26 January 2011

Paul Clarke from eFinancialCareers

Spending on risk management technology continues to be a priority for investment banks going into 2011. But, with salaries for IT professionals in this area already on the increase, firms are looking outside of the financial sector for expertise.

Yet more IT dollars will be gobbled up by risk management projects within investment banks this year, as they look to align their risk management with business strategy and investment operations. The upside from a recruitment perspective is that techies with risk management experience remain hot property.

"One of our clients is already looking to hire over 20 people purely for a risk management project this year," says Paul Elworthy, managing director of Hudson IT. "Its importance has been elevated over the last couple of years and there's no sign of that stopping. Demand for candidates still outstrips supply and people who possess the right experience and skills are being well-remunerated."

Indeed, as we've alluded to previously, salaries have been increasing for risk techies, with candidates often courted multiple job offers at any one time. Salaries were hovering around £110k for top development staff, and £140-150k for project and programme managers.

With demand still so high, salaries are in danger of crossing the boundaries of what banks are willing to pay. It's still very much a "candidate-driven market" says Paul Bennie, director of IT in finance headhunters Bennie MacLean, but banks are broadening their horizons when it comes to the types of people they're taking on.

"Investment banks are still eagerly recruiting people for risk management technology programmes, but are increasingly looking outside of the financial sector for expertise," he says. "They're looking to the telecoms industry, software houses as well as towards quantitative mathematical brains – anywhere where skills have been applied to build complex real-time solutions."

This has the obvious advantage of expanding the talent pool available to the banks, but as these people typically come from less well-remunerated sectors, it also keeps a lid on the escalating salaries.

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