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Wall Street technologists might be thinking twice about their financial-industry careers in what once was considered to be a lucrative and prestigious gig. Now some of Wall Street's top tech talent is considering other options, and many already have fled their once-coveted jobs on the Street.
Four factors play into their decision-making process: 1) earnings potential, 2) growth potential, 3) the ability to innovate and work on interesting projects, and 4) the cachet and clout of their potential employer or industry.
Wall Street traditionally was one of the most desirable industries for technologists, but things are starting to change. Tough economic times have put pressure on financial services firms. A mix of layoffs, bonus freezes, and an overall reduction in IT budgets has made the industry less appealing, according to industry experts. In addition, Wall Street's image had taken a few dings lately, further reducing the appeal of working in financial services. For instance, Greg Smith's highly publicized resignation from Goldman Sachs was the latest controversy that sent tremors through the industry.
Silicon Valley's tech industry--with innovative companies such as Google, Facebook, and others--is the place top tech talent wants to be, says Marc Adler, managing principal at SunGard Global Services. Adler, who has more than a decade of experience on Wall Street, including jobs as chief architect in equities at Citigroup and head of desktop applications and the real-time multi-asset trading platform at Citadel, recently left the hedge fund to become a consultant at SunGard. His move is not unlike the career shift many Wall Street veterans are taking as consulting firms and tech start-ups woo financial services tech veterans.
Adler says technologists at most financial firms are being asked to work more hours while compensation stagnates. "Rather than be a slave to Wall Street's bonus cycle, I figured, why not do something interesting for me?" Adler said.
Adler says he is beyond happy with his decision to leave Wall Street. First, he insists, his work for SunGard is more rewording; and rather than work for one firm on the same technology infrastructure, he gets to bring his knowledge from years on Wall Street to other firms that are just building their technology infrastructure, Adler adds.
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