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start in the financial field

hi!

i am 30 and i've been working with software development for the last years (java and .NET). I'm currently living in London and making £49k/year as a Java J2EE developer.

A strong industry here is the financial industry. I never worked in a bank before, or any financial company. But I'm very interested in doing this, specially because of the good city salaries. From the ads that I'm seeing, it looks like I could increase my salary on around 40% or 50% by moving into finance.

So I'm thinking on taking a post graduate course on this area (not MSc, just a diploma course), studying at night. My undergraduate degree was in Computer Science.
What do you think, is this a good idea? Can courses like this open doors to entry in the financial field? Is it worth the time?

The course I'm looking at is this one:

http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/pgprospectus/courses/finance--..cfm

thanks in advance!
carl E.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
 
 
I am a few years older than you (33 here) and have had similar ideas.  But there are a couple of problems.

1.  Financial jobs are under pretty serious pressure right now and probably will be for a while because of the global deleveraging currently under way.  I have a number of friends who have lost jobs in the financial sector recently, and many more will be losing their jobs.  This will lead to increased competition for that kind of work, as well as pressure salaries downward.
2.  The working hours in the finance sector are no joke.  A typical freshly-minted MBA from a top finance program will probably be working 80+ hour weeks doing real dreck work for 3-5 years in the hopes of a real good opportunity at the end of the tunnel.  In the past the pay during these times has been extremely high, for example a fresh MBA from a top program in the US could earn at least 150-200k during those years, but obviously you have very little time to enjoy it.  If you manage to stay in the industry by surviving the downward parts of the cycle when lots of layoffs happen, are exposed to the right opportunities and take them, and get a little lucky, in the long run you can really become incredibly wealthy in finance (at least relative to code monkeys like us).  But the odds are actually pretty long.  I think the recent downturn, caused in large part by finance types looking to make quick bucks, is going to lead to a backlash in the form of regulations that will prevent some of the kind of bucks seen in the last decade from being generated.  The public is starting to realize that there's something a little bit unholy about finance folks making obscene amounts of money just by packaging bad debts together into securitizable packages.

The idea of being involved in finance, helping to efficiently allocate capital to the best businesses, is definitely alluring for me as well, but the level of competition combined with my age made me decide to go another direction.  I am starting an MBA program in the Fall which I can attend while I work (and get a small subsidy from my employer as well), but my hope is that I can use it in conjunction with my 10+ years of technology experience to get into management roles that involve technology strategy, but I see that as a long-term move.

Bottom line, I don't think it is going to be a bad thing for you to acquire expertise in finance as this is key to senior management roles, but I think you should temper your expectations of the immediate benefits of this degree.

Good luck!
Eric
Sunday, June 01, 2008
 
 
If you've got enough development experience, then why not try and move into the industry now - you should be able to get a role somewhere without needing finance background. You'll learn a lot on the job and could do something like the CFA in your own time to round out your knowledge.

Wait n months/years then move to a job that requires finance + development experience and you're golden!
nal
Sunday, June 01, 2008
 
 
"Financial jobs are under pretty serious pressure right now"

Which is similar software development jobs being under pressure by cheap offshore workers and cheap imported workers.

"The working hours in the finance sector are no joke"

No different in software development.

"work for 3-5 years in the hopes of a real good opportunity at the end of the tunnel"

Yup, sounds just like software development.

"a fresh MBA from a top program in the US could earn at least 150-200k"

Software development was never that good.

"If you manage to stay in the industry by surviving the downward parts of the cycle when lots of layoffs happen"

Similar dangers lurk in software development.

"the level of competition combined with my age made me decide to go another direction."

In software development you face incredible competition at home, from around the world, and many times even your own government is working with companies to replace your job.  And age discrimination is alive and well in software development too.

In the end finance is just as good or bad as software development.  It has ups and downs.  Risks and rewards.  Yet there is one major difference.  You can make above average money in finance where in software development if you track salaries against inflation people are losing ground.
Maxwell
Sunday, June 01, 2008
 
 
I think being 30 now is the time to act.  Don't wait much longer!  The years between 30 and 35 a key years where things can get tough on a developer.  You are starting to enter "old age" as far as managers are concerned.

I would support going to for quick diploma or certificate to get some basic knowledge and a piece of paper for your CV.  But I would also keep in mind that you will probably need more in the long run.  I would consider a MS in Computational Finance, MS in Finance, or an MBA.
Maxwell
Sunday, June 01, 2008
 
 
+1 nal.

Get that job today.  Start applying.

you can't really learn finance in school, any more than you learn professional programming in school.

Get the first job, any job, in finance. Then you are set as Finance Guy
Ward Bush
Sunday, June 01, 2008
 
 
+1 Maxwell.

A MS in Computational Finance, MS in Finance, or an MBA would give you a solid background pretty quick.  Of course I would suggest doing that at night school and continuing to work.  Maybe get some sort of development job in or close to finance and have your new employer pay for it.

At your age you need to accelerate you situation as soon as possible.  You need to hunker down, focus, and be intense!  No looking back.
Sharpie
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
I appreciate your comments! This board is really helpful!

I'm 99% decided to go on with the course and also look for entry level jobs in the field (even if I need to take a pay cut in the beginning).

Cheers
carl E.
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
As others have said; you should be able to get a job in finance without a degree if your technical skills are good.  I know of at least one finance firm in Boston that prefers hires to not have finance experience.

However, I would caution you that you are likely to be happier in finance long term if you enjoy finance, rather than being solely motivated by the money.  Read "Fooled By Randomness", or Lipton's introductory futures book, or "Paul Wilmott Introduces Quantitative Finance", or "My Life as a Quant" and see if the field interests you.
Hockey Player Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
"you should be able to get a role somewhere without needing finance background"
Sorry nal, but as 'Catch-22' as it sounds, most banks want you to already have finance experience. The gate-keepers (agents) in the London market are pretty pedantic about the skill set and experience you require. "Oh, you only have Middle Office experience? This role requires Front Office". "Oracle 9.x - sorry we need 10.x". "Interest Rate Derivatives? Sorry this clients wants Equity Derivatives experience".


"a fresh MBA from a top program in the US could earn at least 150-200k"
I'm working with a mid-30's, ex-electronics engineer, recently minted MBA who's on £80 to £85K.


"Get the first job, any job, in finance"
Phooey. Think about where you want to go long term. The choices you make now will lock you out of other choices later. You need to be more strategic than this. Get a jib in retail banking and you will be stuck in retail banking.


"and also look for entry level jobs in the field (even if I need to take a pay cut in the beginning)."
Good for you carl E; if you're prepared to make an initial sacrifice to meet your objectives. But listen to Hockey Player - if you are only doing this for the money: reconsider. Some more books to look at are 'Traders, Guns and Money' and 'Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives (Hull)'.
London Contractor
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
keep in mind that it from what i've seen most people on the dev side have a science background, and have learnt their finance "on the job" rather than studying finance before going to do the work.  Maybe it's different closer to the business side where you might go MBA first.
nal
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
My company is looking for a Java dev to join a team of developers working on derivatives pricing software. You can write to me if you're interested.
quant dev Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
PS. I don't think an MBA will give you much of an advantage here. Better learn quantitative finance (you may start with the textbook by John Hull) and brush up on mathematics.
quant dev Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
An acquaintance of mine from college (in my undergrad CS program) went back to school years later and got a MS in Computational Finance.  I hear he is now making good money.  Not sure if it's as much as quant dev makes though :-)
H
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
 
 
Who, me? I don't make much money.
quant dev Send private email
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
 
 
I've done recruitment from financial companies in london, and my personal opinion is that the course isn't worth it for two main reasons,

1) "diplomas" (with a few specific exceptions) aren't viewed highly.

2) university brand is important in the city, and london met just doesn't have it. Putting it on your cv will probably do you more harm then good.

If you're a good programmer you can get into the city without financial experience (although it would have been easier a year ago). Find a specialist city tech recruiter you're happy with and let them find you a job.

Send me an email if you want a recommendation for a recruiter.
i Send private email
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
 
 
I am 30 years old and have been software developer for 10 years. I have worked in several fields (telecommunications, bank and software house). And from what I know most jobs at bank are quite low paid (this is here in Latvia, Europe).
Rix
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 

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