How Financial Services Firms Became Ideal Tech Employers

Financial-services companies are repositioning themselves as tech firms, and with good reason: whether the company in question is a bank trying to design new services for retail customers, or a Wall Street firm looking for a trading edge, the embrace of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) and Big Data analytics can mean the difference between massive success (which usually comes with massive profits) and miserable failure.

For the past while, for example, hedge funds have quietly poached some of the tech world’s best data scientists and analysts. “An engineer at Google is one of 10k at the Mountain View office, and a lot of them are not going to get to work on the coolest stuff if they’re not the CTO or the head of a department,” Andy Legg, a director and the head of quant tech data (QTD) at GQR Global Markets, a recruitment firm, recently told eFinancialCareers (Dice’s sister site). At a financial firm, however, those professionals have the ability to do something potentially groundbreaking, often on a relatively small team.

Financial-services firms also have demonstrated an interest in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine-learning experts, often paying huge six-figure salaries to draw tech pros from Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and other firms. In theory, a finely tuned A.I. platform can take data and model it in a way that allows traders and others to predict a market outcome. Considering the revenue and profits at stake, it’s no wonder that some of A.I.’s grandmasters are reportedly pulling down as much as NFL players (according to Tom Eck, CTO of industry platforms at IBM).  

Outside of these revolutionary realms, these companies need data analysts who can help segment the right audiences for financial products, and mobile developers who can iterate new features for apps. And then there’s cybersecurity, always a pressing issue: the increasingly sophisticated nature of cyber-attacks means that banks are always on the lookout for talented security engineers.  

With all that in mind, here are the financial-services companies that made Dice’s first annual Ideal Employer list. Dice surveyed more than 5,000 technology professionals in the United States about the companies they most admired; firms that topped the list offered (in the respondents’ view) the best possible combination of positive culture, great salary, and solid benefits: 

In competing against the nation’s tech firms for the same pool of highly specialized talent, financial-services firms do have a couple of distinct advantages. First and foremost, all are highly monetized: they can easily match salaries and perks with any other company out there. Those substantial budgets also allow these firms to fund interesting projects on a grand scale; if a team can demonstrate that a particular avenue of A.I. research could result in huge profits, chances are good they’ll receive all the money they need to make it happen. 

As a whole, the financial-services industry is fiercely competitive. Promising, potentially profitable projects will draw the talent and budgets; other initiatives will languish. For those tech pros looking for a big challenge (and a big salary to go with it), there could be some great opportunities here.