The 5 niche programming languages in finance you need to know
Learning a programming language is no easy task, so when you do you'll need to choose your language wisely.
C++, Java and the other heavy hitters are used across the finance space but there are a number of lesser known languages in use by some big names. These are 5 of those languages and the companies that use them.
If there's any one of these five that's worth learning, it seems to be rust. The biggest rising star in the software development landscape isn't as commonplace in finance as some might want it to be but there are a number of places that it is in use today.
It's especially demanded in crypto, where systematic hedge funds were willing to hire people with zero hands on rust experience.
Crypto hiring has diminished as of late however, yet the banking space has a few adopters too. Standard Chartered for instance is currently hiring a senior cloud infrastructure engineer with Rust experience.
And it pays well too. The stack overflow survey for 2022 saw Rust narrowly sneak into the top 10 highest paid coding languages (narrowly in front of another entry in this list), with an average salary of $87k.
Coming just behind Rust in Stack Overflow's pay statistics, this slightly older competitor might actually earn significantly more in finance considering the major hedge fund that uses it.
Ocaml is a staple of Jane Street's tech stack, and working there can make you a very good wage, whether you've got experience in the language or not. A Citadel quant on Blind spoke late last year of an offer from the hedge fund with a total compensation of up to $800k.
It's a language other hedge fund quants seem to respect as well. One responder from Two Sigma called it "awesome" while a Chicago Trading Company developer said "Jane Street devs are sought after by all trading firms."
Despite this, less than a single percent of Stack Overflow Survey respondents say they want to learn it. Getting to grips with the system could therefore give you the edge over other prospective hedge fund developers.
While the first two languages are at least well known beyond finance, Ada is the first language to be truly niche. We've called it the "fight club" of coding languages, very well respected by a tight knit few.
Similar in purpose to C++, what sets Ada apart is its safety, having been initially developed for defense systems.
The system is particularly popular in France, and Europe, having been invented initially by a frenchman. Two major hirers of Ada developers are french bank BNP Paribas and dutch prop traders Deep Blue Capital.
Considering french quants are renowned as some of the best in the world, getting to grips with a language that has a cult french following could work wonders for you.
Arguably more infamous than niche, you might want to disregard this option unless your heart is set on a career at Goldman Sachs (and even there, you have better options).
Invented in the late 90s for their SecDB risk and pricing system, Slang has been described by an ex-Goldman quant as "a Python/Perl like thing, with OOP and the ORM layer baked in."
In recent years however, the bank has switched away from Slang. They've been described as a "Java house" before and have made a huge shift towards cloud engineering in recent years, with their tech 'golden child' TxB built on the cloud.
Another language from the 90s, Ruby is a lot more popular among fintechs, including a few high payers.
Top of that list is Stripe. The fintech decacorn has been described by engineer Soam Vasani as a "Ruby monolith" and is known as one of the best payers of software engineers overall, not just in finance.
That doesn't mean it's a fintech-only language. A recent listing for a senior Ruby engineer for an asset trading firm can see you earn a total compensation of up to $300k.
Ruby is seen as something of an 'easy' language due to its intutive Ruby on Rails framework yet the stack overflow shows that developers are split almost 50/50 between loving and dreading it, implying there are some complexities lying below the unassuming exterior.
Honorable Mention: ???
One of the best languages you can learn that's in use by one of the most prestigious hedge funds is... well, we don't know.
Bridgewater associates are well known but the machinations inside the firm aren't. We know a little about their divisive "radical transparency", but the technology behind the people is kept very much under wraps.
Nonetheless, the language primarily in use by the firm has been described as "a bit like Scala, but better at manipulating incoming data and expressing investment logic."
A job at Bridgewater doesn't just earn you prestige; the average salary at the hedge fund according to Levels.fyi in 2022 was $270k.
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