Why Top Tech Talent May Be Coming To Finance


In the land of unicorns formally known as Silicon Valley, opportunities are endless, energy is infectious and dreamers have the tendency to become leaders. When you think about the world of finance, the perceived outlook is far bleaker — yet tech titans seem to be crossing lines at alarming rates.

According to SmartAsset findings based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, “financial analyst” is the third-most-popular occupation for millennials and current projections reveal this finance-friendly mentality will only continue to grow within the next few years. I believe tech is reaching a tipping point when it comes to the war on talent, and the pool could be getting that much smaller as the Silicon Valley mirage lifts. Here’s why.

There hasn’t been a software update to fix tech’s bugs. 

As the executive director and head of a financial services recruiting firm, I’ve observed that the glass ceiling that has been discussed in the finance industry has seen a major shakeup over the years, especially from the C-Suite. While my company’s recent research (as reported by the Washington Post) suggests diversity issues in finance still exist, I’ve still seen that efforts to improve the workplace environment remain a top priority for leaders and executives hoping to create more inclusive workplace environments. The prioritization of diversity and inclusion was also supported by EY’s 2018 Growth Barometer results, which showed that 40% of executives view diversity as their biggest concern this year. But recently, 2018 has been the year where tech has faced somewhat of a reckoning when it comes to alleged unscrupulous practices and complicit behaviors.

From reported data breaches and privacy concerns (paywall) to sexual harassment claims, the alleged negatives of the tech industry are just starting to be uncovered and I believe millennials are watching. This doesn’t even begin to unearth the complexities associated with social media and smartphones. Those extend from talk of schools banning phones to major companies like Facebook and Google outlining tactics to monitor content more carefully, as explained in one 2016 New York Times article (paywall). Glamorous startups may be becoming less attractive to millennials due to what I perceive as their more complex and risky nature, as highlighted in the examples above.

Why swipe right when it comes to finance? 

In my experience, the culture of finance has been considerably adapted to reflect the changing landscape when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Reports say banking leaders such as JPMorgan Chase have created environments that resemble the casual attitudes of the tech industry within finance. The same attitude was shared by Goldman Sachs last year, according to Reuters, when the banking institution chose to adapt their dress code specifically for their technology division. Relaxed dress codes, flexible work hours and better compensation rates may be helping to attract candidates seeking the culture of tech with the added job security that can come with working in finance.

Technology is transforming the world we live in, and finance isn’t immune to this. Consumer banking efforts are changing to focus on the millenial generation;  for example, there are now Capital One cafes as covered by Business Insider. Deloitte reported that wealth management is increasingly being conducted by robo-advisors. I’ve observed that the majority of trading is now “automated” and that major financial institutions have their own fintech incubator hubs. There is a real opportunity to be at the forefront of disrupting one of the biggest industries in the world. I believe this resurgence in the industry not only helps attract new candidates but also stresses how traditional finance positions are becoming more tech-centric.

Finance is seeing brighter days. 

From a regulatory perspective, post-crisis rules such as Dodd-Frank and the latest sentiments surrounding banking and finance have likely influenced the public’s opinion in a more positive direction. While I believe the industry will always have to grapple with the events of 2008, the crisis period has ended and restrictions like those addressed in the recent Congressional bill have started to loosen as a response. Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggests that the economy is stable, and in my experience, market analysts are feeling positive as we move into the final stretch of 2018.

The industry is exhibiting confidence and starting to open up in terms of transforming their own proprietary technology to make finance user-friendly. For example, MarketWatch reported that Citibank is using a beta-testing community to peak consumers’ interest with technology and banking experiences. The website allows users to create custom content that is tailored to the user’s lifestyle whether the account is business or personal. The company is reportedly aiming to improve users’ financial wellness by investing in the human experience and leveraging technology to its advantage. The Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) that Goldman Sachs initiated similar methodology two years ago by allowing competitors to sell investment products through an interface owned by the company. These are perfect examples of ways to use technology to pique candidates’ interest in finance.

It’s a rewarding journey. 

I believe the emerging sectors of finance, which are considerably more tech-based, will continue to become more appealing to highly skilled technologists. Candidates could find the prospect of a Silicon Valley startup intertwined with the meritocratic culture of finance to be a rewarding experience. When it comes to the war for talent, the financial services sector will continue to see the demand for candidates with a tech background increase, but the candidates’ decision-making process could become that much more complicated with the many options on the table.



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