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I Bankers on Fast Track—to Teaching

Both the UK and US try to find new homes for investment bankers and others who have lost finance jobs.

There has been an "uproar" in the U.K. over a government proposal to deploy displaced investment bankers as math teachers, after just months of teacher training, Tamara Kahn, managing director of Microgen, a London-based financial technology vendor, tells BS&T.

Whatever the lack of math and science teachers in the UK, Kahn says, "Teachers are saying that three to six months training isn't enough to know how to teach".

In the U.S., New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, unveiled mid-February a plan to invest $45 million in government money to retrain investment bankers and others who have lost jobs in finance—traditionally the engine of the New York economy.

Teaching seems not to be in the Mayor's mind, gauging from a New York Times report at the time. Bloomberg emphasized encouraging displaced workers to start new businesses, as he did years ago: after losing his job at investment bank Salomon Brothers, he used his $10 million in severance to start the financial newswire Bloomberg L.P.

However, through a poster advertising campaign New York is heavily promoting teaching careers and reportedly most keen on attracting those who could teach math and science. Teaching has traditionally been less well paid than many private sector jobs, and so possibly failing to attract top talent, but the crisis is seen as an opportunity to reverse this trend.

Kahn's firm Microgen provides, amongst other applications, Aptitude, a pricing engine that allows firms to gauge the value of their portfolios. She was an investment banker herself before joining the firm four years ago.

She notes the prevalent tendency to tar all investment bankers with the same brush. "Many of my friends have been laid off, but they had nothing to do with the derivatives that got everybody into trouble," she says. So it was with Kahn, when she worked as an investment banker within the construction industry, she adds.

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