Now that many of the fintech darlings are brutally disavailing themselves of all the talented people they took in the past few years, people might well decide that the lure of the zeitgeist is less strong than the lure of a job that pays the mortgage and comes with a pension plan. After all, it's not just Coinbase that's getting cold feet: Gemini, Klarna, Paypal and Robinhood are chucking staff too. Forums like Blind are awash with people lamenting the end of the fintech boom: even if you get a job at a shiny new fintech firm, you probably won't luck-out on the stock price.
Fortunately, though, there is an alternative: the fintech-like operations of existing big banks. While standalone fintech firms rush to save costs, the big players at doubling down. And their technology is often as interesting as at any start-up.
In a presentation last week, John Waldron, Goldman Sachs' president and COO, reiterated Goldman's plan to make more than $4bn in revenues from its consumer banking business (Marcus) and more than $750m in revenues from its transaction banking platform (TxB) by 2024. Both businesses have been built pretty much from scratch in the past seven years and are bereft of the sort of legacy technology that tends to dissuade developers from joining the big banks. As Harit Talwar, the former head of Goldman's app-based bank Marcus, said when he left last December, Marcus was all about building, "a modern digital business inside a 150-year-old preeminent investment bank." Marcus hasn't been without its hiccups (ask any developer who worked on the release of the Apple card), but as standalone fintechs are now making clear, launching a new business rarely is.
While Goldman is pushing ahead with Marcus and TxB, JPMorgan is doubling down on Chase UK, its digital consumer bank which is being rolled out in Britain with a view to expanding worldwide. Speaking at last month's investor day, Sanoke Viswanathan, JPMorgan’s chief executive for international consumer growth initiatives, said the business won't break even until 2027 or 2028 and that JPMorgan expects to lose $1bn in the interim.
Few standalone fintechs have that luxury. While the fintech industry is buffeted by funding constraints and doubts on its profitability, big banks' fintech arms offer some shelter from the storm. It helps that they i) don't pay badly and ii) are hiring.
Posts on Blind suggest that Goldman can pay generously for developers at Marcus who are outside its low-cost locations (Dallas, Bangalore, or Birmingham in the UK), and that in some cases the pay for Marcus developers can even be higher than for other development jobs at the bank because Marcus is entirely about technology, whereas other areas of the firm have expensive front office staff to pay. Yes, the work can be grueling and the hours long, but compensation of $170k in year two is seemingly possible. Goldman currently has around 350 Marcus jobs open globally, and is understood to be hiring 30 people for its Android IOS team alone by the end of this year. It also needs people to code the kind of low latency products for Marcus that are more typically associated with the trading floor.
TxB at Goldman Sachs is hiring too. Goldman is expanding the transaction banking business to over 36 countries in the next 18 months. In a recent blog, Luc Teboul, the New York-based head of TxB engineering, said the business has hired 10 engineers per month on average since it was founded. Teboul himself joined from JPMorgan in 2018. More recent hires include Matt Koukas, who joined as chief credit officer from Fifth Third Bank in Chicago in May.
Chase UK is also in the market for some more staff. In September last year, the bank revealed that it had 600 people, of whom 500 people had been hired externally, with some coming from digital banks like Starling. Chase UK currently has around 80 vacancies for roles including IOS developers, mobile security experts and UX people. One Chase UK developer with six years' experience claims to be on a £160k ($200k) package on Blind. This may not be much compared to a tech firm, but could be ok for a fintech that's highly unlikely to hire you and then let you go again before you've even turned up...
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