Recent advances in technology have resulted in an increase in demand for professionals with specific finance tech skills. Technological advances have forced an increasing number of financial institutions to rely more heavily on electronic systems and processes to develop high-level trading strategies using data. As a result, employers have altered the types of technical skills they look for in hiring new finance professionals.
While strong educational and professional backgrounds are great credentials to get your foot in the door, in today’s digital age, your technical acumen will distinguish you from your competition. Ben Hartman, a Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division, has witnessed the gradual shift in the types of finance tech skills employers want to see in prospective candidates. “While employers still want candidates with strong educational and professional backgrounds, they also want to see candidates with a high-technical aptitude,” notes Ben.
Today’s finance tech skills
Quantitative Analysis and Machine Learning are just two recent examples within the financial sector that have created opportunities for finance professionals with strong technical backgrounds. “Candidates with working knowledge of the most up-to-date programming skills or who are highly-skilled in using specific technologies and platforms will stand out more,” says Ben. Some of the most in-demand programming languages and software programs finance professionals may benefit from highlighting include: SQL, Python, C++, MATLAB, and VBA in Excel.
Today’s finance professionals that possess general coding experience may have the flexibility to work in Operations or Trading Execution on a variety of investment teams. For example, a hedge fund looking for a candidate with 2 to 5 years of operational experience in equities now seek finance professionals that also possess a working knowledge of certain programming languages and advanced Excel skills.
What to do if you lack finance tech skills
Today, employers are no longer relying solely on their IT departments and traders to create the market. Instead, financial institutions are finding ways to utilize their internal financial staff more strategically. They now offer more opportunities for employees to pick up new technical skills. “If you don’t possess any formal coding or advanced software skills, look for opportunities internally at your current employer to learn from senior technicians,” advises Ben. For example, some banks may provide employees with the opportunity to get technical training internally, or even subsidize additional trainings or certifications.
Once you gain working knowledge of a specific language or software, be sure to find ways in your current work setting to apply that knowledge. “Throughout the interview process, if you’ve listed a specific coding language/program on your resume, be sure to expect employers to ask for specific examples of how you’ve used that knowledge in your current/past role,” says Ben. “Failing to have concrete examples to refer to may raise red flags to employers.” Don’t make the mistake of listing something on your resume that you can’t back up!