Software development touches all areas of the bank (front office, middle office and back office) and is an integral part of technology operations and strategy across almost any type of modern business.
As a software developer, knowledge of various coding languages and the ability to use them are, naturally, essential. Over time, developers may formulate specialist areas.
The ins and outs of software development in finance
It’s likely that as an in-house developer for an organisation such as an investment bank you would work with techniques such as Rapid Application Development (RAD) on a multitude of specialist banking software. The demands of the financial markets mean that bankers and traders need technology solutions and products very quickly in order to keep up, so techniques such as this allow for very quick turn-around and delivery of products. It’s certainly a high-pressure environment full of terminology and complex demands.
As technology tends to be a back office department, you might expect developers to work behind the scenes in a bank. But it’s actually very common for developers to work on the trading floor alongside traders. Developers will work closely with teams in the front office and the bank’s financial analysts to develop effective software for things like quantitative research too. They need to be in regular contact with them to ensure tools meet market developments.
Commercial awareness necessary!
It’s not just a matter of churning out software to specification either; an in-depth understanding of how banking works and the market that the product is being developed for is essential. Developers need to have an excellent grasp of financial mathematics to ensure that the tools they develop produce the right calculations for things such as pricing – or else there could be huge complications!
Apart from banks, technology consultancies are also big employers of developers. Roles with a consultancy can allow developers to work across a number of different industries. They will usually spend differing periods of time on site with their clients.
How do I get onto this career path?
Graduate programmes with banks are a prime route into this competitive area. Investment bank opportunities in particular are highly competitive; only the very best candidates usually succeed. Computer science is the most obvious degree to expect recruiters to look at for, but graduates in engineering, financial mathematics and other science-related degrees could also flourish in this industry. The salaries vary a lot depending on experience (they tend to be higher in the City), from £30,000 to £80,000 or more.