FinTech is reshaping every aspect of finance and commerce, from multi-billion dollar international transactions to the way you buy your coffee in the morning.
As far back as 2016 – which might as well be the last century in a field moving so fast even the two-word title is truncated – PwC found that more than 20% of traditional financial service business was at risk of being gobbled up by FinTech-equipped firms, and almost 60% didn’t have a clue how to deal with game-changing technology like blockchain.
The only thing that mitigated the loss of business spelled out in that projection is the fact that the old guard moved fast, offering generous salaries and perks to build out the ranks of their backend FinTech teams with some of the most talented pros in the business.
If there are any investment managers, advisors, or brokers still left out there who think Ethereum is the name of a Swedish black metal band, they simply need to get out of the business. In the end, it’s going to be their clients that are the big losers as technology completely reshapes the world of finance.
Taking a page from the fast-paced world of software development, bootcamps take FinTech tools and techniques and pack them into a compact, practical, supervised learning experience. Through hands-on projects and training from industry-leading developers, the right FinTech bootcamp can totally revise and retool your skillsets for the 21st century – and it will only cost you about one Bitcoin to do it.
- What Are Bootcamps and Where Did They Come From?
- Bootcamps Can Boost Career Prospects Before or After Traditional College Education
- The Basics of Financial Technology Bootcamps
- What Exactly Will I Learn in a Financial Technology Bootcamp?
- Bootcamps Versus MOOCs: Which is Better for Finance Professionals?
- Where To Find Financial Technology Bootcamps: Top Programs and Aggregators
- How to Get the Most Out of Your FinTech Bootcamp Experience
- What is the Salary Potential After Graduating a FinTech Bootcamp?
- What Are the Employment Prospects After Completing a FinTech Bootcamp?
- Frequently Asked Questions About FinTech Bootcamps
What Are Bootcamps and Where Did They Come From?
A FinTech bootcamp is a highly-focused, intensive, concentrated dose of practical information delivered in a limited amount of time – ranging from a few days, to a few months. Although the original bootcamps were entirely in-person affairs, modern online learning technology has gotten good enough that more and more schools and providers are offering virtual versions, although they still tend to be synchronous with students showing up at the same time each day to meet up live with classmates and instructors.
That’s because they use a stair-step, project-based format that requires collaborative solutions and doesn’t have any room for slackers. You absolutely can’t miss a session in a bootcamp—there is no wasted time, no way to catch up. Every minute is packed with something you need to know.
That accountability is a big bonus to a lot of people, as is the practical, hands-on aspect of bootcamps. If learning by doing works well for you, you’ll be in good shape since the entire curriculum is built around experiential learning.
How Did Bootcamps Come To The World of Finance?
Bootcamps started off in the information technology world in the darkest part of the Great Recession. Hordes of laid-off workers needed to revise their skillsets to get into one of the few industries that was still hiring at the time, and they needed to get that training for a whole lot less than the cost of a traditional college education.
They really started booming in 2014, though, when big standardized testing and educational materials firm Kaplan bought out Dev Bootcamp, a small coding startup. That signaled legitimacy to the professional world, and within a year more than 50 coding bootcamps were up and running in the U.S.
The idea started to percolate around and enter into areas other than just coding. Big data, security, testing, and even graphic design and marketing are areas where bootcamps have emerged.
Financial technology is a natural fit for the concept, and an independent bootcamp in FinTech actually has some resemblance to the traditional in-house summer internship programs that many big banks and financial service firms run. The big difference is that you can buy your way into a bootcamp; you don’t have to deal with the fierce competition surrounding internships.
Bootcamps Can Boost Career Prospects Before or After Traditional College Education
Because they hit many different skill levels, ranging from data gurus headed for the belly of the quant beast on Wall Street to financial planners who simply want better analytical tools and trend monitoring skills, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to FinTech bootcamps. They exist along a spectrum of capabilities and skill levels, so you can find bootcamp options that will work for you no matter what point you’re at in your career arc.
For High School Graduates – If you are right out of high school and know you want a job in finance, an entry-level bootcamp can drop you right into that career path; do not pass Go, do not spend four years learning about Greek literature, do not spend tens of thousands of dollars on a college education. It’s a fast track to financial success; or, you can use it to bone up on important finance-industry concepts before you enter your bachelor’s program, since many important certifications still require one.
For Bachelor’s Degree Holders – If you already have a bachelor’s, you might have a number of reasons to turn to a FinTech bootcamp. One would be to prepare to enter a master’s program in the field; it’s a competitive degree, and demonstrating your basic skills and knowledge can help you get your application to the top of the stack. Another reason would be if your bachelor’s degree is in a field that isn’t an exact fit for the career in finance you want to follow. A specialized bootcamp can rectify that by filling in all the blank spots in your education.
For Master’s Degree Holders – Bootcamps can help master’s graduates fine-tune their skillsets in subjects they want to learn more about, or bring them up to speed on new techniques and technologies that may have come into play since they studied for their degree.
The Basics of Financial Technology Bootcamps
The selection of FinTech bootcamps isn’t nearly as big as you would find in other fields like data science or coding, but you still have quite a few options to look at. You’ll want to consider all the strengths and weaknesses so you can make the right choice for your situation.
Availability – Although increasing numbers of bootcamps are becoming available online, many are still held in locations where you must be physically present. Even many of the programs offered online are only open to students within the state or region, a result of developing curriculum in line with the demands of local employers. Couple this with the daily scheduling demands of synchronous courses in different time zones, and it becomes clear that it really is wise to go with one that’s either close to home or in a market where you might want to put down roots. At the end of the day, the fixed duration and schedule has to align with your availability; distractions and missed days during a bootcamp are as good as throwing your money away.
Entry requirements – Most FinTech bootcamps have relatively relaxed enrollment requirements, but some may require that you have a certain amount of industry experience under your belt, a degree in the field, or rudimentary programming skills at the very least. There are different options for different career stages, so don’t look at post-degree Officer Candidate School options if what you really need is grunt-level basic training.
Cost – A wide range of costs reflect the multitude of different purposes, lengths, and depth of study available in bootcamps. You’ll need to find a combination that accommodates both your bank account and your educational needs, but the good news is that you won’t likely have to go bargain hunting for some second-rate option that makes big quality compromises just to save you a few nickels. As a rule, the whole idea of a bootcamp is to get you the training you need fast without all the extraneous educational extras that end up adding up to a mountain of student debt. Programs tend to be priced competitively, so find the one that’s right for you and you can be confident you’ll be saving a mint over the cost of a degree.
Portfolio Development – Bootcamps are all about learning by doing. After the courses are done, your skills will be your primary credential, not a fancy degree in a cheap frame on the wall. If you’re interested in this kind of zero BS skills training, you need to orient your thinking around the value of the skills you can showcase instead of the name of the school you attend. You should check out the types of capstone projects that the bootcamps on your radar take you through, as well as how much, or little, involvement your fellow students will have. A program with a lot of team-based projects may mean less opportunity to drill down into the specific aspects of FinTech and won’t do as much to help you build a portfolio that reflects your individual contributions and the skills you developed in the process.
Job Placement – Some bootcamps offer direct job placement assistance with a pipeline to prospective employers anxious to build their ranks with fresh graduates, and many come with some sort of career counseling or interview-polishing built into the curriculum. This could be solid gold if you are just getting started in the industry… or a complete waste of time if you are self-employed or intend to hold onto your current position. Generally, however, bootcamps are pretty smart at providing only the curriculum that would benefit the people the program is intended for. If it’s an entry-level program that doesn’t require a degree, it will likely have those career services features. If it’s a post-degree option for mid-career professionals, it probably won’t. Pick a program that meets your personal needs.
Things to Consider as You Evaluate FinTech Bootcamp Programs
All of those factors will have varying levels of importance to you depending on your goals and resources. But you should also consider a few other aspects of bootcamps that can affect their overall quality and your student experience, regardless of your personal goals.
Look for Student Reviews – FinTech programs aren’t as common or popular as other types of bootcamps, so it’s harder to find students to review them. Still, it’s worth checking aggregation review sites like Course Report or Switchup to get unvarnished reports from graduates of programs that you are considering. Just searching Google for the name of the course and the keyword “review” can turn up individual posts on blogs or message boards that have valuable comments as well.
Look at Instructor Experience and Qualifications – A lot of what you learn in any educational setting is down to the instructor. The best curriculum in the world won’t do any good if the person teaching it isn’t a master of the subject-matter themselves, or doesn’t have the right academic chops to pass the information along. Finance, fortunately, is an area where it’s easy to evaluate the former… big investment banks don’t staff fools in their quant departments, so if someone has the right resume, you know they know their stuff. Academic qualities are harder to judge, but look for instructors who have been teaching for a while, and consider any course reviews you can find.
Pick Small Cadre Sizes – One-to-one instruction is the best kind, and although you won’t get exactly that in any bootcamp, you can maximize your face-time with instructors by picking programs that have very small cohorts. If you can get into a program with fewer than 30 students per class, you’re in a sweet spot for individualized attention.
What Exactly Will I Learn in a Financial Technology Bootcamp?
With bootcamps specifically developed for different career stages, from recent high school grads to industry vets, there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum. Still, they all do have some basic subject-matter areas in common that will be presented differently based on the audience it’s intended for:
Excel analysis – If you work with numbers, you inevitably end up using Excel as your basic Swiss-army knife for analysis. Exploring time-series analysis, financial ratios, and basic and advanced formula structure and troubleshooting are all part of most bootcamp courses.
Statistics and Prediction – Statistical theory is vital to determining what tools to use in financial analysis as well as ensuring that you get the implementation right. FinTech bootcamps go in for applied quantitative methods, so you get immediate experience in finding the right and wrong answers in predictive analytics.
Algorithmic trading topics – Some bootcamps focus on this subject almost exclusively, but it has such a huge impact on markets that you can expect every camp to touch on it at least tangentially, helping you to understand the algorithms that move markets in a matter of seconds.
Financial programming – Programming isn’t a skill you pick up overnight, and some bootcamps don’t go hard into the details of R and Python. Many, however, expect at least some familiarity with those languages by the time you complete the program, together with popular libraries like Pandas, Matplotlib, and Numpys that are frequently used in financial data analysis.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency – The details of blockchain implementation are hard to wrap your head around, but are so likely to feature in the future of finance that many bootcamps spend quite a lot of time instructing you in the development of smart contracts, distributed ledgers, consensus algorithms, and the ways those impact not only the formation of cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin, but future financial markets and corporate structures.
Naturally, in a fast-paced field like finance, you can expect curriculums to change almost overnight as new innovations and technologies are discovered that impact financial market analysis.
Bootcamps Vs. MOOCs: Which is Better for Finance Professionals?
Another kind of educational option you have probably been hearing about is the MOOC: a Massive Open Online Course.
MOOCs and bootcamps aren’t really in competition, though; they have very different formats and uses, and you could even combine the two if you felt it would be a benefit.
MOOCs are essentially a single college-level course that has been structured to be offered online to many thousands of students at once. Think of them as a huge, virtual survey course. They are often taught by college instructors, use the same materials and teach the same subject matter in a theoretical, academic framework.
That makes MOOCs a great fit for anyone who needs to brush up on a single subject of their choosing. You can find a MOOC class that will cover almost anything in depth, and if that one thing is all you need to learn, that’s perfect. This also means the time and cost commitments are limited.
Bootcamps, on the other hand, are better for a more comprehensive learning approach. They take a building-block approach that runs you through a ladder of learning with very practical exposure at each step. You will come out of a bootcamp with a lot of hands-on experience that gives you all the opportunities you need to demonstrate your skills at performing FinTech tasks.
Bootcamps are more expensive and more time-consuming, but the highly-supervised nature of a bootcamp also means you’re getting something for every dime—instructors make sure you accomplish your tasks and understand exactly what you are meant to learn from the program as a whole. On the other hand, you’ll only learn what’s in that highly-regimented curriculum; MOOCs can be combined with other MOOCs for a more tailored learning experience, and they are self-paced, so you go as fast or as slow as you need to absorb the material.
Since MOOCs are always online, you don’t have the same constraints as you do with some bootcamps that require on-site participation. You will find programs that are advertised as bootcamps that are actually MOOCs; do your due diligence to make sure you’re not just the victim of some marketer playing buzzword bingo.
Both concepts have their uses; it’s up to you to pick the right combination for your needs.
Where To Find Financial Technology Bootcamps: Top Programs and Aggregators
FinTech bootcamps are so new that not even the major bootcamp evaluation and rating sites cover them. Sure, you could stumble through trying to find one by doing a Google search with the terms and locations you are interested in, together with the phrase “FinTech bootcamp” or “financial technology bootcamp,” but that’s a pretty clunky way to filter through your options and identify the best one for your needs.
So we’ve taken care of some of the tedium and legwork by listing the ones we feel confident recommending as the top options available today. You’ll find two provider classifications; the traditional independent providers set up by industry mavens that saw an opportunity to offer training in the skills they know so well, and big name universities that are able to marshal all their resources to offer a condensed experience every bit as high-quality as you’d get in the degree programs they offer.
Traditional Bootcamp Aggregators that Offer Fintech Programs
Team-taught courses split between a financial modeling expert and a Python programming expert ensure that you get the right mix of coding and financial market analysis in this small-group program. From basic Excel analytics to tabular data analysis with Numpy and Pandas, you’ll get practical experience using realistic data through activity-based exercises.
- Location: New York City or Online
- Admission Requirements: No prior knowledge required
- Cost: $2,695
- Length: 54 hours
- Outcomes: Not available
This crash course in advanced Excel, financing modeling, and accounting skills is faster and doesn’t offer the technical depth of some other bootcamps. On the other hand, it doesn’t carry the price tag of those bootcamps either! You’ll still get experience in real-world financial modeling by creating a valuation model for a real company using current financial data and pick up analyst best-practice from instructors who know their stuff.
- Location: New York City or Online
- Admission Requirements: Prior financial experience helpful, but not required
- Cost: $895
- Length: 21 hours
- Outcomes: Practice interviews designed to prepare candidates for investment banking applications
From one of the world’s leading resources for the application of artificial intelligence to financial analysis, this fast-paced bootcamp is laser-focused on implementing cutting edge quantitative AI techniques to financial modeling problems. It’s a high-end camp that offers a Python and mathematics refresher at the beginning of the course before diving into advanced topics such as supervised learning environments and various types of deep learning and neural networks.
- Location: Online
- Admission Requirements: Not specified
- Cost: $3,295
- Length: 10 days
- Outcomes: Not available
A unique seminar-style course that is polished off with a capstone project for implementing the knowledge presented in a hands-on experience building a FinTech product, this program is available only intermittently. The exposure to AI and big data analytics demonstrates using an end-to-end machine learning model to analyze sentiments from annual report filings, a perfect demonstration project for financial planners.
- Location: Boston, Online
- Admission Requirements: None
- Cost: Open price
- Length: 4 days (plus capstone)
- Outcomes: Not available
Fintech Bootcamps Offered at Top Universities
As the whole bootcamp concept has gained more credibility, even traditional universities are starting to get in on the act. You get the advantage of a deep bench of qualified instructors and academic resources that many private programs can’t rival.
Columbia’s convenient part-time format belies the intensity of the project-based curriculum that keeps students nose-down in weighty subjects ranging from blockchain algorithms to Python programming over the course of the program. One-to-one coaching will get you through the hardest parts and you’ll graduate with skill integral to organizations ranging from financial planning to hedge funds.
- Location: New York, Online
- Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree or two years experience in a related field recommended
- Cost: $12,995
- Length: 24-weeks, part-time
- Outcomes: Robust professional development services including resume and portfolio reviews
With curriculum that is drawn straight from topics currently in hot demand in the markets, you’ll build expertise in designing advanced trading algorithms and modeling strategies through hands-on project work. A Project Demo Day is held quarterly, showcasing your latest work and offering unparalleled networking opportunities with some of the best and brightest talents in the CME community.
- Location: Chicago, Online
- Admission Requirements: No programming or finance experience required; bachelor’s degree recommended, as well as familiarity with Python and GitHub
- Cost: Not available
- Length: 24-weeks, part-time
- Outcomes: All students receive career support and coaching, including interview preparation
You’ll pick up marketable skills in this bootcamp that are easy to convert to big-money opportunities in the middle of the nation’s Energy Corridor. Financial strategy and hedges are key to modern energy market operations, and with the project-based skills you get in this program like financial modeling, logistic regression, and time-series analysis, you’ll have the practical pedigree to impression any Big Oil magnate.
- Location: Houston, Online
- Admission Requirements: Be 18 years of age and hold a GED
- Cost: $11,495
- Length: 24-weeks, part-time
- Outcomes: Career service coaching equips each student to become employer competitive by graduation
The SMU FinTech program evolves to keep up with the latest trends and tools at the intersection of data and technology, and teaches you the practical uses for those techniques in less than six month. A hot line of study into one of the newest trends, cryptocurrency, teaches you skills in blockchain technologies including use of distributed ledges, transaction validation, and smart contracts, all of it alongside more traditional financial planning pursuits like forecasting and financial modeling.
- Location: Dallas, Online
- Admission Requirements: GED required, bachelor’s or 2 years relevant experience recommended
- Cost: $11,495
- Length: 24-weeks, part-time
- Outcomes: Interview training, direct coaching, and portfolio and resume review prepare graduates for jobs
UNC-Charlotte has a formidable reputation in information technology, so marrying that expertise to financial data analysis and processing delivers a top-quality indoctrination into FinTech. You’ll go from the basics of advanced Excel use all the way up through algorithmic trading topics and advanced programming topics and libraries like Matplotlib, all in six months of hardcore effort. It’s a real-world, multidisciplinary approach capped off by effective career services that are supervised by a dedicated Career Director and Profile Coach.
- Location: Charlotte, Online
- Admission Requirements: Two years related experience or a bachelor’s are recommended
- Cost: $10,995
- Length: 24-weeks, part-time
- Outcomes: Career services team on staff to prepare, guide, and encourage graduates in job searches
How to Get the Most Out of Your FinTech Bootcamp Experience
Bootcamps are fast-paced programs and even the best student is bound to come out the other side having missed a few things. Because courses are project-oriented, and time is limited, you won’t have a chance to apply every single skill you learn—everything will be connected to the capstone. And because many of those projects are team-based, you might find you only have exposure to the specific element you were working on, not the entirety of the project.
That all makes it more important than ever that you arrive focused and switched on every single day of the camp.
Take Pre-work Seriously
Every bootcamp is aimed at a certain skill level, and that’s the precise level the material is taught at. There’s no time for remedial work when everything is hopping. That means you need to have your basic skills down cold before you show up. Many bootcamps have a pre-work packet or self-paced courses they send out; don’t skim. Take the basics seriously, because no one is going to hold your hand if you’re still getting up to speed after camp starts.
Reduce Outside Distractions
If you are holding down a job already, take a leave of absence. Reduce your family commitments while you’re in the camp. Take care of yourself, health and nutrition-wise. Get plenty of sleep. Don’t stay up binge-watching Billions. They call it a bootcamp for a reason. You can’t phone it in and you can’t have your mind on anything else.
Take Advantage of Post-Graduation Services
Whether it’s ongoing career support, or recorded courses and resource libraries, maximize your bootcamp experience by continuing to take advantage of whatever is offered after the course is finished. You’ll have built a valuable network out of your fellow students; don’t be afraid to turn to them again either during your career search or for technical advice when you run into hard problems on the job. Instructors and career services teams are also good resources you can take away from bootcamp programs.
What is My Earning Potential After Graduating a FinTech Bootcamp?
One of the biggest incentives to get into financial services is the prospect of big paychecks. Whether you are a planner, broker, or analyst, you picked a path where it’s possible to accumulate significant personal wealth… and a FinTech bootcamp will only enhance all that earning potential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the median salary for each of those categories was:
- Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents – $86,840
- Financial analysts – $85,660
- Personal financial advisors – $87,850
All of those are well above the median household income in America. But let’s get real… you didn’t get into this business to slog it out in the middle. A FinTech bootcamp is one way to propel yourself to the top, and the pickings at the top are rich indeed. The top 10% in each of those roles pull down base salaries of at least six figures:
- Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents – $204,130
- Financial analysts – $167,420
- Personal financial advisors – $208,000
And according to Robert Half’s 2020 Accounting and Finance Salary Guide, corporate data analysts in the top 5% made $152,500 at the senior level, while managers in financial planning and analysis pull in $165,750. Those are all roles that a FinTech bootcamp can set you up for with ease.
And we all know this is just the tip of the income iceberg. This is an industry where commissions and bonuses are standard. That’s where the real money is, making base salaries look like just enough to cover the tax bill for your real income.
If you’re an advisor, your model is likely to be based on client assets under management (AUM), with 1-2% annual being the standard. Stack your bench of clients with a few high net worth families and do the math.
What Are Your Employment Prospects After Leaving a FinTech Bootcamp?
Whether or not you can land those high-paying positions is another question, but there are reasons for optimism, particularly after getting through a financial technology bootcamp.
Job growth for financial services positions ranges from 4% (for brokers), which is about the average rate of growth in the U.S., to 7% (for planners) which is faster than average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But you’ll come out of bootcamp with a set of skills in one of the hottest areas of finance, quantitative analysis, and everyone is hungry for analysts and brokers who can crunch those numbers. In 2018, Goldman Sachs revealed that quants were already about 25% of all hires in the fixed income, currencies, and commodities division, and that the firm was keeping the recruitment and hiring pedal to the metal for the foreseeable future.
Although big name brokerages and investment banks have had the edge in hiring that kind of talent, in order to stay competitive almost every firm in every niche needs someone on the payroll who can, at the very least, keep an ear to the ground and interpret the plays those high-powered firms are making. Even an entry-level FinTech analyst or planner represents tremendous added value to any firm, and you’ll find your bootcamp experience opening doors all over town.
Frequently Asked Questions About FinTech Bootcamps
Will I earn college credit in a FinTech bootcamp?
No. Even bootcamps run by universities do not offer credit for their courses, as it’s a fundamentally different type of education and not accredited as college coursework.
How long does it take to complete a FinTech bootcamp?
Anywhere from a few days to a few months. The amount of course content and the focus of the program will dictate how in-depth the instruction will go and how long it will take. Some bootcamps are offered on a part-time basis, which doesn’t extend the overall number of hours, but will extend the time to completion.
Can I continue working while I am attending a bootcamp?
FinTech bootcamps are more likely to be oriented at people currently in the job market than many bootcamps, so the answer to this is usually yes, with some qualifications. Part-time programs are obviously a good fit for the currently employed. Many other programs are less than two weeks in length, which make them possible to attend by taking vacation time.
What are the admissions requirements to get into a FinTech bootcamp?
A check for tuition is usually the only requirement to get into a FinTech bootcamp, assuming it’s an entry-level pre-degree option. Finance, and particularly quantitative finance, is typically focused far more on results than formal qualifications. Many bootcamps have recommendations, but few requirements. If you want to waste your time by showing up unprepared, they’re happy to take your money—you will have to be the best judge of your qualifications.
Can I get a job right after graduating from a bootcamp?
Yes, and many bootcamps offer specific career services in order to help you do just that. Of course, it depends on the type of job; you may need to obtain relevant certifications or have industry experience to be fully qualified.
What are the differences between online and on-site bootcamps?
As online classroom technology improves, there are fewer and fewer differences between online and on-site bootcamps. But the biggest difference may be psychological. If you’re the type of person who has to be in the same room with others to fully collaborate, or if you really need face-to-face instruction, there is no substitute for on-site camps. On the other hand, if you have the motivation and discipline, the flexibility and efficiency of online camps is hard to beat.
Will I need a college degree in addition to my bootcamp experience?
This depends entirely on your goals. SEC and FINRA licensing doesn’t require any higher education, and if you have the technical chops and can prove it, neither do many employers. On the other hand, it’s hard to get through that first filter at HR if you don’t have a degree on your resume, and some other important industry certifications, such as the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) will require one anyway.