Does Financial IT Really Value a Few Gray Hairs?

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The perils of being a banker on the wrong side of 50 are well-documented, but surely age discrimination is more commonplace in the cutting edge, young-buck-populated world of technology?

Certainly that's the assertion of IT recruiters Greythorn, which claims that the majority people over 50 working in the sector feel insecure in their job, largely because of their age.

"In IT, age is not necessarily perceived as an asset," says Paul Winchester, managing director of the firm. "Some people over 50 think they are unpopular with current and future employers because of the perception that experienced people cannot adapt to new technologies."

But this is across the IT sector generally. Homing in on those working in a technology within an investment bank and it's a different picture, suggest recruiters.

"I would argue that technology in investment banking is one of the last bastions diversity, certainly more so than any other front office function," says Paul Bennie, director at IT in finance headhunters Bennie MacLean. "If you're over 50 and working as a developer, maybe not. But senior technologists, who ten years ago may have been involved in developing the first algorithms or just know how to produce robust scalable technology, are still highly-valued."

The problem comes, however, when the silver-haired actually look to move positions. Although recruiters say that investment banks are "well-drilled" when it comes to diversity issues, there's something of an "unwritten rule" about taking on someone over 50, for a permanent position at least.

"The key thing is to come with a good pedigree, and a carefully managed career reputation," says James Richmond, sales director at recruiters Cititec. "Generally, though, over-50s have more luck in the contractor market. If they have in-depth domain knowledge, experience within a range of bulge bracket banks or specialist skill-sets, the hiring manager will look at their credentials rather than their age."

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