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Why do 'old' people work in the back office?

Ok, early 40s isn't exactly an age at which you're likely be reaching for the Zimmer frame and the denture adhesive, but it's fairly antiquated when you consider that the average front-office banker is probably 15 years younger.

Research from the Observatoire des métiers de la banque, a French organisation with affiliation to local unions, suggests the average person working in custody/settlements in France is aged 38 and has been in the same job for the past nine years. Back-office staff in French project finance are an even more decrepit 44.

Unfortunately, the Observatoire doesn't have any figures for the average front-office person. However, BNP Paribas' most recent annual report also states that people working in its corporate and investment banking business are among its youngest.

Back in 2005, the ex-City of London Mayor Sir David Brewer informed a group of assembled banking interns that it was somewhere around the mid-20s in the City, and we're assuming this is still the case.

Do you work in the middle/back office? Are you surrounded by people who remember Margaret Thatcher? Why? Express your opinions below.

AUTHOReFinancialCareers UK Insider Comment
  • Ar
    3 June 2008

    Bid 101, Ask 101 1/16. Yours. Done.
    In addition to this what else does a young trade knows?
    Try this, assuming the yield curve for the US Dollar flattens, the P/E for the Dow Jones drops, real rates for the Euro rise and copper futures fall what should you do? Long calls on the S&P500, long puts on the Wheat Futures or short puts on MSCI World?
    It is impossible to know all without experience. That is why most hedge fund owners are over 50 and successful!

  • ti
    30 May 2008

    The comments raised above are quite interesting, however, i would like to point out that having a 40 something yr old in front office is the worst mistake that any organisation can ever make. Be reminded that the people in the front office are seen as the face of an organisation and the representatives should beam with energy and enthusiasm, something which is hard to find on the 40 something individuals at the workplace.

    Again, front office job is quite taxing, having to portray a friendly face the whole day is mostly challenging to the older generation. We can't downplay the fact that their experience can be helpful, but front office is not for them. I would rather they be left to the back/ middle office where can use their wealth of experience to provide the front liners with good feedback and guide them throught the execution of their day to day duties.

  • Do
    29 May 2008

    One does not expect good quality research from a union, it is political spin, not evidence of anything.
    Anyone hear of survivorship bias ?

    Maybe I should use this dumb "survey" as an interview question. If someone accepts it at face value, they are not smart enough for banking and should enter a career for those who simply don't understand evidence based science, like a BBC science correspondent.

  • Jo
    John D
    29 May 2008

    The middle/back office is closer to the toilets, and as you know we crusty old 40-somethings are nearly incontinent, so that's why we work in the back. Near the loos. Now where did I leave my denture cream?

  • an
    29 May 2008

    old peopl tend to work in the middle office, whilst young people will be found both in back and front has the best looking girls..fact

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