Finance pros switching jobs are often forced to take so-called garden leave in between. That mandatory time off can range from a few months to several
Finance account money Finance pros switching jobs are often forced to take so-called garden leave in between. That mandatory time off can range from a few months to several years.We talked to people who were either sitting out noncompetes or have already taken leave, and they said it was a good time to regroup after the stress of leaving a longtime gig. Still, some cautioned there could be too much of a good thing and suggested staying plugged into the industry during longer leaves. Some people travel or pick up new hobbies. But others take on even more ambitious projects — like one person who helped reunite people with their birth parents.Click here for more BI Prime stories.Some people like to relax when they have a long stretch of paid time off. Christina Cryer is not one of them.Cryer, now a managing director for Principal Global Investors, was staring down a garden leave of a couple months earlier this year when she left WisdomTree for her current role. But she didn’t take it easy during her downtime. Instead, Cryer said she got her “sense of accomplishment” from an ambitious activity: tracking down acquaintances’ never-before-met birth parents. She helped two people who had never met their fathers use DNA tools like Ancestry.com and 23andMe to find them, and helped someone who was adopted narrow down who their parents might be. “Making the connections and solving their lifelong mysteries gave me a sense of accomplishment I usually enjoy at work, but obviously in a different form,” she said. Mandatory garden leave has become a fixture at all levels of the finance industry, with banks and asset managers willing to pay someone not to go to work — in part to keep them from walking out with juicy trade secrets.And while some states like New York have introduced legislation to curb the use of noncompetes, the widespread practice means that if you’re in finance for long enough, you’ll probably end up having some time sitting at home. Read more: D.E. Shaw asked staff to sign a take-it-or-leave noncompete, and the deadline is weeks away. Insiders say some people could walk even after management improved the payout.So what do people in finance do with all that downtime between office jobs, as they trade in coffee-fueled crack-of-dawn meetings for weeklong lazy Sundays?New hobbies and traveling are extremely popular. And some people take the opportunity to disconnect entirely. The former Citadel portfolio manager Mike Berkley, who was cut when the firm axed its Aptigon stock-picking unit earlier this year, lists his current position on his LinkedIn as “aspiring kite surfer.” There’s a chance that whimsical pursuits listed on LinkedIn can be taken literally, though. Just ask Tammy Kiely, Goldman Sachs’ cohead of TMT investment-banking services, who had to go on leave at Goldman last year after taking an offer and nearly jumping ship for Morgan Stanley — she listed her new job as “Amateur Gardener” and wound up being pitched for an entirely different line of work. “I had a reality TV show reach out to me, trying to do a reality gardening show,” Kiely, who did manage to grow some nice pumpkins in her time off, said. “They thought I had an interesting background to talk about my garden.”Pravit Chintawongvanich, an equity-derivatives strategist for Wells Fargo, recommended taking advantage of the extended time off.Chintawongvanich said he traveled to Asia for a good part of his two-month garden leave after departing Macro Risk Advisors for Wells Fargo last summer. It was the first time in his 10-year career that he had a lengthy break. “I fully engaged in the time off, it was a really good mental break,” Chintawongvanich said. “I feel like if you have the opportunity, then you should take advantage of it.”Read more: Balyasny just cut 10 people running a $2 billion book. The hedge fund axed the 1-year-old team because of poor performance, sources say.’You end up with a lot more time than you think’ Relatively brief leaves, like Chintawongvanich’s and Cryer’s two-month breaks, make it easier to disconnect and still get up to speed quickly when they return to work. Some areas of finance can be different, though. Hedge funds are notorious for their extended noncompetes, with some stretching for years for the top moneymakers. That can turn the time off from an enjoyable vacation into a disadvantage. Brevan Howard cofounder Chris Rokos famously had a five-year restriction on launching his own fund after he left the London-based macro manager in 2012, and he even argued in court that the noncompete was “contrary to public interest,” as it would “deprive” the public of his “skills and hard work.” He eventually settled with the firm and launched his fund in 2015. Daniel Nehren, the head of statistical modeling and development at Barclays, had a nine-month garden leave after leaving Citadel, according to his LinkedIn, which says he was “working hard at non-competing” during that period. Chris Camacho, a former data strategist for Steve Cohen’s Point72, was required to take a 12-month leave when he left his post at the beginning of 2019 — a huge change for him after not taking longer than a weeklong break for more than three years. “I was able to be around the house with my family and work on my house more now than ever before,” Camacho said. Read more: Hedge funds’ secret sauce is obscure data like satellite images. Here’s how the people in charge of spending millions on this data find the stuff worth buying.Camacho comes from the fast-moving world of alternative data and data buying — where 12 months out of the game can seem like an eternity. He continues to attend industry conferences to keep up and has found data vendors that are receptive to giving him free trials in the hopes that he’ll put in a good word when he starts up at a new firm, he said. “It’s just constantly keeping 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, like working on a certified-financial-analyst designation or picking up a basic coding language. “You end up with a lot more time than you think,” he said.