IB VS. COMP SCI

SlowestAnalyst's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 696

I wanted to write a post addressing the professional pros of a career in finance vs. a career in computer science. Growing up and while in college I made the decision to pursue finance with the ultimate goal of breaking into investment banking which luckily came to fruition after a lot of hard work. This may not apply to you, but in retrospect I believe I may have considered computer science more seriously if I had to do it all over again - not saying investment banking doesn't have its perks, but a lifelong list of achievements in computer science looks like it now yields more equity and entrepreneurial opportunities vs. a lifelong list of achievements in finance. I just even think about the computer scientists that are making software tools for investment banking (like Memo|Fi, Mapping|Intern) and think of what an opportunity it would be if I could create IP myself.

Investment Banking (Advisory) Pros
-Opportunity to create prestigious connections with executive managements, buyside/AM investors, and your own BB, MM, or EB managing directors directly out of college.
-Ability to learn how to position/market an enterprise to prepare if for transformative business transactions such as capital raises, mergers, and/or dissolutions.
-Forced fluency in excel and powerpoint, which at the end of the day still continue to lead modern business in the software arena.

Computer Science Pros
-Opportunity to be on the front lines of startup America as software engineers are continuously exposed to ideas in the office and through personal networks.
-Ability to single handedly bring a website or software to life without the help of hiring a freelance software engineer - essentially, the ability to create your own IP at your own will (no roadblocks)
-Forced fluency in computing languages that will be the framework of all future softwares and business
-Job security during economic downturns that affect corporate America

I am sure all of you in investment banking have business ideas and more likely than not the thing holding you back is your inability to bring that idea to life with your own skills. What do you guys think? Investment Banking vs. Computer Science?

Comments (78)

Funniest
Jun 23, 2020

here we go again

Array

    • 46
    • 1
Jun 25, 2020

I'm going to leave this here, as well as at the bottom of the thread:

Tech an as alternative to finance

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 26, 2020

Great post!

Jun 23, 2020

Different groups of folks, but yeah I think both sets of founders include at least 1 ex-banker.

Think IBD is an underrated path to entrepreneurship. CS doesn't have a monopoly on people making successful startups

    • 1
  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Gen
Jun 24, 2020

I thought they were both out of Goldman

    • 2
  • Associate 1 in IB - DCM
Jun 23, 2020

Bro, you are posting this on a finance forum... you think everyone is going to say IB or COMP SCI? I wonder...

    • 1
Jun 23, 2020

you're right why wouldn't I work in IB where the benefits are 1. prorated salary of a McDonald's fry cook 2. I'll become an expert at copy & pasting + PowerPoint 3. After 30 years of making useless models I'll have a sick title next to my name

    • 8
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 26, 2020

You forgot a benefit: 4. Being in a supportive office environment where everyone is smiling your way :) every morning

    • 1
  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020

gotta love the classic weekly IB vs X threads

    • 5
    • 1
Jun 23, 2020

Current CS major at top 4 public thinking you are over glorifying the profession. 1). The job security is exaggerated as roughly ~25 percent of the CS majors at my school lost their summer internships/ full time job offers 2). For those who go to non FAANG level companies compensation tops out at ~140k in addition there is TREMENDOUS pressure to keep up with the latest technologies/ frameworks otherwise you are shown the door. Try studying the latest IDE and language updates with the declined logical abilities of a middle aged adult raising a family. 3). For the better or the worse the lack of protectionist policies against foreign nationals and low barriers to entries will drag down wages and job prospects.

    • 3
    • 2
Jun 23, 2020

"top 4 public"

so you go to UVA?

    • 3
    • 4
  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020

Why is there a separate ranking for public schools? I always see "top 10 public", but never see "top 10 private". Is it just to make it a higher rank?

Jun 23, 2020

yes.

  • Prospect in Other
Jun 25, 2020

[quote="Giannis34"]
"For those who go to non FAANG level companies compensation tops out at ~140k in addition there is TREMENDOUS pressure to keep up with the latest technologies/ frameworks otherwise you are shown the door. "

I'm assuing the 140k is for entry level positions at these companies right? But from what I understand there is also a lower salary Peak in CS?

Jun 30, 2020

Oh yeah, much lower. FAANG and IB starting salaries correlate pretty well with the median CS salary being around 75k (lower bonuses than IB folks though)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020
  1. CS is not a career path, it is an academic subject. Do you mean SWE? If so, there are plenty of people from non-CS backgrounds or top bootcamp backgrounds in SWE. It's not like saying medicine where there's a 1-to-1 mapping from subject to career path - please stop treating it like that.
  2. The only two industries where SWEs make outsized amounts of money are Tech (bigCos/GAFAM, tier 1/2/3 established companies, well-funded startups mostly based in tech hub cities) and Quant Finance (tech-driven prop shops, quant investment firms, quant trading teams at banks). In almost every other industry or in a professional services firm (both of which are where the VAST MAJORITY of SWEs work) there's absolutely nothing special about the career path. It's as good as any middle class, white collar job.
  3. Both Tech and QuantFin are highly remunerative industries in and of themselves. Largely because of their approach to paying core talent well. In Tech, all of the core talent (SWE, DS/Analytics/Applied ML, Product, Product Marketing, Design) gets paid very well at all IC levels and also on the management track with maybe SWE and Product leading the way. Similarly in Quant Finance core talent (Quant Traders, Quant Researchers, SWEs) also get paid very well. In Tech, the comp structure is more clear (esp. with late stage or public stock) i.e. sandwich of base+yearly vesting stock (multiple tranches of RSUs vesting)+bonus, in QF, it's more opaque - i.e. modest salary + significant year-end bonus.
  4. Although SWEs get paid slightly more per level than other core roles, they aren't the only ones making cash in Tech - it just pays well overall. There is nothing, absolutely nada special about being a SWE in and of itself. Tech just pays very well - for both core technical/biz roles and for support biz roles. Which means, unlike banking where the industry and the career are one and the same, the premium doesn't come from being on the SWE track it comes from being in the Tech space itself.
  5. Banking and SWE share absolutely 0 in common on an ideal temperament/functional interest/skillset basis. You may as well be comparing Music and Medicine. There certainly are core roles in Tech that do share somewhat of the same talent pool as Banking and other top business jobs - notably Product and Product Marketing - where it would make sense to form some kind of comparison between the two tracks. And there are absolutely non-core roles that are even common exit opps for bankers and the like - e.g. CorpDev, BizOps/Strategy, BizDev etc where a comparison more than makes sense. But the point is, you are fundamentally comparing two drastically different paths: one of niche skill specialisation and one of broader business strategizing/soft skills/handling ambiguity. You choose either one or the other not both. Seriously, try having a conversation about anything finance or business to a group of technical nerds and vice versa try having a technical conversation to biz/finance bros won't take more than a few seconds to see eyes glaze over.
  6. Traditional high finance (IB/Fundamental HF/VC/PE/Fundamental AM) probably has consistently higher ceiling than either of Tech or Quant Finance. Most folks in either space will be effectively "stuck" at an upper middle class type of income (i.e. ~$250-600k) for the rest of their careers with only a few people making it into the rarified air of higher comp (i.e. higher IC/Management levels in Tech, significant PnL linkage/responsibility in Quant Finance). In traditional high finance, so long as you survive, you're more guaranteed to be among the highest of earners (i.e. high six figures to mid seven figures) in the professional world as an individual contributor.
  7. All this said, the only REAL way of becoming exceptionally wealthy is to start a company. It could be your own fund, a vc-backed startup or a new chain of restaurants, whatever it is, that is the only path to becoming a true BSD in this world. Not measuring dicks over whether Tech or Quant Finance or Traditional High Finance or Medicine or BigLaw or Consulting or Corporate Functions/Leadership or whatever other formerly upper middle class yuppie-infested, insecurity ridden career path exists out there is better than the other.
    • 27
    • 1
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 23, 2020
Analyst 1 in IB - Gen:
  1. All this said, the only REAL way of becoming exceptionally wealthy is to start a company. It could be your own fund, a vc-backed startup or a new chain of restaurants, whatever it is, that is the only path to becoming a true BSD in this world.

ib-->pe--> entreprenuer ?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020

Any number of backgrounds or job combos could lead to entrepreneurship. What matters is actually having the cojones to jump in and make it happen.

    • 2
Jun 24, 2020

Bro you should've stared with Number 7 as the very first point and made it all in bold for all the idiots on this site that still think Tech/Finance are golden tickets to becoming multi-millionaires. A person who owns a tech outsourcing company that manages all IT for multiple companies will out earn even VPs at the FAGMAN companies. (Yes I know it's FAANG, FAGMAN is funnier because working at those companies is just a gulag in disguise and the pay is not worth the lifestyle of being a code monkey that's available 24/7).

    • 2
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 24, 2020

Slight nuisance but: It's not FAANG.

That term was born out of one of CNBC's talking heads as an approximation of some of the best performing stock in the Tech sector. In reality, Netflix is a literal blip when held up next to the actual big tech companies - i.e. GAFAM. Their total market cap, range of products and core talent headcount pale in comparison to Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft.

More aptly, It belongs alongside the other Tier 1 established companies like Uber, Twitter, LinkedIn, Lyft, Dropbox etc which, don't get me wrong, are all great but they aren't quite the same as bigTech yet.

You're absolutely right though about everything else. You can literally hire a bunch of code monkeys from Eastern Europe or India and farm them out to conglomerates or mid-market firms at insanely cheap rates then take your cut. Hey presto, you're now pulling in more than most people will ever make in their lives with little to no effort on your part.

    • 1
    • 1
  • VP in IB - Gen
Jun 27, 2020

Well said

    • 1
  • Prospect in Other
Jun 23, 2020

One big thing that a lot of people tend to overlook IMO is that you need to be willing to stick through the 4 Year CS degree and have the smarts do so. If you don't like coding, then you can't go with CS just for the job security or pay. You have to actually like what you're doing.

    • 1
Jun 30, 2020

correction, if you don't like math, don't go for a CS degree or any quantitatively disciplined STEM field. Only 2 STEM options that use little math and that's pretty much just biology which is just memorization, and chemistry, but even chemistry requires you to take calculus 1-3 in order to fully understand optimal chemical mixtures.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 23, 2020

Lol gtfo

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Jun 23, 2020

coding is hard

Jun 23, 2020

Seen CS kids come to finance, not the other way around

Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.

    • 1
  • Associate 2 in Acct - Audit
Jun 24, 2020

Yeah because computer science is harder than finance..

    • 13
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020

I swear this same topic gets posted every month. I'm a CS major that made the jump to IB. One isn't better than the other, and the people that enjoy coding and computer architecture probably don't enjoy finance and vice versa. I ended up hating writing code, it's not for everyone, and the narrative that being a software developer makes it that much easier to start a million/billion dollar startup is laughable. Even if you can code, but not just code, write clean software AND have a great idea, many many people still fail. This is one of the dumbest comparisons of all time. But, it just shows that so many people are worried about how their career or job is perceived or how much they can make in X years. Do something you are interested in and that you don't mind getting up everyday to do, and do it well, and you'll make money.

    • 6
Jun 24, 2020

while generally true, not many artists and writers are insanely rich lmao. But I do agree with you, and those who are passionate about the arts could care less about money which is why they're passionate about the arts and are great at it.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020

I also seriously doubt that any college student that took 1 intro CS course who asks these questions truly realizes how hard it is to even get a job as a software engineer at a FAANG or other big tech companies. It's not for everyone.

    • 2
Jun 23, 2020

Im going to post this exact same question next week for all of you

    • 3
Jun 24, 2020

why would you become a software engineer when you can simply hire full stack developers in india/Pakistan/China for cheaper if you decide to go the entrepreneurship route.

trust me, software development is boring, tedious, and you don't " create " anything. founders and executives decide exactly what needs to be built and the only thing you get to do is to figure out how to put their vision into code.

essentially you are just copy pasting their vision in a much harder way.

this is coming from ex FANG 2 year software engineer.

Array

    • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Restr
Jun 24, 2020

Interesting... but if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and can code you basically have it all

    • 1
Jun 24, 2020

New here, to collect a banana~

    • 2
    • 4
Jun 30, 2020

take my monkey poops instead poop

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 24, 2020

Agree with a lot of the points above that most people here way over-glorify SWE as a profession. I'm a CS major, did an internship at a big tech company, and hated it and switched over to IB. That being said, the one pro of tech is the jobs are probably a lot easier to land. At my target, literally anyone who is able to graduate with a CS degree and isn't completely socially inept can land a great CS job, whereas you see plenty of qualified kids recruit for IB and get skunked. Due to the difficulty of a CS major, I think a lot of it is that people just get weeded out earlier (as opposed to IB when people get weeded out during recruiting), but in my experience tech recruiting is less of a black box with all the hoops you have to jump through (hirevues, networking, etc) and smart people get the good jobs.

    • 2
Jun 24, 2020

probably more of a black box for banking but most definitely not as difficult as tech ones. I've done both Google: 4hr technical interview and I mean straight coding on a white board during an interview vs. BofA: asking you modeling questions which is essentially memorization... can't really compare.

Try solving one problem on leetcode.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 24, 2020

I interned at a FAANG company my sophomore year and recruited for IB the next summer I can say 100% that IB recruiting is way harder. Sure, SWE interviews are probably more technical, but I was able to succeed in interviews without any serious prep outside of class. For IB interviews, I spent countless hours learning accounting, valuation, etc necessary for the interviews.

Also, I have a decent resume and got a first round at every tech company I did a resume drop at. No networking or any other BS. If you have a decent resume, they interview you. Compare that to IB where I networked at at least 15 banks, applied to around 40 banks, and only got 5 first round interviews. Sure, a banking super day might be a little technically easier, but I can absolutely say that the entire application process at a tech company is much much easier.

    • 1
  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Jun 24, 2020

As someone who also did interviews for SWE at FAANG before making the switch to finance, coding interviews at the undergrad level are actually pretty easy. Cracking the coding interview and good to go. Maybe your experience was different (not sure if you recruited undergrad or what year), but a lot of finance people that I know think swe is hard because they havent learned how to code or taken ay programming class before lol

Jun 24, 2020

Finance interviews were harder because (surprise) you've never taken an accounting or finance course before. Meanwhile you've been coding a ton. Also IB is the gold standard of finance so you have to compare it with breaking into Google not just getting a dev job out of college.

Array

    • 3
    • 2
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 25, 2020

I have taken accounting courses, but I've found CS classes at school do a much better job preparing you for CS interviews vs finance courses and IB interviews. Anyone can take 5 CS courses and be prepared for an interview. Unless you are at a serious undergrad business school and only take finance classes, you will have to do some serious prep for IB interviews. Also, you can say google is like the GS of tech, but there are plenty of IB firms and plenty of great tech cos, so comparing IB to google alone is ridiculous.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 24, 2020

My cousin is an senior engineer at Microsoft (Seattle, WA) and has been with the company for for more than 15 years now. I stayed over at his house the other day and he was up the entire night doing what was essentially tech support for clients and had to do this for another 7 days or something. In my view, CS is glorified to be a lot of things that it may not be. Firstly, the pay is good only for the top companies, and they do make you work hard. Similar to the mind-numbing activities in IB, you have tasks that don't require as much brainpower. Also, CS pay tops out really quickly (even though one may start at the same or higher level than IB). Finally, I hate the fact that you have to continuously be up to date with new stuff or less you get thrown out of the industry pretty quickly.

Jun 24, 2020

that's for any industry, it just gets a lot of notoriety in Tech because the whole point of tech is innovation. Finance is no different, every single MD and VP I knew was reading the news 24/7, it's even more so in trading since traders must be aware of what's going on 24/7 other wise a stock price plummets and they sold too late costing their P&L or a stock surges and they miss out on potential gains.

    • 1
Jun 24, 2020

Just start a YouTube/tiktok/onlyfans brother, why even bother with this academic/job/career nonsense

    • 2
    • 1
Jun 24, 2020

YouTube is now overly saturated, best time to have gotten in was 2007-2010. All the big names in gaming for example were guys who were around that time and kept on going AND also didn't get into a load of shit for doing something stupid or insane. Nowadays youtubers are lucky if they can even get 100k subs and as things are going with the platform, the company is caring less about content creators and more about what the advertisers are saying which makes sense cuz content creators don't pay the bills.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 27, 2020

Instagram is not overly saturated..

  • Intern in PropTrad
Jun 24, 2020

Let's move to FAANG now..

Jun 24, 2020

...

Jun 24, 2020

...

Jun 25, 2020

I feel like this should be stickied somewhere:

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/tech-as-an-...

Jun 25, 2020

I used to be a SWE at a big F500 company. I couldn't crack the coding interviews at FAANG (mainly due to lack of passion for coding) and so am going for an Mba to leave the field.

Software only pays really well to the top 5-10% of engineers in top FAANG and tech startups otherwise most end up capping their salary in the very low 6 figures.

It definitely takes passion and self study to make it into the top 5-10% - doing it for the money like I did is not a good idea..

Jun 25, 2020

How on earth can you compare computer science to investment banking advisory? In general, go do what you LIKE instead of trying to identify the position for max money and "prestige" out of college. If you want to make money, find something you're passionate about that also comes with the ability to do that if you're good (likely will have an entrepreneurial aspect like you say).

"-Opportunity to create prestigious connections with executive managements, buyside/AM investors, and your own BB, MM, or EB managing directors directly out of college."
This doesn't have anything to do with ibd in that you can make connections with significant people if you hold a very selective position in any thriving industry. Do you think that those recruited into the most competitive comp sci positions at Google aren't making similarly valuable connections?

"-Forced fluency in excel and powerpoint, which at the end of the day still continue to lead modern business in the software arena."
lol what. the fact that they continue to lead in at least some industries is actually a liability. Excel will remain valuable at least for a fair amount of time as more powerful alternatives are still too high on the learning curve for much of the educated workforce. Powerpoint is something that is not even taught in community college graphic design classes anymore because it's considered a dinosaur era tool in many industries. The fact that corporate finance lags behind in this regard doesn't mean that it's a valuable skill.

"-Ability to single handedly bring a website or software to life without the help of hiring a freelance software engineer - essentially, the ability to create your own IP at your own will (no roadblocks)"
The skills to create an advanced web interface or do software programming isn't exactly an innovative skill in this day and age. There are MILLIONS of americans who can do this and millions more foreigners. Not saying it's easy but you don't need to study computer science in college to gain these skills and they will only take you to a run of the mill educated middle class job on their own.

You do raise a really worthwhile concern about not being able to interact directly with today's more innovative industries if that's what you want. I'd say from my outside unqualified observation that the most successful in tech either have very solid technical skills coupled with excellent sales ability or are legitimate computer science geniuses (which I doubt almost anyone here is). I'm also probably missing the marketing and design side for companies that are consumer facing. If you look at the c-suite of the major tech companies, you'll see many people that fit somewhere within these categories.

Array

    • 1
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 25, 2020

agreed. do what you are passionate about

  • Prospect in S&T - FI
Jun 25, 2020

Quick search through your history shows you're still in college yet you're talking like youve got years of experience. Not disagreeing just curious why people on this website talk so confidently when they don't know shit

    • 1
  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Jun 25, 2020

I guess it doesnt matter how much experience you have as long as you have the right perspective and a good attitude which you deff need to work on

Jun 26, 2020

yeah, I get you on not having experience. I do feel a bit weird posting stuff like this but you don't really need experience to know about the issues I posted on in this thread. As an aside, I like commenting advice on threads where I feel I can actually provide help with people's questions. Maybe my truth path is HR lol

Array

Jun 25, 2020

Glad you guys are digging my post :)

    • 3
    • 1
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 26, 2020
Comment
    • 3
    • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 27, 2020
Jun 28, 2020