Salary survey: IT pay holds up well, but tougher times ahead

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Salaries and bonuses of IT staff in financial services firms remain buoyant, according to a survey by Monks Partnership, the remuneration consultancy.

But recruitment firms are warning of tougher times ahead, with only a few niche sectors such as hedge funds relieving the gloom.

The survey shows that salaries of many senior IT positions in London were holding up well in August this year compared to the year before, in spite of the steep hiring slowdown.

Heads of European IT were earning 130,000 (€182,000) on average at the high-flier level, exactly the same as in August 2000. Directors of IT had salaries of 100,000 near the top end of the scale, up from 94,000 a year before.

Bonuses for the European IT heads were 26% of base salary, up from 23% in August 2000, while the IT directors' bonuses edged up to 22% from 20%. The survey covered small and medium-sized instiutions pay at larger ones can be considerably higher, particularly bonuses.

Laurie Boyall, managing director of McGregor Boyall, the headhunter, said those who could find a job at all tended to be good quality employees, and therefore often still commanded high pay.

But Ben Dear, the managing director of Cresta Resources, the IT and banking consultancy, said: &quotGoing forward, banks will be looking extremely hard at costs for at least the next three or four months. That is already impacting on pay levels for some people, who are accepting a lower package when they move job."

Another recruiter said he knew of one candidate who had accepted a job at a salary of 76,000, having just lost one at 90,000. &quotWe will be seeing more of this," the recruiter said. &quotAnd as far as the next round of bonuses is concerned, there will be a much bigger emphasis on performance."

Dear said that in some areas there were grounds for optimism. Hedge funds continued to show a need for IT staff, notably to run operating systems, provide support services and carry out technical programming.

Many types of company were also looking for connectivity specialists, who link different systems together.

Among all employers, demand remained reasonably healthy for high quality Java programmers, and IT staff who understood business needs as opposed to just technical ones.

Monks said that some of the biggest pay increases in the past year had gone to development staff, such as programmers and analyst/programmers, and to junior staff.

Salaries of senior analyst/programmers rose to 39,000 in August this year, from 34,000 in 2000. Bonuses were static, however, at 11%.