Developing institutional apps is one of the safest jobs for IT contractors right now

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If you’re an IT contractor working in investment banking, it’s not a great place to be – rates are crashing and contracts are being renewed for decidedly short time periods. The exception to this, however, is the digital sector, where banks are keen to lock in technologists on contracts of up to two years as they launch the next generation of tablet and smart phone apps.

We’ve mentioned previously that increasing numbers of investment banks – notably Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, J.P Morgan and Deutsche Bank – were offering apps to institutional clients.

Wall Street & Technology suggests this trend is speeding up – clients want access to real time information and analytics, quotes and research on their mobiles and tablets. What’s more, bank employees want to be able to use these devices, which they use heavily at home, in a professional capacity.

Teams in this area are not huge – J.P Morgan, for instance, has 12 people in its tech department focused on mobile application development – but more firms are drafting in contractors to work on these projects, often on a long-term basis.

“What we’re seeing is that while a number of contractors are being forced to fight for contract renewal, those working in digital teams have often been in the same organisation for years and their contract keeps on rolling,” says David Young, digital practice manager at IT recruiters JM Group.

It’s possible to earn up to £1k a day working on these applications, says Robert Grant, director of operations at IT recruiters Cititec. For this, however, it’s necessary to be a project manager with a good deal of experience under your belt.

However, it’s more common for developers to be snapped up from a media or digital background, with day rates of £500 or more enough to convince many to make the switch to banking.

“They often find the transition into financial services (or corporate to that matter) daunting.  The banks are overcoming this by leveraging their weight through higher rates if contractors are willing to make the switch,” says Grant.

Banks want interaction designers, user experience architects and developers to create or enhance the apps they offer clients.

“App developers with experience in both iOS and Android, or X-Platform technologies like Titanium and PhoneGap are becoming highly sought after,” adds Grant.

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