Is Goldman Sachs really a technology company? It employs over 9,000 IT professionals and CEO Lloyd Blankfein reiterated its tech credentials in last week's annual report. Co-head of technology Paul Walker also confessed that Goldman is competing for talent with “start-ups and tech companies”.
Maybe it is. At Goldman Sachs, the technology team accounts for a higher proportion of headcount than at rival banks, and this is reflected in the composition of skills within the organisation. Programming language Java is the number one of any skill-set found in Goldman and 25% of its staff have software development skills, far greater than at any of its peers.
This is according to analysis of the Dice Open Web, a tool created by Work Digital Ltd, which brings together data from over 130 different social websites on past and present employees, aggregates it and presents it in an easily digestible manner for recruitment purposes. On a per company basis, skills are ranked against one another and then normalised with the top skill receiving maximum points.
We analysed data from the software development and hardware/embedded software categories on Open Web within the large investment banks to gain an idea of the top technology skills in these organisations. Java was the runaway winner.
But while Java was the number one tech skill across all investment banks, at Goldman Sachs it ranked top across the entire bank. It’s less important than other skills across most investment banks – at J.P. Morgan it ranked 30th, for example, while it was 15th at Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and 19th at Barclays. Tech skills therefore appear to be a lot more central at Goldman Sachs than elsewhere.
Java remains the hottest programming language in the investment banking world. There are more Java jobs in the sector than any other skill and there’s a skills-shortage simply because of the volume of jobs, rather than scarcity of candidates.
“Java has a lot going for it,” says Paul Elworthy, senior manager at IT in finance recruiters iKas International. “We see it used for core trading platforms, reconciliations, PnL attrition and risk management platforms. It’s well-entrenched in investment banking so there’s a cost benefit for its reusability and there’s also a lot of resource available, so recruitment for Java developers is comparatively easy.”
But don’t write off C++ in investment banking just yet. “For pricing and risk, Python and Java (and the Polyglots) are now the go to languages, but all banks have legacy systems that use C++ and they need constant maintenance and upgrading,” says Nathan Francis, CEO of recruiters NJF Search. “High Frequency Trading is still dominated by C++. What’s more, there are a very few really world class Java developers that can make an engine run as fast as you can in C++.”
Java, C++ and C# are among the more established programming languages, but a relative new kid on the block is Python. Previously, just Bank of America Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan used Python – within their Quartz and Athena programmes respectively – but it’s now becoming more prominent at banks such as BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.
“Everyone at JPMorgan now needs to know Python and there are around 5,000 developers using it at Bank of America,” said Kirat Singh, the former head of global risk systems responsible for Quartz at BAML, who now runs his own firm Washington Technologies. “There are close to 10 million lines of Python code in Quartz and we got close to 3,000 commits a day. It’s a good scripting language and easily integrated into both the front and back ends, which was one of the reasons we chose it in the first place.”
What are the top technology skills at the largest investment banks in the world? We’ve broken out the top software development and hardware/embedded software skills and presented it together with an overview of the top sectors across each firm.