First Derivatives FAQ

Have questions about working at First Derivatives? Read answers to frequently asked questions to help you make a choice before applying to a job or accepting a job offer.

Whether it's about compensation and benefits, culture and diversity, or you're curious to know more about the work environment, find out from employees what it's like to work at First Derivatives.

All answers shown come directly from First Derivatives Reviews and are not edited or altered.

42 English questions out of 42

23 May 2020

Does First Derivatives offer relocation assistance?

Pros

Generous benefit package Opportunity to travel around the world

Cons

Initial pay for graduates is low however this is supplemented by a generous benefit package

Initial pay for graduates is low however this is supplemented by a generous benefit package

23 May 2020

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19 June 2020

Does First Derivatives offer massages?

Pros

Expenses are OK if you get a project that isn't based in Newry. Can gain responsibilities quite quickly, which can make your CV look attractive. The company has a young workforce, so it can be fun to socialise

Cons

The salary is well below market average for Software Engineers - if you get expenses for being on-site it can compensate a bit towards this, but the 'near-shore' projects, which are becoming increasingly more prevalent, you're going to be getting paid among the worst of any company in Northern Ireland. A lot of the work in now in the kdb language (which FD owns the technology for). These roles are primarily based in Newry. From my understanding, it's quite a difficult language to learn, and there are very few job prospects outside of FD (certainly only 2 or 3 companies in NI that use it). I've heard this can be a bit of a trap for many people working there, as their skillset is very specific, not that useful for most of the Java/C#/Python jobs that make up most of the jobs in NI, so it can become difficult to leave - and this problem gets worse over time. There is a lack of experience and mentorship across the company, there was a 'buddy' program they came up with when I started, but my 'buddy' just said hello and then went and sat with his other mates who'd signed up to the scheme at the free lunch that they brought us to. If you have a difficult technical problem, there is no-one that will be able to help, as there aren't enough experienced people on projects to lead anything - you'll probably find yourself leading the team if you hang around for a few years, as most people don't last that long. As frequently mentioned, HR are a nightmare to deal with, they don't listen to anyone's concerns, which usually results in projects being understaffed, people being over-stressed, and then people leaving because they're burning out. People shouldn't be burning out in the first 2 or 3 years of their career. I avoided HR as best as possible, but when I inevitably did have to deal with them they would get stressed and annoyed very easily, become quite aggressive at times. Very unprofessional in my opinion. I'd say they were under a lot of stress as the company is so poor that there is a constant stream of people leaving (at the time, they were taking on around 30 graduates a month, but the overall employee count didn't actually grow very quickly) - if only they improved things then maybe they wouldn't be so stressed. HR are always over-exaggerating experience too, as a grad you'll be sold as having a few years of experience, which puts the pressure on immediately when you start your roles. You'll soon learn not to believe anything that HR says, as they will big up a new member of the team, who has a few years experience and is really good, who ends up having being a grad with no experience. The hours in the office are 9-6, which is above average for most companies in NI. Around the time I was leaving, they were having new grads studying 9-8 until they got some of their training exams done. If you're on site you can expect to work for longer, and this isn't compensated for (I've heard of some people working an extra 3 or 4 hours a day, which is pretty significant). The Newry office itself is quite cramped, has poor natural light, and uncomfortable chairs, and doesn't have much space to sit and eat lunch - the cynic in me thinks this is to encourage working through lunchtime. The company can be quite cheap in regards to buying equipment also - I had to wait a few weeks after starting before I got to use a company laptop (I had to wait for someone to leave) The training courses they run are terrible also, it is mostly taught by a few un-enthused Newry based employees (I was one of them haha) who don't really remember much about it, and aren't really very good teachers. The pass marks are very high for each module (80%+, 90% for the first one), so passing them can be difficult, although usually there is a cheatsheet floating around to get through some of them. HR ask grads to leave reviews on Glassdoor in their first month of working there. They've been given a few free welcome lunches, brought out for drinks a few times to settle in, and then given their first paycheque, which is bigger than anything they'll have earned before. Unfortunately this makes it look like perhaps a much better place to work than it actually is. I could make a list that would cover my arms of negatives about FD, but in short I would sincerely not recommend here as a place to being a career, and if you currently do work there I would recommend leaving as quickly as possible for your own sanity and career.

Advice to Management

Lighten up a bit, stop treating people like numbers, actually try and hold onto talent by treating people like human beings.

They've been given a few free welcome lunches, brought out for drinks a few times to settle in, and then given their first paycheque, which is bigger than anything they'll have earned before.

19 June 2020

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3 January 2020

Does First Derivatives have a pension plan?

Pros

- Opportunity to travel - Training in lucrative field (kdb+) - Salaries are quite good, although you could likely do better elsewhere after a few years - If you have a good Leaving Cert/A levels/equivalent, they will hire you no questions asked. - There is a certain amount of work being done in terms of equal opportunities, but I suspect this has a long way to go. Seems to be mostly events that have no real impact.

Cons

- Lack of respect from HR/operations - Focus is very much on client happiness rather than employees - The expenses package. It's an amazing amount of work each month to claim this part of your compensation, which is a disgrace for a technology company. There are many pre existing solutions that could streamline this. - Beware of the tax equalisation policy. It appears to be a good thing: no matter where you travel, the same money will be taken out of your paycheck. In practice, they are actually making money off this as the UK tax is often higher, and if you wish to then live in the UK, you have not built up those years of pension contribution etc. - As a consultant, you have a very poor feedback loop. HQ have no way of comparing employees, and instead of trying to fix this have resorted to using crazy internal measures. This could be considered a pro I suppose, if you're willing to put in a bit of extra work outside of working hours, and aren't a strong performer in your daily job. - Lack of transparency. Many employees have made deals with HQ about their accommodation, benefits, salary, relocation, etc. This is very much an adhoc thing - fight for something and you might get it. Then tell your friends, and they could well be told under no circumstances is this an option. - The Capital Markets Training Programme (part of Options graduate programme). A set of tests seemingly designed to exasperate. A large portion were written by university interns, not by experts in the subjects. They have mistakes, the questions are often irrelevant, and the whole thing does very little to educate. The whole thing is a complete waste of time, except that you are evaluated according to how many of these tests you've passed, so they're well worth slogging through. - As is the case for any expat package, if the currency you're paid in suffers, so does your salary (which has been no small effect over the last few years).

Advice to Management

People have been complaining about HR/operations for years - do something about it. Value your employees - they are not resources, they are people, and without them there would be no First Derivatives.

In practice, they are actually making money off this as the UK tax is often higher, and if you wish to then live in the UK, you have not built up those years of pension contribution etc.

3 January 2020

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13 March 2021

Does First Derivatives offer parental leave?

Pros

If you are extremely lucky you will get to go away to another city (but it could be at a days notice - be warned - working for First Derivatives is a lifestyle choice you are signing up for. You are a resource and have to be able to move and leave family and friends at a moment’s notice)

Cons

Where do I start... I had high hopes that First Derivatives would be a great company when I first started. I quickly realised when I arrived at the office in Newry and employees weren’t even supplied with a laptop (seriously) that this Company was all smoke and mirrors - do not believe the marketing and hype. The turnover is extremely high. Cons: - Zero maternity pay for women - Constantly threatening email tone from HR and management. The Senior Management team range from a few very nice people to people who have let the Newry power go to their heads. These people will threaten that you will be forced out of your accommodation if you don’t accept a project you are put forward for (which are usually PA type roles - FD are cheaper than other consultancies = menial tasks) - If you end up with a good client you are lucky. More often than not the client can be difficult - you will be left unsupported by FD in roles that are nothing to do with your CV. HR will not respond to your emails. If you push the issue or complain they will threaten to kick you out of your accommodation - Zero structure to bench time - you are expected to come in to the office while on the bench though aren’t given any work to do. For juniors and experienced hires this is demoralising to have nothing to do for weeks/months all the while waiting for some info on where you will be working (of which there is little to nothing communicated with you) - Expenses - where do I start - the expenses department are trained to nitpick and try and claim back as much as they can for the benefit of FD. This means what you submit as an expense rarely comes back with a full reimbursement - there will always be something nit picked over and this makes it impossible to budget - Grads are actually ENCOURAGED to get a credit card when they do their induction training in Newry so that they can use this when they are chucked out to whatever city FD has been able to get some business in. Though little is said about the nitpicking of expenses by the Expenses team. I think there is something morally wrong with advising 21/22 year olds to actively get a credit card and manage their own debt while moving to a new city (where FD will take about 2 months to reimburse them!) - Travel abroad - Management won’t even check in to see if you are living or dead when you go abroad for a client assignment. Though they might when they see that your day rate has stopped bringing them the £ ... I would only advise people to join FD if you are a junior looking to get some experience in different cities (and don’t mind the menial tasks). If you are in any way experienced I think you should avoid.

Advice to Management

The majority of the same awkward people are still there and this is why the company culture will never change. No company is perfect but this was the most toxic company I have ever worked for. My advice would be to get some highly experienced people in HR and support your staff when they are sent to different corners of the world

Zero maternity pay for women

13 March 2021

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18 November 2019

Does First Derivatives offer malpractice insurance?

Pros

I can only speak for the Consulting side of the company where I have worked. This has provided me with some interesting and challenging work in some interesting and varied locations, but generally the company is filling out project and support teams rather than leading the project. Nevertheless, it does provide great opportunities for the young starting out their career in the Finance Industry, less so for experienced staff. If you do have to work away then the expenses deal is good - providing you do dont mind sharing accomodation with your work colleagues.

Cons

Overall the company exploits your existing skills and does not help you develop any new ones, though there has been some recent effort (since early 2019) to encourage staff to gain Amazon AWS certification (based upon study in their own time). It will help your career if you were born in Ireland or have gone through the graduate training program in Ireland then it will help your career as who you know, who you go drinking with and who you play gaelic football with will definately help you to get on the right project . Internal organisation and procedures slowly catching up with European standards, but will seem slightly old-fashioned and amateur if you have worked for other professional companies in London. No clear career path or internal training (other than compulsory regulatory training) for senior staff. Very basic office equipment and offices which isnt an issue most of the time as you will be on-site, generally working in better conditions. The benefits package is rather basic - especially for senior staff or those with families - in particular the medical cover. There is at least Death in Service Insurance now and the pension contribution is at the lower end of the range. Watch out for charges if you use the company's designated Financial Advisors.

Advice to Management

There are slow signs of progress, but in many ways the consultancy side of the business is still operating as little more than a body-shopping outfit. Asking staff to work on AWS certification in their own time and providing minimal support to staff while doing so, demonstrated a very poor attitude towards investment in your experienced staff.

There is at least Death in Service Insurance now and the pension contribution is at the lower end of the range.

18 November 2019

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42 English questions out of 42

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