Credit Suisse is doubling the size of its ‘solutions’ technology team in Hong Kong and Singapore this year and it wants candidates from outside of banking to apply.
The unit, which supports Credit Suisse’s derivatives business in Asia, has grown from 30 to 50 people in Hong Kong over the past two years, says Paul Gresham, CIO of APAC solutions IT.
Credit Suisse now plans to increase headcount to 100 by the end of this year – and base some of the 50 new recruits in Singapore and Shenzhen as well as Hong Kong. Fourteen of these vacancies are already open.
“The business has an almost infinite hunger for good engineers,” says Gresham. “Our job descriptions are general in nature – from pricing and execution to automated lifecycle management, all utilising full-stack developers to build our apps.”
Gresham describes the recruitment drive as “tech first”, meaning he’s open to candidates not currently working in finance so long as they are “passionate about technology”. They could come from tech firms or from other parts of the corporate sector, for example.
He admits, however, that banking has traditionally been a less appealing career option for some young developers. “So when we hire from outside of financial services, we have to educate people about who Credit Suisse is and what we do.”
Why would you want to leave Google or Alibaba for Credit Suisse?
“In contrast to many banking-tech jobs, these are agile roles we’re hiring for, bordering on extreme programming. So we need highly technical candidates who are used to working in an agile environment and using their initiative,” says Gresham.
“On a typical project you work in teams of three or four and we give you freedom to choose the technology – whether that’s Java, Groovy, JS, Ruby or others – that’s best to complete it,” he adds.
Gresham says his team operates in a “test-driven development environment” and talks directly to sales and trading, rather than communicating via business analysts.
“And about 95% of the technology we’ve developed for Asian derivatives has been done in Asia. Asia Pacific is one of the three regional divisions at Credit Suisse and our regional management teams are based in Hong Kong and Singapore,” he says.
But why is Credit Suisse hiring techies in Asian derivatives given that first-quarter revenue in its APAC markets business fell 41% year-on-year?
“Our focus right now is on helping the business become more efficient through technology,” says Gresham. “We’re increasing our tech headcount and this must be accompanied by an efficiency drive. So our team is reducing costs by offering new products and delivering them more quickly.”
Gresham’s team is designing a range of customised tools that sit on the desktops of front-office staff and help them automate their work. “For example, tools that help structurers build bespoke financial products quickly for different customers, or which help connect relationship managers in private banking with salespeople in the markets business,” he says.
“This automation is driven by a growing need to get relevant data to the front-office quickly to enable them to come up with good financial ideas. We provide multiple equity-pricing snapshots, with data volumes of over 60 million a day, for example,” adds Gresham.
If your initial application is up to scratch, there are several stages to the recruitment process for jobs in the Credit Suisse solutions technology team in Asia.
You will firstly be given a simple programming problem to solve at home and then face a phone interview to discuss it. “Next there's a technical chat with a senior member of the team. During this you may be asked to solve a systems-architecture problem on a whiteboard,” says Gresham.
“Then comes a pure programming assignment where you work with one of our programmers. And we also do a final interview with a senior member of the team,” he adds.