Technology really is at the forefront of investment banking. You’ll find developers right in the thick of it on the trading floor alongside traders and sales representatives, and an army of technology specialists keeping the financial world a-turning, supporting the bank’s systems and networks as part of operations.
Developers and engineers are often assigned to different divisions and teams in the bank. You’ll find them up in the driving seat with the front office characters; the global nature of investment banking transactions means that technology has to keep up with rapid changes and developments in the markets and the needs of the bankers and traders working in those markets in order that they can make as much dollar as possible.
Developers work closely with the teams they are assigned to and often develop specialisms in one or more application. Various investment banking- specific technologies facilitate transactions, pricing (of different assets to buy or sell), risk management and strategy development for example, so this type of technology is certainly a brave new world to conquer!
Technology away from the front line…
Alternatively, there are technology roles available in the back office in operations. These jobs revolve around keeping the bank’s operations pumping; the myriad hardware, communication systems and networks. Infrastructure architects, for example, will tackle challenges in changes in the bank which may require infrastructure development. These guys ensure the investment banking beast never sleeps or falls foul of gremlins in the system.
Cyber security is also big business within the technology division of an investment bank. With multimillion pound deals doing the rounds on a daily basis, there is a heck of a lot of confidential information and money at risk from hackers! Cyber security analysts and cyber security managers keep on top of the latest threats the bank could be exposed to, deal with the aftermath of any attempted or successful hack jobs, and defend the bank from attack using their technical skills and knowledge of hacker habits.
There’s plenty of scope for career progression here, whatever specialist area you take on! You could progress quickly up to a managing role to lead a team, or be in charge of a particular application.
What’s life like in technology in banking & finance?
Technology roles in investment banking are jammed packed with high responsibility; it can often be a high pressure environment with long working hours. The turnaround time for projects is extremely speedy. The salaries reflect this: technology roles with investment banks are at the top end for IT graduate salaries (High Fliers reported an average starting salary of £45,000 for graduates with investment banks in 2014). These figures can shoot up considerably within a few short, but exceptionally intense years!
How do I get into technology in this area?
Think you need a computer science degree to get started in technology in investment banking? Oh, contraire! Recruiters aren’t always looking for ready-made programming whizzes to take on graduate roles in this area. Cyber security roles can call for a broader range of disciplines such as law or psychology for instance.
A technical degree, however, will still be a distinct advantage for developer and infrastructure roles, such as mathematics, engineering, physics, computer sciences or aerospace. It proves you’ve got the analytical brains necessary to work in this fast paced field – and that’s what’s important.
What’s more, investment banks are looking for the best of the best to fill up their graduate positions You’ll need at least a 2:1 to meet their high entry level criteria, and quite often some work experience within the field too in order to be considered.
A high percentage of graduate slots in investment banking are filled up with applicants who already have an impressive dose of relevant work experience to their names, clocked up during university. At least some understanding of banking is key! Some investment banks will only hire those who have previously completed an internship or spring/summer scheme with them, so it’s time to pull your socks up and apply for work experience opportunities if you have your eye on this career area.