Discover your dream Career
For Recruiters

Leaving banking for big tech requires horrible Leetcode practice

If you're a developer at an investment bank, you are probably paid well, but maybe not that well. - At least, not compared to a big technology firm. The FAANG firms (historically Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, but also Microsoft and any big tech giant) still dominate when it comes to pay, and that's still a source of frustration for engineers in banks whose salaries rarely exceed $250k even after five years' grind.

"Big tech still pays a lot more than banking for similar levels of experience," says a recruiter with experience of working inside and outside banks. How much more? Thompson doesn't say but, LevelsFYI has a newly graduated full stack analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York on $118k in total compensation (of which $9k is a bonus), and a similar person at Facebook joining on $189k.

It's not just Goldman Sachs and it's not just Facebook. This is typical for the two industries.

What can you do about it? Mark Ross, a former Morgan Stanley strat and quant developer turned career coach, says you need a strategy. And that strategy should involve using your banking job to get a job in big tech.

"It happens frequently," says Ross. "I went from being a desk strat at Morgan and now I'm COO (soon to be promoted to CEO) at a tech start-up...my neighbor was a director at Morgan Stanley and now runs a tech team at Amazon."

The only problem, says Ross, is that because coding work in banks is often elementary, tech firms will want to validate your competence.

"Most investment banks aren't coming up with crazy quantitative models to trade for themselves," says Ross. "Their developers are generally building platforms rather than using hardcore logic."

Developer jobs in banks often require experience with very specific tech stacks, adds Ross. "If a platform has been built in Java they will want you to have five years' Java experience."

By comparison, Ross says technology firms tend to be more ambivalent: they only really want to know that you can code.  They'll find this out with coding tests. And those coding tests require practice. 

This, then, becomes the number one reason why people who might otherwise want to move to big tech end up staying in banking jobs and earning half the money they would if they moved. Preparing for tech firms' coding tests takes time, which you don't have when you're working longish hours and taking calls with India at 3am. 

Of course, not all banking tech jobs are that bad and not all big tech engineering jobs are that good. Recruiters point out that FAANG engineering jobs are often now just as bureaucratic and mired in legacy code as banks' engineering jobs. If you get a seat in a bank on a project developing a new app, you'll be in luck. The trouble is, you can't specify this as a requirement when you apply through the banks' graduate program, and you'll be paid the standard rate salary no matter what.

Click here to create a profile on eFinancialCareers. Make yourself visible to recruiters hiring for top jobs in technology and finance.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: +44 7537 182250 (SMS, Whatsapp or voicemail). Telegram: @SarahButcher. Click here to fill in our anonymous form, or email editortips@efinancialcareers.com. Signal also available.

Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

Photo by Vinicius "amnx" Amano on Unsplash

author-card-avatar
AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

Sign up to Morning Coffee!

Coffee mug

The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.

Boost your career

Find thousands of job opportunities by signing up to eFinancialCareers today.
Recommended Articles
Recommended Jobs
Mighty Divine Personnel Consultancy Limited
Vice President / Investment Manager / Associate - Private Equity
Mighty Divine Personnel Consultancy Limited
Hong Kong
Green Lake Executive Search Co. Limited
Private Equity Associate, VP-D
Green Lake Executive Search Co. Limited
Hong Kong
Investment Analyst / Manager, Family Office
Dragon Bridge (Holdings) Limited
Hong Kong

Sign up to Morning Coffee!

Coffee mug

The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.