Banks are bursting to hire project managers

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Banks are continuing to roll out huge projects around cost efficiencies, risk management and front office integration, which means the spiked demand for project managers is showing no sign of abating.

As we've alluded to previously, project managers have been riding on the crest of unprecedented demand as banks battle regulatory change, integration challenges and the ongoing quest for operational efficiency.

"A lot of the project management work is still being driven by integration challenges after the post-crisis merger activity," says Mark Weller, director of Hays Projects & Change. "But there are also regulatory pressures, with compliance projects around Basel, FSA, Know Your Customer (KYC) and AML regulations. Investment banks in particular are recruiting people to run credit and market risk change projects as well as front office integration initiatives."

Understandably, considering the relatively finite nature of these projects, much of the recruitment has been aimed at contractors. But, because of ongoing need for PMs and a relative shortage of experienced candidates, banks are increasingly hiring for permanent staff, he suggests.

The average salaries being offered are around 90k, says Weller, but it's possible for a front office programme manager to earn 140-150k.

However, it's questionable just how beneficial taking the permanent route would be, particularly as contracts are being regularly renewed and rates are on the up.

"Increasingly good project managers are being moved to different flagship programmes across the organisation - someone working on an equities project may be transferred to FX, for example," says Ben Cowan, associate director of the contract desk at Astbury Marsden. "But there's also new work around efficiencies, risk control and financial management, and banks are facing difficulty finding sufficient numbers of experienced PMs."

Generally, daily rates are hovering around 800-1,000 a day for project managers and PMO leads, suggest both Cowan and Weller. But, when contracts come for renewal, banks are willing to shell out to keep the right people.

"Recently, one client offered a PM contractor a 300 a day rate rise a month before their contract was due to be renewed," adds Cowan. "This is both reflective of banks' willingness to pay more for good people and how the power has shifted towards the candidate in recent months."

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