I worked in IT at one of the larger investment banks for a bit.
At somewhere like Apple or Google, IT is everything. Or a lot. At an investment bank it is nothing - the investment bankers and sales people are the entire focus. You can argue about how important IT is there, but these are institutions with tons of money to burn, and if they make a mistake, the US taxpayer will always bail them out. That's the thing, they have a ton of money. I have seen insane things go on in terms of technical time bombs waiting to go off. But they have so much money, they can throw money at any problem and it will be fixed. IT is treated like garbage I would say. I think it's insane people would work there in IT over a long period of time. Where I worked, almost everyone who did not leave of their own accord was pushed out - they can people all the time, especially when the market dips. Then again, it is such a big industry, sometimes people find a good spot which seems like a sinecure, and it is not so bad. But some people who think they found a sinecure one day find out they were wrong. It can be a good experience to work at a place like this for a year or two, and it looks good on a resume, anyone who stays for a long time I think is crazy, and their personality always seems to me to change, they seem unhappy. Look how nervous you seem in your post, it does not seem the post of a content, happy person. You're at a company at the apex of world financial power, yet they make you feel insecure. You're one of the workers doing all the work that creates that wealth for them, but they seek to make you feel like a disposable peon. You are a disposable peon.
Anyhow, your age works against you. People are smart enough to not say any age discrimination stuff, but I've been forced to pass over extremely qualified candidates more or less because (unsaid) they were old, had a family they would have to spend time with, might stick up for themselves etc.
If you want to stay in finance, connections are everything. When the cuts come, and they always do, the managers will get together and decide who stays and who goes. Are any of the decision makers going to fight for you? Aside from this, keeping in touch with people when they move to other companies is important, especially when you're looking for work. The stupidest thing you can do is stick your head down and do a good job for sixty hours a week. No one gives a shit - at all. If you think the vultures running your company care, if you think your manager's manager cares, you are a complete fool. Politicking is everything in places like that. As far as consulting, usually these places want to deal with consulting companies, so you have to get to know the project managers and such at consulting companies. This is not hard to do - the project managers want to have a good relationship with hired staff at the company, they want their consultants supported and to get more business, they know you can always be the one who is bumped to team lead or manager.
Also, if you're not chasing the brass ring where you are there is NO reason for you to be there. Your goal should be to be either a managing director in IT (which there are very few of, because the bank considers IT a backroom joke) or in the elite architecture/engineering team. Why would someone kill themselves at these places otherwise, other than to get the experience and resume blurb for a year or two?
As far as getting a job, it is like this: there is a bell curve. Most people are in the middle. You are probably in the middle. Most interviews are looking for people on the right end of the curve. When you go on a technical interview, do you miss questions? I've interviewed dozens, maybe hundreds of people. People on the right side of the bell curve can answer mostly everything I throw at them - 99 out of 100 questions. A few people are on the left side and know very little. Most people are in the middle, you can tell they kind of know it, and could probably do the job, but you're not sure, and you just interviewed 10 people just like them. So being on the right side of that bell curve helps. Especially with hot skills. Stuff like mobile is hot right now, believe me, someone who is on the right side of the iOS knowledge bell curve, or even Android knowledge bell curve is NOT unemployed right now. On the contrary, companies are knocking down their door trying to hire them despite the economy or whatever. But does someone like you with a financial job which takes a lot of time, a family and so forth have the time to not only learn that stuff a little, but master it like some kid who was doing it through his college CS classes, and is now three years out of college writing iOS apps? Probably not. But people who really know their shit in other domains are being looked for as well - server side Java people etc.
Then there's side projects and income. Do you have your own web site or mobile app or whatever that brings in revenue? Do you do consulting on the side? Most of the smart people I know do. You might say you don't have the time. Well then - you're fucked. You have to sit in your current job and worry about whether you'll be canned or not as the economy gets worse. You'll then be a 40 year old with a family, in an economic recession which may hit finance hard, in an economic system where IT people are not wanted much past 40. Yes there's exceptions, but people on the right side of the needed skill curve are always an exception.