These are the hottest programming languages to know in financial technology

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Java developers were the most sought after technologists in the financial sector in 2012, but IT professionals are going to have to be versatile if they want to find employment this year.

Knowledge of programming languages alone is seldom enough to secure an IT position at an investment bank, but our research suggests that Java was the key skill for developers to possess last year. We pointed to this in October, and in the final two months of 2012, Java and J2EE remained the most sought-after IT skill on our CV database, followed by C++ and C#.

“While demand for other programming languages came in peaks and troughs throughout 2012, investment banks continued to hire Java developers consistently throughout the year,” says Martin Rennison, head of investment banking IT at recruiters JM Group. “It helps that some of the big hirers last year were Java houses.”

Recruiters suggest that J.P. Morgan was particularly active when it comes to recruiting Java technologists last year and that its use of Python in developing some of its platforms has also pushed up demand for this skill-set. The bank didn’t respond to our requests for comment.

However, C++ has also been in demand as algorithmic trading advances over more asset classes, and it’s likely to remain a hot skill-set this year, says Robert Grant, chief operating officer at IT in finance recruiters Cititec.

“C++ will remain in demand within most quantitative groups in investment banks across the City as it is still the core language used to build, enhance and maintain quant libraries,” he says. “C++ will also continue to be the preferred language of choice within algorithmic trading as it will offer the best latency.”

It is, of course, naïve to assume that simply having knowledge or experience of either C++ or Java can land you a job at an investment bank, currently – particularly as more development work is done offshore.

“If you’re a VP or below, you have to be a really hands on developer, as well as a subject matter expert,” says Rennison. “At the junior end, it’s more about attitude than aptitude – banks want to see a passion for technology.”

Grant believes that it’s the era of the generalist: “We are seeing an increasing demand for versatile technologists with knowledge of more than one programming language.  After a lot of the recent mergers, a technician may now need to support more than one system running C++, Java or C#, Python is also in demand.”

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