Best Programming Languages for Finance & Fintech in 2021

In FinTech by Gaurav SharmaUpdated On:


Finance as an industry has always been very receptive to new technologies. The sheer volume of transactions, the low tolerance for risk and the need for instant processing made computing technology and the internet a perfect force multiplier for banks.

But all of that technology has to be developed. Finance has been at the forefront of that, if not directly then by partnering with the major IT firms. If you look at the earnings reports of most IT companies, you will find that banks are some of their largest clients.  Banks’ fascination with IT has reached a point where they are directly investing into a lot of these IT companies and fintech start-ups alike. Some even have in-house teams working on blockchain and other bleeding edge tech.

All of this stuff is rather interesting, but you need programming skills to get the job done. I learned C++ and a bit of Java as part of my Computer Science degree over a decade ago. But things have changed so much since then. Are you better off learning blockchain? Or perhaps diving into Python or Android app development? What are the new languages that you need for finance and fintech? For developing fintech apps, for financial modelling, for running simulations, for data science, for developing AI trading algorithms?

1. Python

Python has definitely taken the finance world by storm. Python does have an elegance about it in the way things are handled. Its learning curve is not as steep as some of the other languages. It is a high-level language which makes it more accessible to researchers and quants and that accessibility has certainly added to its appeal.

Python is especially popular for machine learning, data science and AI applications. These are certainly some of the bleeding edge applications in finance and fintech which is why Python finds such favour in our industry.  It also lends itself quite well for mathematical applications like statistics thanks to its large array of libraries. No points for guessing how important that is in finance.

The immense demand for Python in the financial services industry and an acute shortage of talented Python programmers gives it the top spot in this list. Here are some Python Courses that have been chosen based on their conformity with the requirements of the financial services industry:

Best Python Courses for Banking, Finance & FinTech (2021)

2. Java

Java is used extensively in the financial services industry. Some of the world’s largest banks use it for their electronic trading platforms, retail and corporate banking portals, wealth management offerings and other such front-end, customer facing applications.

Java’s popularity in the finance industry might have something to do with its enhanced security and cross platform capabilities. Security is intrinsically important in finance and the ability to offer your platform to users on a variety of platforms is also a core requirement. With Java, you have robust and easy to use security APIs, security manger that can isolate suspicious code, virtual machines  etc.

Java also offers unmatched stability which is also crucial for mission-critical financial application. Not to mention its ability to run on any device due to the use of virtual environments. Choose Java if you want to create front-end applications for banks or FinTech firms.

Jump start your career with the best Java courses here:

Best Java Courses for Banking, Finance, FinTech (2021)

3. Scala

Scala was born out of a need to address some of Java’s inherent issues. Since then, it has greatly increased in popularity and is widely used by software developers globally. Scala provides support for both both object-oriented and functional programming.

That functional programming aspect is a great asset for Scala. It allows for concise and compact code to be written. It inherently is a more powerful language with more elegant syntax. You can build almost anything using Scala – from front end applications to data heavy tools.

For the finance and FinTech industry specifically, the demand for Scala developers has been exploding. From data architecture to cloud based financial platforms, Scala is the preferred choice these days. It’s a language that needs to be on your radar if you want to be a finance/ FinTech developer.

Here are some excellent Scala courses to get you started:

Best Scala Courses ranked by FinTech Consultants (2021)

4. C++

Learning C++ back in college was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. But I swear I am not going to let that bias influence its ranking here!

The beauty of C++ is that it is closer to the machine as compared to most of the other languages on this list. That means it is much faster which makes it ideal for High Frequency Trading systems. HFT requires such low latency that firms pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of placing their servers right inside the stock exchanges!

Another advantage of C++ is that most legacy bank systems were built using C++. I would certainly be a rich man if I had a nickel for every time our IT guys used the phrase “Legacy System”.

The finance tech world is still dominated by C++ programmers but the only reason I haven’t placed it higher on this list is because there are already plenty of good C++ programmers out there. Nevertheless, it is still a solid choice especially if its speed that you need.

Here are the best Courses to get you up to speed:

Best C++ Courses ranked by FinTech Consultants (2021)

5. SQL

SQL is a rather essential language for finance and you likely need to learn it to handle the copious amount of data that our industry produces. SQL was already a favourite of the industry as it is necessary to analyse historical data, identify patterns and predict future performance using all that information. And now it is even more popular because of the rise of data science and analysis.

SQL is indispensable in handling structured data where you need to maintain the relationships between multiple variables. The finance world has a lot of such data with complex relationships – perhaps more so than any other industry. Business and financial analysts use SQL to find patterns and turn mountains of data into useful information.

Best SQL Courses for Banking and Finance (2021)

6. JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the most ubiquitous programming languages on the planet since it is used for making web pages dynamic and interactive. Most of the indispensable functions that we have come to expect as part of our routine browsing habits, exist because of JavaScript.

JavaScript obviously finds its biggest use in front end web development but it can also be used for mobile and desktop apps. It is also one of the most widely demanded skills and you would be hard pressed to find a Global Fortune 500 company that does not hire JavaScript developers.

JavaScript libraries and frameworks take the possibilities even further and some of those libraries are popular enough that I have included them separately in this list (React). With its near omnipresence in modern life and highly competitive compensation for JS pros, it is one language that I can recommend learning wholeheartedly.

Best JavaScript Courses for Banking, Finance & FinTech (2021)

7. React JS

React is a Javascript library that is used for front-end development. It was developed by Facebook for use in their own application and that should give you an idea of what sort of functionality we are talking about here.

While React is just a Javascript library and not a full-fledged programming language of its own, it still deserves a spot on this list because of the sheer number of tech jobs in finance that ask for this skill. The companies that use React for their front-end apps is a veritable who’s -who of the Global Fortune 500.

What React essentially does is make front-end development exceptionally easy. It is a very beginner-friendly language and it has a large community supporting and backing its development and learning. Which is why I consider it to be primed for explosive growth in the coming years. Here are some excellent courses to get you started with React:

Best React JS Courses ranked by FinTech Consultants (2021)

8. VBA

Excel and VBA are ubiquitous in finance. Bankers and traders use VBA as their daily drivers, and it is often built into some of our systems. Macros are used for handling data, models may be created using VBA for risk management, investment strategies, scenario testing, valuations and so on.

VBA is essentially a force multiplier and time saver. Rather than spending time each day duking it out with those spreadsheets, you can just simplify your work using macros. There is generally no excuse for not knowing Excel and VBA and you would only be making your own life easier by learning it.

Best Excel/ VBA Courses ranked by Bankers (2021)

9. R

R is also used heavily in data applications and statistics. If you are interested in a data analyst or data scientist type role in finance, R might actually be your top choice.

It is not the easiest of languages, but it is good at what it does – data. Whether that be statistical computing or data visualisations, R is probably your best bet.

While the steeper learning curve might turn off some users, those who stick around are rewarded. In the long run, you would probably be better suited for data applications than those with other language skills. It also means less competition when looking for jobs with your specific skillset.


MATLAB is favoured by applied mathematicians and that is how it found its way into finance. The quants need it for the stuff they do in finance. It is useful for floating point linear algebra and it is useful for generating plots and other such interactive tasks in finance. In fact, it is rather famous for its legendary plotting tools.

It is also a very fast language in terms of time to code which makes it attractive for traders or structurers who need to test things out in a fast-moving market.

About the Author

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav started his career as a Corporate and Investment Banking intern at Citi in 2009 and eventually ended up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Wholesale Banking division a few years later. By 2016, Gaurav was consulting FinTech start-ups in London with product development in the institutional banking space. He also advises mid-market Private Equity/ Asset Management firms and Banks in North America and Europe with investments in the financial services and FinTech sector. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from European Union banking regulations and FinTech to Blockchain startups and the inevitable rise of our AI overlords! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.