I have worked for years as a developer in the investment banking industry and have closely observed the dynamics that govern employment in this industry. When banks talk about a shortage of talented engineers, they are not talking about recruiting; they talk about retention.
Hiring is not a problem in banking technology. There is always a queue of developers looking for jobs. The problem is, banks hire engineers, and the best leave very quickly. Retention rates are shockingly low. In my business, the average tenure tends to be around 14 months.
Why are people leaving? It’s a combination of a lack of recognition, the difficulty of managing legacy systems and the bureaucracy associated with working in a highly regulated industry. Add to that the kind of mismanagement that is pervasive in the banking industry and a lot of people lose motivation and move on.
The people who leave tend to be the best. – These are people who are really, really good at their jobs. We try very hard to hold them back, but it is often impossible.
In my experience, this varies little from one institution to another. Some may be slightly better – others may be slightly worse. In the worst case, the internal policy level is off the scale, and you’re supposed to be working in all time zones and taking calls all hours of the day and night.
The situation has worsened since the COVID. Over the past year, many of our developers have been on-board remotely, and keeping them has proven to be even more difficult than before. Outsourcing staff to India, Dallas, or Delaware isn’t the answer either – those places have their own retention issues.
So what can we do? Making technologists feel more integrated into the business would help. The same would be true of giving juniors a clear career path and helping them navigate banking careers from a political perspective. – Banking can be a highly political industry, and young developers often lack the soft skills needed to move forward.
It is a problem that must be resolved. Our best engineers are leaving the industry. The engineers who stay are often those who are less technically capable but better able to navigate politics. This is not good news for anyone.
Amelia Hely is the pseudonym of an engineer in a large bank in Europe.
Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash
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