed basement. The basement is fully finished. The woman we're renting from was recently divorced (the neighbors say it was pretty ugly) and moving to teach at Grinnell College (eastern Iowa). She left behind a large screen TV, a pool table, and a beautiful wet bar. On the other side of the basement is a large workout facility and she left behind a universal gym and really nice elliptical. There's also a room where her kid used to bang drums, but I might turn it into my fly tying area (if I get the urge). There's also an enclosed area for the dogs and the yard has an invisible electric fence that we still need to get turned on.

I started working on August 1, so I went two weeks without a job

I'm an 11 minute drive to the office (today's traffic report....nothing to report, now on to Des Moines area weather!), about 5 minutes to the Hy-Vee and 6 minutes to my new BJJ school (this has become my new obsession). Where I live isn't rural, but you can feel that 10 years ago, there was nothing but corn fields. I pass a couple of fields on my way to work.

Karyn wasn't so sure, but now seems to like it. She says she'll never move back to the city, but when I smile, she says "that doesn't mean I wanted to move to g-d damned Iowa!" I tell her to think about it as we didn't move to Iowa, but moved to Chicago's far, far west suburbs. She loves the quiet though and being able to let the dogs out in the yard even without the fence. The puppy (who's now 14 months) has decided that all sprinklers need to be killed, whether they're on or off.

I'm now head of Investor Relations, which is the typical segue for sell-side analysts to move to corporate. I had interviewed for a similar job in Philly a couple of years earlier, but obviously didn't get it. My new job isn't that dissimilar from my old job; I represent our company to the investment community. I still talk with many of my old buy-side clients and now also deal with many of my former competitors who cover our stock. It's like being an analyst, but only covering one company.

So far, so good. It's been less than two months, but I've enjoyed the job and Iowa a lot. Now to find some pastrami...


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