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Ask Slashdot: Jobs For Geeks In the Business/Financial World?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the do-your-best-gordon-gecko-impression dept.

Businesses 181

First time accepted submitter menphix writes "Hi there! I'm a software engineer in the bay area. I will be moving to Hong Kong where my wife works shortly. I understand that there will be a lot less opportunities to work for software companies there than in the bay area, but they do have a lot of business/financial companies in HK: investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, you name it! So I'm thinking maybe it'll be easier if I transition to work for those companies. Since I got my B.S. and M.S. both in computer science, I have no idea what those 'Wall Street jobs' are like, so I'm just wondering what you guys know about jobs in the business/financial world for geeks? Has anybody made the jump before?"

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easy: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436149)

Just google "sleazy plutocrats"

-1 :: too political

Re:easy: (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436637)

Not -1 too political. -1 stereotypical over generalization due to public opinion.
In every sector you have the good guys, a slew of neural folks, and the bad guys.

In terms of media coverage, the good guys may make a 10 minute clip on the news once. The neutral people never really make the news, and the bad guys get a lot of coverage that makes them infamous.

We don't hear about the finance people who help find small businesses and give them capital to grow. We hear about the bad guys who trick people in bad investments because the can get away with it.

Re:easy: (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436757)

My wife has worked in the world of banking for 20+ years. All bankers are pretty darn evil. bigger the bank, the bigger the evil. She swore that they had satanic pentagrams on the floors of the executive floor, and wore only red robes up there at the 5/3 bank headquarters.

Re:easy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436931)

You guys are in Cincy I take it?

I have made the jump... (5, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436163)

Hi

I have made the jump to the financial world. The short of it, there are plenty of people of IT people in the business so it is hard to get in now. But if you have talent and have something you can probably make it. Though if you have zero business knowledge of the financial world that is not good. You do need business knowledge. Ask me anything in specific if you wish...

Job (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436269)

If someone is still _looking_ for a job at this age, he or she is obviously obsolete

This world we live in we no longer "look" for a job

Instead, we "invent" a job

The author of TFA wants to move to HK, and he think he can "look" for a job in the financial sector in HK

How many millions of people are there in HK?

If it is so easy for a foreigner to "look for" a job in HK's financial sector, and land one, all the HongKong-nese would have done that a long-long-time ago

Re:Job (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436325)

Create a problem and offer the solution. Depending on your skills ... Would you be able to cause a stock market crash?... Profit....

Re:Job (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436591)

You clearly have no idea what you're talking about. As someone who is in this field, I "look for" and "find" jobs all the time. Our bank has plenty of staff working in Hong Kong. Depending on the OP's skill set, it could be easy or difficult to find work, but it is nowhere near impossible.

If you want to pontificate on the obsolescence of those who "look for" jobs instead of "inventing" them, perhaps you should write a self-help book. Not many of those around.

For those of us who prefer "doing" instead of listening to idiots who pretend to know how to do things better, there is nothing wrong with the old-fashioned way: freshening a CV to emphasize the skills one has, and beating the street. Use agents to get that job. You'll do fine.

Re:I have made the jump... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436339)

I'm a recent BA grad, was considering a technical M.S. but I realized you don't do that if you want to be wealthy.
Should I just go Harvard M.B.A. or Stanford M.B.A (to be closer to the tech startup) if I want to go finance I.T. and become wealthy?

Caveats
1.) "Rich" is less then "wealthy", which is what you get for your ~50-80k programming lacky jobs you get with that degree, before moving to middle management or a architect position
2.) While you can get wealthy with a technical M.S. but you typically invent that job by starting your own company

tax time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436597)

According to the Australisn Gillard Government, a single person who earns over 85k or a couple who earn over 160k are 'wealthy'

  http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/content.aspx?doc=/content/00233246.htm&pc=001/002/005/016/002&mnu=42738&mfp=001/002&st=&cy= [ato.gov.au]

So, know your tax laws, undrstand your financial status and dont get screwed

Re:I have made the jump... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436357)

there are plenty of people [sic] of IT people in the business

I fail to see your point. OP has two computer science degrees.

Re:I have made the jump... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436745)

I've been slurping your bare bootyhole for years. Years! Yet, you have the gall to believe that one such as you is superior to me at that which you claim is irrelevant to the matter at hand!? How comical! How comical!

Re:I have made the jump... (0)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436959)

Yet, you have the gall...

Just for the record, and excluding the Statue of Liberty, I am, in fact, gallophobic.

Re:I have made the jump... (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40437035)

Sorry, I thought he's a software ENGINEER.

Re:I have made the jump... (4, Insightful)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40437253)

Sorry, I thought he's a software ENGINEER.

In the sense that an engineer is actually someone that designs, builds or maintains engines, machines, or public works, i.e. works with physical things, software engineering is, I believe, a dubious term invented to inflate the already important job of and boost the esteem of programmers, the way the term desktop engineer boosts the importance of the job of and the esteem of IT support technicians, or the way the term sales engineer boosts importance of the job done by and the esteem of salesmen or salespersons. While computer science certainly includes the discipline of programming, a programmer isn't necessarily ever doing any computer science, and I have never understood exactly what they allegedly are engineering (magnetic fluctuations on spinning disks? electron gauntlets?). Should we also refer to our barbers as hair engineers? Are journalists really news engineers? What I think happened is at some point in the mid-1990's computer science enrollment was down, and engineering was as popular as ever, and the computer science departments used a bit of clever marketing to increase enrollment for their programming tracts.

Re:I have made the jump... (2)

spxZA (996757) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436675)

2 years ago I moved from digital broadcast media (web dev before that) to a financial data services company. It was a hell of a change, and there was a massive amount that I had to learn in the new domain. I now have gained that knowledge (not that I know everything about equities, warrants, ETFs, derivatives, and all the things these brokers make up every day to make them more money). But, I'm still a code monkey, still applying the same programming techniques and theory that I've learnt over the years. It's interesting work, even though I do create glorified data processors.

That being said, the world of finance is driven by computers. They need us to bang out code for them. But, it is also high stress. Every minute of downtime translates directly to potential lost revenue. And that potential according to the brokers and traders means actual. It's ok if they lose a few hundred million in a few hours, because of bad luck, but woe betides you if your systems are down.

Re:I have made the jump... (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436685)

Add a me too to that. I jumped from a fairly scattered range of jobs to finacial services in Asia. There is a tremendous amount of work for developers in Hong Kong and other parts of China. The learning curve is steep but if I can do it at 40 pretty much anyone could. Almost doesn't need saying but most things are done with Java or Natural, knowing either of these will land you a job. As a foreigner experience tends to matter a lot more than a degree. Seems like a handshake and your word go a long way still.

Re:I have made the jump... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436707)

As someone who has just finished a long job search (I ended up finding the perfect job, and I was very picky about it), I have a lot of experience with interviewing (unsucessfully) for IT positions at financial companies. My suggestion is two-fold: 1) Take and Pass the Series 7 exam (certification for securities dealing). 2) Learn to talk like a business jerk. For some reason, even the IT folks at financial companies are puffed-up, macho meat-heads.

We don't want to work there. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436165)

From an IT-persons view the business world is immoral and bad behavior paired with incompetence and arrogance. No, that's not our world.

Re:We don't want to work there. (4, Insightful)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436411)

From an IT-persons....

Why is it that IT specialists think that they are computer scientists?

Information Technology (IT) [wikipedia.org] is the branch of engineering that deals with the use of computers to store, retrieve and transmit information.

Computer Science [wikipedia.org] is the scientific and mathematical approach to computation, and specifically to the design of computing machines and processes. A computer scientist is a scientist who specialises in the theory of computation and the design of computers.

These are entirely different disciplines.

Re:We don't want to work there. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436485)

From a typical slashdot poster's view the business world is immoral and bad behavior paired with incompetence and arrogance. No, that's not our world.

I think you'll find he meant this.

Why is it that IT specialists think that they are computer scientists?

Why is it that so many people who have studied computer science think they're computer scientists even though they've ended up just being regular IT people like most people do who study computer science, but they don't like to be called that because they chose a marginally more complicated field of study so they get upset when people see the distinction as blurred?

Re:We don't want to work there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436543)

If you choose to be, you too can be accurate.

Re:We don't want to work there. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40437139)

Because IT is the plumbing, Software Engineering is the design/implementation of software and CS is the academic equivalent.

I'm not 'an IT Person', I write software, and am a software engineer.

Re:We don't want to work there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437231)

Software engineering is as close to real engineering as environmental engineering is.

Re:We don't want to work there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437257)

You aren't an engineer, engineers are held legally responsible when the things they build fall down. I'm an IT person. I've also written software. You sound like you are a coder who doesn't know anything outside that and probably (like most of the ones I've ever had to deal with) blames 1) the network and 2) the servers every time your program screws up. Because it couldn't possibly be a problem with the code.

You'd think that the number of times I'd have to sit programmers down and explain in minute detail why the issue could no possibly be anything but the code that they'd learn something about servers and networking, but so far that hasn't happened.

Re:We don't want to work there. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436753)

If that's the case, than GGP probably won't find any job at a finance institute.
They usually just buy their computer hardware from IBM or HP and they don't design their own CPU's.
Most use economists (and some quants use mathematicians) to design their algorithms.
That leaves little room for somebody mathching the description you gave.

Re:We don't want to work there. (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436943)

If that's the case, than GGP probably won't find any job at a finance institute. They usually just buy their computer hardware from IBM or HP and they don't design their own CPU's.

Ok, a computing machine isn't necessarily a computer in the vernacular sense of what IBM or HP sells, and computer scientists don't design CPU's, per se; that would be computer engineers... different animal. A computing machine, as givin in the wiki definition, could be a complex modeling application.

Most use economists (and some quants use mathematicians) to design their algorithms. That leaves little room for somebody mathching the description you gave.

I apologize if I mislead you. To be more clear, a computer scientist is, simply put, a specialized mathematician, one who perhaps constructs algorithms to model complex systems, perhaps like those that might be useful in financial analysis or predictive finacial models, but who certainly has comprehensive knowledge of statistics and the discrete mathematics of permutations and combinations.

Recruiting company (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436183)

Many banks work through recruiting companies to hire IT folks out here.

I have personally worked with Robert Walters to find IT work in a bank before and highly recommend them.

You can apply directly, but in many cases positions aren't even advertised openly, only through recruiters...

Re:Recruiting company (0)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436451)

Many banks work through recruiting companies to hire IT folks out here.

I have personally worked with Robert Walters to find IT work...

If you read the OP summary carefully, you'll see he has not one, but two computer science degrees, and he is interested in transitioning into finance. Where, exactly, did you get the impression he'd be interested in desktop support, or server or database administration? I honestly fail to see how computer practitioners can be deluded into thinking that what they do is somehow science or mathematics.

Re:Recruiting company (0)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436605)

I saw your irrelevant and pedantic reply on others as well. Are you an insecure CS major? computer science is IT work. Or are you saying " the scientific and mathematical approach to computation, and specifically to the design of computing machines and processes" is unrelated to information or technology?

Re:Recruiting company (5, Informative)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436673)

I saw your irrelevant and pedantic reply on others as well. Are you an insecure CS major? computer science is IT work. Or are you saying " the scientific and mathematical approach to computation, and specifically to the design of computing machines and processes" is unrelated to information or technology?

You are mistaken. The posts I replied to are irrelevant because they were attempting to answer a question that was not asked. OP is not seeking an IT position. The distinction between IT and computer science is not pedantic, but considerable, and there is merit in understanding the difference. Yes, I am saying, as a systems administrator with 25 years of experience in IT, that what I do, and what my peers do, isn't science or mathematics, like, say, working in finance is. When I work for a bank or an investment firm, I don't say I work in finance... I'm still working in IT. OP's credentials vastly overqualify him for any position in IT, yet historically have shown to be applicable in modeling how investors allocate their assets over time under conditions of certainty and uncertainty, generally known as finance.

Re:Recruiting company (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436805)

I applied for a job once where I had moved and was taking a shotgun approach, including jobs I may not have liked or that I wasn't qualified for, little did I know I found both in the same crappy position. In 2001, with 10 years IT, I applied for an entry-level help desk position for a bank. I got a call from HR asking me to justify my experience as computer science equivalent. Apparently, the job required a minimum of a CS degree *and* 5 years experience. I had the opportunity to argue that 5 of my years in IT were CS equivalent so that I'd be eligible to progress my application to the hiring manager for consideration. I laughed and instructed HR lady to discard my application.

What I do in IT now, with my BS in psychology and an MBA is computer science. And yes, it's also IT. CS is a subset of IT.

OP's credentials vastly overqualify him for any position in IT,

Yeah, except for almost all of them. I'd trust a fresh MS CS to build a database language before I'd trust them to administer my database. They may know how it works and why, but they don't know best practices, regulatory requirements, and business processes. That takes experience, and is more valuable than just knowing how the dB works.

Re:Recruiting company (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436897)

I applied for a job once where I had moved and was taking a shotgun approach, including jobs I may not have liked or that I wasn't qualified for, little did I know I found both in the same crappy position. In 2001, with 10 years IT, I applied for an entry-level help desk position for a bank. I got a call from HR asking me to justify my experience as computer science equivalent. Apparently, the job required a minimum of a CS degree *and* 5 years experience. I had the opportunity to argue that 5 of my years in IT were CS equivalent so that I'd be eligible to progress my application to the hiring manager for consideration. I laughed and instructed HR lady to discard my application.

I feel your pain! HR everywhere is diminishing the value of CS grads by requiring CS degrees for positions that have nothing to do with CS, and inexplicably scrutinizing technicians without such degrees. This is the fault of ignorance of what computer science is, and the fallicious assumption that a CS degree is required to be qualified to work in IT.

What I do in IT now, with my BS in psychology and an MBA is computer science. And yes, it's also IT.

Congratulations on merging two unrelated disciplines into a viable career.

CS is a subset of IT.

No! Computer Science is a subset of Mathematics. It is computer math.

OP's credentials vastly overqualify him for any position in IT,

Yeah, except for almost all of them. I'd trust a fresh MS CS to build a database language before I'd trust them to administer my database. They may know how it works and why, but they don't know best practices, regulatory requirements, and business processes. That takes experience, and is more valuable than just knowing how the dB works.

Then you, too, see that the disciplines are distinct. IT experience and IT training on specific systems is far more valuable to an IT career than an academic degree such as computer science, and computer science ought to be far more valuable to the science of financial systems than, say, a stack of Cisco certifications.

Re:Recruiting company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437057)

OP's credentials vastly overqualify him for any position in IT

At first I found the number of replies annoying, but after reading this I had to chuckle. You're an idiot.

I can show you plenty of MSCS wielding CS folks who cannot properly tune a UNIX box, have issues with low level networking, etc. As you were so fond of pointing out (and then very nearly contradicted yourself): CS is not IT. Having a CS degree means jack shit in IT. Are CS folks trainable for such things? Yes. If they're not trained, however, they're useless.

In addition, in certain areas, such as playing with WAN construction and configuration, I've found EEs and CEs to be far superior since they actually understand the hardware, communications theory, and proper engineering principles.

And, if you really want to go there, CS is often code for "weakass mathematics". I've worked at and with multiple universities, and CS departments often are populated with math and EE dropouts. Sorry son, linear, discrete, introductory calc based stats, and *maybe* up to diffeqs just isn't impressive.

Re:Recruiting company (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40437095)

While your ad hominem is mildly amusing for its transparent attempt to compensate for your own perceived deficiencies, what is far more satisfying is that ultimately you agree with me: computer science is mathematics, and not IT.

One question though... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436189)

How shortly does your wife work? I've been lead to believe that the people over there have a shortage of height.

"a lot less opportunities" indeed (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436197)

You could just stay at home, fake an illness and collect welfare.

In that way you'd still be a dishonest leech but at least you'd only be taking a small amount from those who are either productive or in need.

No way (2, Funny)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436201)

Since I got my B.S. and M.S. both in computer science, I have no idea what those 'Wall Street jobs' are like,

And you never will. What makes you think you can get hired in the financial industry with zero knowledge or experience? Just the desire to get rich isn't good enough .

Also, in Hong Kong, foreigners don't get a work visa without the employer making a case you have unique skills that a local doesn't. You seem to have none. Your wife can sponsor you for residency, not employment.

Since you're coming to Hong Kong, hang around in the bars in Lan Kwai Fong and try to ingratiate yourself with some suits, maybe you'll get lucky and get someone to give you a junior position. Or you could just deal drugs to them.

Re:No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436381)

Since I got my B.S. and M.S. both in computer science, I have no idea what those 'Wall Street jobs' are like,

And you never will. What makes you think you can get hired in the financial industry with zero knowledge or experience?

I did. Sometimes being better than the competition in other areas and being able to admit your lack of knowledge but showing a drive to learn is worth more than having the experience.

Just the desire to get rich isn't good enough .

That's pretty much what made me decide to make the jump to the financial industry. It's working out well for me so far.

Re:No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437217)

And you never will. What makes you think you can get hired in the financial industry with zero knowledge or experience? Just the desire to get rich isn't good enough.

Perhaps the ability to fluently read and speak English is useful?

i wasn't completely awake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436211)

and read "Jobs For Greeks In the Business/Financial World?"

More like as slashBI! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436213)

But, yeah -- the devil buys all kinds of souls. Should be no problem.

Hong Kong (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436217)

I live in HK, and unfortunately the bottom line is that you're going to find this difficult. Finance companies/banks are your best bet for a job by far, especially if you don't speak Chinese, but they are firing at the moment (much of it under the radar) not hiring. A few friends here want to make a similar transition and have not so far achieved success. This is even for techie areas like high frequency trading.

If you have time on your hands while you're here, consider taking a finance course and do check out our HK hackerspace, Dim Sum Labs (www.dimsumlabs.com). You will meet people in the same situation.

Best of luck.

Re:Hong Kong (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436489)

I used to work in the Bay Area, now I live in Hong Kong. I am self-employed because the job offerings here are not up to par with what I am used to. My friend is an engineering manager at huge bank, so I know a bit.

All the banks here are cutting staff, benefits and pay. If you are lucky to find a job in software field, it will be at a fraction of what you get in the Bay Area. You will be expected to work overtime every day, 6 days a week.

If you really want to come here, best to be a house man. Your wife a bread winner, you do the house work. After all, its the 21 century and it's fair!

Re:Hong Kong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437109)

Second this.
Or, instead of wasting your time on a financial course, since you will probably be living of an expat salary, you can spend your 'vacation' on developing a product like I did.

self respect (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436223)

get a job with more dignity and less shame, rent-boy for example.

Re:self respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436657)

Or a prostitute, I hear they come from "the bay area" too.

Job seeking ad on slashdot, well done (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436237)

You should be looking at a job in the PR industry, seeing you have the knack for it. Getting your job seeking ad published on slashdot is not bad.

Well Played, Sir.

Start reading "The Economist" weekly (5, Informative)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436243)

That's what the business/financial folks read. It will give you a feel for the terrain that you will be trekking through. It's good to be able to converse in the language of the natives. Just like IT has its specific issue areas, business/financial has them as well.

And it's fun to read and informative, as well.

Re:Start reading "The Economist" weekly (4, Funny)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436343)

It's also one of the only newspapers that I know that doesn't write kW/h in every single article about energy.

Re:Start reading "The Economist" weekly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436429)

What do they use instead, imperial horsepowers?

Re:Start reading "The Economist" weekly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436585)

What do they use instead, imperial horsepowers?

The unit is kWh not kW/h !! In other words a 1000 watt heater operated for an hour will use 1kWh or energy !

Re:Start reading "The Economist" weekly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437171)

Not if you're talking about energy consumption acceleration: if you raise the temperature level of said heater to the maximum over one hour, you could say that your energy consumption raises at a rate of 1 kW/h...
OK, it's useless, Iwill now shut up.

Does your father/uncle/brother work in finance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436245)

If not, I'd start learing tailoring.

Hong Kong is too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436259)

I have made the jump, and even moved to Hong Kong.

Let me first warn you that, after the crisis in 2008 and the continued effects on the markets, Hong Kong is considered a "High-Cost" location. We have steadily been moving IT/Dev jobs to either Singapore, Shanghai, or India. Attrition in Hong Kong means the head count moves to a lower cost location.
Once you get past that, you'll find that unless you were expated by a bank, they will hire local Hongkongers as they are much less expensive than expats.

Best of luck!

Sadly... (3, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436277)

I think the fact that you are posting this on Slashdot more or less rules you out of getting a job in this area.

That said, how is your knowledge of statistics, probability theory, game theory and/or real time computing? Finance is basically applied maths with a good dollop of psychology and an understanding of self-promotion. This is as true now as it was in the 14th century. If you want to succeed as a designer of upmarket sports cars, expertise in the design of sparking plugs is possibly not the best starting point.

Re:Sadly... (4, Insightful)

gutnor (872759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436431)

What are you talking about ? The very vast majority of IT in the Finance world is just your vanilla application. CRUD stuff, Integration, and all sorts of data mangling back and forth between systems. As in any industry you will need some business knowledge to complement you tech knowledge. You do not need a PhD in "Math with Applied Bullshit" to enter finance.

There is literally an army of development jobs in the financial sector. Lots of interesting stuff lost in a sea of boring assignments in team stuck in management and technical paralysis. i.e. like working for any large company.

The vast minority of people that work in finance are psychopathic moron that make millions in bonus each year. There are quite a lot of 20 something that are psychopathic moron but make nothing at all, but the majority of people that fill those huge skyscrappers are just normal Joe doing normal office job.

Re:Sadly... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436613)

very vast majority of IT in the Finance world

This will now be my fourth post pondering the same cognitive mistake. The OP isn't looking for an IT position. I'm not sure from where that assumption came. He has computer science degrees, and wishes to seek a career in finance. He is not a technician looking to break-in to another space that, of course, uses computers and thus needs IT support. I read the summary to mean: "I'm a computer math guy looking for a money math career." GP's post is germane, and yours is wrong-headed.

Re:Sadly... (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436991)

I read the summary to mean: "I'm a computer math guy looking for a money math career."

From the summary, he is a software engineer, working in a software company in the Bay area with a master in CS and asking the question on slashdot. That very strongly hint to something like "I'm a software developer looking to develop software in the finance sector." As a software developer that made the switch into finance myself, I asked the same question and gave the answer right there in my post in addition of replying to the GP.

Just to summarize, although software in bank deal with money, they are surprisingly similar to other type of software you would develop in other industries. The amount of math and business knowledge is similar to other field (compared to other fields I know: retail, heavy industry, publishing, law, insurance, telecom): you can focus on the tech knowledge and become an architect or you can learn more of the business and become later a business analyst. Banks are smug bastards, they like to hire people with previous banking experience. From a tech point of view, it varies between very old school stuff to small agile team making a new order processing using Clojure with a front end in node.js.

The OP isn't looking for an IT position. I'm not sure from where that assumption came.

BTW, I meant IT as development, as it is clear reading the very next line "There is literally an army of development jobs". The information I give would be weird to give about IT jobs.

Re:Sadly... (2)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436627)

Hold it there, please. Many of the core, better paying computer related jobs in finance are not in fiscal analysis. They're in support technologies, such as storage, low latency networking, and virtualization. If our original poster wants to get into the data analysis part of the work, he's got a good start with two degrees, but that field is dominated by very educated people in business theory and statistics. It's also where the criminal and insider trading part of finance starts to become common, and it's very vulnerable to layoffs when somone with a "big vision" changes company or is let go.

High frequency trading, where a lot of finance computing went over the last 10 years, is in deep trouble. Stay away from it: legislation to protect the markets from the inevitable positive feedback loops built into such low latency, high gain feedback systems is inevitable and is already being felt, and the use of FPGA's right at the stock market feeds to pre-process the data and transmit only purchase orders is eliminating the need for the very expensive low latency network technologies that were in vogue. (http://www.highfrequencytraders.com/featured/1191/high-frequency-trading-and-rise-fpga)

If you go this route, do learn to think about how your API's affect other people's work. Very minor differences in the format of data passwd can have _tremendous_ impact on performance, especially when doing database interactions.

Re:Sadly... (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436797)

Actually the best paid computing work in Finance is still to do with the analysis and programming around trading. There are hard problems to be solved. Whether that is happening in HK (compared to London and New York) is debatable. IT in finance is well paid, but doesn't hold a candle to what geeks can make in algorithmic trading. The FGPA developments are interesting, but what they are actually doing is basically reimplement the the software in the FGPA (including the networking stack!), and the FGPA doesn't just program itself - you need people to do that!

Re:Sadly... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436833)

better paying computer related jobs in finance are not in fiscal analysis. They're in support technologies,

If the jobs are in support technologies, then those are support technology jobs regardless of where they are, not "computer related jobs in finance," if such a thing even exists, the description you give it is bound to confuse. You obviously understand the difference between finance and computer support, but I'm uncertain if, like others posting answers to the wrong question, that you see that computer science is tremendously applicable to the science of finance and the maths involved there. With two degrees in computer science, one would hope OP is well versed in statistics and discrete mathematics, as well as the calculus used in determining margins. I would guess his education and skills would be far more useful in financial prediction modeling than in building applications or in application support.

It is not my intention to belittle IT... just to clarify the OP's intent. You could be absolutely correct about the salaries, I have no idea about that, but if you work, say, as a DBA for a financial institution, you're still working in IT and not in finance.

Depends where you go (2)

undulato (2146486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436279)

Different firms, different departments, can have wildly different needs. Some areas may need hot coding skills, low latency, high performance, networked and quick turnaround on changes. Some may need database work, configuration of 3rd party packages, integration with those packages and these might be turned around more slowly under strict change conditions. Some roles may be reporting based and hence have deadlines that simply cannot be broken because figures need to go to regulators or central banks. Most areas are steeped in red-tape, bureacracy and don't move as fast as they would like to. There's usually a lot of politics between departments and between teams - both internal and external as you'll be dealing with a whole stack of vendors most of the time. You'll be competing with some of the best coders and/or system admins and DBAs that money can buy and you'll need to keep an eye on what your customer wants whilst also making sure you're getting what you want - mainly that means managing your own career as everyone else is busy managing theirs..

It can be a challenge, it can be devisive, it can be difficult, it can be fun. Depends what kind of a person you are and if you are able to thrive there. I have many friends who simply don't like it, have tried it and have walked away. I've been lucky enough to have worked in this world for a while and enjoy it thoroughly as you get to work with some bright people and can make it pretty much what you want if you're good. But yes, it's not for everyone.

Making information out of data - Analyst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436283)

In my opinion, your best bet would be to apply for a business analyst role where strong analytical skills are needed. Look for an opportunity where your ability to work with large sets of numbers can lead to better informed decisions that add value to a company. If that is a stock broker, hospital, or public transportation company shouldn't matter that much. Good luck!

Margin Call (2)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436331)

In the movie Margin Call [imdb.com] , based loosely on the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the character Peter Sullivan, played by Zachary Quinto, was a math guy (like all true computer scientists) that successfully crossed over to the finance world. Unfortunately, he was also the character that figured out what the man he replaced had figured out, which is that the global economy was going to collapse the following day. Are you sure you're up for that kind of thing?

Re:Margin Call (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436973)

SPOILER ALERT!

all which glitters is not gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436397)

I worked for a bank in Italy as a programmer. If you think it is so much different from any other programming activity, you are wrong.
Little innovation, the same bad old practices together with some shiny and meaningless acronyms, a lot of people in suits around who seem to be doing
very little (and be occupied most of the time with office intrigues and PR). It is true that Italy is a state a bit particular
(not at all just in the negative sense, by the way), but I would be much surprised if in Hong Kong the things would be REALLY that different..
And to get into the banking system, try to join some human resources/outstaffing company which works with financial institutes - if these don't hire directly.
Once you are inside, you would have much better perspective.

Just do it (1)

close_the_49th (870133) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436399)

China is dynamic and hungry for all kinds of talent. Keep your eyes and your mind open. Take a job and see where it leads. Education for example is a good intro. You have the qualifications to teach at University. You will meet people. Stuff will happen. I went to China to teach English. Within 2 months I was teaching gnu/linux/open source stuff. I'm sure more would have happened if they hadn't refused me a visa. Have fun. Watch out for the government thugs. Don't trust anyone. Yikes.

Re:Just do it (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436499)

Watch out for the government thugs. Don't trust anyone.

Hong Kong civil servants are well-paid, blinkered bureaucrats. Mostly honest and some helpful. Not thugs. Mainland China is still very different from Hong Kong.

The talents China looks for (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436507)

China is dynamic and hungry for all kinds of talent.

True, but unfortunately, the author is not the kind China is looking for

China looks for talents who are pro-active, who do not wait for others to hire him

The talents China really wants are those who can add to what China offers, not those who rely on whatever China has

I know what I am talking about - I have businesses in China
 

stay at home and stream netflicks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436459)

stay at home, stream netflicks. keep the place tidy. have an affair once in a while.

Some light reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436467)

I moved from doing development in an IT company to a role in a Life Assurance co. writing calc engines 7 years ago.

I would suggest reading one or two books on Wall St etc to give you a feel for the industry.

"More Money Than God" by Sebastian Mallaby is a very interesting and detailied history of the hedge fund industry.
"Fortune's Formula" by William Poundstone The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System that Beat the Casinos and Wall Street

are both very interesting and readable.

Did the Jump to Financial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436487)

Hi OP!

I've made the jump from search engine development into the financial industry (Treasury).

The skills needed are a lot different. Mostly, I deal with (computer science) lay people on the business side who know what they want (changes in trading systems) in a vague way. I have to distill it into something workable, get them to sign the requirements off and then prototype the hell out of it and show them as quickly as possible (as opposed to waterfall). They will want everything changed every time.

All the above development is high-level. If we tried to write something like this in C, we'd never get it done.

That said, I also do middleware development, things that connect different trading systems together and collect everything in order to calculate the balance (C and Java). (think interfacing smoke signs and a modern communication system).

Also, it being a position in investment, there is no "planning" stress since if you don't invest one time, nothing overly bad happens (they don't get sued, people don't die etc). This is the best thing of the job, you plan something and it slips (for a good reason), people grumble but we don't pull all-nighters to hold the (completely arbitrary) deadline.

That said, if there's a bug holding up settlement (actual payment to others), all hell will break lose. We once caused a 10 minute outage and it got us angry calls by the stock exchange threatening to revoke our license (several million dollars outstanding). Whoops.

So planning stress, no. Bugs causing you to lose sleep, hell yes (note that this also means there are proper testing facilities and people expect you to plan half the time just for testing).

As for how to go with it without a lot of financial training, I asked for less money at first. It helps if you at least know what it is that they trade (it depends on the company, not everyone trades Call Accounts for example).

There's a system for position keeping called Kondor previously developed by Reuters, seems everyone around uses it (we too), so you'll probably work with it, among a ton of "the usual suspects" industry-specific tools. Maybe check it out. Maybe in Hong Kong they use something else; although our branch in Hong Kong does use it.

You better be OK with filling out forms for the golvernment for no reason. The regulate the financial industry which means we get to fill out forms everytime anything happens "the temperature just fell to...". Hehe not that bad but close.

I had a background in relational databases (as you'd expect, everything and their dog is stored in relational databases, think multi-terabyte databases, better be good with those SELECTs) and (a little) statistics which helped me lots.

Now, after 2 years, I'm back to normal pay (so I guess you could say I lost "potential earnings", heh).

In any case, I love my job.

Alcohol (5, Insightful)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436519)

Learn to drink. Don't turn down a drink. Take people you want to deal with out to drink. Read the air, act appropriately.

Other than that I don't think you need any particular business knowledge. From what I've gathered is that CN/HK/TW business revolves completely about being an awesome drunk.

Re:Alcohol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436599)

I can't believe that this is voted "Insightful".

About the "drunk" part ... (1, Informative)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436631)

... I agree

The Chinese can't really handle much alcohol but still they drink as if there's no tomorrow

You just can't tell the Chinese host that you do not drink - it's outright impolite to do so
 

Re:About the "drunk" part ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437123)

I live in China, have a business and can tell you that this is BS.
It's not because a fraction of evolved farmers think that this is the way, that it doesn't work any other way.
Will save you a liver...

Get drink when you want to, not because you think culture dictates it. It doesn't.

Re:Alcohol (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437207)

It might sound weird, but it's true to a degree. A friend of mine from university was recently promoted to manager in a major consulting company, and in the first meeting with her mentor she was told that in order to progress higher, she would have to start going out for drinks with clients and colleagues more often. Don't underestimate the value of relationships forged while lying under the table...

Required reading.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436601)

I made the jump and it was pretty painless. Read "Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives" by John C Hull to get an idea for the maths required. It's the best book for maths oriented comp-scis to read.

The only problem I've found is this: if you're a software guy at a software company you're doing the "core business", but being a software guy at a finance company you're not. It means that good software is not always the priority.

Also, if you work for a large bank, the failure rate of software projects can be pretty high, and the bureaucracy involved in getting stuff done can be pretty hard sometimes. Pay's good though.

I can help (4, Informative)

kTag (24819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436617)

Maybe it's irony, but moderating +5 Informative something like "reading The Economist" is showing something about the current Slashdot, why not the Wall Street Journal right? There is "Wall Street" in the name it must be good to get a finance job!! Yes it's the usual rant.

Anyway, I've been in IT finance for the past 7 years, one of the main european financial institution.
I can code but I'm no math head and have no special social skills (appart from applying good advices you can find from trustful resources that you should already know). I've been expat in 3 different countries and I'm now in Singapore, moved to project manager 4 years ago and soon getting a nice promotion to switch to accounting control. I bet you don't understand how that can be a promotion, I wouldn't have either 7 years ago.
But outside this, if you can code, you know how the various business of retail or investment bank are working and you did bet on the right technology you'll find a job easily. Here it's all Java if you want to have a nice job. Short term, low budget crap is using PHP/Whatever tech being evaluated at the moment.

One warning though, this investment bank is very conservative, that is I'm typing this on a WinXP cousin made for the bank and have no idea if or when we'll switch to something more actual. New technology get about 3 or 4 years approval time, so you either stick with standards (IBM, Oracle) or you can forget about the latest fun technology for your time spent in the office.
Outside this small detail, I obviously love this job and the people here and all over the countries I've been sent to.

And please, prepare properly for interviewing and do you research before contacting me, if you are interested.

Re:I can help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436683)

You work for CS as well, eh?

Re:I can help (1)

kTag (24819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436821)

No, but it looks like we are a lot in the same boat

You got a promotion in Singapore ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436735)

... simply because you are an expat

I know about Singapore

As long as your skin is white, you can't be wrong

That's Singapore - still a White People's paradise

Same thing in Hong Kong, but not in China
 

Re:You got a promotion in Singapore ... (1)

kTag (24819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436857)

You should tell that to the 40 expat who have been sent back home so far this year, they were considered "too expensive"
But it's true I'm white.
But my boss is not white.

On a more general note, I think expat are mostly respectful foreigners.
We are not here for long usually and we didn't choose the destination.
We just want to fit in and know very well we are spoiled compare to locals.
I was in Japan during the earthquake and was outraged at the way we were treated compare to locals.

Read up on Finance and target consultancies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436635)

I made a similiar jump into financial software development when I moved to London. If you have no financial knowledge, read up in your spare time. I worked for a retail banking software house when I lived in the US, but investment banking is a totally different animal. Any book by John C. Hull is a good start. Most interviews are focused on the technical questions, but if you can tell them a high level overview of how to price an option and the difference between vanillas and exotics that will be good enough, assuming you know the technical stuff.

The big name banks and hedge funds usually prefer people who have prior financial experience, so If you are starting out, I would advise targeting consultancy houses, or software vendors. There are loads of them in London and I assume any global financial centre would have plenty of technology consultancies dealing with investment banks. For example, I went from small consultancy -> small bank -> bigger bank -> big name bank. So it can be done, but the labour market conditions must be favourable towards job-seekers. From what I've heard, HK is doing all right, but it's best to check and talk with some HK based recruiters before you head over there.

Welcome to HK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436643)

You and your wife will quickly find yourselves in a very friendly and quite supportive expat scene here in HK which will help you with the introductions you need. There are plenty of Software Engineering positions but expect a lower salary than you're used to in the Bay area for similar non-managent positions as you'll be competing with local and mainland China talent. One complaint I hear often from Western style dev studios or Western firms setting up regional HQ's in HK is the lack of lateral thinking skills of many local engineers which you can quickly use to your advantage in any interview (I used to work for EA in HK and have now setup QVIVO so this is one of the major points I look for when interviewing candidates).

Good luck, and feel free to drop me an email if you want to catch up for coffee after you've settled. It's a great place!

Liam

Good move, bad timing (5, Informative)

rig_uh (1733306) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436651)

I did the same thing around five years ago. Am still in Hong Kong and still employed (for now), but we've been shedding staff for years and like most financial services companies are probably not going on a hiring spree any time soon. Having said that, I still see jobs posted occasionally.

Track down the recruiters here - they shouldn't be too hard to find. Somebody mentioned Robert Walters which is a good start, maybe also Aston Carter and Chandler Macleod. Recruiters seem to find me on LinkedIn pretty regularly but that's probably because I've built up a network of other people in the industry.

Might be tough also as they generally prefer people with industry experience, and there are plenty of them on the market given recent layoffs, so competition will be fierce. Might be better outside of financial services but I kind of doubt it.

For me - I got a job with a consulting company whose client was an investment bank, so got my foot in the door for a job I probably wouldn't normally have been considered for. Once I had the experience (there's a lot to get used to) I switched to working for the client. Probably difficult to emulate but you never know. I initially got offered a job at a blue chip consulting company at a terrible rate, but ended up at an obscure one at a merely not-so-great rate. It eventually improved but you might want to lower your expectations in advance. At least the tax is low (although if you're American I guess you get screwed on paying US tax anyway) although housing is nuts.

Oh, and Hong Kong and mainland China are like two different countries. You can pretty much ignore any advice which relates to the latter. Hong Kong is a very easy place to live in - I love it. People generally struggle more in the mainland. However, if your wife is in Hong Kong you could consider working in Shenzen, over the border, although might be tough to pull off (and the commute to see eachother would be unpleasant).

Re:Good move, bad timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436711)

I work for a large international consultancy with an office in HK. We are actually desperate for people with good skills (In the Microsoft domain). We work with banks but also other industry verticals. Not speaking Cantonese isn't an issue at all. (Mandarin is useful however)
Rates are however pretty low unless you are in a mangement position. Not mainland China low, but surely lower than what you are used to.
+1 for parent post. Hong Kong is effectivally a seperate country from mainland China. Living and working here is fairly easy.

Plenty of IT jobs in Finance (1)

wienerschnizzel (1409447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436721)

Don't get too hung up on the whole 'financial' stuff. Just like in any industry today, the IT jobs in Financial industry are really diverse - GUI expert, Customer Web Portal developer, data mining, real-time statistical analysis, system administration, IT security expertise, even low level parallel programming (to squeeze every drop of processor juice out of those High Frequency Trading machines).

So just concentrate on your strengths and look for the kind of job that best fits your experience. Knowing something about the financial world is good, but being new to it is not a showstopper - the Financial sector still needs more IT guys and they have to come from somewhere.

You probably should know enough to understand what the company you are applying to is doing (e.g. knowing what a hedge fund is) in general and you should be prepared to answer questions like 'How do you handle your finances?' in a respectable manner.

Stick to the IT side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436747)

The entire financial and banking sector is based on IT systems, and HK is no exception. Having two CS degrees will be of interest to many employers, but it will not make you unique. Most financial and banking houses will either have their own in-house solutions on their platform of choice (and the teams to maintain/support/develop them), or vendor-supplied solutions (with either in-house platform/1st line support or outsourced support).
Communication will be easier if you speak Cantonese, but English is the first language of the Finance/Banking sector so make an effort to learn the language when you are there to earn brownie points. At this point, language skills are not a deal-breaker if you are in the merchant Banking sector, although retail banking roles may require it.
Getting in on the financial side (as a trader/portfolio manager) is a non-starter unless you have experience, relevant qualifications, or local contacts. From the sound of it, OP has none of those. Development work may be possible for the companies with in-house systems, but finding those can be a challenge unless you have inside knowledge (i.e. local contacts). Quant development work would be out, as you do not have the industry background or math degrees that most quants use to get entry-level positions. You are over-qualified on the IT side for support work, but without specific business skills I suspect that may be the best option in the short term. Get to know the financial trading industry and the language though, and you should find other opportunities opening up.

don't be corrupt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436751)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CLhqjOzoyE&feature=player_embedded

2012 UCLA Department of Economics Commencement featuring Dr. Michael J. Burry as keynote speaker
Keywords: Dr. Michael Burry, UCLA, Economics, Graduation 2012, Scion Capital Group, LLC

Front/Back Office, Cost vs Asset (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436781)

As a general guideline, there are front office vs back office jobs. In back office jobs, you are creating compliance systems and general book keeping stuff. If you are front office, you are working on trading software and working closely with the traders. The front office generally is where the big bonuses are since you are closer to the money. Unfortunately, front office is also usually more stress and maybe longer hours.

Searching for jobs in US will give you lots of types of job description with lots of details. The global big banks' many international divisions work together and have similar counterparts all over the world.

Also, remember that a bank's job is to make money. Software engineering is a cost, not an asset like at a dotcom. Trading is a bank's asset. I'm unfamiliar with HK finance culture, but you might feel a difference depending on the bank. Those nice perks of casual dress, flexible hours, and massage rooms probably won't be there for you.

My first job (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436801)

Since I got my B.S. and M.S. both in computer science, I have no idea what those 'Wall Street jobs' are like, so I'm just wondering what you guys know about jobs in the business/financial world for geeks? Has anybody made the jump before?"

FWIW, my first job was at a financial/insurance institution, very business-like. Surprisingly, they gave me a chance to work as a systems analysts and programmer with only a AA degree. The institution didn't give college reimbursement except for business majors, but OTH, they were quite flexible with work schedules, and they threw several thousands of dollars on me in training. Other than my current employer, that financial/insurance company was the only one that ever pay for my training (and its employee's training) from its coffers.

YMMV, but working with a financial institution can be very rewarding... or not. Same with engineering firms. Some are great, and some are filled with "lifers" who should never be allowed near a computer.

Go with your eyes open to see the good and bad, and try to make the best of it. You truly know if an employer is good only when you are on top of the saddle.

Ignore all these naysayers... just do it! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436803)

Ok, before I set off on a rant, I'd like to point out that, unlike most of the posters here, I actually work in the industry you are trying to break into. I have been a software engineer (contract) in the finance industry for about six years now, most of that in London, where I live now. I can tell you it is not a piece of cake to break into the industry, but it is possible, and well worth it to do so. It's difficult to get in for the following reasons:

1) They often "require" business experience. In theory, this means that the will want to see evidence that you've worked in finance before, vis-a-vis a job on your CV for some sort of bank or related institution. Depending on the specific job, they may ask you questions in the techical interview to ascertain your level of experience, knowledge of algorithms and financial math, etc.

2) There have been a number of layoffs in the sector recently, which means there is a bit of a glut in IT staff right now, all of whom have more experience than you.

HOWEVER, you must read this with a grain of salt. As with any endeavor, things are often more subtle in practice. Bear these facts in mind:

1) Many of the people on the bench right now, a.k.a. your competition, were let go for a reason. The financial sector attracts many for the very lucrative salaries, but not all of these people are really that good. Every so often, the banks go through a house-cleaning phase to get rid of the dead wood. Many of these people don't interview well, and are not able to perform well on technical tests. As someone who interviews and hires many developers for our team, I can attest that there are some very poor candidates out there. Many of them got in during the earlier boom, when banks hired anyone and everyone. Some people just weren't cut out for the job, though. I'm constantly being told by recruiters, "There are plenty of candidates, but it's hard to find GOOD ones."

2) Many people are leaving the industry. Frustrated by the recent downturn, byzantine immigration policies, rethinking their life goals, or whatever, thousands of people are turning their back on the finance industry, or even IT in general. Those who stick it out are rewarded.

3) It wouldn't be any easier to transition into another industry, either. It's always difficult jumping onto another ship. The trick is getting that first job. Once you learn the lingo, a bit of the business, and make contacts, it gets much easier.

4) Not all banks require experience. Bearing point 1, above, in mind, I personally know a lot of managers who don't care a bit whether someone has experience in banking or finance. They want good developers first and foremost, and view any business experience as a bonus. Most of my job is just good software development practice, coupled with algorithms and data structures. I rarely need to know anything about how the business works, or I'm capable of learning it in a short time. Most good managers want people who can learn, not those who know it all already. Also bear in mind that finance is not as hard as most people like to make out. ;-)

5) Many banks over-cleaned, and now need to hire people back. Since a lot of folk have left the industry, that can be harder than it seems. Again, despite the glut of developers, there is a dearth of good talent.

6) Permanent jobs are better for first-timers. Many will try to step into the contract world immediately. The reason for this is the contractors running a limited company make far more than our permanent counterparts - as much as 40-50% more when tax savings are factored in. This used to be easy to do from the get-go, and I admit to being one of these folk. However, if you've never worked contract, never been in the finance industry, and/or have less than 10 years' overall experience in I.T., my advice is to start off permanent. Get some good experience, as little as 2-3 years, and then decide if contract is right for you. (Then you can make the big bucks. ;-)

My advice:

1) Visit lots of job boards and familiarize yourself with what's on offer, the skills they are looking for, and the recruitment firms that are posting them.

2) Freshen up your CV, emphasizing your best skills. Make use of a professional CV-writer if you must, but make it simple and eye-catching, with enough detail to explain what you did in each job succinctly, but don't bog down the reader. Focus on the skills you noticed being most popular in #1 above. DON'T LIE... but don't be afraid to embellish a little. Everyone does.

3) Call the recuiters who posted the jobs you liked, directly. Don't be afraid of them - they work for YOU. Call them, tell them you saw their job posting, but you had a couple of questions before sending them your CV. Ask them a bit about the job, then send your CV over, and hound them every other day. Stay in their face, in a nice-but-firm way, and don't let them forget you. After a bit, you should identify 4-5 quality recruiters who really know hiring managers and seem good at their jobs. Stick with these guys/gals and make them earn their pay. Remember, the thing they want most is to place you and get their commission. Win-win.

4) Be prepared for this to take some time. Typically, allow 2-4 months to land the first gig. Don't get discouraged, even if it takes longer. There is something out there for you, and there are a lot of banks hiring.

Remember, you have marketable technical skills. The trick is to find the right job for you, but it is out there. Don't listen to any of the naysayers. Most of them haven't walked the walk. Nothing worth doing is easy, but the reward is definitely there in this industry. Positive attitude, best foot forward, and don't forget to wear a suit to the interview. You'd be surprised how many hires are decided in the first 2 minutes.

Best of luck!

you want to be a pure techie? business techie? etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436811)

there are all kinds of jobs for techies in the finance world... banks/hedge funds etc are just giant information-processing machines really, making their money out of having superior systems, information and access to markets.

note that 'superior' for systems in this sense mostly means fast (both to deliver and in terms of speed/throughput) and profitable, not elegantly coded or written using the latest funky scripting buzzword.

so ask yourself a few questions. do you want something resembling a work-life balance? do you want anything to do with the business, or just remain more of a 'pure' techie? do you want to face internal business clients (ie highly strung, egotistical and stressed-out but also highly motivated and intelligent traders and salespeople), or do you want to remain an anonymous cog in the machine? do you want to be on the management track, or the 'technical lead/architect' track? do you want to be involved in cutting edge stuff, or are you happy working on and maintaining dull but critical legacy systems?

also bear in mind that HK is very close (geographically, culturally and in terms of time zones) to some of the main IT outsourcing areas in the world (India obviously, and also mainland China, especially Shenzhen just over the border, and even other cheap Asian countries), so there is more risk of 'code monkey' type jobs being shipped off to places like this

in addition, there is a definite 'pecking order' to techie jobs within banks. basically, 'kudos' (and bonuses) in financial technology are strongly correlated to your proximity to the business, but of course, 'work-life balance' is often inversely correlated to proximity to the business.

anyway, a rough breakdown of the types of jobs available

- IT/desktop support. should be fairly obvious - manning the phones for general IT issues for users, building PCs, running cables etc etc. probably not that different to working in any general corporate IT support, unless of course you are on second/third line or escalation for a specific business area. 'kudos' factor and bragging rights in financial tech - low.

- 'back office' IT - apps development and support for backroom functions such as Ops (settlements/confirms etc), Compliance, or even HR. you normally get a decent work-life balance, in areas like Ops IT you can often join without much business knowledge and pick some up, whereas in areas like HR IT you probably will never need to know anything about the business. 'kudos' factor and bragging rights in financial tech - low.

- 'middle office' IT - apps development and support for business support functions such as Risk/Middle Office (normally part of Ops). somewhere in the middle in terms of work-life balance and business knowledge, you'll be supporting the people who support the people who make the money. another reasonable place to join with limited business background and learn as you go along. 'kudos' factor and bragging rights in financial tech - medium.

- 'quant' IT - if you are a very strong mathematician you may even be suitable for a direct 'quant' role ('quants' are the financial mathematicians who work directly on the business and are pretty well paid). more likely if you are a techie that you'll be looking for a 'quant developer' role, which requires a good mix of maths, tech (mostly C++) and business knowledge. 'kudos' factor and bragging rights in financial tech - high.

- 'front office' IT - anything directly related to the business and revenue-generating areas, from areas like algorithmic trading to trading applications to rapid, bespoke development for traders. you'll need strong tech, strong business knowledge, a serious work ethic and thick skin to deal with the pressure and potential abuse from stressed out traders. 'kudos' factor and bragging rights in financial tech - high.

hope this helps. of course, each company does things differently and has different 'dividing lines' between areas.

Plenty of IT jobs in finance in HK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436867)

Not withstanding that finance is in a bit of a downturn at present, there are plenty of IT jobs in finance in HK, although you may have a tough time in this hiring environment.

If you're looking at a typical IB, first thing you need to work out is what part of a bank you'd be working in. Typically you'd start at back office and work your way towards front office. Something like the Complete Guide to Capital Markets for the Quantitative Professional is also a good generalist introduction to the various parts of an IB.

"Investment Banking" may get most of the press; but a lot of this is just M&A (means Powerpoint and Excel - not much IT). Whereas IT for an equities or fixed income group would have a lot more serious IT requirement. Here's a quick overview of the various parts of a typical IB

- front office - low latency, mostly C/C++/C#, everything from GUI work through to market connectivity - mistakes here are expensive and generally mean real losses or regulators or exchanges getting involved - often exchange specific work or custom tools for specific desk
- middle office - large volumes of data, a mix of batch and real time and a lot of bespoke systems
- back office - high latency (generally), lot of Java and package systems, integration with messaging middleware and external connectivity/messaging formats (e.g. SWIFT) - low volumes of data but often involve large sums of money (e.g. moving millions between accounts)

Compared to the likes of typical SV consumer tech though - the technology is often much more dated (so many legacy systems to maintain/integrate with), and there's still a lot more thick clients rather than HTML etc around. Conversely, some of the problems to solve involve solving some interesting technical problems, the people are invariably smart & driven and generally pay quite well. Vendor apps are continuing to displace custom built apps and work is continuing to move to offshore - HK is a comparatively expensive location (office real estate is some of the most expensive around the world).

Good luck with the search!

Corporate Performance Management (2)

Skythe (921438) | more than 2 years ago | (#40436919)

Get yourself involved in some Corporate Performance Management stuff (specifically OLAP). This is the perfect intersection of IT and Business/Finance. Think Oracle Hyperion, IBM Cognos TM1, etc. Guys I work with (not me) are currently putting this stuff in at our clients - even the guys without the technical know-how (e.g. they still have finance/technical backgrounds but don't actually build it) have a role in navigating/deciphering and translating whatever bunch of Excel models and disparate systems into Functional Requirements, which get built into Multidimensional structures by the technical guys. I'd start by looking for companies that do this type of stuff - the role name could be anything from Solution Architect to Consultant. Good luck!

I am in that industry and working in Australia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40436935)

I work in the industry. Stock exchanges (and futures, options etc) and investors use a variety of protocols to distribute stock prices and accept orders and there is a huge variety of middleware and endware involved.

Learn about the FIX protocol, learn about the basics of multicast binary protocols, and learn a bit about how basic stock trading works (or indeed even just namedrop all those things during an interview) and all other things being equal you should be able to get a job working on or with such software.

Some links you might find useful:

http://fixprotocol.org/ [fixprotocol.org]
http://fixprotocol.org/fast/ [fixprotocol.org]
http://www.moneyweek.com/tutorials [moneyweek.com]

M.S. in computer science (1)

mfrankli (2614711) | more than 2 years ago | (#40437011)

If you're well and truly qualified, there are plenty of jobs in CS. Off the top of my head know that Jane Street (trading company) has an office in Hong Kong; it's a popular thing to do, because it lets these companies have somebody on-the-job 24 hours/day.

yep, good move but bad timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40437153)

I did the same transition 6 years ago, but that was during the heady pre credit crunch days, so there was demand and less people applying. Things are probably going to get worse over the next few years.

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