Life in Technology at a Top Tier Investment Bank
Whether it’s in software development, assurance and security or infrastructure, the role of technology within investment banking has never been so prominent and influential. William, Okechukwu and James all hold graduate roles in technology at investment bank J.P. Morgan. They told us all about what it’s like to work in one of the banking industry’s most pioneering areas…
What did you study at university?
William: I have a BSc Hons in Computer Networking from the University of West Scotland.
Okechukwu: I studied BEng (Hons) Electrical & Electronic Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire.
James: I have an MSc in Theoretical Physics.
Could you give us an overview of your role at J.P. Morgan?
William: I’m a graduate analyst working within the Market Data Services (MDS) team. Primarily I deal with requests to make system configuration changes to firewalls, web servers and other systems within Market Data Services.
Okechukwu: I work within the GTI-GSO/Global Scheduling team as a technology analyst. This involves tasks such as writing scripts, namely in UNIX (which can be in Python, Shell or Perl).
James: I’m a CDP (Corporate Development Programme) Analyst/ Front Office Application Developer. It’s not a client facing role; I sit in the front office and write applications for traders, operations and finance. It’s Rapid Application Development, so I am the business analyst, sourcing my own requirements as well as coding the final product.
Since starting your job, what has surprised you most about your working day?
William: Every day is different and new challenges crop up regularly. It provides me with ample opportunity to learn something new. I was most surprised by the number of different technologies with which I interact in my role.
Okechukwu: Most budding techies tend to pay little attention to documentation. One of the major surprises to me so far has been the importance placed on documentation within the workplace. Documentation is vital for support and expansion!
James: The high profile nature of the work. You build up a reputation fast – even as an analyst you will be involved in projects with a wide reach.
What’s your favourite part of your role?
William: Technical challenges are my favourite. Working either independently or with others in my team to solve an issue is always engaging.
Okechukwu: I really enjoy designing problem solutions and writing scripts on a daily basis.
James: As a technologist you are fundamental to the success of the desk. Although I am an analyst, in meetings my opinion is directly important and valued amongst VPs, MDs and associates alike.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect so far?
William: The most challenging aspect, though also the most fulfilling part, is trying to leverage all the available people and technologies I can within the job to come up with a solution to a problem.
Okechukwu: I’d say trying to get up to speed with engineers with at least seven years’ experience.
James: Understanding the more complex financial concepts can be a challenge! But the traders are on hand and willing to explain.
What’s your working environment like?
William: The workplace is very open, teams sit together and it is easy to go and talk to people of different levels. There are many opportunities to attend presentations and activities are open for everyone, so there is plenty of networking between teams and departments.
Okechukwu: Whilst the social environment is obviously not quite the same as the one I had at university, there are several network events organised within the firm. I get in contact with other colleagues outside of my department through the football I play on Tuesdays. I don’t restrict my circle to my peers alone.
James: I sit on the trading floor amongst the traders and quantitative researchers. They are all more than happy to be stopped with a question about finance, tech or otherwise.
Is there a lot of pressure in your job?
William: There are instances where there may be pressures from deadlines, or when solving an issue is difficult, but there is a wide range of knowledge and experience to draw on from colleagues to ease this.
Okechukwu: I love pressure and that is what keeps me going. Getting up to speed and making a real difference in the team earlier than expected is my goal. I cope with the pressure by organising my tasks effectively and spending some time each day on self-development. Prioritisation and organisation are essential to dealing with pressure.
James: The job is high pressured: deadlines are often tight and the traders make big financial decisions based on the output of your applications. However the work is interesting and you are never expected to take work home with you.
Investment banking tends to have a reputation for long working hours. What kind of hours do you work?
William: My working day starts at 9am and finishes at 5pm, unless there are any configuration changes I need to do after working hours.
Okechukwu: The end of the working day for me is usually 5.30pm. I ensure all daily tasks are completed before I go home. On Tuesdays after work I play football, and on other evenings during the week I usually go to the gym.
James: At 8am each morning I’m at the gym before starting work at 9am. I like to beat the commute, and the Bank Street office in Canary Wharf has a great gym onsite. At 6pm Traders report their pnl (profit and loss) for the day. This has to be explained, so occasionally there is a need for me to be present to assist in the diagnosis. I’ll usually leave the office at 7pm. London is a fantastic city for young professionals and Canary Wharf is well connected to go somewhere straight after work.
How much scope is there for career progression?
William: There is plenty of opportunity to progress, with lots of support structures to help you find and focus in on what role you want to do.
Okechukwu: In a place like this, there is so much opportunity for career progression and mobility. The firm is not restricted to a particular location, country or continent but it is global. As long as you can adapt, the opportunity to progress is present.
James: The CDP Program lasts two and a half years and after that it’s up to you to drive your career. Having a senior mentor is encouraged; I often look to mine for great advice on networking and progression.
Fancy a career in technology? You can check out the opportunities available with J.P. Morgan and apply here!