Interactive Brokers Software Engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Interactive Brokers Software Engineer Reviews

Updated April 8, 2017
14 reviews

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Software Engineer

3.6
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Interactive Brokers Chairman, President, and CEO Thomas Peterffy
Thomas Peterffy
9 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Free lunch from area restaurants is a nice perk (in 34 reviews)

  • no nonsense" philosophy & no politics / red-tape (in 8 reviews)

Cons
  • Work from home option almost non-existent (this has to do mostly with security concerns and the nature of business) (in 5 reviews)

  • The work/life balance is non-existent (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Overall nice company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Secure job (layoff very rare); relaxing working env; very nice coworkers; almost no politics; good location; good benefit; regular nine to five hours

    Cons

    Hard to gain promotion because of flat structure; pay increase slow; innovation not very encouraged; long incentive stock vesting period

    Advice to Management

    Put good new hired people in management to look at firm from fresh viewpoint


  2. Helpful (11)

    "work hard, get paid, go home"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great place to learn and grow for smart, motivated, self-driven individuals. No bureaucracy, unnecessary meetings or ridiculous 360 year-end review process. Growth and compensation is based on merit. Responsibility and ownership is given quickly to people that want it and have proven they can handle it. Flat reporting structure. Vacation and sick day policy improved recently. Most (if not all) managers have grown into their position organically. In short, working hard and smart is recognized and rewarded.

    Cons

    Whether the below points are pros or cons is subjective :

    - no mobility across teams
    - not a place for individuals that require hand-holding
    - no classes or formal off-site learning events
    - few social events

    Advice to Management

    sharing company news and achievements in a monthly email would motivate employees

  3. Helpful (9)

    "The grass wasn't greener!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - Very-unique culture suited for programmers (the company is run by the programmers)

    - You can see the immediate impact of your work

    - You have a chance to work on the best brokerage platform

    - The CEO is interested in getting feedback from new employers

    - There are no unnecessary meetings or conference calls

    - Very good medical benefits and the premium paid 100% by the company

    - Free lunch delivered directly to the kitchen for you (fine print: you eat in front of your computer :)

    - Free soda (not good if you want to loose weight!)

    - For those, who trade on the side - unlike other regulated financial companies (especially investment banks), IB doesn't force its employees to move investment accounts to some "approved" (and often expensive) brokers or prohibit frequent trading

    My story:

    Like the subject says "the grass wasn't greener" (on the other side). Long story short - I resigned and came back to work for IB again after working just a few days for another company. I had resigned from IB because I felt that I had found it difficult to innovate (by means of bringing new open source software). I moved to work for a large financial company (good benefits and modern technology stack). However, what I immediately started to dislike was a typical bureaucratic culture of a financial firm, where IT employees are treated as resources (not the drivers of the company), and where you have meetings upon meetings and status reports and endless work about work. Coming from IB culture that was a huge difference and I started having second thoughts about whether it was the right place for me and whether I had made the right decision to quit my job. I finally made my mind and contacted the Director of HR at IB and asked if it would be possible for me to come back. He then contacted the President of the company, who was very kind to allow me to return...
    IB like any other company has its pros and cons and it takes time to appreciate its specific culture. There are opportunities and rewards for those who want to work hard.

    Cons

    - Difficult to bring new software onboard

    - Too few sick days

    - The HR department is understaffed

    - Many flavors of coffee in the kitchen but not so good quality


  4. Helpful (5)

    "Challenging and Rewarding - Where Developers Are The MVPs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    - once you proved yourself, you have utmost freedom, only your output matters
    - compensation grows fast after a few years to a _very_ competitive level
    - most importantly, the company is evolving, most of the critics here have been listened to and are already being addressed!
    - hard work is valued
    - IT team is not a service department, but the driver of the company -- developers get the attention they deserve
    - only the most intelligent people (developers) are hired, creating an inspiring environment
    - you can use personal mobile internet anytime (it's up to you if your work suffers)
    - recently raised vacation days

    Cons

    Culture: introverted people, you have to actively look for opportunities to socialize
    HR team: not helpful and lots of mistakes
    Being among selected smart people lowers your own ego :)

    Advice to Management

    Revise HR team - otherwise keep on ;)


  5. Helpful (13)

    "Horrible! Real devils in here!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    There is some really good engineering work being done

    Cons

    - No internet at all. Not even restricted/moderated internet. You cannot get a glimpse of what is happening in the outside world from morning 9am-6pm for a near 365 days a year. In today's world, this is like stringing up a person without allowing air to breathe.
    - Adding to the internet policy, the culture is one of the worst. The managers are horrible with absolutely no humane feelings. They expect you to be like slaves, no question asked, no issue raised against your head. With the internet policy, I feel people who work for a few years will loose any sense of emotion and become extremely apathetic. People this will have very adverse affects on your personal lives. So please read this and do not take an offer at this company even though the money they give is somewhat above the average market value.
    - The head of the one of the departments even sometimes makes this explicit when hiring you: "Being social is not good in the company". So not take this lightly. The culture will drain any life from you. You work in the company for 10 years and not know anything about the guy sitting next to you.
    - H1B/Work visa permit holders... READ THIS!!: They only give 10 days of vacation for the whole year for the first 5 years! Yes just 10 days a year! So, you will have no time to prepare for interviews leave alone actually interviewing with companies to get out of the place if you don't like the culture. I have seen many people who are stuck there because of this situation. This will drive you crazy leading to many psychological problems.

    Advice to Management

    Give your employees internet if they need. You can give them the tradeoff of reducing their salary for having their internet monitored if security is a concern.
    Get a life guys. Treat your employees like they are humans and remember they have feelings too. They need to get a life where they can smile once they get home and not think about why they ever got stuck at this company.


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Intense, originally challenging but later depressing and even debilitating"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer
    Current Employee - Software Engineer
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - A few of efficient business processes, most well-automated
    - A handful of worthy technologies to learn and think of.
    - Fair-n-square business practices as far as I can say (not to confuse with "nice to clients")
    - Acceptable pay; almost-guaranteed "raises" for raising cost of living
    - Keep to the letter to their side of your contract (which does not include much good; but still)
    - Free lunch that you usually eat at your desk (if you consider that a pro)

    Cons

    - Self-righteous and rigid high management; initiatives and comments are effectively discourages
    - Antiquated and ineffective-to-stupidity software governance (do not confuse with 'inefficient').
    - Non-existent work/life balance (total 16 days for vacation, personal and sick days; you are mostly treated and managed as a resource rather than human being)
    - Not only are free information and idea exchange not promoted but in many ways strongly discouraged. As an example, you won't even have an Internet access at your desk unless your function needs it. As one of the results, the company is stagnating technologically.
    - No training/learning programs I am aware of.
    - People are discouraged from talking

    Advice to Management

    Not that I think they would take any, but: consider formally training yourself in ethical people management (maybe try reading Stephen Covey's books?).

    On a side note: I had to rank CEO "disapprove" for his failure to keep the management effective and adequate to the company''s scale. This is not at all intended to deny his technical and financial genius and ethical business practices that made this company possible. I would have selected "both approve and disapprove" if the Web side provided this choice. (I did not want to select "No opinion" because I certainly had one)


  7. Helpful (9)

    "Looking forward to leaving."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time

    Pros

    If you are good, have no ambition, and are willing to put up with the company 'idiosyncrasies' for the long-term, you will be very well compensated.

    Some other reviewers' comments that I can echo:

    - A few people are very smart and are a pleasure to work with* and learn from**
    - Business is run ethically
    - No red tape

    * 'Work with' means ask questions and get answers, not collaborate
    ** Learn C++, see below

    Cons

    Good reviews on Glassdoor are mostly not from programmers.

    No effort is made to educate employees about markets or the business beyond what is required for your immediate project. "Do your assigned project and don't rock the boat" is the motto.

    There is essentially no collaboration. You are told what to do and you do it.

    Benfits are abysmal.
    - 6.5 year (!!!) vesting schedule for stock bonuses and 401k matches (50% of 10% of contribution), you only get 10% up front (in May) plus 15% per year over 6 years
    - Two (!!!) weeks of vacation for the first five years, after that, three.
    - Health insurance is a low-end Cigna plan. Here's an example of how cheap it is; you can only get an eye exam once every two years. I have a feeling anyone who puts the insurance in the 'pro' column has never actually used it.

    Perks are half-hearted and penny-pinching.
    - See comments about benefits above
    - You get $12 from seamless.com to order lunch from crappy restaurants.
    - "Stocked Fridge": the fridge is stocked with soda. Want a snack? Pretzel sticks.
    - You wouldn't know it's a multi-billion dollar business from the spartan, depressing offices.

    If they offered a company car, it would be an engine-less Yugo pulled by a donkey, but hey, it will get you there!

    Advice to Management

    There are ways other than tight golden handcuffs to inspire employee loyalty. Show some concern for making our lives happier and easier.

  8. Helpful (18)

    "Everyone against everyone. Highly political. No life"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Free lunch and free health insurance (you will regret it later)

    Cons

    The governing style is absolute tyranny.

    Crazy night/weekend hours, frequent wake-up calls. Your pay will likely not reflect that. Developers are production management team by themselves.

    Everyone is anti-social. You will never discuss your weekend or kids/family with any of your co-workers. Even an elevator conversation arriving at / departing from work (I am officially off at that time, right?) is all about what projects you or I are working on.

    Did I just say "kids"? Forget you have kids (or are ever going to have them), and never mention it, or else... (see below)

    When looking for candidates, top managers always ask their junior managers (who bring candidates to them), if a candidate has any kids. This is outright illegal to ask a candidate of, so I am not sure how they get this information. A typical answer is "well, he/she does, but the youngest one is almost 15 and will soon head out for college." (what?)

    The process of assigning blame (or getting your things ready in case stuff happens) is very important, and takes about 30% of your work time. Any minor system malfunction looks like a public execution of whoever was found "guilty", and everyone is made aware of that.

    Managers afraid to make any design decisions, and the most specific request I have ever heard was "build us a system that will work for us". In the end if it doesn't "work as our users were envisioning it in their head" it is all your fault.

    You will have to pretend your boss (and his/her boss and so on) is the smartest guy on Earth, and you 100% agree with what they say on every account. You cannot possibly have an opinion, and you should feel lucky at any time of day (or night; you do work nights) that you are here.

    Unprofessionalism, Disrespect, and Hate are the top human qualities here. You will spend most time fighting your peers. Everyone thinks highly of themselves, and hates everyone who is new to the company.

    People come and go. Some positions are advertised on-going for years because people don't stay for long.

    Many people who currently work here will be lying about how "great" this place is. They think If they tell you the truth, people will avoid them just because of the strange things they are talking about all the time. This is a typical victim mentality, so I don't blame them for lying. When I spoke to a recruiter, I was surprised with how many people are looking to escape from this place.

    There are many more things that you should know before you start here, but I want to get back to my Saturday morning, and move on with my life, as reviving these images in my head from a few years ago takes quite a bit of energy and grief. I hope I have given people enough warning to make them stop and think before you make a decision that will affect your life for the next few years.

    P.S. I have learned a lot. People who work with me right now (at another company) admire my survival skills, and they say I will survive anywhere. Yes, this is a good skill to have, but I wish it hasn't come at such a price.

    I work at another firm in Finance now, and I am happy with my life, work, and my colleagues. Interactive Brokers is the biggest nightmare of my life.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your people (no one would listen, but I had to put some text in this box for completeness)


  9. Helpful (1)

    "It's not at all a social place to work !"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great salary and benefits recession proof .

    Cons

    No social life and team culture.


  10. "great place for computer geeks wanting to branch into finance"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Opportunity to advance for doing good job, little or no politics

    Cons

    If you stack off, it will be noticed and reflected in (lack of) bonus

    Advice to Management

    none