Tech work at banks sucks

Hello all. I am a SWE, and I'm just coming here to say one thing: engineering at a big bank fucking sucks. 


At my current job I make tc of about 500k a year, but if I were to jump over to a bank I would only be making 225ish(Quoted from HH who does recruiting for bank tech) Even if I were to jump in a role 2 stages ahead of me, on average I would still take a pay cut of about 50k. At entry level roles the pay across FAANG and high growth companies like Stripe, Uber, and Airbnb is going to drastically outpace swe at banks, oftentimes being double what banks offer. A big reason behind this is the lack of equity compensation and the fact that banks treat you like a cost and not an investment, which I'll get into later. Most tech companies will offer higher base and bonus, with equity giving a massive bump. There's literally no salary advantage to taking a bank job over a tech job, and Walmart actually pays swe more a year than JPM.


Idk if I can call working at a bank a snooze fest, but it sure would be close. Everyone I've talked to in banking swe says that you don't get to work with any newer tech or work with faster cloud development. Instead, your work consists of maintaining legacy code written by Moses himself and trying to make sure that the dumpster fire of code dumped on you doesn't explode and lose the bank half a million dollars. This becomes so much worse if no one has taken notes on the code, and because swe already has high churn and many of these banks simply don't care about tech as long as it works, the code oftentimes has literally nothing in terms of where things go and why things work. 


Now, this entire next section is going to be much more anecdotal/hear-say and less fact based, as everyone's experience is different, but based on what I've heard talking to friends working in banks the treatment of engineers is horrible. First, WLB sucks. The culture at banks is very much still that work hard play hard type mentality, and that carries over to engineers in a big way. Most work significantly harder than their tech counterparts. Now, I know many of you are grumbling hearing this after finishing your 27 assumption dcf that will get looked at for all of 2 seconds, but hear me out. The work in swe is highly technical, and most going into the field are smart, but I can tell you we don't go into cs to work banker hours. I honestly admire how bankers are able to have such high levels of attention to detail after working 15 hours straight, as I literally can't think after working 10 straight. Yall built different. Another big issue faced by tech workers is the aforementioned being treated like an expense and not a investment. Engineers are treated like back office employees(which we are) meaning we're looked down upon by the front office and higher ups. There's also little room for advancement, with many engineers being stuck in VP hell, unable to climb any higher. 


There is simply less opportunities to learn from higher ranking engineers because most of the for lifers at banks aren't as talented(albeit they are usually hard working) as in tech companies. Many of your peers at the banks will be people who weren't able to secure jobs at tech firms and settled for a bank, with hopes of leveraging it to get into FAANG. Many actually take the dreaded amazon over banks to get the learning experience and be able to leverage to get a better tech job. Many can get pigeonholed into banking because you spend too much time away from technologies such as AWS, Azure, github, and other enterprise technologies which help a ton for engineers to learn and advance down the line.


Ah yes, the promise land of becoming a quant. Many swe would dream of this role. However, outside of a few, it comes with major tradeoffs. First, all your skills are built solely around backend tech, and you become incredibly good with C++, but when you need to build a website and use a cloud service for it you have no experience with HTML/CSS or AWS, so you need to learn a ton just to get a full stack job. Also, for many, the drawbacks of stress that comes with constantly needing to be perfect and never mess up at work gets people stressed out(MM HF people would know what this is like) It's a much more niece style of work, and at banks it actually still pays worse than top tech firms. Outside of HF, tech is still a higher paying job with better hours, career optionality, WLB, and overall mental health. 


This all makes the future of banks scary. Let's not kid ourselves here, fintech is absolutely expanding and could pose a serious threat to all of finance. This means that if banks want to compete, they'll have to start investing into tech big time, and that starts with talent. We see tech firms claim to make big investments in tech all the time, but oftentimes this is just a move for investor relations, not real tangible investments into genuine improvements. I've used Neobanking apps and traditional old banking apps, and the difference really is night and day. Also, this likely means that until banks start to invest more heavily into tech, your jobs will have a >1% chance of being taken over by Ai, which I can do a full post discussing. Overall, the lack of tech investment will long term hurt the banks in multiple major areas. Startups in the blockchain could make transactions between individuals instant, and the possibility to make equities and bonds into blockchain that doesn't require t+2 could completely destroy banks market making and trading businesses overnight. The threat of robo investing and passive etfs could potentially have detrimental effects on banks wealth management. The rise of Neobanks offering better rates and more convenient low cost accounts where you don't constantly feel like you're getting railed in the ass(Fuck you wells fargo) could majorly affect consumer banking. P2P lending could completely cut out mortgage lenders and potentially lead to an outright destruction of consumer lending, with the potential for commercial lending down the line. All of this might seem super out there and almost impossible, but I've worked directly with companies like Sofi, upstart, robinhood, coinbase, and stripe and they're all making massive leaps, and their current technology lead makes me think that for many of these issues it's not an if, but rather when. 

That's just a long rant on tech in banks. I look forward to being proven wrong by others in the comments, and I hope you can forgive me for wasting the last 5 minutes of your life.


Yeah I ain’t reading allat. Must suck making $500k as a glorified IT guy. Booooo hoo


I'm sorry, these guys might not know better because they lack build experience. But you are full of shit. No one is working on complex AI models and web dev at the same time. You are a fucking liar dude. As fucking if. Totally different ball games, totally segregated teams at a FAANG and at a startup web dev would be outsourced to India and the AI in house. u r full of shit. U made this post to instigate (or more likely probs to put a bandaid over your resentment for not getting an offer). And to back this point up, with your salary and other comments about senior devs, you clearly suggested you are working in big tech ie FAANG or near equivalent. Yeah, ur full of shit -- see my earlier statement about how big tech operates its teams. They would never have u doing both these things. Loser.


It's so odd how these self proclaimed successful software engineers go out of their way to create an account on a finance forum to complain about their industry yet try to flex on IB in the post and comments. Who are you trying to impress? Not trying to offend but no one on this forum cares about tech. It's irrelevant and insignificant. Go back to reddit/TikTok/blind/whatever you dorks frequent nowadays.


I am not trying to flex on IB. Quite honestly, I think bankers are some of the hardest working people I've ever met, and their determination and attention to detail is something I admire. I was making this post because it directly impacts the day to day of bankers and it could have major negative long term connotations for the industry and major players in it. Yes, tech is generally not a job you'd see or consider on a platform about wall street, but having a discussion about how the financial industry could be shifted is a big deal for banking and finance. Also, you might not consider tech to be of importance, but there are tech workers wherever you work, and they're just as important to the daily process and running of the banks as the bankers and traders. As for me shitting on people in the comments, that wasn't entirely my intention. As I already stated, I really do admire bankers, but when someone comes onto the forum without reading anything I've said and proceeds to shit on all the hard work I've put into my career when they're just an intern, that really bugs me. No, I haven't worked 100 hour weeks, but that doesn't mean I don't work extremely hard and that I don't constantly push myself forward to be the best candidate I can be. I don't think there needs to be this divide of tech and finance like people here think there does, as with new industries we'll have to learn to get along in these new areas. Again, not my intention. 

Most Helpful

It is very odd to take so much time to write up a post about a role that:

1. You have never worked (as stated initially, you never worked as a SWE in banking)

2. Is mostly unrelated to this platform's user base. We work in finance, but this website is dedicated toward a select few roles in finance. You may as well be posting about HR

Additionally, your POV is totally anecdotal and doesn't seem to be inclusive of all roles in banking. I can provide the same level of commentary too you know. I have two friends at JPM that work as SWE. Both of them feel very well compensated. One of them found that JPM paid more for his role than any of the other offers he received, indicating comp was above street. The other is in the machine learning group and left a high paying consulting role to land this position. Surely the comp is decent, given she exited a top tech consulting firm as a pretty senior data engineer?

Look, your post just comes across as straight up weird. There are places where it would be relevant, but it simply isnt here. Any tech forum, I mean f*ck, even reddit, would be more appropriate. But see the thing is, you don't post there, because you have zero credibility. You are blabbering on about your friends and random HHs (as though 1 HHs experience is a tell all for an entire INDUSTRY), so instead you trash talk banks in an uninteresting manner on WSO, a finance forum. 


1. No, I haven't worked in a bank in swe, but I have interviewed and gotten the offer and 20 of my friends ended up at banks after the tech layoffs. Every single one of them had to take pay cuts, and so far half have chosen to leave due to poor working environments and bad pay. No, I might not have worked in a bank, but I know plenty who have, and so far they only have negative things to say

2. Yes, this is a finance/wall street based forum, but these issues can and will affect banking and bankers. Some of the top posts on this site are about what banks are continually on the rise and what banks aren't, so there's a clear focus on the firm, and what I can tell you coming from someone in fintech is that the biggest risers and fallers in the next few years won't come from an MD jumping ship or some other initiative; rather, the best banks going forward will be the ones that can innovate and use technology to their advantage. The comparison of HR to SWE is a bad one, because HR won't dramatically shift the entire industry and banking as a whole. It's absurd to think that SWE doesn't have a place on a forum like this, because it's very likely that engineers and finance people will be working side and side in the future. If there was some dramatic shift in your workplace culture or even your job function, wouldn't you want to know?

3. Your friend came from one bad paying job to another. You claim my evidence is anecdotal, so I'll just take jobs listings. From JPM, in my role I would make a maximum of 140k with an average of 125k. At Netflix my role would, at minimum, make 200k and max make 700k. Also, on, JPM on average pays just half of what tech firms do. To the point of your friend making more in finance, well, consulting firms pay terrible. BCG X pays the max of 200k a year, and that's the highest I've seen a consulting firm offer. Outside of tech, engineers are severely underpaid.

4. Call me a blubbering idiot all you want. All I was trying to do was bring attention to a serious problem that could negatively impact every single person who uses this site. Like it or not, tech is coming for the roles around you, and if you can't adapt your bank will die.


My takeaway is that tech continues to overpay its mid SWEs, jeopardizing their own bottom line. I got your message loud and clear. 

Additionally, it is literally comical to think that bankers give a flying you know what about their internal SWE teams. You think anyone on this site will do anything differently because of your feedback on a certain banks' internal efforts to adopt more AI, to write more efficient trading code, etc? No, no they wont. Bankers care about deals closed, job stability, rainmaker MDs, things that impact their long-term career trajectory. 

The code you and your teams write literally doesnt move the needle in the slightest for any of us, as it simply doesnt impact our career trajectory.

I am convinced the people upvoting your posts are interns and / or people in tech because the notion that what SWEs think and feel about a specific bank being as important as what MDs are winning deals is beyond laughable, it just shows you dont understand our industry. 


Op has me bewildered…My brother and friend are swes…both worked at banks both front end. Friend at Barclays and Goldman…can’t speak for gs but the dude at 22 years old was making 200k working maybe 15 hours a week at Barclays and sending me snap chats of him blowing his money on dumb shit like a goku tatoo on his back. As for my brother he worked at a bank and now works for a f500 for like 250k a year and I’m not kidding like 7-10 hours a week… he smokes a lot of weed works out and lounges on a beach. These are anecdotal too but from what I’ve heard they’re considered much easier and like working at Microsoft in the front end…lower pay (it’s still 150-300k lol) but significantly less than 40 hours. Could have changed since Covid but I’ve only heard the bank stuff and f500s are jokes compared to the grind of being at Netflix and Amazon which would be the “bbs” of swe I suppose.


Hold the phones! You are telling me, my brother, that working in Tech for a Finance company is not as engaging as working for a...Technology company? I for one, am SHOCKED. 

Old news pal, I'm still on '07 excel, I coulda told you we don't give a shit about our IT departments in way less words. 


The fact that you still can't see how this could be an issue forward facing is a major problem. You're fundamentally apart of the problem. Your disdain for your own tech department is part of why tech in banks sucks; people like you make the culture for us terrible. That '07 excel can get automated out by a tech firm and your job made completely redundant, and the only reason a tech challenger hasn't come to the ib space yet is because the largest player in ib still pulls in just 1/5th of what largest tech players are doing, but as soon as a startup comes in promising better rates and faster time delivery through an advanced tech model, I can guarantee there won't be this lack of care from bankers, and realistically this will happen within the next 20 years at least 


The fact that you still can't see how this could be an issue 

I'm openly admitting that it's an issue now. I'm on a desktop PC dawg. What I'm mocking is the idea that this is news to us. 

You're fundamentally apart of the problem.

Learn to speak English, apart means separate. 

Your disdain for your own tech department is part of why tech in banks sucks; people like you make the culture for us terrible.

False, you're just soft. 

That '07 excel can get automated out by a tech firm and your job made completely redundant,

I'd love a chatbot to be able to crank through the menial crap I have to do in excel and powerpoint. Hurry up and develop it. 

and the only reason a tech challenger hasn't come to the ib space yet is because the largest player in ib still pulls in just 1/5th of what largest tech players are doing,

There have been plenty of FinTech "challenger" companies. Most suck, some do well, those that provide specific solutions just get acquired and become part of the broader banking ecosystem, or end up as service providers to the banks. Zoom, excel, CapIQ, etc. all help us do our jobs better so we can crank more business, they don't eradicate our jobs. Tech is complementary to finance, not a substitute. 

but as soon as a startup comes in promising better rates and faster time delivery through an advanced tech model, I can guarantee there won't be this lack of care from bankers, and realistically this will happen within the next 20 years at least 

Pretty sure there are public companies that do this and no one really gives that much of a shit and they are absolutely riddled with issues. Banking is extremely highly regulated and it is also a relationship business.

Finally, even if everything you say is right....we'll just learn to code. We aren't morons, just guys who figured this was the easiest way to guarantee high pay. As that equation changes so will we. Don't think anyone is super married to building excel financial models manually. No one is more aware of the industries inefficiencies than junior bankers...


The fact that you still can't see how this could be an issue forward facing is a major problem. You're fundamentally apart of the problem. Your disdain for your own tech department is part of why tech in banks sucks; people like you make the culture for us terrible. That '07 excel can get automated out by a tech firm and your job made completely redundant, and the only reason a tech challenger hasn't come to the ib space yet is because the largest player in ib still pulls in just 1/5th of what largest tech players are doing, but as soon as a startup comes in promising better rates and faster time delivery through an advanced tech model, I can guarantee there won't be this lack of care from bankers, and realistically this will happen within the next 20 years at least 

I didn’t read the other comment as not being able to see the issue, but rather as calling out the very obvious thing that you reference in other posts too. At tech companies the product is tech, so the focus is tech, and SWEs are more appreciated and better paid. At finance firms the tech isn’t the product, it enables the product, at some places to more importance than others (I.e., at a HF the quant vs SM discretionary, etc.). That makes sense, but you are making the argument that there should be more focus on tech, with banks paying for top talent and reinventing their tooling. Maybe, maybe not. That’s a big bet to take and one that could prove to be a terrible ROI. I’ve seen it happen at places that invest too quickly in this stuff. 


The amount of "Technology Overhaul" value-add strategies that I have seen waste tons of money and fall entirely flat is pretty crazy honestly. Especially when you're talking about a true overhaul of legacy financial / accounting systems. The process is a train-wreck typically, even when it works, and financial firms can't really afford to have shit go down for long periods of time like Twitter can while they dick around and find the best system.

But I do not disagree with you, I think on the markets and trading side, as well as the AM side, Technology is value-driver of the total product package. It's a bit more measured than thinking that a bank like Citi or UBS should have Tech Overhaul as a first, or even high priority right now. 


I don’t agree with the some of the conclusions in that big banks are screwed but there are a ton of very unnecessary replies that at best misunderstood the intent of the post. It’s a finance forum but there are people on here curious about making a switch to SWE or something more technical. This post is an offshoot of another one by OP.

I think it’s mostly solid advice to avoid most engineering and related roles at banks if you have the choice. Yes, it’s an obvious choice between Wells Fargo and Google but you probably should not pick Goldman over say Adobe. 


Learn to simplify your thoughts, that was a word dump.

You might have a point, TECH work in banks might not be super glamorous.

But tech work is not the core product of banks — deals/transactions are.

People who work on deals have a much different lifestyle and comp.

Go dump this nonsense on some tech forum.


What’s hilarious is how little of fintech is actually focused on IB. Sure there’s tech designed to help bankers like CapIQ, but much of fintech is consumer oriented. Much of that is essentially a bolt on to the existing financial ecosystem. If you’re doing automated lending decisions, but still relying on a warehouse facility and securitization, you’re not quite the disruptor you think you are.

In addition, a big advantage for banks is regulation. If you want to take deposits there’s a set of rules and the OCC/bank regulators aren’t the same as local municipalities that caved to Uber. Also regulators in general have espoused more of a fuck tech attitude. NYC is effective banning AirBnB, what’s to say some state banking regulator won’t go after the next person who “disruptively innovates “ by ignoring state law with an injunction? Finally, there’s been a lot of shitty products and models created over the last few years that have required subsidy via VC dollars or only really work in tranquil conditions, when a recession hits it’ll be interesting to see how all of these fintechs fare.


Sorry to say, but OP is absolutely correct. Tech at banks generally suck for all the reasons he mentioned. You're working with decade old technology and despite what banks want to project, they still can't figure out cloud. Unless you're on the desk, for example as a desk quant, it will underwhelming.


Not sure why finance folks are so salty about OPs take.  It explains why so much technology at so many banks is sub-par, especially anything outside of the biggest banks.  Let me restate this for the IB autists who are already foaming at the mouth: obviously there are exceptions but most tech at most banks isn't really that good and it really makes life harder than it has to be.  Some of my engagements touch tech and from what I've seen banks very clearly A) don't have the most skilled tech folks working there and B) stretch them wayyy too thin and things are done rather haphazardly.  Trading desks and quant shops are a different story but overall as long as stuff 'sort of works' then most banks prefer to cut costs instead of optimize their systems.  Something to note though is that it often doesn't how optimized does excel need to be for an M&A group?  It works, great, move on to other things.

Regarding your last point: most tech startups don't have the capital base to replace banks and most established tech don't want the regulatory headaches that come with participation in the financial industry.  What I have seen is an increased reliance on vendor solutions for comprehensive business platforms, and this is where I think there's an opportunity for any tech folks currently stuck at a bank.  It's also an investment opportunity as some banks take an equity stake in some specialty vendors.  I do think an area where tech may start to strike at the heart of financial institutions are companies like Robinhood that could in theory start incrementally expanding into less sexy functions performed by banks: back office support for financial advisors, custody, clearing, etc.

I'd say this though: tech already had its recession pain, banks have just gotten a small taste of what's to come.

Get busy living

I don't disagree with him that banks or most other older fortune 500s are not as nice to work as a programmer.  It's the whole "AI startup blockchain disruption take all your jobs" verbal diarrhea in the last paragraph that I think all of us are sick of hearing, especially when it's coming from a guy whose only experience in finance is listening to his buddies complain about their jobs and having a recruiter try to short change him.


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Get busy living

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