Front office technology hiring is thin on the ground this year, but in the FX space banks can’t afford to take a break from innovation and are continuing to invest in IT and technical staff.
Citigroup has leapfrogged Barclays and UBS on the annual Euromoney FX rankings and is, we understand, recruiting for a number of technology jobs related to the asset class. Deutsche Bank maintained the top spot and says that keeping ahead of the competition is heavily dependent on continued investment in technology.
“It’s an arms race,” Kevin Rodgers, head of FX spot, e-trading and derivatives at Deutsche Bank told Bloomberg. “The foreign exchange market for all our customers is just getting better, cheaper and faster each year. The exciting thing for us in 2012 is that all the technology that we built in previous years is being completely revamped. Virtually everything that has helped us win for the last eight years is being replaced and improved over the course of this year and early next year.”
UBS and Barclays are also building their for FX technology teams, while recruiters suggest that SocGen and Morgan Stanley are hiring in this area. Some firms are hiring as they look to develop their FX e-Commerce platforms, while others are increasingly rolling out algorithmic trading platforms in this sector.
“A number of top tier investment banks are hiring FX IT staff both on a permanent and contract basis,” says Alistair Singleton, managing director of financial IT recruiters 7Fifty Two Solutions. “There’s an ongoing race for low latency systems and a continual pressure to upgrade technology, which is resulting in a steady stream of recruitment.”
Salaries for developers with FX domain knowledge are generally on a par with other front office IT roles – around £85-90k, according to recruiters – but project managers in this area can expect to be among the most well-paid. At the upper end, salaries are £100-130k, according to recruiters Hudson, which is matched only by PMs working in fixed income.
Despite the demand for FX technologists, pay has not increased substantially.
“Because FX is a mature asset class from a technology point of view, there’s always a good supply of domain expertise, whether that’s in the top tier investment banks, tier two or threes, from the vendor community or consultancies,” says Paul Bennie, director of IT in finance headhunters Bennie MacLean. “People are still willing to move for the right opportunity, so banks have not needed to inflate salaries.”