Before the introduction of technology, getting a job in financial markets required absolutely no technical knowledge. At that time, operations of all kinds and any analytical task were done manually.
However, entering my first trading job made me realized that the technological revolution has brought us to a new era where the challenge now is to automate processes as much as possible, this with the help of computers.
The new generation of traders, which I used to belong, is now competing with more and more talented and skilled candidates that want to join this very lucrative industry. Traders that don’t know how to code still operate, but they belong to the old generation, and will not last for long.
When I joined Goldman Sachs for a trading position, I had to learn Excel VBA , which is the programming language embedded into Microsoft Excel. This is something I was not aware of, but VBA is a tool that traders and front office employees commonly use to develop automated programs in order to analyze, format and present raw financial data or even to develop charts.These automated tasks can range from extracting and formatting data from Bloomberg to creating a pricing tool for a particular product.
With VBA, an automated process of these kinds can be implemented in a few hours. Some other language can be better at the job, but it will require more resources and more time.
The beauty of VBA is that it can be used not only in Excel but in most of Microsoft applications such as Microsoft Access, Word and Powerpoint. Any computer that has one of these software can run VBA.
There are several options to get a trading position, the most common path is to come from an Ivy league school, which I feel blessed to have attend.
But that was seven years ago, and trends have changed. Just keep in mind that with the constant need of technical people in banks , you might be able to go to the top if you have the right technical skills, regardless of your academic background.