☰ Menu eFinancialCareers

Is 35 past it?

Thanks to age discrimination legislation, banks are said to be hiring older bankers with all the zeal of teenagers purchasing alco-pops. Is this really true?

A study by financial services recruiter Joslin Rowe suggests older people (ie, anyone aged 35+) now account for 18% of people changing jobs, up from 14% five years ago.

The same study suggests that people aged over 56 are also moving into new finance jobs more freely than before – these days, the 56+ contingent account for 0.5% of people changing jobs, up from 0.1% in the ageist days of 2003 (a 323% increase, as Joslin Rowe’s PR points out).

Putting aside for a moment the question of whether 0.5% really represents a new paradigm in anti-ageism, do banks really want to hire older people?

The answer, sadly, is no. The chief exec of one front-office search firm says there’s a 90 year-old somewhere in the City, and there might be a bond salesman who’s had the same job for 20 years somewhere else, but on the whole banks are still clamouring for the elixir of youth.

“It’s all about control – it’s much easier to control someone in their 20s than in their 40s and 50s,” he says.

And if you lose your job once you’ve hit a certain age? Don’t count on walking into another one quickly.

Figures from Fairplace, an outplacement provider, suggest it takes a redundant banker an average of three months to find a new job. For people aged 50+ that time is doubled.

Comments (25)

  1. A massive problem for investment banks and one that they are doing little or nothing to resolve. Rather than come to terms with the fact that there are capable individuals aged over 30 out there, most IBs are writing off individuals if certain boxes are not ticked / milestones reached by the time someone reaches a certain age. This attitude stems from front office but is also seen in hiring attitudes in ops and middle office. Incredible really considering the complete mess the industry has got itself into by not investing enough is local infrastructure and support (soc gen being a good example).

    One of the reasons for this attitude in operations would be that a lot of the jnr managers are still in their 20’s, hence there is real reluctance to hire an individual who is older and who may be a threat to the status quo.

    The sell side really needs to sort its act here and work harder at the diversity initiatives. Its the responsibility of HR to make sure this happens but also about time that senior FO business heads started getting involved, rather than burying their heads in the sand and denying any resposnibility for the downstream process

    Recruiter – IB Reply
  2. I dread that part of an employers application form where they ask your age and then mention they will not use this information in their hiring process???
    As soon as you respond White/British/40+ years….you know that application is filed straight into the bin!

  3. I agree with the recruiters note above. I took redundancy after 40 years in investment banking and whilst I still have much to offer, it is really difficult to get an interview (let alone a job). Even more important to use all routes in: websites, networking, writing for ads direct, even cold CVs to named seniors in companies where you’d want to work.

  4. it doesn’t help when the recruitment professionals will not send candidates forward to the banks of a certain age usually 30+.

  5. I have an MBA from a top school, extensive (highly successful)experience in a range of fields, wide technical, capital market, people and marketing skills. Can I get an interview? No way. It seems that as I have passed the 50 year old point, I’m persona non grata. While sometimes you get coded language from recruiters, the usual tone is silence. This is particularly true from some of the bigger very well known recruitment companies. They simply ignore people they think do not fit a age profile or image in the expectation they will avoid legal issues. Would love to see the government pull a “sting” on some of them and make some examples. About time!!!!!!!!!

  6. What do you mean six months for a 40 year old to get a job. I’ve been out of work for two years!

  7. it is worrysome for all of us. (I am 30)
    In NY where finance has been around longer people tend to be older. It quite good when dealing with a crisis…

  8. Totally agree with anon/Fixed Income. Firms are too busy having to tick the other PC boxes (i.e ethnic origin) that if you are white and 40+, you are less contoversial to bin.

  9. Is everyone suggesting it’s a bit like Lord of the Flies at most investment banks?

  10. Investment Banks say: “our people are our best asset”, and ER departments pretend they keep managers under control regarding equal opportunities, fair treatment/pay, and age discrimination – How realistic is that someone who sits in a cost centre (ER/HR) can tell a manager in a revenue producing chair what to do? If push comes to shove – big revenue earners always “win”. Bottom line: when you hit a certain age and a certain (long) tenure, they want you out. Also if you’ve been in a firm for a long time and you are over 35, you are seen as “more difficult to manage”, naturally you are more experienced and have more questions to ask.

    IBs could have a different attitude: capitalise on your experience, skills and your knowledge, but somehow they do not want to.

    CIPD stats show that by 2010 at least 40% of the workforce will be over 45 years of age. I guess there are always “young guns” around willing to work 20 hours/day 7 days a week for 3 years or so. People should not be treated like this. Not too worried about senior people that financially do not need to work and therefore won’t lose their homes, but what about “little people” over 35 in need of a decent job

  11. James J, we’d love to do something about it (age discrimination) but we’re not driving this ourselves. If we send across people who don’t ‘fit’ the profile our delivery is soon called to account by the bank’s HR or hiring managers, and they ask us why we are sending across older candidates.
    We’re not being deliberately age-discriminatory – it’s just the case that if we sent your CV to the bank you wouldn’t get an interview. As our job is basically to match our client requirements, a lot of consultants silence is explained our experience of what the bank will do if we send across the CV of someone 50+. This is being driven by the investment banks – if they actively encouraged diversity from an age perspective, we wouldn’t be forced to look at it the same way.

    Another Recruiter Reply
  12. i was told that at goldman only 10% of there global workforce was over 40 – could anyone qualify this.

  13. It’s a tough call. We know perfectly well they won’t make it easy. The first bank to actually seize the potential competitive advantage these experienced people can offer may well find it to be a good idea (foolish of them to think otherwise). And it’s not like, for the most part, they’re already well managed. I think the CDO crisis has demonstrated that.

    On the other hand, everyone, from young to old, has to demonstrate that they’re valuable and useful. So more questions etc, fine, but pose them in an appropriate, influential way, and never get seen as a jobsworth.

    Failing that, simply set up your own business.

    Good luck to you all.

  14. ” these days, the 56+ contingent account for 0.5% of people changing jobs, up from 0.1% in the ageist days of 2003 (a 323% increase, as Joslin Rowe’s PR points out). ”

    erm…0.5% is a 500% increase on 0.1%
    The maths isn’t that tough..

  15. Well for my part I find those over the age of 50 far more able, hard working, loyal, entrepreneurial and capable than those under that age. So if anyone is reading this and has a long career in the City then I’d be delighted to talk with them about their potential to work as a headhunter. I have three staff over 50 with a combined banking experience of 80+ years and they’re all earning more here than they’ve earned in their careers in banking.

    Shaun Springer – Napier Scott Reply
  16. erm…0.5% is a 400% increase on 0.1%
    Maybe the maths really is that tough…

    TR, Recruitment Reply
  17. In my experience it works both ways. I have recently placed a 56 year old candidate who was offered the role over the other (28 year old)candidate because he would have more credibility in front of clients.

  18. If you are old and look old there is no hope…… If you are old but look young, groomed and normal and haven’t got 4inch thick rimmed spec’s then there is hope! This isn’t my attitude but my Client – a global tier one Investment Bank. Shocking but the reality of upholding the “look” of the bank! When your older talent comes second!

    City Recruiter Reply
  19. I believe that there is an ageist culture in the investment business. I was made redundant from my job as a mid-office team leader at the ripe old age of 40 after 16 years in the business, and despite having what I thought was a good skill set and several industry qualifications, I was unable to find another job, despite trying by every means possible to do so. I therefore made an enforced career change, which has worked out OK but is not at heart what I would like to be doing. It is frustrating because I still have more than 20 years until I retire, and I still feel that I have much to offer. Employers really are not doing themselves any favours by refusing to hire older workers – apart from the fact that we are sitting on a demographic time bomb in the UK, certain “soft” skills, such as time and person management, communication skills and knowing how to effectively handle difficult individuals and situations, can only come with experience.

  20. City Recruiter, HR & Recruitment…that it probably the most intelligent thread so far. I am 46 and was recently recruited a year ago to the trading desk of a majo investment bank. Keep healthy, avoid drugs, too much alcohol etc and you will be rewarded.

  21. It depends on the side of the business your on. In long only fund management, generally you won’t get your hands on proper funds to manage until your older, because clients and consultants typically favour experience over ability. Long only fund management is full of deadwood over 40 who manage to maintain their positions by touting the amount of years experience they have, whilst being pretty clueless about what’s going on in their markets…

  22. To “Another Recruiter” – has it occured to you that by instructing you not to send CV’s of individuals over a certain age, your clients are potentially breaking the law??!!

  23. When you hit 50 as I will this year, you should be an employer not an employee…and if you cannot make it back into the factory of investment banking, then you should be independent…but if you do not have clients and relevant relationships, then you should not have been in banking in the first place.

    Master of the Universe Reply
  24. My experience is quite unusual as I left 5 years ago my sales job by a major investment bank because of family reasons. I currently work as a free lance adviser but I miss adrenaline I had by major Firms. Now I am 37. I looked (and I still do) for positions where liaison exec are expected to deliver strategic and coherent rethinking about products, distribution and customers. These days prove a deep understanding of dynamics within Firms and on the customers side is required. I didnt get (yet) them as “You are by far the most suitable candidate, but in the current conditions Firms hardly hire outside as they have inside plenty of resources that would do whatever to hold a job”. Frustrating but, still, encouraging. Feedback I receive keep being positive (and my age seems a plus), but the last step remains hard. To me, being experienced, committed, hard working is the only way to be appreciated; quality has no age, the younger the better, but not necessarily.

  25. I am 54, have been in banking for 18 yrs, college degree, licenses, all that…It means nothing…. I have been turned down for every banking job that I have applied for in the southwest Florida area. The few times that I have had an interview, they have been conducted by a person of about 30 yrs old. They are very defensive and insecure during the interview. The last bank that I interviewed with was for a assistant manager position. The manager that interviewed me was about 30 and had been in the position for 2 months!!! She said to me that the manager before her was here for 14yrs, it was time for him to go!!! Unbelievable….Needless to say I did not get the job. Having years of experience to bring to the table means nothing in the banking industry. I never imagined that at 54, with years of background , that I would be looking for an entry level job..OH yes, I have been turned down for those as well….

The comment is under moderation. It will appear shortly.


Screen Name


Consult our community guidelines here