Insiders Explain What They Do During Gardening Break Between Finance Jobs


  • Finance professionals who change jobs are often forced to take gardening leave in between. This compulsory leave can range from a few months to several years.
  • We spoke to people who weren’t in competition or had already taken time off, and they said it was a good time to regroup after the stress of leaving a long-standing gig. Still, some warned that there could be too much of the good stuff and suggested staying plugged into the industry during longer vacations.
  • Some people travel or find new hobbies. But others are embarking on even bigger plans, such as someone who helped reunite people with their birth parents.
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Some people like to relax when they have a long period of paid time off. Christina Cryer is not one of them.

Cryer, now managing director of Principal Global Investors, was considering garden leave a few months earlier this year when she left WisdomTree for her current role. But she didn’t take it easy in her spare time. Instead, Cryer said she got her “sense of accomplishment” from an ambitious activity: reuniting with biological parents of acquaintances never before met.

She helped two people who had never met their father use DNA tools like and 23andMe to find them, and helped an adopted person figure out who their parents might be.

“Making the connections and solving the mysteries in their lives gave me a sense of accomplishment that I usually enjoy at work, but obviously in a different form,” she said.

Mandatory gardening leave has become a staple at all levels of the financial industry, with banks and asset managers willing to pay someone not to go to work – in part to keep them from going out with trade secrets. juicy.

And while some states like New York have introduced legislation to limit the use of non-compete, widespread practice means that if you’ve been in finance long enough, you’ll likely end up spending time sitting at home. .

Read more: DE Shaw has asked staff to sign a take it or leave it non-compete notice, and the deadline is in a few weeks. Insiders say some people could walk even after management improved the payout.

So what do finance folks do with all that downtime between office jobs, as they swap coffee-fueled dawn meetings for lazy week-long Sundays?

New hobbies and travel are extremely popular. And some take the opportunity to completely disconnect.

Former Citadel portfolio manager Mike Berkley, who was fired when the company removed its Aptigon stock picking unit earlier this year, lists his current position on his LinkedIn as “aspiring kite surfer.”

However, it is possible that the fancy activities listed on LinkedIn could be taken at face value. Just ask Tammy Kiely, co-head of TMT’s investment banking services at Goldman Sachs, who had to go on leave at Goldman last year after accepting an offer and nearly jumping ship for Morgan Stanley – she registered his new job as “Home Gardener” and hurt until being pitched for an entirely different line of work.

“I had a reality TV show contacting me, trying to do a reality gardening show,” said Kiely, who has managed to grow some beautiful pumpkins in her spare time. “They thought I had an interesting background in talking about my garden.”

Pravit Chintawongvanich, equity derivatives strategist for Wells Fargo, recommended taking advantage of the extended leave.

Chintawongvanich said he traveled to Asia for much of his two-month gardening leave after leaving Macro Risk Advisors for Wells Fargo last summer. It was the first time in 10 years of his career that he took a long break.

“I fully engaged in the free time, it was a very good mental break,” said Chintawongvanich. “I think if you have the opportunity then you should take it.”

Read more: Balyasny has just killed 10 people who run a $ 2 billion book. The hedge fund cut the one-year team due to its poor performance, sources say.

“You end up with a lot more time than you think”

Relatively short time off, like Chintawongvanich and Cryer’s two-month breaks, make it easy to disconnect and level up quickly when they return to work.

However, some areas of finance may be different. Hedge funds are notorious for their prolonged non-competition, some spanning years for the biggest money makers. This can turn the time spent on a pleasant vacation into an inconvenience.

Brevan Howard co-founder Chris Rokos had a five-year restriction on starting his own fund after leaving the London-based macro-manager in 2012, and he even pleaded in court that non-competition was “against the public interest” because it would “rob” the public of their “skills and hard work”. He eventually settled with the company and launched his fund in 2015.

Daniel Nehren, head of statistical modeling and development at Barclays, was given a nine-month garden leave after leaving the Citadel, according to his LinkedIn, which says he was “work hard without competition” during this period.

Chris Camacho, former data strategist for Steve Cohen’s Point72, had to take 12-month leave when he stepped down in early 2019 – a huge change for him after not taking more than a week’s break during more than three years. .

“I could be home with my family and work on my house more than ever before,” Camacho said.

Read more: The secret sauce of hedge funds is obscure data like satellite images. Here’s how the people charged with spending millions on this data find what is worth buying.

Camacho comes from the fast-paced world of alternative data and data buying – where a 12-month absence can seem like an eternity. He continues to attend industry conferences to keep pace and has found data providers who are willing to offer him free trials in the hope that he will deliver a good word when he starts up in a new one. business, he said.

“It’s just a matter of constantly staying in touch with your network and not losing touch with anyone,” he said.

Camacho recommended that those about to start extended leave focus on getting a new certification or learning a new skill, such as working on a Certified Financial Analyst designation or on a basic coding language.

“You end up with a lot more time than you think,” he said.


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