And What Language Do You Speak?

Anthony says that firms need to worry about more than just the added benefits coding skill provides when recruiting new talent.

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Anthony Malakian, US Editor, Waters & WatersTechnology.com

After speaking with over 20 industry experts about their use of the Python programming language, Anthony says that firms need to worry about more than just the added benefits it provides when recruiting new talent.

For the June issue of Waters, I decided to take a look at how firms in the capital markets space are using the Python scripting language.

Because I wanted to focus in on the actual projects being undertaken, I didn't touch as greatly on the talent-acquisition aspect of banks, asset managers and vendors turning to Python.

One software engineer I spoke with who has done freelance work for JPMorgan and Bank of America, told me that young programmers "aren't interested in supporting old technologies or working on C++ for a financial giant." If you're using Python, "you're going to have an easier time recruiting programmers who are more interested in newer technologies."

This sentiment jived well with what Craig Austin, head of research development at AQR, told me, saying that Python has appealed to younger applicants.

Python: So Hot Right Now

But you also shouldn't paint with too broad a stroke. Alexei Miller, managing director at DataArt, said that firms should be careful to simply use Python because it could potentially serve as a siren song for talented young developers. It's good to have an understanding and ability to deploy various programming languages, but those decisions have to be made with a well-laid-out plan for deployment because "the younger generation is fickle and Python is great today, who knows what it will be like tomorrow," so it's futile for banks to chase on the simple premise that Python is hot right now.

Even Austin said that while his group, which covers research, is "100 percent Python", he also noted that other groups in the organization are using C++, Java, C#, among others, and that Scala is taking on greater interest.

In a recent study by Quartz, Python was the third highest-paying programming language to have on a resume, but it was still behind Ruby on Rails and Objective C. Other sources mentioned Kafka, R, Perl and PHP as interesting languages that they're now dabbling with.

For this story ─ which will be live on WatersTechnology in the coming days ─ I spoke with something close to two-dozen industry experts, and here's the very broad consensus that I came to: For things like research and analytics platforms, or to move large datasets or deploy tools quickly, Python has become the scripting language of choice on Wall Street, while C and C++ are still the favored compiled languages when performance is vital.

Clearly using Python will help in recruiting, but don't let that be the main driver. First understand how the language can help you build more efficient platforms, then build a plan for how to deploy your strategy. The programmers and developers will come if you're truly a savvy and fun-to-work-for institution ... and if the pay is right.

Some Random Thoughts

* For everyone here in the States, I hope you had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Being that my dad and uncle are Marines, one of my grandfathers was in a M.A.S.H. unit during the Korean War, and my other grandfather was in the Army, it's also a weekend to give thanks to all those who have served.

* In preparation for American Pharoah's run at the Triple Crown on June 6, I'm rereading William Nack's brilliant book, "Secretariat". Nack's ability to set a scene is unrivaled in sports journalism, and one needs to look no further than the lede to his Sports Illustrated story on Secretariat's passing, "Pure Heart":

Just before noon the horse was led haltingly into a van next to the stallion barn, and there a concentrated barbiturate was injected into his jugular. Forty-five seconds later there was a crash as the stallion collapsed. His body was trucked immediately to Lexington, Ky., where Dr. Thomas Swerczek, a professor of veterinary science at the University of Kentucky, performed the necropsy. All of the horse's vital organs were normal in size except for the heart.

* I'm an avid "Game of Thrones" fan, but I've been fairly disappointed by this season thus far ... that is, until Sunday night. Finally, some story lines were advanced after six episodes of meandering.

On a side note, my girlfriend almost broke up with me a while back when I told her that Tywin Lannister is my all-time favorite character on the show, and that I find every Stark character to be insufferably dull and annoying, and at the top of that list is Eddard.

Then again, I'm a New England Patriots fan, so I think it's her fault that she was surprised by this revelation.

* This is just a friendly reminder that alligators have an incredibly strong bite.

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