Corrected: Life after Wall Street: Ex-bankers answer

Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:32pm EDT
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(This Aug. 17 story has been corrected in paragraph 1 to show that Adam Greene was a banker for 20 years, not 23 years; and in paragraph three to clarify that he received his master's degree, then spent one year studying theology before getting his job at Episcopal High School)

By Lauren Tara LaCapra

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In his 20 years as a banker, Adam Greene trotted the globe, closing billions of dollars' worth of deals for some of the world's biggest banks, and starting his own advisory firm. Then, in 2006, he traded in his BlackBerry and fancy suits for a Bible and clerical collar.

"I felt very clearly that, 'It's time to answer this call,'" said Greene, who is now a reverend and dean of spiritual life at Episcopal High School in Bellaire, Texas.

Greene ended his Wall Street career just before the financial crisis erupted. He received his master's in divinity from Yale and spent a year studying theology at Cambridge before taking a job at the 664-student high school near Houston, where he oversees religious education, the daily chapel program and community service.

"I'm as busy as I've ever been -- that's for sure," the dark-haired clergyman said.

Greene's career choice may be unique. But there are many others who are pursuing completely different jobs in recent years as the fallout from the global financial crisis continues. With the job market looking bleaker, some workers have given up on sending resumes, making calls that don't get returned and going on interviews that lead nowhere.

Greene, 46, emphasized that his decision to leave Wall Street had nothing to do with a contracting industry. He felt a pull toward ordained ministry since college, and left to pursue a dream. Not all Wall Street expatriates have been so lucky.

With just over 7.6 million employees, the U.S. financial industry's workforce is at a low not seen since January 1999, according to U.S. government data. The industry's headcount is down 9 percent since a peak of 8.35 million in late 2006.   Continued...

<p>Pedestrians walk past Luke's Lobster restaurant in New York's East Village August 16, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>