Clear Street — Modernizing the brokerage ecosystem
Engineering7 min read
Mar 28, 2024

Supporting Developer Experience at a Growing Fintech

Clear Street

Clear Street is a diversified financial services firm on a mission to modernize the brokerage ecosystem. Founded in 2018, we’re replacing the legacy infrastructure across capital markets by building a cloud-native clearing and custody system designed for today’s complex global market. 

In 2019, we began servicing prime brokerage clients in U.S. equities and options on our proprietary clearing, settlement, and custody platform. Since then, we’ve added fixed income, execution, securities lending, repo, margin financing, and more.

It’s all possible because of collaboration across business and technology teams and our commitment to continuously improving our engineering and developer tools. We sat down with staff software engineer Anish Jayavant to learn more about how Clear Street supports developer experience for its rapidly growing engineering organization.


Anish Jayavant, Staff Software Engineer

Tell me about yourself.

I lead the developer experience (DevEx) team at Clear Street, which means I focus on improving the developer environment for our more than 200 engineers. Our team owns and manages improvements to developer infrastructure tools, software build, and delivery processes. I am an experienced backend software engineer who has architected and developed large-scale distributed systems and led large cross-functional projects and teams. Early in my career, I developed electronic trading systems, however my recent roles have been focused on infrastructure, specifically networking and data center architecture, site reliability, developer experience and software supply chain security.

I’ve been a developer for seventeen years. Throughout my career, I saw how an optimal development environment can significantly boost productivity. A key area of focus has been improving the build and deployment process. For example, in a recent project, we reduced job build time by at least 50 percent. Jobs that previously took minutes now run in a few seconds.

What is the role of a DevEx team in a growing engineering organization?

First-class DevEx can make a big difference in the overall productivity of an engineering organization. In previous roles, I have seen engineers spend weeks setting up their developer toolchain. We continuously look for ways to improve the quality of life for our engineering colleagues. At Clear Street, engineers can typically make their first code commit within the first couple of days, thanks to the tools DevEx provides.

Our primary objective as a DevEx team is to empower our developers to work efficiently, creatively, and collaboratively. We aim to achieve this by streamlining development workflows, enhancing tooling infrastructure, and providing comprehensive support to optimize their productivity. This engineering discipline has come to focus heavily in recent years, especially as engineering organizations grow in size. We’ve recently also expanded the remit of our team to take on initiatives that secure our software supply chain and runtime, collaborating closely with our new CISO Shlomi Avivi. These initiatives will facilitate a proactive approach to security, encouraging the integration of security considerations earlier in the development process, thus promoting a culture of "shifting security left". We’re looking to actively grow the team in this area in the near future.

Tell me more about DevEx at Clear Street.

The tools and strategies our team has built include standardizing the setup of developer Linux machines with a standard shell and tools required to build and deploy software for Clear Street in all of the major software languages we use (Go, Python, Java). We also offer a local developer setup that closely mimics how we run software in production, e.g., using a local Kubernetes cluster that runs on developer machines.

We focus on making the Continuous Integration (CI)/Continuous Development (CD) process as performant as possible. The less time developers spend waiting for their code pull requests to be tested, approved, and deployed, the better. Read more about how we hot-swapped our CI system here.

My team integrates tools for ephemeral testing environments and deployment and creates sensible integration points between various tools that our engineers use, including GitHub, Jira, Slack, PagerDuty, and DataDog.

Additionally, we’re looking at standardizing tool setup on Macs because we currently only support Linux and increasing standardization on tools and plugins that ship by default with integrated development environments.

What's your favorite time-saving hack?

Personally, my favorite hack is investing upfront time in customizing my work PC and development environment and using keyboard shortcuts and productivity tools to minimize mouse use.

Efficient context switching between keyboard and mouse is crucial for productivity as a software developer. Minimizing mouse usage by relying on keyboard shortcuts for tasks like navigating code, refactoring, and executing commands significantly speeds up workflows. Prioritizing keyboard-centric workflows and leveraging productivity tools for searching, navigation, and editing can further enhance efficiency.

Prior to joining Clear Street, I was not proficient in using a Mac. I learned basic navigation shortcuts, set up favorite keybindings, and installed the Rectangle tool for window management. I use helpful Chrome extensions, a clipboard manager called Maccy, and a Zsh shell with customized plugins, aliases, and a terminal multiplexer. Of course, these are personal preferences, not standardized for our engineers.

My preferred hack - paired with other tips such as blocking time on the calendar for development, trying to hold focused meetings, etc. - has tremendously improved my productivity as an engineer. As a team lead, I encourage everyone on my team to incorporate it to their preference.

Clear Street is hiring across engineering, trading, and corporate services. Explore career opportunities here.

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