What’s The Graying Of Public Finance Really Mean?

What's the reality of the field of public finance graying?

You would think a blanket statement like the “graying of public finance” would be a negative statement. And no matter how old you are, it’s a positive statement for the field of public finance.  As the two top political leaders plan their ascent to the White House again, both contenders are going to be over eighty, whereas in most positions’ the retirement age is sixty-five or even younger.  What does this portend for our industry?

The Field Of Public Finance Is Just Not “Sexy” Enough…Or Is It?

First, a major fact is that fewer new graduates are entering the world of public finance or public finance law than there were a decade ago.  The world of public finance is not as “sexy” as other areas of finance and law; thus, an opportunity for those who are already in the great field of public finance.  And I mean the great field of it.  As a banker for many years, where can you make the money and have the balanced lifestyle of another professional in law and finance?  Our mundane but sometimes exciting industry of public finance is just that – obviously without the girls’ scouts showing up when you have your item on the consent calendar and it’s pulled.  Other than that, things usually go smoother than in other finance and legal disciplines.

Young Professionals: Why Public Finance Is A Great Field For The Next Generation

If you are younger, the field of public finance offers great opportunities for you to grow and learn this industry as you are mentored on your path by more senior personnel.  The desire of firms to hire bankers in their forties is overwhelming as it is for bond counsel and other public finance professionals.  You are clearly in demand, especially if you rely on your own abilities and not on the business card you drop off at the issuer to get your deals.  Creativity, specialty, and confidence in your ability to bring new business to a new firm are the key points that will make you indispensable to the hiring market.  Of course, a great reputation only puts the icing on the cake.

Veterans: You Are A Hot Commodity & Well In Demand

However, the older states persons are just as much in demand.  Where the average age of retirement is sixty-five, professional public finance bankers and bond counsels do not want to retire.  There has even been a push to get bankers and attorneys that have retired from one firm to then join another firm.  We have seen school officials who have retired as well as public officials re-entering the job market as professionals within the field of public finance.  Firms are re-opting for maturity and the professionals who have their old fashion rolodex to bolster their excitement to hiring a retiring public official.  This is especially prevalent in the school finance area.  In addition, firms have reached out to me to gather the interest of older professionals to move their younger teams, knowing that they have been mentored and their business can be passed down rather than just lost upon the retirement of the senior team member.

The Value Of Maturity, Mentorship & More

A couple of years ago, firms would have been quite concerned about a potential new hire that only has a three-to-five-year horizon.  Firms are now open for this, especially a well-known individual in the field of public finance who has had a following.  I am currently working with a team where the senior individual is looking for the right home for his small yet robust team that he knows will be well received as he passes down his book of clients when nearing his retirement.  I am also working with a hiring manager that wants to do the same in the bond counsel area.  Both these individuals’ situations are not atypical.  Do not be concerned that you may be “too old” to be in demand.  That is clearly not the truth as your experience and maturity weights your chronological age.  Lastly, remember you do not need a resume to chat with us about your next career transition.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.