Some Bankers Would Rather be in Philadelphia

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For years, people in the Philadelphia area eager for high Wall Street salaries have endured brutally long commutes to New York. Now, residents of the Big Apple are taking a shine to their neighbor to the south.

Laid-off Wall Street workers are increasingly looking for opportunities in the City of Brotherly Love, which seems like an undiscovered country to many New Yorkers even though it's less than 100 miles away.

Philadelphia is far less expensive a place to live than notoriously pricy New York. Although its financial footprint is dwarfed by Manhattan's, it boasts its share of money management firms, such as the Vanguard Group, based in suburban Valley Forge, Pa.

"Without a doubt, we have seen a fairly significant migration to this job market," Daken Vanderburg, a board member of the CFA Society of Philadelphia, tells eFinancialCareers News. "We have seen a lot of laid off Wall Streeters."

More Resumes

While Vanderburg says many of the positions advertised in the Philadelphia area are low-level, people are undeterred. Chartwell Investment Partners, where he works as director of quantitative research, has seen "five times the resumes" it used to, including some from senior people on Wall Street.

Vanguard spokesman Joshua R. Grandy says the low-cost mutual fund shop has "seen a spike in people from the New York and Connecticut area looking for work." The firm is adding workers opportunistically and has not instituted a hiring freeze.

Even smaller Philadelphia firms are seeing an uptick in applications from people wanting to escape from New York. Harris, Williams & Co., a middle market investment banking firm, continues to actively recruit, according to Kimberly Baker, its marketing director. "While we have historically attracted a number of Wall Street bankers as candidates, the applicant pool has indeed grown," says Baker, whose Richmond-based firm has an office in Philadelphia.

Lower Cost - But Lower Salaries

New Yorkers looking to transfer should realize they'll pay a price in the form of lower salaries. Ryan Brazell, director of branch operations for recruiter Stephen James Associates in Berwyn, Pa., estimates salaries in the area are 15 to 25 percent lower than in New York.

"People from all walks of life are willing to leave the New York City area," he observes. "Not many of them even ask" about getting reimbursed for relocation expenses.

Also, realize jobs are not plentiful and the downturn is impacting the job market, as well. Locally based Lincoln Financial Group has announced plans to slash 5 percent of its workforce.

Other big players in Philadelphia's money management business include Haverford Trust, based in the suburb of Radnor. It has $6 billion in assets under management. Aberdeen Asset Management, the U.K.-based money manager, has a major presence in the area. BlackRock's private equity business is located near Princeton, N.J., about a 90 minute drive from Philadelphia's Center City.

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