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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Battle For Tech Geeks: Street vs. Silicon Valley

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Wall Street firms are aggressively competing with Silicon Valley for computer programmers and software engineers by offering more laid-back office environments, higher wages, and more perks. Trading firms are providing in-office game rooms, tickets to sporting events, and company outings as incentives for new employees.

The competition for new hires starts on college campuses, where trading firms work to lure idealistic graduates away from California-based technology companies. Recruiters note that a key advantage to working at a trading firm is being able to see your work implemented and translate into profits right away. "You're going to work on projects that are going to contribute to the firm within weeks of being here," says Hudson River Trading's Adam Nunes.

Higher pay is another key factor to trading firms' success in attracting young talent. A new high-frequency trading programmer can expect to make at least $75,000 in the first year, plus a bonus of up to 50 percent, while tech firms generally pay about 10 percent less, according to Objective Paradigm.

However, Silicon Valley companies can offer a lifestyle that is not tied to normal business hours with more potential for telecommuting, notes Foxhunt Staffing CEO Mary Voss. Another hurdle trading firms have to overcome is a lack of name recognition.

From The Wall Street Journal
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