Banks battle for top technologists

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There's been something of a battle for top technology talent within investment banks recently, suggesting that the need to invest in front office IT is very much back on the agenda.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Barclays Capital has been the main recruiter. It's made no secret of its desire to grab a bigger piece of the equities pie, and this is reflected in its recent technology hires.

Clive Hawkins, previously global head of FX and money markets technology at UBS, has taken the role of regional head of equities IT, Europe at BarCap. John C. Smith, a managing director in UBS's equities IT division, is also joining Barclays' cash equities IT team.

BarCap is also believed to have taken on Gordon Elliot, previously MD and head of finance IT at UBS, to become head of architecture group and Alpesh Patel, former CIO for APAC at UBS to lead its equities IT team in the region.

It's understood that BarCap's CIO, Philip Freeborn - a UBS veteran - was instrumental in the moves.

But BarCap has also lost Mike Whittaker, its head of fixed income IT, to Citigroup where he will take the role of CIO capital markets, following Mike Urciuoli's departure to JPMorgan. Freeborn will assume responsibility for fixed income IT at BarCap for now.

This is not simply a game of management musical chairs, and represents a real change of mindset around investment banks' IT strategy, suggests Paul Bennie, of Bennie MacLean, an investment banking technology headhunter.

"Just about all the banks we work with are making hires with a view to growth," he says. "Recruitment is being driven by business growth, strategic programmes and new initiatives. It's not business as usual, but banks now have the confidence to look to the future when it comes to technology investment."

Recruiters tell us that Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and HSBC have all made recent IT hires, and that it's also beginning to filter down to development roles lower down the ranks.

However, one headhunter says: "UBS lost a large group of their senior technologists and have so far made no effort to replace them. They're shuffling things round and coping with what they have."

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