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Bridging the Generational Divide

L&D Panel Discussion on the Future of Banking Careers (Webinar Recap)

Last Updated January 7, 2024

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Bridging the Generational Divide

Webinar Recap: Bridging the Generational Divide in Investment Banking

The world is evolving rapidly, and these transformations have significant implications for every sector, including finance.

In a recent webinar hosted by Wall Street Prep, panelists explored the impact of these changes, particularly in the context of generational differences, on careers in investment banking.

Joanna Walker
  • Former Director & Head of Recruitment, Evercore
  • Founder & Principal, Pint HR Consulting LLC
Emily Isler
  • Managing Director & Head of Talent Development at Ares Management Corp
Alan Mattassi
  • Former Director IB, Credit Suisse
  • Founder & CEO, eatsleepdoodle
Reece Kresser
  • Former MD at Centerview Partners
  • Founder & CEO at Zizi
Ziv Feldman
  • Chief Learning Officer, Wall Street Prep

As a new cohort of hires embarks on their banking careers amidst uncertainty, understanding and addressing these differences becomes even more critical.

Bridging the Generational Gap: Webinar Recording

Q. Is Gen Z Truly Different?

The panel initiated the discussion by examining the distinctions between Generation Z and their predecessors in the banking industry.

Joanna addressed the question: “Is Gen Z truly different?

She shared her insights about Gen Z’s expectations, highlighting a profound shift in attitudes towards work-life balance, communication styles, relationship to authority, and learning preferences.

Joanna pointed out that every generation has its unique characteristics, and Gen Z has experienced significant changes, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic disrupted their high school experiences, leading to missed milestones such as graduations and proms. The virtual options and accommodations made during the pandemic have also resulted in a lack of certain skills and nuances, particularly in face-to-face communication.” – Joanna

However, Joanna acknowledged the potential complacency that arose from virtual options and the need to address it directly.

This complacency, manifested in behaviors like lateness or lack of accountability, can hinder their performance in internships and full-time roles.

As learning and development professionals, it is essential to coach and guide Gen Z individuals to develop stronger communication skills and adapt to in-person work environments.

Key Takeaways
  • Each generation is, of course, a bit different, but Gen Z is in a particularly unique position because of the pandemic
  • Incoming summer interns were still in high school when the pandemic started, which affected a significant part of their personal and academic lives
  • Because of the accommodations offered to Gen Z amid the pandemic, such as the option to pick between virtual and in-person classes, many have become accustomed to this flexibility
  • However, the expectation that an internship program or full-time role will cater towards one’s preferences and time frame is unlikely to be perceived well by firms

Q. How to Set Clear Expectations and Provide Structure

The panelists delved into the importance of establishing clear expectations and providing structure for interns and young talent.

Joanna emphasized the need to help them grasp the framework of their roles and responsibilities.

Internships typically span a specific duration, and even in day-to-day work, providing a checklist or roadmap can assist them in comprehending what they need to accomplish.

“Engaging in conversations about individual experiences helps managers strike a balance that caters to the needs of all generations in the workforce.” – Emily

Emily contributed valuable insights regarding the role of education and perspective in bridging the gap between generations.

She highlighted the significance of educating managers about the diverse perspectives and experiences that arose during the pandemic.

Alan underscored the importance of patience and feedback in supporting junior bankers. He emphasized the value of understanding the purpose behind tasks and providing guidance to help them navigate their roles effectively.

Reece shared practical advice based on his experience. He emphasized the importance of taking ownership of work and developing habits of double-checking for quality and attention to detail.

“I think back to some of the best learnings in my career, many of them were either a conference call that we took in a senior banker’s office as a team, with a lot of collaboration happening behind the scenes while the client was on mute or even a quick debrief after to discuss how the call went and what is needed and what didn’t work.” – Reece

Additionally, Reece highlighted the value of learning from peers and building relationships within the team to foster growth and improvement.

Key Takeaways
  • A structured framework to offer more directional guidance on roles and responsibilities is necessary for incoming interns and new analyst hires
  • Periodic feedback is integral to facilitate learning, but a checklist of tasks to accomplish can be a useful method to help new hires grasp the firm’s expectations
  • An informal proactive approach to networking and learning should still be encouraged, as the value of learning from peers and building relationships to foster personal growth and development cannot be neglected
  • The sharing of diverse perspectives, especially around the topic of the pandemic, will narrow the informational gap between different generations

Q. How Can L&D Bridge the Generational Gap?

The discussion further delved into the role of learning and development (L&D) departments in bridging the gap between senior and junior bankers.

Emily and Ziv shared strategies to foster better alignment and understanding between different generations.

Emily highlighted the significance of education and perspective. Training programs should educate managers about the diverse perspectives and experiences that arose during the pandemic.

By engaging in conversations about individual experiences, managers can strike a balance that meets the needs of all generations in the workforce. Ziv emphasized the importance of scenario-based learning and integrating real-world experiences into training.

“By involving senior bankers to share their experiences and insights during training, learners gain relevant context and a sense of purpose. These interactions build trust and enable junior bankers to understand what they will encounter in their roles.” – Ziv

Key Takeaways
  • L&D departments should facilitate more open dialogue and discussions among new employees and managers to better understand the unique perspectives of all parties
  • Conversations among L&D professionals, senior bankers, and even junior bankers is critical to better align on internal goals and obtain a sense of clarity around the needs of the firm
  • Identifying the purpose of the training is the starting point to initiate productive conversations and build trust within the team

Q.  How to Thrive in the Changing Environment

The panelists addressed the current environment and the power balance between employers and employees.

The pandemic caused a shift in the hiring landscape, with a surge in demand for talent followed by an eventual rebalancing, so it is crucial to learn from the lessons and adapt to the expectations of the younger generation.

The changing dynamics present an opportunity for employers to understand and accommodate the needs of Gen Z individuals. This includes finding a balance between in-person and remote work, considering flexible options, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and continuous learning.

By embracing these changes and bridging the generational gap, the finance industry can create a thriving and adaptive environment for all employees.

Q.  General Advice for Junior Bankers

The panelists shared valuable advice for junior bankers embarking on their careers:

Career Guidance
Ask Thoughtful Questions and Seek Feedback
  • It is crucial to be curious and proactive in seeking clarification and guidance.
  • By asking relevant questions, you demonstrate a desire to learn and improve.
Take Ownership of Your Work
  • Approach your tasks with a sense of responsibility and accountability.
  • Take pride in your work and ensure that you deliver high-quality results.
Have Patience and Understand that Things Take Time
  • Recognize that building a successful career is a journey that requires perseverance.
  • Be patient with yourself and embrace the learning process.
Understand the WHY Behind Tasks
  • Gain a deep understanding of the purpose and context of the work you are assigned.
  • This understanding will enable you to perform tasks more effectively and contribute meaningfully to the overall goals of the organization.
Develop a Habit of Double-Checking Work for Quality
  • Attention to detail is crucial in the banking industry.
  • Cultivate the habit of reviewing your work meticulously to ensure accuracy and avoid costly errors.
Emphasize Personal Branding and Make a Positive First Impression
  • Consider how you present yourself professionally and take every opportunity to showcase your skills, work ethic, and positive attitude.
  • Make a lasting impression by demonstrating professionalism and a drive to perform.


As the world undergoes rapid change, the banking industry must adapt to the evolving needs and expectations of different generations.

Understanding generational differences, providing clear expectations, and fostering effective communication and learning are vital for the success of both junior and senior bankers. By embracing these shifts and bridging the generational gap, the financial sector can create an inclusive and thriving environment for all.

We look forward to revisiting this topic again with a new set of panelists and insights!

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