Banks' obsession with hiring 25 year-old tech types threatens to become a big problem

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When it comes to hiring, banks have got a definite type. Nowadays they quite like their recruits to have graduated in a STEM subject. They like them to know how to code. And they like (and have always liked) them young. Twenty two to twenty five is around the optimal age.

Deloitte, however, is calling banks' out on their preferences. In a new report, Deloitte doesn't exactly say the A word (ageism) but it does suggest banks have got a problem. Youth isn't everything and this particular fountain is running dry.

If you're aged 55 or over, Deloitte's figures (from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) suggest you want to go for a role in real estate, where 39% of your peers will be in your age bracket. You might even try insurance sales (31%). But you probably don't want to work in securities and commodities sales, where nearly 75% of your colleagues will be younger than you.

Although things have improved in the past decade (in 1998 only 14% of finance workers were 55+) Deloitte suggests banks are in danger of recidivism. As they push to automate and digitize, banks are becoming inordinately interested in hiring hip young staff. Older staff seem less relevant than ever before.

The only problem is, that as with all stereotypes of age chasing youth, banks' desired recruits just aren't that interested. Deloitte cites studies showing that only 4% of them fancy a career in say - insurance, and that 40% of the millennial and Generation Z hires already working in finance want to go and work in technology instead. 

And things are only going to get worse. Demographic trends mean the youthful labor force is shrinking. If 25-year-olds are evasive now, they will only be even more so in 2025.

Who can fill the gap? 55+ year-olds, obviously. Deloitte notes that there's a whole army of underutilized older workers floating around the periphery of finance employment. Perversely, these older workers even have many of the skills banks say they need - critical thinking, judgement, decision-making, negotiation, persuasion and service orientation. They're even willing to retrain, if banks give them a chance to.

Some finance firms are already addressing their youth addiction. Deloitte says that insurance company Aviva has introduced a mid-life career review for its 50 year-old employees. Rival insurance company Axa has introduced a reverse-mentoring programme where its younger staff school its older staff in social media. And U.S. insurer Aflac has paired its younger technologists with its IT veterans.

Investment banks are notably absent from Deloitte's list of finance companies who are trying to climb on the anti-ageist wagon. This might be because Deloitte hasn't worked with any, but most likely it's because they're not doing anything - yet. However, investment banks are among the biggest and most notorious chasers of youth and they will need to address their habits soon, or risk seriously losing out.

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