An unemployed banker on the Appalachian Trail
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – When Richard Daileader was let go from a financial services company during the meltdown, he realized it was the perfect chance for an unusual sabbatical.
“For years my daughter and I had talked about hiking the Appalachian Trail,” he said. “When I was let go, she told me that there would never a better time for me to do it, so I went for it.”
After 30 years in the financial sector and 2,178 miles on foot, he’s wondering what to do next.
Daileader, 52, had four or five jobs in his career.
“I never had any time off between any of those jobs,” he said. “I always finished on the Friday and was in my new job on Monday.”
Prior to becoming unemployed, Daileader was commuting back and forth from Charlotte to Churchill Financial in New York, where he looked at potential acquisitions alongside private equity firms. Financing was raised through securitization, packing and selling bundles of loans on the capital markets, but the financial crisis brought that to an end.
“In 2007 the market began to fall apart and in 2008 funding became increasingly hard to come by,” he said. “Then someone hit the brakes and that market went away.”
Daileader was given a decent separation package by Churchill in the fourth quarter of 2008.
On Feb. 28 he began his hike along the Appalachian Trail, which stretches between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. He completed the journey on Aug. 13, having progressed about about 15 miles a day on the days he hiked.
“I didn’t have any great epiphanies while I was on the trail. Most of the time I was just focused on putting one foot in front of another,” he said. “But I am very lucky. I have no complaints because unlike many people I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck and didn’t have to worry about finding another job immediately.”
(Click here to see his Daileader’s blog on his experiences)
Photo by Carlos Barria
After almost a year without work, Daileader said he has been thinking about getting back into banking.
“No one is hiring right now, though it looks like there may be some openings in the first quarter of next year,” he said. “What jobs there will be will likely have lower compensation following the financial crisis.”
“I don’t want to go back to New York, I’d rather stay here in Charlotte,” he said. “And one thing that I did realize on the trail was that I don’t want to kill myself with work anymore.”
At the moment he is talking informally to a defense contractor who wants to sell his business and retire. He may decide to leave the banking sector altogether and find work away from the city. In short, Daileader is not entirely sure what to do next.
“I’m not antsy yet about what to do and I have been frugal the past year,” he said. “But around the end of the year the separation package is going to start to run low and that it is going to start limiting my options.”
“Life was a lot simpler out on the trail. I put my country club membership on hold and now I realize I don’t need it.”