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Tuesday January 29th 2019

Advice for 42-year-old jobless PMET: Be realistic about entering the lucrative bank sector

Hi Daniel,

You need to wake up from dreamland and understand the job market in the banking industry.

Every year, there are thousands of young graduates from NUS/NTU/SMU/Overseas Ivies in their 20s eagerly applying for these banking mid-office analyst type jobs you want. Less than 10% of them get it in the end.

You already 42 years old with a private degree bought off the shelf and actually think you have a chance of getting in?

Not going to happen.

Why would a bank give up finance Masters/Honors SMU young grad to hire a middle age man with a private commerce degree and clerical experience?

Not being elitist, but that’s the reality.

The more important thing is to ask yourself why must get so hung up in joining a bank? Other than you used to work as a bank clerk / teleoperator, I don’t see any strong reason not to consider other places.

Banking is the 2nd most highly paid and competitive industry after oil & gas sector in Singapore, you need to be realistic and be more open to other jobs in other industries.

Already the going is tough for you because of your age and weak qualification; the worse thing to do is to bang head against the wall by insisting on competing in a place that is totally out of your league.

My advice is to keep an open mind and apply for any entry level executive position that comes along and slowly build up the relevant experience, network and competency.

I think you still have a decent chance in a small stat board, GLC or local SME.

This may not make you big money, but it is better than daydreaming about banks.

Editor’s note: This is a comment submitted on 2014/06/12 at 3:58 pm for -

42-year-old jobless PMET feeling frustrated that he is unable to gain access to banking sector

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13 Responses to “Advice for 42-year-old jobless PMET: Be realistic about entering the lucrative bank sector”

  1. It’s competence, not “competency”, but the writer did make a good point. It’s a cruel, competitive world out there and Daniel’s predicament may not be so much an issue of age.

    Yeah, banking is sexy. I should have gone into it.

  2. jack_cross says:

    Many years ago I also quit a supply chain job and join a local bank in branch ops hoping to move on to investment banking or at least a investment support role. Most of my colleagues fantasize the same thing and yet few ever made it there, it is just a carrot the banks dangle in front of you.

    I consider the 2 years there wasted. Lucky for me I cut my losses quickly and move on in life. I know a few ex-colleagues still slogging there on long hours and sh1t pay hoping to transfer somewhere good.

  3. Befair says:

    Banks pay well because they are measured by the amount of money they manufacture. They don’t do anything realistically productive, that is they don’t make you something usefully tangible. If you put a banker in a factory, he’d produce less than 50% of your experienced factory operator. If everyone were measured by real productivity, the bankers would be at the bottom of the scale.

    But this is one of many inevitable flaws of capitalist markets. That’s why every once in a while you get wars and breakouts. The money keeps getting horded up because these people are not put on the same tracks as real workers who are slogging their guts out daily yet sinking backwards because of the compounding effect on the cash of the rich.

    If you love money, work in a bank. They pay very well even for incompetent people.

  4. Salami says:

    I don’t understand why everyone seems to be so in awe with joining a bank, even my undergrad niece insists she only want to join bank after school. Looks to me just a lot of smoke and mirrors about instant riches, trying to act socialite, spend to boast in front of others etc, but in the end 1% get all the money and the rest left with peanuts.

    My best friend works in a foreign bank as a SVP now and previously was from another local bank. In parties and meet ups he is always trying to play the part of a successful banking high flier, but privately he admit the total pay is only average when compare to other industries because although the monthly pay is higher, they don’t have aws and annual bonus for back office about 2 months average only. He knows of peers who are just analyst/managers in other industries making more than him.

    A lot of outsiders hear about bankers making big money with all sorts of inflated titles always assume that everyone who work in a bank is making few hundred k a year. Reality is only a few jobs like investment banking, private banking and trading are making all the money. The rest like support function, ops or consumer/commercial banker jobs in the bank is just normal people making normal wages.

    People really need to look beyond the surface, not just the lifestyle the finance people try to portray.

  5. Local talent says:


    Agree with your assessment. Same reason why a construction worker is paid poorly for sweaty and sometimes bloody work while that real estate speculator gets rich without breaking a sweat.

  6. diehard says:

    Banking is like big 4, just overhype slog like cow hire & fire culture.

  7. jack_cross says:

    Hi Salami,

    Like they say – banking is not a job, but a lifestyle. It is ingrained in this industry to “dress, act and dine rich” so giving layman the wrong impression that banking pay top dollars and do nothing. Base on my experience, banking total package is about 10% above average, nowhere near a lot of people’s fantasies. Even for frontline, banking is not the only industry that pays 7-figure bonus, but somehow they are the ones that attract all the bad publicity because of the ostentatious display.

    When I was AVP in the bank, many friends and relative ask why I didn’t get a car or condo even though I make so much. Truth is I cannot afford, my annual salary including bonus then was barely 70k, about the same as my civil servant wife.

    • yeenfei says:

      are you serious for banking avp make only 70k ? I’m software engineer for us mnc and I’m making more than that…

  8. Manson says:

    That very true of man looking at bank job. The fact sometime can be very cruel.

  9. anthony says:

    Slog like cow is only an illusion unless you are comparing to civil service. People always think they are damn smart and worked damned hard and thus deserved the high pay. Put them in a farming village and they become the village idiot and will kpkb about how hard farmers need to work. A lot of people in this world worked harder in harsher conditions and earn a small fraction of what they are taking.

    I have friends in banking and the way they are spending the bank’s money is ridiculous. Overseas department trips every 2-3 months with all expenses paid, Lunch meeting, after work drinking all on company expenses. They are living like there’s no tomorrow. In the old days, no true boss will let their company be run this way. In this age of smoke and mirrors where no one cares about sustainability and only care about short term gains, it is perfectly fine.

  10. Dico says:

    My advise is also to be realistic, which is ugly to the ears. Find a job that you have some passion or interest in. Money will lose its charm after some time.

    Do you know why some bankers like Nick Leeson failed?

    It is because of upkeeping their lifestyle, losing the feel of money that bring to them initially and therefore getting more satisfaction by making bigger gambles and competition from fellow bankers who sometimes out perform you.

    Read this article about this Plastic Surgeon, Dr Richard Teo who died of lung cancer. He only realised money is not everything when he knew he is going to die soon.

  11. Ex banker now into sales says:

    Advice given by editor is thoroughly sound though harsh.

    For those late starters in their 30 wanting to break in, my advice (as an ex banker of 20 years) is unless you got a marketing mind-set (hunting) and good grounding in accounting/economics, banking is difficult to break.

    Don t equate banking to those shoving credit cards into your face(these are outsourced card sellers – don t need banking skills but rather aggressive sales approach,

    if you end up with a foreign bank, you are vulnerable to global economy eg what that means if Europe sneezes you catch the cold and you get your head chopped (fired in plain English).May be less so for local banks

    The banking industry has had big hiring spree in the 2000s for corporate banking people but stopped after 2008 lehman Bro crisis. Recent 6 years was big in private banking hires but but this may have taken a dive as costs outweigh profits and Asset Under Management targets have become higher and higher.

    For outsider looking in, the industry looks glam but if you are late starter eg got your degree at late age there is no guarantee you might get a foot in the door for your 1st interview for entry level job unless your father is someone influential or loaded where they want his private banking businesses.

    Once again sound advice for dreamers, banking has higher entry barriers and even if you made it there is no assurance you get a job for life..once you are retrenched in your 40s (can be because you are lacking in energy or doing little or no value job, you will be retrenched and at that age, maybe taxi driving or insurance or realtor jobs may be available to you as no one will hire a banker trained for 20 years into another industry unless it is related.

    all I can say is ‘look before you leap’ and there are many growth industry you can look into for more stable work and family life.

  12. sanjeev says:

    all those who think banking is rich & glam never work before in the luxury goods industry. the budget they have for wine & dine and party will put any banker to shame.

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