Senior trading systems developer: How much am I worth?

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What's bad news for one person is often good news for another. The latest example of this immutable law of nature is the rise of the electronic trading system. Last month Goldman Sachs made 30 US equity traders redundant, citing increased demand for algorithmic trading and direct market access.

While electronic trading systems may be bad for traders, they should be propitious for systems developers, whose skills are needed as banks rush to satisfy the electronic trading trend.

"There are a number of initiatives around at the moment," says Winnie Wong, an associate director at McGregor Boyall, "A lot of banks are trying to upgrade their electronic trading platforms to make them more robust and competitive."

What do you need to participate in the latest IT gold rush? "Trading systems developers will typically need to be familiar with programming languages like C# .NET and SQL," says Wong. "They will also need prior experience of working with derivative products."

"You'll need demonstrable commercial experience," says Alistair Singleton, a recruiter at 7 Fifty Two Solutions, "It isn't a question of getting someone in to do a training course. Banks are looking for people who can hit the ground running, and they're prepared to pay the premium necessary."

So, how much can you earn as a trading systems developer? James Murphy, managing consultant at Imprint Technology, says senior developers with three to four years' experience and knowledge of C# and .NET can command a basic salary of 65,000 to 70,000 max, plus a highly variable bonus of 25% to 100%.

Wong at McGregor Boyall puts average bonuses at around 40% on a more generous base salary averaging 75,000. Singleton agrees: experienced senior developers working on trading systems can expect a salary of 70,000 to 75,000, he says. They can also work on a contract basis for around 550 a day.

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