Ryan Rettmann left Thacher Proffitt & Wood in the nick of time. Last March, not long before the subprime crash paralyzed the debt markets, the first-year structured finance associate moved to Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis. At Thacher Proffitt, he had been working on securities backed by home mortgages, a niche that was dead in the water by the end of summer. At Kirkland, he took a job working on auto loan securitizations, a considerably healthier asset class.

Rettman wasn’t prescient, just in love. He and his new wife had decided to leave New York and settle in Chicago, where he lined up the Kirkland interview after one phone call.

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