EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

If losing your job wasn’t bad enough, the reluctance of business associates at your former company, as well as those who serviced your company as attorneys, accountants or recruiters to return your phone calls can be particularly disheartening.

Actually, if you gave it some thought, you wouldn’t be all that shocked or surprised that they don’t.

Let’s understand that in most cases when you leave a company everyone involved is typically sworn to secrecy. The “story” as to why you have left may even have been agreed to in writing, the violation of which could very well be cause for legal action by you. Since secrecy is normally the case, is it any wonder that no one at the firm you served so well and for so many years will risk contacting you?

While many of your co-workers at the firm may be aware of who your enemies were, no one outside the firm can ever be sure. It is for this reason that all of those fine folks who you worked with so cordially will risk being seen as your “friend.” The truth is that if you were in their shoes, you wouldn’t have anything to do with yourself either.

Just as members of the firm you just left could be putting their jobs at risk were it known they were helping you, the “vendors” who service your firm are in the very same pickle.

The problem we face as financial folks is that most of the people we know are either working for the firm we just left or work with the firm we just left. We are typically assigned to be “Mr. Inside.” The role of social butterfly is assigned to the marketing and sales types, not us. We need to know what all the players are going to do in any given set of circumstances before they know themselves. As they say, this is why we get the big bucks.

The other aspect that is not well recognized is the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. As Chief Financial Officer, you held the purse strings. Everyone had better be nice to you or you might not sign their check, approve their budget or who knows what else. Don’t ever confuse their great courtesy with their being your friends. This is simply not the case. Excuse me for being a little harsh and perhaps overstated, but for the most part everyone has an axe to grind, and as a practical matter they have to watch out for your axe.

Given the hours financial folks work and their focus on inside the company relationships, it is no wonder that when they start a job search they turn to people who can’t or won’t help them.

And, it gets worse.

Recruiters honestly have no business purpose in spending time to get to know you unless they are currently working on a job that is a perfect fit for you or expect to be in the VERY near future. They get paid for finding someone who is a perfect fit, not for finding you a job.

Accountants and lawyers, unless they are close personal friends, would almost never risk introducing you to one of their clients. Why? They have everything to lose and very little to gain. If it is already a client of theirs, the odds are greater than zero that you could upset a delicate client relationship. Even if you get a job at some firm they would like to have as a client, the odds are low that they will win the business anyway. Every potential client is already “engaged” or “married” to someone else.

So what’s a person to do? I would suggest networking, networking and more networking starting with several dozen of your closest friends in The FENG, whether you know them yet or not. Yes, I know that on the surface this sounds silly. Why would strangers help you when people you know won’t? I don’t know the exact answer to this other than that they do.

I hope you will consider everyone in The FENG to be a friend or a potential friend. As they say: A friend in need is a friend indeed! (Or is it: A friend in need is no friend of mine? … Let’s go with the first thought.)

Your fellow members will help you because they are in the EXACT same situation that you are in. And, with 37,000+ members it shouldn’t take you long to find several dozen REAL friends. All you have to do is write and/or call and the odds are high you will have some true friends in short order.

That’s why we have The FENG. You can join, but you can’t quit. And, why would you want to? It is your safety net for the rest of your career. Help us take good care of it by going out of your way for fellow members.

If we can’t take good care of each other, no one else is going to.

Regards, Matt

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