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Banks don't use 'cool' programming languages. Is that a turn-off?

As banks attempt to attract programmers from other industries into their own burgeoning array of technology jobs, a potential problem is arising: they don't offer much opportunity to work with the coolest programming languages.  Instead, they have plenty of jobs in unpopular languages, like VBA.

The six 'coolest' programming languages, that developers actually want to code in were identified by Stack Overflow in its new Insights Report. They are: Rust, Typescript, Python, Kotlin, Go and (the lesser known) Julia. These are the languages that are most loved by coders. But the problem is that, with the exception of Python, banks barely use them at all. 

The chart below demonstrates the problem. At a 'representative sample' of top U.S. banks, there are currently hardly any Kotlin jobs advertised, no Julia jobs (no surprise) and barely any Typescript jobs. By comparison, VBA jobs - which Stack Overflow ranks as the 'most dreaded' are fairly plentiful.

[eFinancialCareers has a range of banking technology jobs here.]

The shortage of jobs using Rust, Typescript and Kotlin in banks comes despite the fact that 26% of Stack Overflow's respondents said they use Typescript at work, 8% said they use Kotlin, 6% said they use Rust. By comparison, in the world at large just 6% of people use the dreaded VBA - even though it's still prevalent in big banks.

The danger, then is that in becoming an expert in VBA programming, you're boxing yourself into a corner with a language you don't (necessarily) like and that can't be easily transported to other industries. Equally, with their shortages of more popular Rust, Typescript and Kotlin jobs banks might be losing out to other employers like Amazon that have adopted newer languages more enthusiastically. Hmm.

Photo by Max Kobus on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • pa
    14 June 2020

    Its not just the language but the type of job that programmers object to. Vba is largely used in spreadsheets and sorry but that is a dead end job. Long term someone developing in python will get more high level and interesting jobs.

  • Di
    Digital Nomad
    14 June 2020

    I know for a fact that banks don’t run their core financial systems and micro and monolith services on vba. The odd admin employee might use vba in their spreadsheets.

    Banks are using Java and Cobol mainly . For their more modern systems and web and mobile apps, Go, C#, Typescript, Swift and Kotlin.

    I know this because I have worked in 2 major banks.

    This article makes as if VBA is the only language in Banks.

  • dr
    13 June 2020

    I actually really, really enjoy VB & VBA. It's simple and highly capable - especially for Windows or Microsoft Office functions. While I know C, C#, Java, SQL and some Python - I still prefer coding in VB or VBA.

    I work at a massive international FinTech firm and I'm actually in Business Process Improvement, but my ability to optimize functions using VBA has come in VERY handy.

  • NC
    13 June 2020

    Most banks are still using COBOL because it has a proven track record and it runs on large IBM mainframes which can handle the huge volume of daily transactions. Also, a lot of the hip languages can't handle the the "old" data structures, like IMS DB.

  • Pr
    13 June 2020

    C++ and c# were the most widely used languages when I worked in IB

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