With more financial services firms 'nearshoring' IT functions, the prospect of a move to Ireland, Scotland or even Bournemouth for techies seems like an increasingly inevitable option. But there are still many reasons for sticking with the City.
Fidelity Investments has just unveiled plans to create 100 tech jobs in its Dublin and Galway offices - entry to management level positions for Java, .Net and database developers - and it's by no means alone in basing these roles outside of London.
Citi has been eagerly building its technology team in Belfast and Dublin, while Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan have been adding to their IT headcount in Glasgow. And the latter bank's Bournemouth operations now employ more than 4,000 people.
This is surely not great news for technologists with aspirations to stay in the City?
"When you factor in the total cost ownership, things like testing and correction of errors, it's actually nearly as cheap for banks to carry out IT functions in Europe as it is to offshore it to Asia," says Martyn Hart, chairman of the National Outsourcing Association. "There are locations in the UK and Ireland with a highly skilled workforce and relatively high unemployment. A lot of these technology functions would have been offshored anyway, as banks look to cut costs, so you could argue the net job cost to the City is minimal."
And with increasing job opportunities in these locations, it's arguable that working there should no longer be considered such a career cul-de-sac. But do these firms want to hear from City techies anyway?
"The jobs being carried out here are relatively high level, but they're not front office IT roles, quantitative development roles or other niche skills that pay so well in the City," says one hiring manager at a bank in Belfast. "If a company hires 100 people, 10 of these will be for senior architects, which could feasibly come from London, but the other 90 could be for junior or graduate hires from the local market."
A project manager in Dublin can expect a maximum of €70-80k, suggest recruiters, while very experienced developers (10+ years) can earn 60-70k in Belfast.
"Historically, these firms have struggled to persuade people from the City to move to these locations," says Justin Willis, London director of IT in finance recruiters Bright Purple. "This is changing but usually there's a personal connection - a Scot moving back home, for instance. It's no longer such a huge step because of the range of options now available. In Scotland, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Wealth all have tech functions, for instance."
It's not just banks that are building their teams in this area, technology vendors are also realising the cost benefits. Murex carries development work out of Dublin, Fidessa is planning another 90 hires this year in Belfast and First Derivatives continues to recruit aggressively for its Belfast and Newry offices.
"We're likely to match our 2010 headcount increases this year, and are still finding it challenging to recruit top quality C# and Java developers as well as business analysts and project managers," says Fearghal McGovern, business development manager at First Derivatives.