The Carsten Kengeter guide to a career change at 40, and beyond

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Carsten Kengeter

Career change lessons from Carsten Kengeter

Another senior banker has decided to reject the cutty-thrustiness of banking life and do something tangential but hopefully more relaxing. He is Carsten Kengeter, 47-year old ex-head of UBS's investment bank, ex-co-head of Goldman Sachs' Asian securities business, and onetime head of fixed income currencies and commodities for the German region at Goldman Sachs.

Kengeter is becoming the new head of Deutsche Boerse.  This is a bit of a surprise: last thing we heard, he was expected to set up a hedge fund.  

What can other senior bankers who are looking for a career change at 40 (or 47) learn from Kengeter's deft leap?

1. Try a transitional move before you make the big one

Carsten hasn't actually gone from UBS to unemployment to Deutsche Borse. He quietly spent a bit of time as a 'guest professor' at the London School of Economics in the interim.

2. See if you can make some big money from your investment prowess before you commit to a new corporate career  

It seems that Kengeter also had a go at Google Ventures-style angel investing before going for the job at Deutsche Boerse. The Financial Times reports that he has also, 'has spent the past year involved in personal investments into financial technology companies.'  So either those investments didn't work out, or he figured he needed a 'new challenge' in a full time job.

3. Choose a job where the incumbent is a lot older than yourself

There's no point going for a career change at 40, or older, when the company you're joining clearly likes to employ people in their 20s and 30s.

Kengeter has not made this mistake. The man he's replacing (Reto Francioini) is going to be 60 next year.

4. Don't agree to start your new job immediately 

You want to work up to your big new role. Don't commit to starting next week, or even next month. Kengeter won't replace Francioni until June next year, giving him plenty of time to acclimatize.

5. Don't stray too far from your comfort zone

Kengeter used to be a fixed income trader. Now he's helping a stock exchange adjust to the demands of new technology and market data. It's a new challenge, but it's not that new.

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