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Techies on Wall Street: Rewards & Discontents

"I mean, no one was being held with a gun to their head and forced to work at Morgan Stanley." So begins Leon Neyfakh's article in the New York Observer on the tech life on Wall Street.

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Smart tech guys live to work on complicated technical problems — and are often motivated to take jobs by a desire innovate and build intellectually satisfying solutions as much as for the money. Many are sold on an employer on the basis of its street cred as a "hacker-oriented shop"

But after a while on Wall Street, disillusionment can set in.

"At my workplace, I did not know one single person who was happy with what they were doing-not even one," said Puneet Mehta, who was a VP of technology at Citi .

Former Morgan Stanley engineer Andrew Montalenti expresses it even more bluntly: "Why should I really work hard on this, when all I'm doing is making some extra money for some rich guys who are investing in a bank?"

Not surprisingly, quite a few abandon their careers on Wall Street.

"I'd just like to be able to point to at least one thing after 15 years of working as a software engineer and say, 'I built that thing," Montalenti goes on to say.

Both stories would seem to have happy endings: Montalenti left Wall Street to run Parse.ly, a personalized recommendation service, while Mehta went on to cofound the mobile app start-up MyCityWay with two other “Wall Street refugees”.

Both love the intellectual stimulation of their new roles, now that they’ve been liberated from Wall Street — but sometimes the financial realities of separating from the deep pockets of a big bank set in.

"Back then I was actually getting paid really well, I didn't have to worry about health insurance-all that stuff. Nowadays I make close to nothing and just scrape by," Montalenti concludes.

Programming for Dummies: Dissatisfied, Some Wall Street Technologists Flee for Start-Up Life

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  • Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.

  • Lawrence Develingne

    Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.

  • Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."

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