Silicon Valley Vs. Wall Street: What Tech Talent Should Know

Silicon Valley Vs. Wall Street: What Tech Talent Should Know

March 12, 2018

Wall Street is getting serious about tech talent. A decade ago, top talent flocked to the Big Apple for the chance to work in a fast-paced industry with high salaries. However, since the great recession of 2008, the finance sector became less attractive than it once was. Silicon Valley was all the rage, with jobs in the technology sector increasing by 20.3 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is also a fun place to work, with the likes of dog-friendly offices, on-site fitness centers and in-office happy hours. However, now Wall Street is ready for talent to make the trek back east – and is making significant changes to entice them.

Wall Street

In an attempt to prove that the finance giants were serious about getting tech talent in the door, they poached big-name talent from out west. Case in point, Goldman Sachs hired a former Square headhunter to lead its engineering recruitment. Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund manager, also brought over Jon Rubenstein of Apple as co-CEO.

As a candidate considering Wall Street as a job prospect, there are some things you should know. Wall Street is known for its long hours, but finance companies are now trying to make it more worthwhile. For example, according to Bloomberg’s “Goldman Adds Pay, Perks in Silicon Valley War for Tech Talent,” Goldman Sachs is raising pay for programmers fresh out of college. They are competing with Silicon Valley salaries, and because of the high need, you might have more negotiating power.

The finance space is typically a formal business environment, but Goldman Sachs is dialing back the dress code requirements for some tech positions. The firm is also ordering technology equipment, namely high-end computers, that are frequently requested by those in the tech space. These changes were enacted after a company poll revealed what could make employees happier.

So, if you are tech talent looking to capitalize on the demand, Wall Street is worth consideration. They are certainly listening to employees and trying to appeal to up-and-coming tech talent.

Silicon Valley

In this war for talent, Silicon Valley is doing its part to please employees. However, the fun perks, like nap pods, in-office rock climbing walls and on-site barbers, just aren’t cutting it anymore. Health and wellness programs are the latest elements in attracting top talent. Healthcare is equally vital for talent entering the space, as they are getting removed from their parents’ health insurance when they turn 26. Those who have been in the tech sector for a while are showing more interest in getting serious about caring for themselves and their families.

According to Reuters’ “Silicon Valley Takes Benefits ‘Arms Race’ to Health Care,” Google and Apple now offer fertility treatments, on-site medical clinics and health-tracking bracelets as standard benefits. Yahoo gives 16 weeks of paid leave for new mothers and eight weeks for new fathers. Moreover, a study conducted by Mercer showed 17 percent of high-tech companies surveyed cover gender reassignment surgery, compared to 5 percent of large companies overall.

However, the lack of affordable housing in Silicon Valley is taking a toll on tech talent realizing their dream of working in the space. The Zumper National Rent Report shows San Francisco is the priciest rental market in the nation, with one- and two-bedroom apartments going for $3,400 and $4,400 respectively. However, New York City ranked second, so it is not much better there. This is why Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman predicts a mass exodus of tech talent from coastal cities inland, saying, “The technology companies, the Wall Street companies, they are chasing the talent. The talent is chasing affordable housing.”

What does this mean for you?

You might have more leverage on Wall Street, but Silicon Valley has hoards of like-minded people. The bottom line is that you should determine which sector is a better cultural fit for you. Your tech skills are valued in both, as the BLS predicts computer and information technology (IT) occupations to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026 (which is faster than the average for all occupations).

However, Kelman might be on to something. According to Glassdoor’s “25 Best Paying Cities for Software Engineers,” the usual tech hubs you would expect topped the list – but there were some surprises. Those surprises happened to be inland and included Madison, WI; Omaha, NE; and Huntsville, AL. So, if your job search does not have you locked into one specific location, open your mind to other possibilities.

Additionally, with the automotive industry focusing on tech innovations like self-driving vehicles and alternative fuel, Detroit is also an up-and-coming competitor with Silicon Valley and Wall Street for tech talent.


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