Charles Gradante knew he would have to learn new skills when he left banking for a career in asset management. But he never figured making coffee would be one of them.
Mr. Gradante forfeited many amenities of the banking life when he signed on as a co-director at Weiss, Peck & Greer's Hennessee Hedge Fund Advisory Group. The former president and chief executive of Union Chelsea National Bank in New York, Mr. Gradante now works in an office less than half the size of his old one. He once supervised 500; now he oversees a staff of fewer than 15.
But he's not complaining.
"I'm making five times more than I made running a bank, and the job isn't as complex," Mr. Gradante said. "I also have much more control over my life."
Mr. Gradante is among the legion of bankers who have found careers in other financial services firms. As insurers, brokerages, mutual fund companies, and asset managers all clamor to become full-service financial providers, they increasingly are viewing commercial bankers as top job candidates.
Without question, these companies are attracted to bankers' strong analytical skills and their disciplined approach to finance. Moreover, bankers have gone through one of the most gut-wrenching waves of consolidation ever seen.
"I've been through mergers a number of times," said Jeffrey Olingy, the director of sales and marketing at Provident Accident and Life in Chattanooga, Tenn. "That's where I can add value."
Mr. Olingy spent 21 years in banking, most recently at Bank of Boston Corp., before switching to insurance. He was lured to Providence by its chief executive officer, J. Harold Chandler, a former president in NationsBank Corp.'s mid-Atlantic group.
The insurance industry - which only recently has begun to see massive merger and acquisition activity - is shaping up as one of the largest consumers of banking talent. Insurers are viewing banks as a much-needed distribution outlet for their products, helping to make bankers a hot commodity.
The most visible defector: Arthur F. Ryan, the former president and chief operating officer of Chase Manhattan Corp. He is now chairman and chief executive of Prudential Insurance Company of America.
Other prominent bankers who have jumped to insurance include Richard L. Huber, a former Continental Bank vice chairman who is now vice chairman of Aetna Life & Casualty Co.; and Mark Grier, a former co-head of Chase's global markets unit whom Mr. Ryan recruited to Prudential last year. Joel B. Alvord, the former chairman of Fleet Financial Group, has also expressed interest in entering the insurance business.
For the most part, observers say, banking transplants are faring well in their financial services jobs.
"Bankers have a business discipline that comes into their decision making," and are proficient with technology, said Michael J. Marino, a senior vice president and partner at Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group in Long Beach, Calif.
But, he added, ex-bankers in new circumstances often have trouble making quick decisions.
"It's paralysis by analysis," Mr. Marino said. A former human resources executive for Chase Manhattan Corp., Mr. Marino said it often takes bankers 15 or 20 meetings to reach a decision for which executives in other fields require only two or three discussions.
For that reason, bankers who have been in the industry only a short while are likely to have the best luck in the financial services job market.
"Years ago, if a person had five jobs in 10 years, that was a taboo," said Richard Plazza, a principal in the search firm Executive Source Inc. in New York. "Now, if you see someone with a 25-year career at a commercial bank looking to break into asset management or investment banking, he is not as attractive."