An executive recruiter friend who specializes in hiring for sales and trading at banks swears that age discrimination doesn't exist on Wall Street but her comments are telling. She said "The candidates are judged on how much they are willing to give to the business vs. the rest of their life." And "My clients are looking for the best candidates and care about energy not age."
You tell me: Which guy has more energy: The older guy or the younger guy?
I know I don't have the same amount of energy I had five years ago. I'll admit: I have thought about going to Cenegenics to check out my options on energy-boosting treatments like testosterone but so far have resisted.
And numbers don't lie: That recruiter said of the candidates she has placed in the past year, 60 percent of them are under 35 years old. That's more than half.
(Read more: My biggest regret on Wall Street: Turney Duff)
I spoke to a friend who works at an investment bank that just went through layoffs. He said that the layoffs were about 5-10 percent of most groups and generally mid-level employees with experience. Often a mid-level employee tends to be a little older, makes good money but just isn't pulling his weight. I don't think age is a direct factor in layoffs but I do think that Wall Streeters believe that after a certain number of years you peak. And if your peak isn't much better than the guy below you with room to grow, it's time to cut bait. Remember the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog, new tricks."
Truth be told, experience just doesn't matter as much as it used to. Since 2008, there is a new Wall Street where there are more qualified people for less positions than ever. Remember Joshua Persky, that unemployed investment banker who, in 2009, slapped a sandwich board over his suit that said "experienced MIT grad for hire" and stood outside of New York firms to try to reclaim his place on Wall Street?
Sure, things are a lot better than they were when Persky hit the Street — literally — but it's still hard out there. There are fewer jobs to go around than before so, like the NFL or NBA, youth, talent and drive trumps experience.
Is it fair? No. But Wall Street was never about fair — it's about better and best.
I think there's only one way to fix this: If he's willing to give 110 percent, Goldman Sachs should hire Jay Leno. Now that's doing God's work, Lloyd Blankfein.
— By Raj Mahal
Raj Mahal (that's his stage name) is a former Bank of America trader-turned-comedian. Follow him on Twitter