Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Banking Industry

Ok all you Wall Steet guru's out there....
How does a good software engineer get into software development for a wall street focused company?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

First of all, check out:

Basically, it is a closed club and you don't get in, no matter how good you are at the IT. Banks don't care about that, they just want someone who has done the exact same thing somewhere else (i.e. at another bank).

The only exception to this is when the economy is so strong that they have too much work on for the available pool of talent, in which case they will consider outsiders.

Steve Jones (UK)
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

This advice wasn't entirely correct.

Banks seek two types of skill: business and technology. The previous comment relates to BUSINESS skill.

An alternative route is to identify a product or technology which is emerging as common to a number of banks. One example is Tibco, but personally, I would rather chew off my right arm than work with that crap.

I suggest you contact one or two recruitment companies recommended by your friends, and discuss your objectives and their perceptions of future skills demand. Then (the ???? bit) build those skills.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

My comments above were based upon experience in the UK, you may have a different experience in Wall Street.

Perhaps the culture is different in Wall St, but I suspect it isn't that different.

I've worked for a couple of investment banks (one of which was American - Lehman Brothers, and one German Deutsche Bank) and also talked to a lot of IT people and recruiters who work in the City.

Steve Jones (UK)
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The people in my office are in a redundancy situation (in the UK) at the the moment and quite a have got new jobs at Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse and the like without experience in the industry.  It seems that as long as you can prove your numeracy and statistical skills alongside  development experience it's not a problem.  I guess that it may also help that a lot of investment banks use our software but that's probably a longer term route that you are looking for...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Steve Jones is quite correct.

The problem is that IT in the UK banking industry is very much back office. Back office is normally recruited through agencies.


You will note that most of the ads for investment banks require you to have worked in a top tier bank. The way to get in is join a bank doing grunt work, and build from within. You then also have advantage of having IB experience on your CV, and then get past recruitment agency drones.

An alternative is to build a good relationship with your recruiter, so they put you up first for a role where the previous IB experience requirement  can be vaived. You might have to take a couple of steps down the ladder, but the money is going to be better than in industry.

Yet another alternative is to buy a copy of What Colour Is Your Parachute, and then try and get in directly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Forgot to ask whether you are planning on being

1. Coder with financial products knowledge (usually back office)

2. A quant with coding knowledge (more work, more money and harder to get into, but in my NSHO, more exciting)

The latter is usually recruited by the banks directly while a lot of the former are contractors and work through agencies. Again trawl the IT section on jobserve.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


The great thing about the banking industry is twofold:

1. You can skim some cash off the top.
2. You have access to private info about EVERYBODY.

The disadvanage:

1. Everyone in theindustsry is already connected to some mafia or other organized crime syndicate and if you move in on their territory, you will get a pair of concrete boots my friend.

Stay back, stay very far back.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Banking is too broad. Where in banking? If you are working on a trading desk or writing realtime systems or algorithms then you'll do very well. If you are clearing transactions in the back office look elsewhere. 

Tom Vu
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home