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Interactive Brokers Reviews

Updated 11 July 2015
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2.9
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Interactive Brokers Chairman, President, and CEO Thomas Peterffy
Thomas Peterffy
38 Ratings

Pros
  • Free lunch (if you stay in office and work during your lunch hour) (in 13 reviews)

  • relaxed atmosphere, helpful coworkers and good benefits (in 2 reviews)

Cons
  • Little to no growth potential for non-programming staff (in 6 reviews)

  • With the internet policy, I feel people who work for a few years will loose any sense of emotion and become extremely apathetic (in 2 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

60 Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. Helpful (1)

    Senior managers are the 1%, everybody else treated like plebs

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developer
    Current Employee - Software Developer

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    If you are hired into senior management, you can make a lot of money and have a lot of fun. If you like to crush your subordinates' ideas under your heel you will love this place.

    Cons

    Company decided to recalculate bonuses after Swiss franc disaster in January 2015. Employees left hanging, the mood is really bad, another month waiting for managers with big egos to throw down some pennies for the rest of us. At least half the bonus is paid in shares that vest over a 6 year period. This has an insidious effect, people who are not happy or not productive stay with the company longer and longer because they have a big pool of unvested shares that they don't want to lose by going to another job. If you are a programmer, you will find yourself working with programmers who have been in the company for more than 15 years and never had 1 day of external training, still using legacy technologies like SCCS version control or Java 1.4. The CEO, Petterfy, talks a lot about his love of the Republicans and giving people opportunity (as opposed to communism) but the reality is that he has built a horrible culture here where somebody who has been here 10 or 15 years without keeping their skills up to date has acquired a lot of shares in the company and acts like they are superior to a can-do developer who just came in from a successful startup. The only way to get the unvested shares is by waiting for retirement, waiting for redundancy or hoping that you find a new job where the next company agrees to give you an up-front allocatiion of unvested shares to compensate for the shares you forfeit by resigning from IB. This is only possible if you plan to move to another company with similar characteristics. When you try to value your bonus shares, look at the cashflows: if shares are $25 each on the market and your bonus is 600 shares and 100 vest each year then it is more like the company has agreed to a pay rise of $2500 per year for 6 years. If you can find another job that gives an initial annual salary that is $2500 higher than the Interactive Brokers salary then it completely offsets the value of the unvested IB shares you are giving up. As an extra burden, the shares vest in May or June, 6 months after the bonus round. So if you don't like your bonus in January and you resign in February then you won't get any of the shares that vest that same year, including the new shares from the bonus round.

    Advice to Management

    You need to bring in a new generation of IT skills, both by training existing staff and bringing in new staff. This needs to be applied in every team and office in the company. You need to get these skills to propagate throughout the company, if you think that productive developers with modern skills will work side-by-side with the existing dinosaurs entrenched in the company then you will be disappointed.


  2. Helpful (3)

    Dysfunctional

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Greenwich, CT (US)
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Greenwich, CT (US)

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    - Good salary. The pay for programmers is excellent, with year-end compensation reflecting your project output. - Rarely asked to work weekends/holidays. This does seem to vary from group to group, but my experience here is that the eight hour work day is respected and weekend/holiday work is unheard of. - Job security - Free lunch. Eating similar meals from the same group of restaurants every day does start to feel a bit dismal, but not having to pay for it is a great perk. - Flat org structure. Not being drastically separated from upper management allows for visibility opportunities to make your achievements known to those above you. - Very little red tape. As a developer, red tape is almost non-existent at this company. This is useful when emergency code changes are needed. This can, and does, backfire at times, but when responsible people are at the helm it is an effective luxury.

    Cons

    If you are looking to advance professionally and gain real experience, this is not the place for you. If you are looking to stay comfortably in the same role for an extended period of time, this place is perfect. Despite respecting weekends/holidays, this company does not respect natural disasters. Whether there's a hurricane, a blizzard, or a legal ban on driving in your state as a safety precaution, the office is open and you're expected to show up if you don't want to lose a vacation day. This can be easily corrected if the company was more accepting of VPN access/working remotely, but they are inexplicably stringent on letting people work from home. The management structure at this company has serious problems. Management most visibly fails at: 1) Project planning. There are no "true" project managers who are solely responsible for the success or failure of a project. The primary results of this are: you don't know who is responsible for a project, and you aren't given an adequate functional specification. Any specs that you do receive are usually written by someone with limited technical knowledge. Instead of requirements gathering being a cooperative process between people with business knowledge and people with technical knowledge, it is often a one man process written in a silo and then dumped to the programmers. The result is that most projects are implemented incorrectly, incompletely, or abandoned. The concept of planning out projects at the start of the year and assigning timelines months in advance is foreign to this company. It is commonplace for projects to be created out of thin air, making it difficult to gauge your day-to-day work. Additionally, projects are rarely given enough time for testing, and never have a test plan created with the specification. 2) Measuring success. This company truly believes that the amount of time you spend at your desk is directly proportional to how much work you are getting done. The idea that someone could get as much done in 6 hours as someone else does in 10 is met with incredulity. The idea that someone's productivity might taper off after doing the same task for hours is met with similar disbelief. This translates directly to your annual review, where you are usually told "you did good" or "you did bad." You aren't given real feedback to help you grow and mature professionally. This weakness is also apparent when launching a new product or idea. There is a rush to finish the project, but management rarely collects statistics to see if their ideas worked. They celebrate the completion of the project, without measuring whether anything was actually achieved. 3) Learning from mistakes. After you spend enough time working here, you begin to notice cyclical behavior from upper management. The executives do not believe that their ideas may not work, and as a result, even if their ideas have failed in the past (which they won't know due to issue #2), they will continue to come up with ideas that do not work. 4) Delegation. Despite groups having teams dedicated to a specific task or responsibility, management insists on injecting their own ideas or thoughts into things that really should not concern them. Teams that specialize in a particular discipline are commonly overridden by superiors with no experience in that discipline. This ties into issues #2 and #3, with the result being a cycle of teams producing a decent product, and then having that product be brought to a mediocre level by an executive playing the rank card and feeling the need to impose themselves. This results in a reduction of ambition and motivation, since ideas do not hold weight based on their merit, but instead based on who is suggesting (demanding) it. 5) Communication & training. New hires are given very few, if any, resources to learn about the company, their role within it, or job expectations. New hires are literally left at their desk and told to figure it out. The result of this is inconsistent and unpredictable performance between people that share identical titles, and inconsistencies between peers in the same group. The wheel is commonly reinvented. Communication is discouraged and looked at as a time-wasting activity. This further compounds the difficulty of acclimating for new hires, and issue #1. Unsurprisingly, this also results in massive communication gaps between teams that need to coordinate closely, to the point of being laughable.

    Advice to Management

    Buy a copy of "The Mythical Man-Month." It explains lessons in software project management learned 40 years ago that are still absent from your company. Let your employees do the job you hired them to do. Your input is not needed in low-level decisions. Be more accepting of VPN/remote access. Your employees will not have to sacrifice sick days or risk driving in dangerous conditions if they could work from home when appropriate. Invest time training new hires so that they can learn to do their job as effectively as possible, as quickly as possible. People are not robots.


  3. Manager

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    The compensation and benefit package is very competitive for a discount brokerage firm. Due to the selective application process, the turnover rate is very low. The firm will listen to an employee facing financial challenges and will provide assistance. Not many firms do that.

    Cons

    Overall, the talent appears to be underutilized. There is not a lot of mobility from one department or group to another. You get hired to do a job, and that's your job. Growth opportunities exist, but may be limited.


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  5. Good starting point

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Accounting Analyst in Greenwich, CT (US)
    Former Employee - Accounting Analyst in Greenwich, CT (US)

    I worked at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Improvements to tasks are encouraged, good compensation and benefits.

    Cons

    Culture is not for everyone. Must be a self starter as new hire training process is weak. Poor work/life balance.

    Advice to Management

    Improve work/life balance.


  6. Helpful (3)

    Not a very creative place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Java Developer in Greenwich, CT (US)
    Former Employee - Senior Java Developer in Greenwich, CT (US)

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Free lunch. Lack of office politics. Programming tasks are clearly defined. There are virtually no meetings or unnecessary talk. You are expected to come in and perform the tasks assigned to you and leave. Anything more or less is frowned upon.

    Cons

    Can't realistically work from home. This is a big quality of life issue. Supervisors and Managers tend to micromanage and not allow new ideas. The Java stack is 7-10 years old, so you will learn very little. You are expected to work very hard and are intensely monitored. HR is terrible. There is absolutely NO upwards mobility. I am told that the same group of managers/supervisors has been there since the early 2000's.

    Advice to Management

    Update the infrastructure to accommodate modern Vpn. You are competing with firms that provide comparable or better salaries and much better work-life balance. Hire more HR people, they are overworked. Give non-management programmers more autonomy. Provide new hires with a more structured orientation. The orientation is completely upto the supervisor and most do not do a good job. If you are going to stock the fridge, atleast to it in reasonable quantity. The food runs out thirty minutes after arrival in the morning. Currently it looks more like a token effort for recruitment boasts. Increase the lunch allowance by 20%, most people end up going over and paying for the overage out of pocket.


  7. Well paid... do you have additional requirements? Well...

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Programmer in Budapest (Hungary)
    Current Employee - Programmer in Budapest (Hungary)

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - above average salary - small but cozy office (Budapest) - lunch is on the house

    Cons

    - old system, outdated technologies - very slow decision making - one often gets long and tedious tasks - no way to get promoted - illogical dresscode (no jeans...??? There are no customers around...)

    Advice to Management

    revise the dresscode.


  8. Helpful (5)

    Great Place to Work for Someone Who Works Hard and Wants to be Challenged

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Greenwich, CT (US)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Greenwich, CT (US)

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    High growth company Little politics, advancement based on achievement Best of breed broker technology Outstanding place to learn and to be challenged

    Cons

    Interactive Brokers would not be a good place for a person who is most interested in doing the minimum, collecting a salary, and spending the majority of their time engaging in water cooler talk.


  9. Helpful (1)

    Challenging and Rewarding - Where Developers Are The MVPs

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT (US)
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Greenwich, CT (US)

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    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 ;)


  10. Helpful (1)

    No such thing as a free lunch

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Employee in Zug (Switzerland)
    Current Employee - Employee in Zug (Switzerland)

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    You don't have to fork out any cash to buy your lunch. Learn what it feels like to be a commodity.

    Cons

    When I was interviewed, the HR person excitedly told me how employees here get a free lunch in exchange for working through the lunch hour. At first glance, this sounded great but after a while it is just very tedious and onerous. In most of my other jobs I would sometimes work through lunchtime because I felt motivated to do so but here people are not so motivated or happy and the company is always making up rules like this to control people. Managers are also obsessive about controlling when people take vacations or anything else in their life that doesn't make money for the bosses. There is no time for training, for leaving early on Christmas eve or a wedding anniversary, nobody goes for a run at lunchtime, it is really a step back into 19th century authoritarian exploitation of the workforce. In the office in Zug, Switzerland, there are many ex-pat workers who are blissfully unaware that in most other companies here they would get a subsidised or free lunch without the nonsense about staying at their desk without a break.

    Advice to Management

    None - I don't think they have the maturity to change. They are hell-bent on proving that authoritarian management practices are viable.


  11. Great Company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Interactive Brokers

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    No politics, friendly atmosphere, opportunities

    Cons

    Low salary, small bonuses, hopefully in the future

    Advice to Management

    Bigger bonuses



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