How much technical knowledge do you need to get a technology job in finance?
If you want to carve out a career in technology at some of the world’s biggest investment banks, asset management firms, or professional services firms you’ll need a good academic background and a technology-related degree such as computer science, maths, engineering or physics.
Although there aren’t necessarily any mandatory technical skills, you’ll be expected to be fluent with the fundamentals of IT such as programming, databases and system architecture.
When you first start out in technology in finance, most of what you’ll be expected to do will be coding, data modelling and database work. This means you need to have a strong foundational knowledge of data modelling methodologies and database management, as well as a solid understanding of one or more of the mainstream programming languages like Java, C#, C++ and SQL.
When it comes to coding, you should also be able to compare different languages and have an understanding of the general principles of good programming. It’s also a good idea to try and find out what programming languages are being used where you’re applying, as it’ll help you understand what level of knowledge employers are looking for and whether you might fit in.
Don’t worry too much if an employer you want to work for is using languages you’re not familiar with – having a good knowledge of one language often means you can learn others relatively quickly, and many employers will provide support to help you do so.
The best way to really stand out from the crowd and develop a strong understanding of what you’ll need to work in finance is to apply your knowledge and gain experience. That means you should really be testing your knowledge by building programmes and software, or even designing databases, in order to put some practical meat on your theoretical bones.
How much finance knowledge do you need to get a technology job in finance?
Working in technology in finance doesn’t mean you have to be a money boffin – an aptitude for technology is often more significant.
However in roles that are more focused on the business side, you’ll need some knowledge of financial concepts.
But don’t panic if you don’t know the finance lingo, because you’ll soon pick it up. Most technology divisions run excellent training programmes that you’re required to complete before going into the job proper.
What do you need besides technical skills and financial knowledge to get a technology job in finance?
Whether you work with brokers, traders, business analysts or just fellow technologists, you’ll need to be able to explain aspects of your technology project clearly and concisely to your “client”, who could be an external client, another team within the bank, or your boss in the technology team.
You can develop and showcase your communication skills by taking an active role in a university society, or you could even start YouTubing tutorials about your favourite programming language.
As you’re working at the forefront of the financial world, you’ll constantly be looking for ways to make things work faster and more efficiently, manage large amounts of data, and reduce risk. The key thing is being able to understand a problem, break it down into its essential elements, and then work out how technology can help.
This is perhaps the skill you need to work on the least, as you’ll be doing this every day as part of your degree course, but make sure you come to an interview prepared with an example.
In technology in finance, you’ll be working closely with different people at different stages of a project. You’ll often work under pressure and to tight deadlines to get the work finished, which means you’ll need to have a good relationship with the members of your team in order to make sure the work gets delivered on time.
Think about a time when you had to work on a group project and what role you had – could you have taken a more active role? If so, put it into practice during your next project.