A banker-turned-Googler explains the 2 biggest differences between working in tech and finance

Sameer Syed round tableSameer SyedThere’s a big difference when it comes to work life balance, says Sameer Syed (L).

When investment banker Sameer Syed left JP Morgan for the world of tech startups in 2012, he didn’t quite know what to expect.

Today, he works in strategic partnerships at Google and runs Wall Street to Silicon Alley, an organisation that helps other financiers transition into the world of tech.

Speaking with Business Insider, Syed broke down some of the major changes he experienced when switching industries.

Here are the two biggest differences between the fields of tech and finance:

1. Tech startups can be more flexible about face time

While working in investment banking, Syed would sometimes see his coworkers sitting around in the office waiting for more work, even after they completed their tasks for the day.

“People sometimes sit there because they have got to be there in case something comes up,” he said. “At tech startups, you don’t really have that because there’s a trust factor at a smaller company. I trust you to get something done. I don’t need you to sit in the office with us. I don’t need you always to be there.”

As a result, Syed said that working in tech tends to encourage more of a work life balance, allowing for flexible work and less time in the office. That being said, he adds that he often brings his work home with him nowadays, because he tends to enjoy it.

2. The work environment is more casual in tech

When Syed joined his first tech startup in 2012, he was immediately struck by one thing: the way his coworkers wrote emails.

“It was so casual and so relaxed,” he said. “As a financial analyst, you wrote out these thoughtful emails and your attention to detail had to be really good. You didn’t want to make a mistake in an email and have someone senior read it. They might be like, ‘This guy doesn’t really care about his work.'”

However, things were quite different at the tech startup he joined.

“People were just shooting out emails left and right, as they’re thinking things through,” he said. “There’d be mistakes in the emails, but no one cared. People were not really measuring others on the way they wrote an email to somebody.”

Syed said that those differences in email habits reflect a generally more relaxed work environment in tech.

“If you want to be able to move around and do different projects, that’s great at a startup,” he says. “At a bank, it’s much more structured. You pick a lane and you stick with it.”

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