Investment banking technology: graduate area of work
Investment banking technology is one of the most fast-paced graduate career options in IT. Technology is central to a bank's success and these commercial giants have to continually develop their technology to compete and survive.
The expectation of fast turnaround and delivery can mean that the work is challenging and pressured, but it is also very satisfying.
Investment banks work across global financial markets and conduct millions of transactions every day. Technology is fundamental to every area of business from trading, sales and risk management to operations, control and regulatory aspects. IT can be the most important tool each business area has – it’s used to gain efficiency and a competitive advantage. For example, in high-performance, low-latency automated trading banks race to develop their systems as those with the best technology make the most money.
The IT division within an investment bank typically splits into two areas:
- application and software development: teams are organised to work alongside specific areas of the business developing applications and providing support
- infrastructure: this is often a centralised function that owns the networks and hardware used by all. Teams are organised by different technology lines or platforms.
Graduates wanting to work in investment banking technology need to know...
In the current economic climate, technology plays an even more important part in delivering benefits to the business and the demands on IT remain constant. Investment banking is dynamic; change is rapid and everyone contributes. The expectation of fast turnaround and delivery can mean that the work is challenging and pressured, but it is also very satisfying. Technologists solve intellectually stimulating problems that require a good understanding of how products are traded or how a particular area of business works, as well as how technologies evolve. In most roles technologists work closely with the end user and see clearly the positive impact they make on another colleague’s work environment.
Skills for graduate jobs in investment banking technology
It’s not always necessary to have a computer science degree to work in investment banking technology, although having a technical degree demonstrates a level of analytical ability. The pace of progress means that a positive attitude, adaptability and the capacity to learn new skills can be more important. Teamwork and communication skills are essential: success relies on working well with colleagues and working confidently with clients in the business.
How technology graduates get into this area of business
Following induction, graduates are usually placed within a team where they contribute straightaway and build on their skills; it is common for graduates to have a mentor or buddy for support. Investment banks tend to operate as meritocracies, so how you progress is largely down to your own abilities. Within five years you could be the owner of an application or be running a team within the infrastructure area. Most people become multiskilled, which gives them versatility and scope to progress in a range of directions.
Choose this IT career area if…
- You want to see the immediate effect of your work as delivery is very transparent.
- You want to work with high-calibre colleagues: this industry attracts high quality people.
- You want to apply technology in a progressive yet pragmatic business environment.
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