When Michael Pimely told his father he was quitting his job at Chicago's Continental Bank Corp. to start his own business, the reaction was less than jubilant: "But what about your pension, son?"
With job security in the banking industry perhaps at the lowest point since the Great Depression, a lot of bankers are asking themselves that same question.
Mr. Pimley, 38, is one of the lucky ones. Over the course of nearly a dozen years with Continental, he discovered he had a second vocation - training others how to be lenders.
A Chang of Focus
After mulling it over for nearly a year, he resigned in October as a vice president in Continental's New York office, where he specialized in buyout financing and restructurings, to form Pimley & Co., a financial training and consulting firm.
The business is run out of his home on New York's Roosevelt Island, where British-born Mr. Pimley lives with his wife, Kim.
"Michael has this passion for teaching," said Dennis Amato, Mr. Pimley's former boss, who described his departure as a "big loss" for Continental.
Mr. Pimley said he first developed a taste for teaching in the mid-1980's, when he was put in charge of the bank's entry-level training.
He also became an active member of Robert Morris Associates, a trade group for commercial lenders, and helped develop and teach RMA training programs during his free time away from his regular banking duties.
"He's truly an outstanding instructor - probably the best I've ever seen," said Kenneth Shipley, RMA's director of professional development.
After the loose credit standards that characterized the go-go lending years of the 1980s, banks are now placing a premium on proper - some say overly stringent - credit standards.
For Mr. Pimley, whose business is the teaching of basic lending fundamentals, the climate couldn't be better.
While most of his time will be spent here in the United States, Mr. Pimley's business will also take him to a seemingly unlikely place for a banking consultant: Nigeria.
After joining continental's London office in 1980, the Cambridge-educated Mr. Pimley, a lawyer by training, was shipped off to Lagos in 1983 as general manager of Continental's 26%-owned Nigerian affiliate, NAL Merchant Bank Ltd.
Though his assignment in Nigeria ended in 1986, Mr. Pimley has been returning on a regular basis ever since, training local Nigerian bankers on a pro bono basis.
Nothing's Free Hereafter
As a fledgling entrepreneur, though, his days of providing free training are over for now.
By all accounts, including his own, Mr. Pimley has a high-voltage personality, and part of his decision for leaving Continental was his frustration over the marked slowdown in the flow of deals.
"It's like a greyhound not being able to race," Mr. Pimley said.
But even if the deals business was going gangbusters, Mr. Pimley said, he would have left to start his own business anyway.
The joy of teaching eventually surpassed doing deals, he said.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Pimley's father, a retired dentist in England, has warned to the idea. The next visit home will probably tell. "I'll know at Christmas," the younger Mr. Pimley said.