Wall Street and Silicon Valley compete for top tech talent


When preparing to enter the workforce the two most common fields that graduating college students tend to flock to are firms that are based in either Silicon Valley or Manhattan’s Wall Street district. This makes both sectors one of the most competitive fields that job applicants can apply to.

Fortune magazine remarks that both sectors have a ‘fruitful relationship’ because many tech start-ups are reliant on investors, usually from the financial sector, to fund their operations. However the part where these sectors come into conflict is talent acquisition.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein stated in an interview regarding employment at Goldman Sachs, “We want to hire really smart people, who are dedicated to what they do, and in turn will do great things for the firm.” Those expectations for incoming employees resonate with executives in the tech world as well.

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said in a separate interview, “We’re looking for wicked smart people who have a point of view, and want to debate that point of view, and people that want to change something.” Management in both fields can be demanding when it comes to the skill set that job applicants possess.

In 2014, CNN reported on University of Massachusetts at Amherst student Jorge Velasquez, a mathematics and economics enthusiast who accepted a summer internship at Citigroup.

But Jorge’s plan wasn’t to stay in finance for a long term career, rather his plan was to spend the summer at Citigroup, “because he thought it would make him stand out if he applies for a job later at Google” according to the article he was featured in. The same process can occur in the opposite direction, which was demonstrated this past March when one of the largest hedge fund firms, Bridgewater Associates, hired former Apple Executive Jon Rubinstein, the leading development manager of Apple’s iPod and iMac devices.

Wall Street and Silicon Valley have grown to become extremely receptive towards applicants that have advanced skills or knowledge in technical skills, such as software programming or data management.

Aspiring to work at a large company and having these skills helps to differentiate certain individuals from the general applicant pool.

Some knowledge of a programming languages like Python, C++ or JavaScript are useful when dealing with digital platforms that are used in both industries whether it be a Bloomberg terminal, a Tradeweb Markets viewer, or creating a completely new program. In a position that deals with data management SQL is an essential skill according to the job requirements listed in applications from LinkedIn, Deutsche Bank and Tradeweb Markets.

Being fluent in the technical vocabulary of a product is a skill that certain positions will require. Salespeople in the largest financial institutions trying to sell the systems that their companies use to place trades need a deep understanding of the very thing they are selling.

Having someone at sales in Bloomberg L.P. who cannot answer what vendors Bloomberg collects data from, how that data is synthesized and compressed into the terminal’s display and what specialized features a user can set for themselves is not only troubling for the company but for the entire market as a whole.

Having interpersonal skills is a requirement that is one of the most common features on any job application in any high profile company. The ability to communicate effectively when a problem arises is critical for the well being of any organization and is one of the most valued features in both Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

Some of the largest banks have restructured their compensation models to compete for talent with the largest tech companies. In 2015, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America announced that the average pay for junior level executives increased by 20 percent.

Whether a person has a future in Silicon Valley or Wall Street, both are demanding workplaces and have substantial long-term value.


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