Peter's Q1 2019 Market Report

2019 Q1 Summary

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Last quarter I said that I wouldn’t try to predict the market in Q1. Well, now we know – things are very slow. There’s a lot of economic uncertainty, and the hangover from a very poor Q4 has lasted right through the entirety of Q1. Q1 results will help to dictate whether firms can start hiring again, but there are larger concerns as well. Decreased trading volumes in both fixed income and equity markets have firms assessing whether they are right-sized. Their conclusions will have a significant impact on hiring for the rest of the year.

Layoffs have not been particularly large, but they’ve been broad and steady. Bloomberg: “In 2018, the 12 largest global investment banks cut front-office headcount for at least the fifth straight year.” It would be interesting to see these numbers separately for US and foreign banks, as foreign banks have cut significantly more jobs. 2019 looks sure to continue the streak.

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The contract market at the investment banks has been hit particularly hard. We’ve seen hard freezes on contract hiring, rate cuts, and layoffs. The freeze on contract hiring at some banks has hit 5 months.

The Buy Side is always harder to parse, but here’s a good overview of what’s happening there showing an overall headcount that is slightly up (1%), quarter over quarter. Hedge fund assets continue to grow, which is a good sign.

Technology in NYC - continued

The New York Times published a great article last month, “It Started With a Jolt: How New York Became a Tech Town.” Who remembers that Fortran was written on East 56th Street and C, C++, and Unix were developed in NJ? Venture capital dollars in 2018 by state: CA $11.6b, MA $2.6b, NY $2.4b.

Old sh!t

According to a recent article in The Financial Revolutionist, “estimates are that banks spend 80-plus percent of their IT budgets on maintenance.” This figure is dismaying to everyone – management, developers, users, and even me (popular request from candidates – greenfield development). A lot of FinTech investment is going towards addressing this problem.

Does this make Goldman Cooler?

See David Solomon, Goldman’s new CEO. GS has changed their dress code, and Solomon has a non-corporate view of internships as well.

Premium Processing Returns

Changes in H1-B processing over the past year have wreaked havoc on many a visa transfer, and the ability to change firms has been hampered for H-1B holders. The return of premium processing is a welcome development.

Failure Resume

Bad resumes are a pet peeve of mine. Here’s an entirely different take – write a Failure Resume.

Opportunities

The one theme we are seeing with respect to open positions is that firms are looking for senior, hands-on developers. Companies continue to hire and pay those rare individuals who can code circles around their peers.

We expect to see an influx of new openings over the next couple of months, and this list will change rapidly in 2019. Please stay in touch.

Current Priorities

FinTech

  • Go/AWS/Javascript Developer – Software engineer to build new state of the art clearing system

  • C++ Developer Bitcoin mining

Buy Side

  • UI Developer (web, full stack) – Healthcare hedge fund / VC

  • UI Developer – C#, Excel Add-in – Data Science Data delivery

  • Java Developer – Fixed Income eTrading – West Coast

  • Java Developer – Leading hedge fund – Compliance Technology

  • Junior/Mid Python Developer – research platform – new algo fund @leading asset mgr

  • Python Data Engineer – Hedge fund – NYC or Dallas

  • SRE – Leading hedge fund

  • QA Engineer – Leading hedge fund

Sell Side

  • Senior Python Developer (ED) – Fixed Income Strats – Language agnostic

  • Java or C++ - Senior Equity ETrading Platform Developer

  • KDB/Java/JavaScript Developer – Fixed Income Credit Strats

  • KDB Developer – Credit Strats

  • Python Developer - Equity eTrading Tooling and Instrumentation

  • NLP Expert – SPG IT – Contract

 

Peter's Q4 2018 Market Report

2018 Q4 Summary

Happy New Year!

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In Q4 I often try to communicate what we expect in Q1 of the following year. This year? Forget about it. Given the recent market volatility, uncertainty with the global economic outlook, and the current administration, nobody has any idea what to expect in 2019… That being said, we always have active clients and robust demand for top technical people, so please be in touch in 2019 to discuss options.

Technology in NYC

Amazon HQ2 was the big news a few weeks ago for the NYC area, but Amazon is only part of the story regarding technology jobs in New York. Google’s recent announcement that it is doubling its NYC footprint hardly drew any attention, but it is equally big news for the IT job market. Financial companies are already competing for developers with Google, Amazon, Facebook, and others, and it looks like the competition will only intensify in the coming years. While hiring in the financial sector has been reasonably robust over the past few years, it is clearly the technology companies that that have been driving salaries in New York for the past few years. Banks and hedge funds are now competing more with technology than with each other for top technical talent.

Emerging Jobs

LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs Report 2018 doesn’t include many surprises, and it quantifies what we’ve seen anecdotally in the job market in the past year or two. Three of the top 5 Emerging Jobs are in the trendy areas of Machine Learning and Blockchain:

·         Blockchain Developer
·         Machine Learning Engineer
·         Machine Learning Specialist

What’s the difference between ML Engineer and ML Specialist? Nothing, as far as I can tell! And honestly, this is precisely why I started Affinity North. The recruiting industry in general has a difficult time understanding technical jobs. While it can be hard to keep up with technology, we at Affinity North come from technical backgrounds, and we do our best to understand the roles we work on and represent them accurately. As for Blockchain and ML, I expect we’ll see many more of these kinds of jobs in 2019. Look which firm currently has the most Blockchain patents.

High demand for Data Engineers

Everybody knows that data is king these days. This translates to a high demand for data engineering. Almost every client of ours is working on improving their data platforms as a priority. Engineers who know how to leverage the latest technologies to build robust, scalable, data platforms are in very high demand.

The Fourth Hiring Trait

The famous three attributes for evaluating candidates – attitude, aptitude, and experience – are well known. It’s commonly discussed that you can succeed without experience, but you can’t succeed without either of the other 2 qualities. Warren Buffet prioritizes a different attribute – Integrity, and you can’t really argue with his logic.

Tom Searcy with CBS Money Watch offers this summary:

·         Hire someone with high energy, high intelligence, but low integrity and you'll get a smart, fast-moving thief

·         Hire someone with high intelligence, high integrity, but low energy and you'll get a shopkeeper, not an engine of growth

·         Hire someone with high energy, high integrity, but low intelligence and you'll get a strong functionary, but not a great problem solver or visionary

It’s interesting to note these statistics from leadershipiq.com:

·         46 percent of new hires will fail within 18 months

·         Only 19 percent of new hires will succeed over the long term

·         Of those that don’t last, a full 89 percent lose their jobs due to something involving their attitude or personality (lack of coachability, poor emotional intelligence, poor motivation, or a bad temperament)

·         Only 11 percent of new hire failures lose their jobs due to technical incompetence

All these studies are broader than our practice and need to be taken with a grain of salt. We work in rarified air where only the very smartest people with great attitudes thrive, and very high-level technical skills are absolutely required. However, a particular technical skill or experience is rarely a requirement, if the individual has general experience in the area and significant technical smarts.

Is Fintech Failing?

This article by Chris Meyers, a Fintech startup founder, is a good overview of the state of the industry.

A Break for Students (and Parents)

Goldman and JP Morgan in recent years had moved up the recruitment process to sophomore year. However, they have recently stopped the practice, and have gone back to recruiting during junior year. Several reasons were cited including the practice being disruptive to students, pressure from universities, and the fact that it wasn’t yielding a diverse candidate pool.

Opportunities

We expect to see a large influx of new openings over the next couple of months. This list will change rapidly in 2019. Please stay in touch.

Current Priorities

FinTech

  • Go/AWS/Javascript Developer – Software engineer to build new state of the art clearing system

Buy Side

  • Java or C# Developer – Leading asset mgr – Risk Attribution – Contract

  • Java or C# Developer – Leading asset mgr – Development of new Portfolio Rebalancing system

  • Java Developer – Leading hedge fund – Compliance Technology

  • Junior/Mid Python Developer – research platform – new algo fund @leading asset mgr

  • Python Data Engineer – Hedge fund – NYC or Dallas

  • Lead C++ Developer – HFT/low-latency - prop trading

  • C++ Analytics Developer – quant team - Leading asset mgr

Sell Side

  • Java or C++ - Senior Equity ETrading Platform Developer

  • Java or C++ - Senior Equity Algo Trading Developer

  • KDB/Java/JavaScript Developer – Credit Strats – Contract/Fulltime

  • KDB Developer – Credit Strats – Contract

  • Javascript Developer – Credit Strats – Contract

  • DevOps – Tools Developer

  • DevOps – Release Engineer

  • DevOps – Trading Systems Frontline Support

  • Lead Data Engineer = Fixed Income StratsLeading investment bank

  • NLP Expert – SPG IT – Contract

Peter's Q3 2018 Market Report

2018 Q3 Summary

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It’s fall and that means one thing – hold the hiring!  Kind of.  Full-time hires are generally on hold at the investment banks but hiring continues on a contract basis, and teams are eager to interview now for 2019 hires.  So, the demand remains, but the bean counters are having their way short-term.  Everything is moving more slowly right now, but, 2019 is right around the corner. Now is the time to get your resume updated and get prepared for your search if you’re thinking about making a change next year.

H1 Transfers get Harder and S..l..o..w..e..r

A good percentage of the people we work with are in this country on an H-1B visa.  While visa status has always been a big factor in job mobility, never has it been as significant as now.  Transfers used to be all-but automatic, and expedited processing was the routine choice of hiring companies.  However, premium processing is currently suspended.  RFE’s and denials have increased dramatically and now transfers can be denied w/o RFE. Whereas individuals used to change firms when they received notification that their application was received, now it has become necessary to wait for the actual transfer to occur.  The State Department has done a good job throwing sand into the immigration gears…  However, even with the added difficulties, companies are still quite comfortable hiring H-1B candidates. Nobody has told us that they won’t continue to hire H-1B candidates.  One client told us the process used to be 3-5 weeks, but now they count on 6-8 weeks.

Algo Trading

Good news for those who want to work in Algo Trading, which I know form conversation after conversation that many of you do!  Algo trading is steadily on the rise.  Fixed income electronic markets are steadily increasing their share of the market, and all of the big players are adding developers and quants to build systems that make markets on these venues.  And of course, the hedge funds and prop firms continue to invest in algo strategies and systems.  We have seen many such positions all year and continue to have demand for talented people with experience in this area.

Strong Market?

Anecdotal evidence from a couple of people we know – way more job solicitations this year than other years.  We’ve experienced a good market this year, but I’m curious about “way more… this year” Are others experiencing the same thing?  Does it reflect real demand or the introduction of more and more automated tools and “AI” that are making it easier for recruiters to spam the world?

Dynamic Programming Questions

Recently we’ve had a lot of candidates comment that they are being asked dynamic programming questions.  There’s no substitute for interview preparation. Here’s a good set of questions to review: Top 20 Dynamic Programming Interview Questions.

Amazon AWS Devs on Support

I always imagined that Amazon must have the most sophisticated DevOps setup in the history of man.  I was surprised to learn that developers are on a support rotation and regularly deal with production issues.  Working at a bank, I was very used to developers complaining about the amount of production support they did.  I was surprised to hear the same thing at Amazon of all places.

Opportunities

Please follow AffinityFin to be apprised of new opportunities.  Of course, the best way to learn about available opportunities is to email or call me directly.

Current Priorities

Buy Side

  • Junior Python Developer – research platform - new hedge fund within leading asset management firm

  • Java or C# Developer – Leading asset management firm - Contract

  • Lead Data Engineer to build data platform – Algo hedge fund – Senior, reports to CTO

  • Java/Python FIX Developer – fixed income connectivity – Contract

  • Java Developer – Leading hedge fund

  • Python Data Engineer – Hedge fund – NYC or Dallas

  • C#/.Net Developer – Leading alternative investments firm

  • Lead C++ Developer – HFT/low-latency - prop trading

  • C++ Analytics Developer – quant team - Leading asset management firm

Sell Side

  • Credit Risk/Counterparty Exposure Business Analyst – Contract

  • SPG Desk Quant – Commercial focus – VP/ED

  • Lead Data Engineer = Fixed Income StratsLeading investment bank

  • Java Developer – Strategic re-architecture of firmwide risk reporting – Contract

  • C++ Developer – equity algo trading – Contract

  • KDB Developer – SPG Strats – Contract

  • Java Developer – Risk IT – Contract

  • Java Developer – Finance IT – Contract

  • Java Developer – Credit Risk IT – Contract

  • Data Modeler – Finance IT - Contract

PETER'S Q1 2018 MARKET REPORT

2018 Q1 Summary

The current market is relatively uneventful.  There’s no hard trend currently apparent.  Beginning of year hiring is underway, but the strength of demand varies from bank to bank.  Credit Suisse has been shedding NYC jobs liberally as positions are relocated to lower cost regions, and BofA has tightened budgets.  Overall, layoffs generally are down, but Deutsche Bank continues to do its part.  Morgan Stanley has followed strong performance with robust hiring, and Goldman has made is clear that hiring in their Strats group is a top priority.

Buy Side firms continue to hire top notch technical talent at premium prices.  The competition is clearly from large, public technology firms that can peel off a few more shares and make a young programmer very comfortable in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

One interesting development is that we currently have more Lead/Management roles than we’ve had in the past.  These roles continue to have a focus on hands-on skills.

The New Salary History Law

I commented in my last report that the new salary law, “is going to make my job harder.”  The reality?  Not at all.  It’s refreshing to talk compensation w/o relying on a person’s history, and firms have a clear idea of what they want to pay a given individual.  So far, so good.

Demand for infrastructure developers

We continue to see very strong demand for infrastructure developers.  Our top hedge fund clients are paying a significant premium (call me) for the best developers.  Financial knowledge?  Useful, but firms are generally not willing to pay a lot for knowledge they expect someone can learn on the job.  As for technical skill, the fact of the matter is that nobody believes that you can turn a good developer into a great developer, so the search for amazing developers continues apace.

Slow Contract Market

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the contract market is currently tepid.  A number of contractors we work with have reported that they’re not seeing a lot of opportunities.

Buzzwords: Blockchain, ML, NLP

Blockchain technology seems to be permeating everything these days, even recruitment.  The NY Times published a great article in January describing the technology and its potential to have a broad and fundamental impact.  I particularly like the description, “network of distributed trust” as a succinct and accurate description of the technology. Worth a read.

Machine Learning is everywhere these days, and we’re beginning to see opportunities in this and other AI disciplines.  We’re currently working on a position in Morgan Stanley’s Machine Learning group which applies AI and NLP technologies to revenue generating business cases.

More on Resumes

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This is always a sore point for me, as I see so many bad resumes (this section was originally titled, “Your resume sucks”).  A resume will never be proof that you are the right person for the job, but it can be proof positive all too easily that you aren’t the right person.  Make sure to keep the reader’s perspective in mind and be sure that someone else has read it for content and grammar.

Opportunities

Please follow AffinityFin to be apprised of new opportunities.  Of course, the best way to learn about available opportunities is to email or call me directly.

Referrals

We have a referral program. If you refer someone who we place, we will gladly reward you for the referral.

Current Priorities

Buy Side

  • Senior Java Developer – real-time PnL
  • Junior Python Developer – research platform - new hedge fund within leading asset management firm
  • C# and/or Java Developer – Contract/FTE – Risk attribution
  • Junior-Mid C++ Developer – various functions
  • Junior-Mid Java Developer – various functions
  • Python Developer/Data Architect – Greenwich, CT
  • C# UI Developer – Greenwich, CT
  • C++/Python developer – algo trading infrastructure
  • Python/Java/C++ Developer – Research
  • Java Developer – Post Trade
  • Python Developer – Data platform
  • Java Developer – Core infrastructure services/libraries
  • Quant Dev C++ - junior/mid/senior
  • Java Developer – credit trading startup
  • Portfolio Researcher - credit trading startup
  • Javascript Developer – algo trading
  • Python Systems Developer – Cloud based grid compute
  • Python/Java Data Engineer – algo hedge fund
  • Python Quant/Dev – algo hedge fund
  • Real-time Java Developer – algo hedge fund

Sell Side

  • NLP Engineer – Team lead
  • Commercial SPG Desk Quant – focus on generating trade ideas
  • Commercial Credit Desk Quant – focus on generating trade ideas
  • Treasury Desk Strat
  • Fixed Income Strats Developer –Java/Scala/Python/KDB/JavaScript – reports to the Desk
  • Fixed Income Strats – Data Lead (ED) – oversee the data requirements of fixed income strats team globally
  • Fixed Income Strats Hands-on Dev Manager (ED) – Lead a large group of developers supporting the trading desk
  • JavaScript/AngularJS – full-time and contract
  • Java/Scala Developer – Risk - Credit Trading IT/IRD IT
  • Java Developer - Market Data - Credit Trading IT
  • Java/Scala Developer – Valuation and Risk Infrastructure
  • Java Developer – Secured Lending
  • Java/Javascript Developer – Credit Risk C# Developer – Loans and Distressed Debt - Credit Trading IT
  • KDB Quant/Dev – Fixed Income Strats
  • DB2 Database Architect – CVA IT
  • C++ Project Lead – CVA IT
  • C++ Developer – IRD IT

Other Side

  • Javascript/React Developer – Web dev Tools - Major Credit Card Company
  • Javascript Developer – Trading Systems – Leading financial data platform

Contract

We always have a wide array of contract opportunities at good rates:

  • Java
  • Scala
  • C#
  • Javascript – Angular, React
  • C++
  • KDB
  • Database – DB2

 

Peter's Q4 2016 Market Report

2016 Q4 Summary

Happy New Year to everyone!

This year marks a divergence from the cycle we’ve seen in recent years, namely hiring petering out in the fourth quarter with blanket hiring freezes going into effect.  In fact, we have continued to see offers go out late into December.  This activity doesn’t mean that the market is robust – the European banks continue to shrink their footprint in the US and remain on the sidelines.  However, I think it signals a return to normalcy where firms are hiring according to need, and the yearly cycles that were exacerbated by a poor business climate are no longer dominant.  We expect Q1 hiring to be brisk.

What (still) Sells

Hands-on skills and Subject Matter Expertise continue to be critical in this hiring environment.  That hasn’t changed since the Credit Crisis.  There’s an almost insatiable market for the best developers, even at the top end of the market.  A very well compensated technologist with whom we work told me recently that he was surprised at how good the market was for someone at his level.  It’s worth noting that our Buy side clients are clamoring for developers, not quants.

A very thoughtful MD recently gave me the following feedback on someone he had worked with, “Kind of a jack of all trades, master of none, which in 2016 is hard.” 

Comp

Base salaries are rising, albeit slowly.  While incentive compensation remains a big part of how the industry pays people, a variety of forces (tech industry including startups, European banks, loss of faith in bonuses) continue to push base salaries up.  We have seen more than one firm adjust base bands this year.  Note that the market remains tepid, and people moving laterally are more likely to see a 10% increase than 20%, which used to be the norm.  Wondering where you stand on comp?  Call me.

“side code projects”

I saw this on LinkedIn the other day and thought it was great “No, I have no side code projects to show you.”  Anyone who’s been on a tech interview in the past few years can relate to this article.

Direction for Hedge Funds

Who am I to say where hedge funds are going?  I wouldn’t bet against Manoj Narang, however.  What he says in this interview sure makes a lot of sense.  I don’t think you have to wonder who the smartest guy in the room is when he’s present.  Also, here’s a follow-up article on Quantopian, a fascinating crowd-sourced fund that may disrupt the industry, through its ability to attract “Young talent.”

Lighter Note

I’m a huge fan of The Moth.  This story is perfect for this crowd “Data Mining for Dates.”

Current Priorities

Buy Side

  • Senior data warehouse developer
  • Elite C++/Python developers to work at one of the industry’s most prestigious funds
  • Low-latency C++ developer for expanding prop shop
  • Java or C# developer to work on Risk and Performance Attribution system
  • C# contractor
  • Hands-on dev manager for Trade Flow group
  • Junior Python, AWS, JavaScript developer – 2+ years’ experience

Sell Side

  • Equities division seeks C++ developer for algo trading
  • Desk Strat – Credit Algo/eTrading
  • C++/Java/Scala developer for fixed income model integration
  • Market Risk SME Project Manager
  • Java algo trading developer – Equities
  • Java algo trading developer – Fixed Income Credit
  • JavaScript contractor for Credit Strats group
  • KDB developer for equity market data