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From Tech to Finance: Deciding if Financial Services is right for you

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

When you started your career in technology, you may have assumed that you’d build tools and explore different technologies in the technology industry. However, the widespread adoption of various technologies, such as cloud computing and machine learning, have opened up the number of industries that offer compelling opportunities for the best and the brightest technology professionals. As a global market maker that has consistently innovated for more than 15 years with technology at its core, Citadel Securities is in a unique position to outline the possibilities for top tech talent in the financial services industry.

To help you explore the next stage of your career, we developed The Ultimate Guide to Tech Careers in Financial Services, a step-by-step roadmap to transitioning into and thriving in the financial services industry.

In Chapter One of Citadel Securities’ Ultimate Guide to Tech Careers in Financial Services, we’ll highlight the differences between a career in finance and one in the technology sector. At a firm like Citadel Securities, technologists are responsible for designing, developing, testing, and deploying elegant solutions to help us innovate. Read on to find out more about why jobs in tech at a financial services firm offer an exciting and challenging career path.

What Makes a Technology Career in Finance Different Than One in Tech?

You might be surprised that from a technical lens, many of the skills required of your job at a technology firm correlate to those required in financial services. John Schuster, Global Head of Core and Client Technology at Citadel Securities, observes, “From a purely technical perspective and in terms of building and delivering technology, everything that I experienced and learned at tech firms is directly relevant in financial services. We leverage many of the same technologies, computation models, languages, and programing techniques.”

“However, the types of impact we make in financial services are different. I find it thrilling to know that our work helps make global financial markets more transparent and accessible” adds John. “I like to think, in some small way, I help fund someone’s pension plan and provide the liquidity for a company to develop a new lifesaving drug.”

Additionally, the environment is conducive to being truly customer-centric. Your customers, frequently quantitative researchers or traders, are often just a door or floor away. “The proximity of my primary customers is terrific since we work in the same office,” said Bob Van Zant. “I’m able to learn how they approach problems through a different lens, which has been quite fascinating.”

This proximity to end users, in combination with a level of empowerment, offers the opportunity to quickly push through new projects and ideas. In tech, traditionally you work through projects with longer timelines to a set outcome, while in finance, these are accelerated, which allows you to see the immediate impact. “What talent from the tech industry might be accustomed to doing in months and years, we do in days and weeks,” said Nawaf Bitar, Chief Information Officer at Citadel Securities.

Finally, the challenges and opportunities you confront will always be fresh. The pace of innovation is higher due to the nature of the business. Rob Crawford, Director of Recruiting, explains: “The financial markets perpetually change. We must constantly adapt. In tech, generally, goals are farther out in time and there are more known variables. So the question for a technology professional is which approach to solving problems is more interesting to you?”

In essence, working in tech at a financial services firm affords you the opportunity to take on unique and challenging problems, which in turn, allows you to consistently make an impact in a short time frame.

Nawaf sums up the experience for a technology professional in our industry this way.

“For a technology professional, the financial services industry is a dynamic environment where you can see that what you are doing on any given day is having an immediate and measurable impact on results.”

Nawaf Bitar, Chief Information Officer

Hear Josh Woods, Head of Systematic Trading Technology at Citadel Securities, explain how this environment compares, generally, from working in other industries.

Why Citadel Securities?

At Citadel Securities, we drive success by empowering and rewarding team members who deliver results, regardless of title or place in the organization. When you combine this culture with the reach of the firm, technology professionals have access to a number of opportunities they may not get to experience elsewhere.

Citadel Securities has a significant footprint. For example, we’re responsible for approximately 20% of U.S. equities trades every day. “It’s fascinating to apply cutting edge technology methodologies at a firm with this degree of reach,” said Rob Crawford. “In this environment, you get to see a lot of nuances for how the type of technology you focus on can be applied to different problems.”

The size of the financial markets uniquely challenges technology professionals to build solutions that are as scalable and efficient as possible. “We’re applying our technology to the largest problems and datasets,” Bob Van Zant goes on to observe. “I’ve come across the highest CPU core count I’ve seen in my career and the utilization of those cores is nearly 100%.”

It takes extraordinarily collaborative teams to tackle challenges and opportunities with this degree of efficiency. This emphasis on efficiency allows team members to connect the dots between business results, team output, and individual input. “Each individual has the opportunity to significantly move the needle at Citadel Securities. For example, a quantitative researcher can come up with a better idea for a trading strategy and a software engineer can help make that strategy possible,” said John Schuster. “In some industries or in some bigger companies, it’s almost impossible to feel like you make a difference.”