Myths about the financial industry…Gaming developers pay attention!

By Abdul Muhit | Oxford Knight

Translucent black joypad over white


Having spent many years recruiting for the financial industry I’ve always been amazed with how well suited Gaming software developers tend to be to the financial industry. There are simple reasons for this.

Solving problems around Multi-threading, Optimization, Low-latency, Scaling, Distributed system are at the heart of what every hard core software developer in the financial industry faces every day. Everyone of my technical hiring managers in banks and hedge-funds are well aware on how you gaming guys face these problems on a day to day basis, and are fully aware that..

  • For those of you that work on Graphics (“rendering”) or low-level frameworks, you should usually be very good in low-level C++ and code optimization. You should understand ugly details of memory management, low-latency requirements etc. With recent exposure to latest batch of games consoles it will mean that they’ll understand multithreading quite well.
  • If your currently working on physics and/or animation systems you should have strong math background, inc. physics knowledge. Also, code optimization.
  • If you’re working on AI you should usually be good in software design, C++ gotcha, optimization, and multithreading.
  • If you’re working on MMO games (massive multiplayer online) – you will know how to do scaling, distributed computing and networking code in general and, I would say, surpass most of the programmers in finance when it comes to solving such problems.

Why not Finance?

Initially, I never understood (given the significant compensation difference between the gaming sector and the banking sector) why so many have apathy towards the financial sector. However, having worked with ex Gaming guys for many years and shared a few buds with them I get-it, and understand the following:

  • Many of you love the gaming world; solving problems and seeing your audience enjoy /admire your creative work.
  • Love the technical challenge and believe that banks are not doing anything as remotely challenging/interesting
  • The bureaucratic environments of banks (ties, meetings, process) are just a big NO NO, and hell-NO.
  • I get some of the above, and to be honest, have learnt to accept that the financial sector for some gaming guys is never going to be a match made in heaven. However, I also understand there are some major misconceptions in the gaming industry about the financial industry.

For example,

Banks do offer technically challenging work and sometimes more so then gaming:

  • For example, you’re probably used to getting your game onto 60 frames? How about a financial trading system that deals with 60,000 frames? You might be used to your code running on 6 cores on Xbox running? What could you achieve with 32 on financial trading system?
  • Relaxed environment:
  • Working in finance can also involve working for a financial software house or a hedge-fund. Most of my hedge-funds are young in nature, with the key traders and owners being young entrepreneurs. Most of these Hedge-funds/software houses offer a great relaxed environment. These include a on-site gym, playing area, a fuse-ball table in middle of the trading floor, relaxed dress code (jeans, sandals, t-shirts), opportunity to work abroad (Australia, NY, and the far-east), an onsite chef to cook whatever you want!
  • Finance is NOT boring: It’s a myth that to working in finance requires you to understand silly financial jargons like derivatives, pricing, VARS, Black Sholes etc. It’s a FACT that for IT roles in finance that technical competency is what matters most. For those of you that are interested financial theories, most financial firms offer great training programmes allowing you to learn at a steady pace. Finally, seeing your work in production and making lots of money and doing cleaver things (such as self-execute millions of trades – algorithmic trading) can also be fun…….honest.

What next?

I genuinely don’t expect this little post will make 1000s of you flock to make applications to the financial industry. However, having a looked at compensation differences (Gaming vs. Finance) for years (which is often as much as 100% more in favour of Financial companies), and aware of the interesting work, career progression the dark-side of banking can offer,  I am keen to build links with a few that might be a wee bit curious.

By Abdul Muhit

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Oxford Knight is a technical recruitment agency. None of our consultants have written a line of code… yet. We apologise if this article doesn’t keep some purist happy, but we’re trying to build a new generation of technical recruitment agencies…. We listen, participate, and deliver.

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