Main image of article Fintech Outpaces Traditional Finance for Tech Pro Pay

For tech professionals (and aspiring tech professionals) who are interested in the financial industry, it’s an interesting time to plunge in. Traditional finance giants and fintech startups are investing heavily in everything from cryptocurrency and blockchain to new forms of encryption. With all that in mind, should you opt to pursue opportunities within “traditional” finance, or hold out for a gig in up-and-coming fintech?

In the end, it all comes down to personal preferences. “Old school” financial firms are often quite massive, with large tech teams and decades of tradition. As an employee, you’ll have access to lots of resources and internal knowledge; but if you’re used to the fast rhythms of a smaller company, you may find that projects move at a glacial pace. You may also struggle to secure buy-in for cutting-edge initiatives, especially if the firm’s priorities are elsewhere.

Fintech companies, by contrast, offer opportunities to rapidly disrupt and evolve the financial system. You be using (and perhaps even inventing) new technologies to quickly launch services that could fundamentally alter how millions of people save, invest, and spend money. And that’s exciting! But like startups in other industries, fintech firms can face quite a bit of uncertainty: if the federal government imposes an onerous new regulation over your corner of the financial world, or the cryptocurrency market crashes overnight, your firm could dissolve near-instantly.

For many tech professionals interested in finance, it also comes down to compensation. After all, you’re involved in the financial markets—you should be earning quite a bit of money, right? Right? Well, not so fast. Using crowdsourced compensation data from, let’s look at how much the traditional finance firms pay their entry-level software developers: 

Those are some very solid salaries, and they’ll surely rise as you make your way up the corporate ranks. Now let’s see how much the “hot” fintech companies pay by comparison:

That’s quite a bit of difference, huh? The big issue here is stock: fintech companies seem willing to offer significant amounts of it to their tech professionals as an incentive. For tech professionals potentially interested in working in fintech, stock is also something of a double-edged sword: if you jump aboard a company that does well, you’ll profit enormously… but if the company collapses, it’ll take your equity with it.

(Some developers, when considering whether to work for a startup, look at the potential compensation package and mentally set the value of the equity awards to zero. If the salary and bonus still align with their compensation goals, they take the job, and treat the equity as a nice “add on” of sorts.)

Whether you’re interested in traditional finance or fintech, also keep in mind that mastering highly specialized, hard-to-find skills such as machine learning modeling and the blockchain can unlock higher tiers of compensation, particularly if you’re an experienced technologist. Whatever your route, working in finance is a chance for you to help guide how people invest and spend their money—meaning you can have a substantial impact.