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I have 4+ years of experience in software engineering. I am well competent in system design, analysis and development. I have worked heavily in Java and C++ and I am confident about my technical skills.

Now I am thinking of finding a job in the financial sector. What kind of resources should I be looking for?

What are the keywords I should look for? E.g. "algorithmic trading"

Are there any books targeting software engineers?

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Finance is broad and a lot of it is rather dull. You would need to know things like the price is sometimes expressed as 105 + 13/32 + 1/64 or that there are 360 or 365 days in a year ;) You can spend your entire life studying financial regulations. If you are smart enough to write good code in C++, you can figure that stuff out quickly. Now, there do exist truly hard niches in finance. I am not sure if that stuff is science or religion though ;) there is A LOT of politics in finance. It just attracts a lot of $-motivated asshole types. If you want to make a lot of $ as coder, then finance isit –  Job Dec 29 '11 at 4:14

5 Answers 5

"Financial Sector" is awfully broad.

You could mean doing stuff in accounting systems, or being a SAP tweaker / customiser, or doing black art stuff in an investment bank, or any number of other things.

Perhaps you first need to think a bit more about just where in finance you want to go. Depending on that decision you may then wish to look at further study - perhaps some basic accounting. Knowing the terminology used in the field would be a good start.

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As the previous answer stated, "Financial Sector" is very broad. But i suppose you know what kind of job you want. Collect the job offerings in wich you are interested, then research about the requirements of each one. Try to make a common ground. Something you'll see is that probably there are many libraries for perl, python and other scripting languajes ready to solve the most used algorithms. That's a good place to start also.

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Financial sector is huge and complex. In finance, theory is more important than software (that's why fin experts earn a lot that tech experts) .If you want to make a career, concentrate on financial markets (its a complex beast and the reason for this recession yet its the most powerful).

  1. A Guide to Financial Markets would give a better insight.
  2. Spend some time on the Investopedia and Forbes website
  3. Learn Economics. It would get you a better hold of the concepts
  4. You need to know a lot about money. The Ascent of Money is an excellent book that deals with the concept of money quite interestingly
  5. Finally, you need to be good in financial modeling go get successful in finance

If you feel comfortable after having gone through the above, you could decide about a career in finance.

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I'd also recommend "Fooled by Randomness" and "The Black Swan" both by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. –  jfrankcarr Dec 21 '11 at 10:29
Taleb is a bit controversial. Some ppl say he's a genius, some say that he's talking trivia and is v. good at marketing himself. –  quant_dev Dec 29 '11 at 10:28
@quant_dev despite its huge popularity I find Taleb's books quite empty and trite. Having said that I don't know what the financial markets business has to do with knowing how financial markets actually work. It's all about making the calculations that form the basis of the services they sell. Whether they work or not (they don't) is irrelevant. –  Jubbat Jun 4 '13 at 17:07
@Jubbat I wish I could get away in my job with making calculations which don't work. –  quant_dev Jun 4 '13 at 17:21
@quant_dev afaik there are no millionaire traders, but anyway, sorry if I'm wrong, I'm just extremely skeptic about the whole industry –  Jubbat Jun 4 '13 at 21:27

I have been a developer in the financial environment for a long time and when two candidates have the same level of technical expertise, many times the decision will be made on business knowledge. And along these lines there are several very stock questions you can expect, such as...

What are the inputs to the Black-Scholes formula?

How is a forward rate calculated?

How do you price a swap?

What is contango?

How is the FTSE (DJIA, etc) calculated?

Now these questions are truly NO BRAINERS, but they can make a big difference. So if, as you say, you are confident with your technical skills, then you would consider looking for resources that impart that extra bit of business knowledge. Use your C++ to implement the Black-Scholes formula for example. The experience will give you a big lead over developers who have not.

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I used to work in the Financial sector, but not in any areas related to trading or derivatives. If you just want to build up your knowledge in general terms I would ensure you are familiar with: Basic Accounting and Financial Statements. Useful texts would be Horngren: Accounting OR Weygandt, Kimmel et al: Accounting Principles

Also learn the basics of investments and corporate finance Bodie, Kane, Marcus: Investments AND Brealey, Myers: Corporate Finance

This will give a good understanding of the language and theories of Accounting and Finance.

Now if you want to get into more the quantitative side of finance, there is no better introduction than that of Wilmott: Paul Wilmott introduce Quantitative Finance

I have no knowledge of algorithmic trading so I can't recommend any books in this area. Programmers sometimes find work doing things such as derivative pricing, although my observation has been the it is often the guru 'quants' with PhDs who usually do the work in this area. Well known books include Joshi: C++ Design Patterns and Derivative Pricing

Note also that quantiative finance will require a strong mathematics background.

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And if you are in any way shape or form dealing with money, you need to know about the accounting concept of internal controls because the developer needs to ensure the software has them and no one will mention them in the requirements. In other words, you should always be aware that your software should be making it difficult to commit fraud. –  HLGEM Jun 4 '13 at 20:41

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