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"I stopped coding to manage developers in a bank and now I can't find a job"

I have two decades' experience as a technologist in an investment bank. However, I am not a developer. My specialism is managing developers. Now that I have lost my job, I am finding that this is not a skill that is much in demand. 

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I stopped coding a decade ago, because although I wasn't bad at cutting code, I knew that I wasn't great at it. I decided to focus on my strengths, which are managing senior developers and making sure that teams get stuff done. It was easy to do that in banking: every software team has someone who removes blockers, organizes workflows and goes to meetings. That person was me. 

Now that I am no longer needed by the bank, I am finding that this role doesn't appear to exist in smaller fintech firms or in hedge funds. They don't seem to have developer managers, just senior developers who manage themselves. This is particularly the case at hedge funds, where all the roles I see are for people who are at least 80% hands-on.

What do I do? It seems too late for me to go back into coding, and I wasn't that good at it anyway. Banks aren't hiring much at the moment, and the firms that are hiring don't seem to have space for someone like me. - I think this is a mistake on their behalf: in my experience, when you let developers do what they want, they develop the wrong things as they often have insufficient understanding of the business.  

Alan Collins is a pseudonym

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AUTHORAlan Collins Global Editor
  • Ed
    EdC
    6 February 2024

    I have stayed as a developer in the public sector but moved to global software company sector since it can be more cutting edge and pays senior devs better than junior managers. But in my experience promoted engineers who have management thrust on them to gain promotion are generally very bad at it. Generally developers should make all the technical decisions but not manage people. Whilst technically opinionated IT managers are a disaster. If you are good at managing people but have outdated technical skills then you may just need to move to a sector that has outdated tech, and always pays people managers higher than those they manage. So public sector or private sector software consumers whose primary business is not IT, data or finance. Alternatively retrain in Agile and current software solution architecture skills. So you can technically comprehend what you are managing and it's human processes. An IT managers who likes to code, is like an NHS manager who likes to take a scalpel to patients.

  • Wo
    Wolfish
    3 February 2024

    1. You worked with agile methods right? One answer for you is get scrum certification and/or pm certification then "obviously, yes. I have organized and driven sprint planning, scrum meetings. Im a coach and i remove roadblocks etc." None of that sounds like a lie for you, OP. Who cares if your title was scrum master if you functionally were one in an agile environment and now also have cert to ahow jargon skill.

    2. Switch out of fintech. Maybe take a step back to Tech Prog Mgr for a bit (at probably no cash loss) then go back to team lead role

  • IT
    IT Nerd
    1 February 2024

    Banks in 2023-2024 are under the gun to deal with commercial real estate crisis and not much more. The banks I have been in for the past decade lack a core of 40-50 year olds to take over for the retiring leadership 50-65. I find they are burning through people who are better suited for long term program management than managing the operations of Information Technology stacks at the financials.

  • Op
    Op3rand1
    31 January 2024

    I appreciate someone actually saying this. For years the only way to be promoted or for more $ was the management path. There was no principal engineers, distinguished or even pur developers that were paid at a good salary. Banks especially have followed the FAANG path and it doesn't work as you have proven senior developers that moved into management bc they were sold my senior leaders that was the natural path for $ and promotion. Now you can stay in a technical path and get paid well for doing and executing less.

  • Da
    Daniel S.
    31 January 2024

    I was in a similar circumstance a few years ago; in my instance, I was promoted to management without my involvement, and I didn't really have an option. I prefer pure technical roles and enjoy coding. However, in certain locations, they believe that management is the only way to advance. And certain banks may be quite unstable, and as management changes, so do roles; take it or leave. 


    In my case, there aren't many job opportunities in the region to work with highly trained workers and state of the art development. 


    I pushed hard internally to return to coding in the bank; it was not an easy ride, and I was met with opposition; but, once I was able to re-upskill, I transferred to a more specialist company that specializes in top engineering as senior developer.


    I've never looked back, and I couldn't be happier now. Management was hard for me because I was already managing numerous teams and losing technical skills, and I realized there was nothing for me outside of the bank and a career path I didn't enjoy.

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