The relationship between Wall Street and Silicon Valley has never been easy. Entrepreneurs and tech pros with big ideas about finance have spent years trying to create alternatives to traditional banking systems. With its emphasis on suits and regulations, banker culture is pretty much the diametric opposite of the disruption-focused world of developers.
But that hasn’t stopped the two sides from trying to find some sort of balance. Over the past year, traditional banks have engaged in behavior more reminiscent of tech giants than moneylenders, whether investing in interesting new tech startups or acquiring e-banking firms. When they haven’t been able to acquire or invest, banks have tried building their own e-commerce and digital-lending hubs, with mixed results.
A lot of this recent drive is purely competitive; with tech companies such as Apple (with Apple Pay) increasingly interested in the finance space, financial companies need to become more invested in the tech world if they want a hand in how the e-financial space will evolve over the next several years. At the same time, banks are so bound by tradition and regulation that it’s difficult for them to move with the nimble grace of a Silicon Valley startup, no matter how much their executives talk about “innovation” and “changing the game.”
The intersection of technology and the financial sector will only grow (and thus become more competitive) in coming years. According to Accenture, investment firms poured more than $12.2 billion into financial tech (also known as “fintech”) in 2014, more than triple the amount invested in 2013. Banks aren’t just creating venture-capital arms and exploring how much they can do with apps; Accenture’s survey suggested they’re generally more open to innovation as a concept, even to the point of opening their assets and intellectual property to outsiders (re: third-party developers).
What does this mean for tech pros? Traditional tech hubs aren’t the only place to look for a job—financial institutions are increasingly hungry for talent, and they’re willing to pay for it.