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Software engineer in finance: A millionaire in 4 years?

office software person leaning in helping someone code

So you’re a software engineer and you’re looking for a job? One of the main questions is “Where should I go: tech or finance?” The question is tough as it contains a lot of pros and cons we’re going to explore in this article.

First of all, your career heavily depends on your experience. If it happens that you are a recent graduate, perhaps you shouldn’t consider the finance industry as an entry point. Sure enough, the kind of financial institution – bank, trading firm, etc.-  you’re thinking to join matters a lot, but little chances are that you as a junior specialist will be regarded as a valuable asset for the business.

What’s next? The companies in the financial field are mostly attached to the variety of hardware aspects in software engineering. Secondly, the great emphasis is put on the usability of software and its possibilities to integration and communicability. The training programs for employees are relentless. You will learn a lot, and that works great for your portfolio. It’s definitely not a dream job if you’re at odds with problem-solving.

Let’s discuss the working schedule. Everything depends on your role for the company. “In the vast majority of tech companies, finance software developers aren’t required to be at the office at any strict time – it’s the unwritten rule for the industry” – says Paul Tyler, senior developer at the financial software development department at Elinext. All that matters is that you are expected to do your job and do it right on time. The financial sector has its own rules. Let’s pretend you work at a trading firm. Then you have to be at your desk during market hours. For instance, the equities hours in the USA are 9:30 – 4:00 EST. Developers or quants don’t have to be present during market hours, but your bosses may highly recommend doing so.

If you are attached to dev culture, you may find it a bit undeveloped there. After all, you work for finance people, and the overall feel is much more “corporate.”

Good things are sometimes (I repeat “sometimes”) that there’s less pressure when you are a bank employee. The corporate culture is reluctant to risks, so working processes are more stable. However, in the worst-case scenario, it’s just the opposite: as there is a big bonus pie that gets distributed, your job may be very tense.

But on the bright side, the benefits of working in bank institutions – meaning your salary – are higher than in any other industry. Yearly bonuses are bigger too. A 100.000 dollars salary is regarded as “below average” in Silicon Valley but I’d say it pretty “average” or “above average” for an entry-level job in banking or trading spheres.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a job is the possibility of remote working. In most of the tech companies, working from home is a common thing. Again, things are a bit different in the financial sphere. Sure enough, I won’t say it’s impossible. I personally know people who do so, but it’s not widely accepted and tolerated. The finance culture is all about “face time” and financial institutions want to have complete control over their employees’ working schedule and whereabouts.

All in all, it’s up to you to decide as you can see that each industry has its pros and cons. People are different, and the only way to find out is to try. Good luck with your choice!

Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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