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The biggest losers in the investment banking culture shake-up

Old man

Banking jobs in the US are growing again. True, we’re not even half way back to the pre-2008 slump, but for the first time in a long time banks are adding to their ranks in several areas. But if you are one of those seasoned senior executives who were let go after the financial crisis, a harsh reality remains. If you think your previous experience is back in demand, think again.

Most reports are showing that such people are not getting a look in. There’s been a good deal of soul searching and strategic revaluation in the HR teams of financial businesses. And cultural change is high on their agenda.

If you lost a banking or finance job in the wake of the 2008 crisis and haven’t worked in the sector since, the perceived value of your experience has slumped. Technology has moved on. Regulatory changes have forced completely new business models. Distribution and trading models have adapted to changes in the media landscape.

If your resume shows that your experience was mostly gained before 2008, rightly or wrongly, you will be judged to be tarnished by association even if your personal ethical record is cleaner than clean.

And the chances are that the hiring manager will be at least 10 years younger than you.

Worse there’s been a flood of smart, hungry young MBAs queuing round the block to secure an entry level position. And of course in a recovery situation, it’s the entry-level jobs not the C-suite which expand first and fastest.

But despite this, there are some positive indicators as financial organizations have reconsidered how they should develop their employee base to banish the ethical shortfalls, inadequate risk management and ‘excessive zeal’ which were hallmarks of the pre-collapse banking world.

In Europe, some firms are taking a more progressive stance. Deutsche Bank is on the lookout for mature, tech-savvy women who it thinks will be better team players to help change its corporate culture and rebuild its reputation.

The bank is being forced to rethink the way it does business after short-term bonus incentives led to risky deals which hurt profits. “You could say having trustworthy bankers is enough to rebuild trust in the banking industry. But it is not enough. In future you need to have other qualities,” Stephan Leithner, head of human resources and compliance, said back in 2012. “The banker of the future will be more female, more international, older, more team oriented and more mobile, and needs to enjoy working with technology,” he continued.

So the message to experienced former banking executives considering re-entering the sector is clear. If your over 50, male, and haven’t worked in the financial sector for the last few years, you’re unlikely to be in demand. On the other hand, if you’re female, up to date with current technology, international in your outlook, mobile and have recent sector experience, things are looking up.

Neil Patrick is the Editor of 40pluscareerguru and blogs about overcoming the career challenges facing baby boomers. You can follow him on Twitter @NewCareerguru.

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