From finance to tech – and why combining the two is so exciting

With a background in finance working in London and Singapore, Ben Ridgeway, 32 has decided to become a student again.

Written by Tom Bennison - 23.03.19

With a background in finance working in London and Singapore, Ben Ridgeway, 32 has decided to become a student again.

Here’s how he hopes to combine his new tech skills with his financial experience.

Prior to enrolling on _nology I worked in finance for ten years. The first five of those I was in currencies but then broadened out to stocks, bonds, derivatives and oil and gas. I was using tech systems all the time, particularly trading systems and would often have seven screens and three mice on the go at once! New technology has changed my job and speeded up certain processes, but I had no idea until now of how any of it was built, designed or created.

Although I’ve always been a big user of tech, personally and professionally, it’s never really been my gig

I’m probably the person on the course with the least amount of previous technical experience, I’d never coded in my life and now – three weeks in – I’ve built a basic website. I’ve found and written code, embedded links, styled the text up and basically created a version of something I’d have previously used day in, day out without a moment’s thought. Being honest, at times, the process has been frustrating. I’m learning a new language, a new way to write, there’s different syntaxes – you can sometimes feel like you’re in a dark room on your own! But then you have these moments where you get something right and these breakthroughs in understanding and the penny drops. And that is a fantastic feeling of satisfaction.

What’s so exciting to me about this course is that…

At the very least the 12 weeks will give me a decent awareness of the tech industry, an understanding of what software developers and web designers actually do and it will mean whatever company I work for next I’ll be able to confidently speak that language.

We all know there’s a massive tech skills gap and firms are crying out for people with the skills _nology gives you. There’s also a lot going on with fintech firms – both with startups and bigger banks. They’re looking for new ways for people to bank, new ways for institutions to trade, new ways for banks to trade with each other. Most big banks have a fairly archaic way of doing things at the moment – lots of it relies on phones and old trading systems, so there are lots of fintech firms trying to make the process smoother. And lots of startups who are revolutionising the whole thing. I think the finance industry is on the cusp of a lot of technical change and after this course I’ll have an amazing awareness it all – and not just on a surface level. I’ll be the one who knows what’s happening now and what people in finance want, as well as what the tech is available and what it can do to help.

It’s massively exciting!

We’re only three weeks into the course and I’ll admit, it’s been tough at points. There was a point last week when I had a bit of a wobble – we were doing some deep coding sessions and I just thought, ‘I don’t know anything.’ I had to have a word with myself that evening as I realised that I’m basically learning to learn again. I haven’t done any learning since leaving University. I had to say to myself ‘you’re not going to know all the answers straight away. There’s no way you could possibly know all the answers – and that’s OK’

It’s all about trial and error

With what we’re doing, you have to be slow and methodical and get it wrong usually – before you find the right answer. That’s very different to the world of trading where if you can’t get something done you bang your fists on the table and say ‘I need this now’ That world is all about speed – if the market’s moving and two minutes go by and I get it wrong, that might mean losing a deal worth 50 million Euros. This course isn’t like that – it’s about being slow and methodical and I’m having to open up a completely new part of my brain to get it done.

To all future _nologists… stay calm

My main piece of advice for anyone considering applying for _nology is to keep calm. In a world where we all want everything now, you’ve got to be a bit mindful. You’re not going to know everything so just go at your own pace and remember the course is about you, not other people. Embrace the fact that you’re going to come out of it with a deep understanding of the tech industry and with skills that will truly set you apart from other people.

In my next job, whatever that may be – even if I’m not one of the tech guys, I’ll be able to talk to the tech guys in a way most people with a financial background like mine, can’t. I think that’s really exciting.


At _nology we take students of all backgrounds and experience levels. If you want to learn how to code in 12 weeks then find out more here

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