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I quit my banking dev job for a sector where people appear stupid

When I left university, I wanted to work as a developer in a bank. I wasn't one of these developers who tries their luck with tech firms and only ends up working for a bank by default. My university had strong links to banks. I interned with one and I worked in a front office development role with a major U.S. bank for a few years after graduating. 

The problem with banking is that when you go in as a graduate technologist, you don't really get paid. You might imagine you're going to be on six figures after a few years, but you won't. The people who get that kind of money are the front office people, not the developers. And certainly not the developers like me in a 'cost effective' site outside London. After three years, I was still earning well below £60k ($81k).

There's a saying among developers in banks: that you need to quit and go work somewhere else if you want a pay rise. It's true.  By leaving and contracting in other sectors I've more than tripled my take home pay. I now have time to work on my start-up too.

However, there are downsides. The people I'm working with now are less intelligent than the people I was with in the bank. When I was in banking, I was involved in graduate recruitment and I knew the standard of people the bank hired. Here, there are a lot of mediocre people who lack fundamental knowledge of computer science. And despite the complaints about legacy systems in banks, the work I was doing in banking was far more challenging and intense than the work I'm doing as a contractor.

Other than the money, the upside of being out of banking is the lifestyle.  I only invoice for the hours between 9am and 5pm and this means that I leave at 5pm on the dot every day without fail. That extra time makes a huge difference. I'm also free in the sense that I can take holiday whenever I want. I have freedom and flexibility.

Ultimately, though, I suspect I'll go back into banking tech. I already miss it and I miss my smart, funny, colleagues. When I go back though, I plan to earn more. After two to three years' contracting, I expect to rejoin the bank as a VP. At that point I will hopefully get paid.

Laurent Bonnel is a pseudonym

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Photo by Vincent Garnier on Unsplash

AUTHORLaurent Bonnel Insider Comment
  • JD
    J D
    10 November 2021

    dont go back Laurent, banking sucks and is a life draining job that doesnt deserve any of the talent out there. leadership sucks across the board, products suck and are losing ground to fintech, and the pay isnt even there anymore when compared to tech firms. best to let em die and move on to better things that enable you to live an enjoyable life

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