Regardless of UK age discrimination laws, it's a sad fact of life that once you get the wrong side of 40 (and definitely 50), finding a new position within the financial services industry becomes more of an uphill struggle. In the Middle East, however, a few grey hairs are appreciated.
While hopping on a plane to Dubai may not be everyone's ideal solution to ensuring your vast array of experience is appreciated, there's a greater chance that silver haired bankers will find employment in the Middle East.
"Perversely, despite the more lax age discrimination laws here, banks in the Middle East are still very keen to hire people between 40-50 as their range of experience is very valued," says Matthew Lewis, director Middle East and Africa at headhunters, Boyden. "We’re increasingly seeing candidates in this age bracket from the UK who are taking the opportunity to accelerate their earning potential in a tax free environment towards the end of their career."
Certainly there's no shortage of older Western bankers among the upper echelons of Gulf banks, including Michael Tomalin, CEO of National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Ted Pretty, CEO of Gulf Finance House and Rick Pudner, group CEO of Emirates NBD.
Lower down the ranks, it becomes more problematic, however. With recruitment activity within investment banking and private equity decidedly more subdued throughout 2009 and into this year, most firms that are hiring demand a combination of Western and regional experience.
It also becomes more difficult for expats to secure a work visa when they are over 55, so already being on-the-ground makes job-seeking much easier.
Nonetheless, there are opportunities outside of the larger banking institutions currently.
"Many family offices in the region are now offering investments or have a greater desire to invest abroad," says Peter Greaves, director of financial markets for McArthur Murray in Dubai. "Mature investment bankers or private equity professionals with experience across multiple industries will find their skill-sets very much in demand."
He says that these family office roles usually pay a base of around $200k, but that bonuses are entirely at the discretion of the employer. "Most are very generous and smart companies will reward the right people well. Unfortunately, in the current climate many of these packages may not match senior bankers' expectations, however," he says.
Add-ons could prove a selling point, though. According to the latest HSBC Expat Economics survey, common perks for expats in the UAE include multiple cars, nicer and larger properties, domestic help and more exotic holidays.
Article from efinancialcareers