BEYOND BANKING: You too could become a consultant

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Last month, as I summarized my analysis for the Board of Directors of a small brokerage firm, a fellow external attendee asked me, "How long have you been a consultant?" Voila, my new business, Robinson Godding Associates, was born.

Despite Mr King's concerns that I have "squandered" my life pursuing a career in banking, it seems eminently possible to put what I've learnt to use in a new career, much as my former colleagues were able to transform a maligned BBB credit into AAA.

Since forming my consultancy firm, I have taken on a number of assignments. So far, as well as the above business analysis, I have written the business plan for an internet start up , proposed a public relations programme for an environmental charity, and chaired a successful fundraising event.

I have also come to the conclusion that working outside a bank is very different, in ways large and small.

First, there is no IT guy that can be summoned to instantly fix my computer so as not to waste any precious potentially profit producing moment.

Second, there is no morning meeting during which to drink coffee and plot the potential for the day's profits with my colleagues.

And finally, there is no pre-established identity.

This last problem was quickly solved by Prontaprint in Notting Hill, where I was able to order my very own business cards, with my very own company name: 200 cards for 50.

However, while leaving investment banking does have its travails, the benefits outweigh them: a toaster next to my Mac, coffee with friends in the morning and the satisfaction of working for myself.

When I look at the rewards of the past 12 months and compare them with what I would have received had I stayed at Bank of America (likely working in difficult conditions and then being made redundant last week and paid no bonus), I think I clearly made the right choice to leave.

Whether I continue to think so depends more on what I make of my life than the corporate environment in which I find myself. I am happy being long those odds.

Diana Godding was managing director and head of US cash equities for Europe at Bank of America before retiring from the business in April 2008. She established her consultancy firm, Robinson Godding Associates late last year. She is currently writing a book, Anglophilia, or London as the Zeitgeist of the Noughties, to be published in late 2009.

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