After years of struggling to attract computer engineers who would rather work for big tech groups or crypto start-ups, Wall Street firms say they are reclaiming lost ground in the talent war as layoffs and freezes hiring is spreading across Silicon Valley.
As exchanges, banks and market makers continue to grow despite the recent market downturn, executives say their relative stability has made them more attractive destinations.
“We’ve definitely seen an influx of applicants from big tech, crypto and top-tier start-ups,” said Josh Woods, head of systematic trading technology at Citadel Securities, where applications for tech roles jumped more than 50%. quarter by quarter.
“Candidates are looking at the job market more realistically now, the same way investors in a downturn are really looking at value and fundamentals.”
Falling stock and cryptocurrency prices, rising interest rates and fears of an impending recession have led to a sharp turnaround in fortunes since the start of the year for the previously booming tech sector. More than 75,000 job cuts have been announced so far in 2022, according to tracking site Layoffs.fyi, and even companies like Apple and Alphabet have suspended or slowed hiring.
By contrast, market volatility has fueled trading volumes at companies such as Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the New York Stock Exchange, and Cboe Global Markets, which has increased the size of its technology teams by more than a quarter this year.
ICE said its “stability through many downturns resonates with [candidates]. For those who have had more experience in start-ups and crypto companies, they appreciate the “all-weather” nature of our business.
As traditional financial firms have become increasingly dependent on technology, intense competition for skilled employees has driven up costs. A senior executive at a major bank said the challenge had become particularly acute due to the spread of remote working during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was easy for engineers working from home to switch jobs – they just had to log on to another computer,” he said. “Now that’s changing with Apple and Facebook slowing hiring.”
The Nasdaq said in January that “increased competition for talent” should be a crucial driver of rising costs this year, but as it released its second-quarter results in late July, chief executive Adena Friedman said to analysts that the company had “started to see more people really wanting to come,” including many so-called boomerang employees who had left before joining.
An industry executive said wages for new hires were not falling yet, but said recent rapid increases were slowing.
However, several leaders pointed out that the market remains competitive, especially for engineers with the most sought-after skills. Chris Isaacson, COO of Cboe, said “the diversity and sustainability of our businesses. . . allows us to invest in the business at a time when others have to contract”.
But he added that “the best talent always has opportunities. We will have to remain competitive. . . in how we reward people and seek to retain them.
Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York