GUEST COMMENT: The sweet spots in the interim IT market

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If you're looking for work in financial technology, you're probably a bit sick of hearing recruiters roll out the increasingly tired line that you "don't have the right skill-set". Undoubtedly, the market is looking a little barren at the moment, but to suggest it's impossible to secure a position is a little misleading.

It would also be wrong to suggest that the interim market, where I specialise, is particularly buzzing, but there are opportunities to be had if you look in the right places.

Trading and risk systems expertise.

Programme and project managers, business analysts, developers and consultants around Calypso, Front Arena, Murex, OpenLink, Sophis and Summit (to name just six systems) still have more than one job offered to them whenever they move. Daily rates are holding firm at 750 a day, depending on experience.

Back-filling management consultancy:

I am sure management consultants are really useful people who do amazing stuff, otherwise clients wouldn't keep going back to them, would they? But a senior manager at a large systems integrator on 85-90k, might be charged out at 2-2.5k per day. A bank CTO or programme director might think it would be more cost effective to hire the same skill and experience for a lot less. The same level of competency can be had for about 700-800 a day. A good interim recruiter will also provide a domain expert in the area the bank is hiring and not just the next person available on the bench.

Critical line cover:

As an example, the head of market risk IT resigns and the search gets under way to find the replacement. This search could take three months and then there might be double that if you consider the notice period. In this market of excess candidates and slower client decision cycles, this can easily become seven or eight months from start to finish. A contractor can perform run the bank duties in the short-term, make sure no balls are dropped and hand over a dynamic career proposition to the permanent replacement.

Large programmes of change:

There are certainly less than there were 18 months ago, as some programmes have completed and new ones have not sprung up in their wake. However, Aviva are going through a huge transformation and Barclays Wealth is making the leap from top tier UK wealth manager to global player. Also there is a good amount of integration work at HBOS/Lloyds, Abbey/B&B/Alliance & Leicester and of course BoA/Merrill. There are some great interim opportunities to be had here.

Risk and regulation:

The era of 'light touch' regulation is over. The Basel framework is as redundant as the workers it regulated. If you are a risk technology or compliance systems professional and have original thought, influence, or can navigate prompt implementation, you will save your client far more than you charge per day.

Johnny Walker is associate head of interim markets at financial recruiters Jared James

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