tsn: esteem hazards^boosts

With the exception of c++, socket(mkt data), py(devops), c#, MSVS … looks like majority of ventures out of my tech sweet spot java/SQL/scripting… presents esteem-hazards (like health hazards) but dismal prospect in terms of self-esteem boost.

high-risk, low-return ventures, in terms of self-esteem?

Looking deeper, the esteem-hazard is really nothing but one mgr’s assessment. For my recent painful jobs, I continue to dismiss/ignore the possible boost to self-esteem —

  • I conquered some of my biggest technology fears — MSVS; c++ crash management; c++ large code navigation.. Other people may not agree, but my own experience proves that these challenges are harder than high-level dev (like web/scripting..). My fears about these c++ challenges were more deep-rooted .
  • OC — I built real mileage in c#. I even proved myself stronger than some c# veterans when I created a simple web server to dump log files for everyday troubleshooting.
  • Macq — I invented elegant solutions for splunk even though boss wasn’t impressed
  • .. many more
  • see more pointers in https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=27139&action=edit

unnoticed gain{SG3jobs: 看破quantDev

All three jobs were java-lite , with some quantDev exposure. Through these jobs, I gained the crucial clarity about the bleak reality of the quantDev career direction. The clarity enabled me to take the bold decision to stop the brave but costly TSN attempts to secure a foothold. Foothold is simply too tough and futile.

Traditional QuantDev in derivative pricing is a shrinking job pool. Poor portability of skills without any standard set of interview topics.

at same pay, now I would prefer eq than drv pricing domain, due to mkt depth and job pool.

QuantDev offers no contract roles !

Instead, I successfully established some c#/py/c++ trec. The c++ accu, though incomplete, was especially difficult and precious.

Without these progresses, I would be lacking the confidence in py/c#/c++ professional dev that enabled me to work towards and achieve multiple job offers. I would still be stuck in the quantDev direction.

+! trySomethingNew] sg, what could I have(possibly)got

See also past vindicative specializations

  • I would still do my MSFM
  • I would still fail to get into algo trading or quant dev — too few jobs and extremely high bar
  • I would likely fail to get into leadership roles. I was considered for leadership roles at 1 to 3 companies


  • I could possibly have focused on a specialization such as risk system + some analytics
  • would probably have joined citi, barc, baml, UBS, SC or .. in sg
  • probably java or swing or connectivity
  • would Not have achieved the c#/py/c++ ZBS growth
  • would Not have the skills to get this ICE raw mkt data job or the other c++ job offers.
  • no guarantee to become a manager or app owner. There could be many old timers in the team.
  • possibly less stress and pain. Lower chance of performance stress (#1 biggest stressor), because my GTD/KPI would be higher due to my java/SQL zbs.

tech specialization: no opp2play%%strength ]sg

In the US I can slowly steer my tech specialist career into my chosen strategic domains of specialization like
– threading
– cpp
– financial analytics
– big data
– statistical analysis
– risk analytics

In many of these domains, most of my peers struggle while I am comfortable…. more confidence, more leisure, more free time, less stress ..

In Singapore, I don’t have the luxury because there are Simply too few jobs at my salary level. Those specialized jobs there are, are simply too selective too demanding

— OC: wanted to go deep into drv pricing..

–stirt: wanted to go into curve building and real time risk but ..

–Mac: wanted to go into quant dev …

[17] GTD=reasonable ] stirt/OC/Macq

Update — In ##what actually determined%%past job satisfaction  I concluded that respect(zbs) was the #1 determinant of my job satisfaction. In these 3 Singapore jobs, my efficiency and zbs were insufficient compared to whatever their benchmark is. Even in java, theoretical, complex domains, without distractions … my colleagues could be superfast. Even if I get a lot done, I can still be seen as under-performing — low respect low bonus. Consider GS.

Update — my RTS GTD/effi was lower than Singapore, much lower than Stirt and Macquarie.

It’s kinda hard to measure 2 developers’ output. Given my background within my past teams, I now feel I did reasonably well on GTD, not super productive or super slow. Some periods in OC and Stirt were highly productive. My productivity was not excellent in Citi, Verizon, even 95Green, not higher than in Stirt. Conclusion — my GTD productivity self-assessment is swayed by my income and boss’s assessment.

  • In OC, I took care of Guardian, Quest, Excel interface, Bloomberg and other part of GMDS. I wrote the web-based log viewer in WCF…. I think my OC 1st-year GTD productivity was reasonable, probably higher than Citi, and not lower than barcap.
    • The donut bonus was at least 50% due to manager relationship.
    • In contrast, at 95Green and Barcap my GTD was not much higher, but the value of my output was higher than team peers. I spent my spare time on c++, swing, c#, quant…
  • In Stirt and Macquarie, manager felt I was good enough to be transferred to other teams — sign of respect
  • Stirt — I had lower value-add than the veterans, but probably higher value-add than most new joiners. Technically I was rated competent by everyone, otherwise they wouldn’t set up the transfer. My Stirt GTD effi was clearly higher than at citi and not lower than Barcap or 95G. Perhaps only lower than GS.
    • One /speed bump/ was the perfectionist team lead who approves everyone’s commit
    • Another speed bump was lack of online resources for hacking (i.e. self-study).
  • Macqarie role has very high requirements in terms of communication, leadership, but in terms of technical expertise I was clearly appreciated, otherwise they wouldn’t hint the internal transfer, and they wouldn’t pay me a $10k bonus.

no IV muscle growth]sg..really@@

Common reason: no IV to give feedback on any “muscle growth”

Common reason: Most if not ALL of the growth areas have since become non-strategic, due to the limited job market

  • c# —  Actually my c# had tremendous and fast growth, no slower than my 2010-2012 peak period, but there was no IV to verify it
  • py — was growing fast in Mac, but no full time python jobs
  • quant — I went through a hell of growth in quant-dev, but gave up
  • c++ tool knowledge — was growing in Mac but not a QQ topic at all.
  • c++ optimization for HFT — I read quite a bit but can’t pass the interviews 😦 so I gave up

[14] less stressful job in financial IT@@ #XR

You wrote:

Pros: Less time spent in learning new things, since  most new technical skills will be abandoned in several years, so a lot of time is saved.

I agree that saving time is important, for stressful daddies like you and me. I try to identify those technology fads and avoid wasting time on them, except when the fad (like silverlight) is really needed on my job.

While working for big banks I feel I’m paying a price in terms of family life and my health (i.e. stress level).

Q: Is a less stressful job more healthy in the long run? not sure.

My OCBC job was slower after the initial 6 months, but my learning slowed down too much. I became less competitive less strong less marketable on the job market. That won’t help with long term well-being. So in this case answer is No.

My Citigroup contract project was also slower than other Wall St jobs, but I kept myself busy by learning c++. I guess the ideal situation is low-stress high-motivation, highly engaging. Perhaps a job we could cope well, but gives us motivation to exceed expectation. So in this case answer is Yes.

Overall, I felt (a bit) less stressful on Wall St as a contractor than now as an employee. As a result, my health condition was probably (a bit) better in U.S. Paradoxically, I think my health condition has a lot to do with the job market demand — Wall St relatively easy to find a job, so I didn’t need to work so hard to keep a job.

Before entering finance IT, was my work stress lower? Sometimes yes sometimes no. Some of the stress on Wall St we can learn to cope, so it won’t affect health in a massive and destructive way. However, some of my non-finance jobs (in Singapore) were extremely unstable — one company let me go within 1 month, another company extended probation period. Stressful? What stress? Livelihood stress? I was a bachelor and didn’t feel stressful but I imagine a father of two would feel traumatized! In the early 2015 layoff, I was feeling really stressed and depressed after getting so few calls on the job market. I felt the local financial IT job market here was dead. The banks were not hiring. I was happy just to see a Barclays Singapore role below AVP. A Commerz bank java opening was taking 2-3 months to get approved.

Perhaps the key factor is the feeling of in-control — When I felt I could handle the turbulence, the ups and downs, the sudden changes… then I felt OK. Now, with kids, I need stable income and time to spend with family. I don’t like anything to rock my boat.

You don’t have to read these but my earlier comments are at

On Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 9:18 AM, you wrote:

Talking about learning, some people actively learn, just like what you did: plan what to learn, then take spare time to learn it. While some others passively learn, such as they are forced to learn in work. For example, one developer work in a company for several years, and then company wide technology upgrade to some main stream skills. So the developer can still keep pace with relatively new skills. Although those relatively new skills are not the latest, they should be proved to be accepted by big financial firms.

The latter guys won’t easily get an ideal job, but they should be able to get a job in most market conditions.
Cons: Difficult for them to pursue the ideal job. Dare not to change job just for better payment.
Pros: Less time spent in learning new things, since some most new technical skills will be abandoned in several years, so a lot of time is saved.

On Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 5:34 PM, Bin TAN (Victor) wrote:

Forgot to mention that my study of c#, c++ and financial math study
will, I believe, help with my career ….somewhere down the road. When
i get interview questions on these topics, I’m sure I can handle them
better thanks to my recent study. I tell myself to be patient with
this “investment” in myself.

As mentioned in the last mail, In the last 2 years after I came back
to SG, the study has slowed down quite a bit, but i believe i still
improved my knowledge and understanding in certain areas.

Another potential long-term return of my financial math study is ….
teaching as a career. A lot of finance professionals switch gear to an
academic career after a certain age. I keep this option open by
working hard on my studies. If i get decent grades i might qualify to
teach. Compared to financial IT, teaching is hopefully less stressful,
even though i don’t want to underestimate the job duty of a dedicated
teacher. A good teacher can really impart useful knowledge. I may not
be a top teacher but i have my strengths in this area.

On Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 1:38 AM, Bin TAN (Victor) wrote:
> I believe our mind (esp. our memory) is like a muscle. If we don’t
> seriously use it, it tends to age, weaken and lose capacity.
> Over the last 5 years, i spent 2009-2011 in the US on my own —
> tremendous learning and improvement, perhaps the most active learning
> period in my professional life. Then after I came back to SG, i
> studied financial math program, c#/dotnet, and some c++.
> I feel the serious study keeps my mind active. However, over the last
> 18 months, I notice various signs of my learning capacity reducing,
> but it’s not all due to aging —
> * biggest factor is lack of concentration, due to kids and family commitment
> * not enough time to periodically re-visit each topic,
> After all, I feel it’s vital and paramount to keep our mind in
> constant learning mode. 活到老学到老.