Financial services IT: graduate area of work
Whether we’re using social networks to connect with employers or managing our money online, technology is changing the way we live our lives, making day-to-day tasks faster, easier and more reliable.
The markets have embraced the digital revolution in a big way and technology now plays a critical part in supporting the global financial system.
What happens in financial services technology?
Forget the old cliché of trading pits and people yelling at each other; nowadays almost everything takes place electronically, over screens. Transactions are delivered at breakneck speed, with billions of dollars changing hands every second.
The role of financial infrastructure providers like ours is to support the world’s financial markets and the companies that use them. Technology underpins everything we do, from tracking and reporting market activity, to allowing firms to trade and grow their businesses.
It’s an exciting place to be and the environment is very different to that of a traditional technology firm. The pace is much faster and the demands that are placed on graduates that much more intense. You’re having to deliver products and services that are extremely time-sensitive, to deadlines determined by the patterns of the financial markets.
We work with emerging technologies – network engineering, database technologies and blockchain and cloud-based software – that are as cutting-edge as anything you’ll find in Silicon Valley. The difference is that the work you’re doing is critical to the global economy. The financial markets simply couldn’t function without organisations like ours doing what we do.
Who can apply to work in IT within financial services?
Crucially, you don’t have to be a computer science graduate to work in the financial services IT sector. I studied economics at university and the industry definitely attracts people from all walks of life.
Of course many roles are extremely technical and involve engineering and testing new applications and software. However, there are also a number of ‘generalist’ positions where there may be a greater focus on managing projects or developing client relationships.
Mobility and career progression
Mobility is another important factor. FinTech companies are typically a lot smaller than the major West Coast technology firms. There are usually opportunities to switch between different roles and to progress quickly up the ladder. A lot of our graduates are running small teams or managing key client accounts within a few years of joining.
If you’re looking for a challenging technology career, this is a great place to be. The financial services industry is constantly evolving – as technology providers the demands come thick and fast.
Whether it’s because of market volatility, economic shocks or new financial regulation, we constantly have to adapt to new situations and environments. It’s an industry that doesn’t stand still, and you won’t either.
Martin Ryan is group head of shared services at the London Stock Exchange Group. He has a degree in economics from the University of Manchester and has worked in this sector for 26 years.