(Most) banks may have returned to profitability, but there's still a big emphasis on costs and efficiencies. With it, there's a big push to drive through projects which will cut one and increase the other. Project managers are in business as a result.
"Demand is very high," says Sally Martin, associate director at recruitment firm Robert Walters, adding that the integration of different banks has driven recruitment throughout the year, and that more recently this has been boosted by the quest for operational efficiences.
A quick perusal of UBS's recent strategy pronouncements reveals ample opportunity for project managers to find homes. Among other things, the investment bank intends to integrate its rates and FX execution platforms, "expand and further automate direct execution," and to undertake, "execution platform integration" within "equities-driven securities."
Away from execution streamlining, there are also big efficiencies to be achieved in the traditionally unsexy world of trade processing. Philippe Chambadal, CEO of SmartStream estimates that 80% of banks' back office functions are currently dedicated to fixing broken trades. Earlier this month, ICAP hired Mark Beeston, a one time derivatives trader to develop its post trade services business, suggesting it's quietly confident of growth in this area as regulators push for electronic clearing of CDS trades.
Unfortunately, most other former traders won't be invited to participate in the resulting project management party: recruiters say banks are being fussy and only want people with previous project management experience.
"Clients want people who have had exposure to the entire project lifecycle," says one recruiter. "They want people who've written test scripts, not just people who've done a migration. Most of them tend to come from consultancies like Accenture or Deloitte."
Mike Hartwell of recruiters Hartwell Buck agrees: "These roles are not generally open to people with a trading background - they are more suited to people from management consultancy firms."
This is a shame as the rewards are handsome. On a contract basis, recruiters say project managers are earning 400-800 a day. Hartwell says top rates are as much as 1.5k a day.