While heads roll at most major investment banks, IT is supposedly one area where they’re investing in people. Vacancies are up on this time last year, and even the contract market is supposedly looking a little healthier.
Is this really the case? Or is technologists on as shaky ground as those in the front office? We look at the job opportunities and likely situation going forward in the major banks.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Prospects: Shaky. BAML’s investment banking did OK during the second quarter, but it’s still focused on cutting back. It’s now on to phase 2 of Project Bac, which aims to strip out 11% from the cost base in ‘targeted areas’. The first stage wasn’t great for technologists, with plans to whittle 50 trading platforms down to just one unveiled in a strategy document this year. Whether this means IT has felt its fair share of pain remains to be seen.
Job opportunities: There are just six vacancies in London currently; one focusing on FX, two support roles and some more strategic positions.
Prospects: Decent. Despite the Libor-rigging scandal, Barclays’ investment bank has proved comparatively resilient and has ruled out any significant redundancies. This could be a little bravado before the inevitable, but, as we mentioned recently, it was one of the few investment banks creating excitement by releasing a decent volume of technology roles.
Job opportunities: Barclays has around 85 tech roles in London and across a good range of roles – business analysis, developers and project managers – across a wide array of areas. There are operational and compliance roles, but also positions focused on commodities, FX, rates and risk.
Prospects: Shaky. Across the group, Citi has increased its technology spend in the first half by 15% on 2011. Technology budgets at Citi have been shrinking over the past three years, though, and last year concluded a programme designed to strip out $3bn in tech and operations costs. It’s also embarking on a fresh round of cost-cutting in the investment bank – eliminating another 350 people after bad second quarter results. Although this appears to be focused on the front office, with research the latest area to be targeted, technologists will no doubt feel a little nervous.
Job opportunities: Surprisingly high, at 75 jobs in the UK, this has to be tempered by the fact that a large number of these are within its European technology centre, nearshored to Belfast. In London, there are still 25 vacancies, focused on risk and regulatory, commodities, FX and fixed income.
Prospects: Shaky. In the run up to its second quarter results, Credit Suisse said it was increasing its cost savings by an extra CHF1bn. Redundancies are inevitable, and the bank is now focusing on cutting from the back and middle office, rather than expensive front office investment bankers. And, as we pointed out earlier, it plans to “drive further efficiencies” within its technology platform, which means – if not redundancies – at least more offshoring.
Job opportunities: 80 in Europe, but the vast majority of these are based in Wroclaw (see the offshoring comment above). There are still a few jobs for architects, business analysts and project managers in London though, as well as development roles for FX and a head of back office IT.
Prospects: Not good. After resisting cutting jobs, Deutsche Bank has finally announced the need for 1,900 redundancies – 1,500 of which will hit the investment bank – in a bid to save nearly €3bn. Inevitably, the technology team will feel some pain here, even though recruiters suggest that headcount has largely been frozen for most of this year. One positive is FX, where Deutsche Bank dominates – in such a tech-driven sector, it’s unlikely to take its foot of the pedal too much and has continued to invest here.
Job opportunities: 24 UK roles, predominantly in London, and many of them are development or project management. However, the primary focus is on the not-overly-exciting areas of IT security and risk.
Prospects: Middling. On the one hand, its technology spend has remained relatively consistent at $398m in the first half, or a 4% decline on last year. On the other, however, Goldman is looking to cut costs by an extra $500m this year. This doesn’t necessarily mean big cuts, but reducing technology investment is an obvious target.
Job opportunities: Around 20 in Europe, all of which are in London and a slight step up from earlier this year. A lot of these, however, are related to its securities services division, as well as operations, compliance and finance. There are still a few roles related to FICC technology initiatives though.
Prospects: Middling. Year-on-year, technology expenditure at J.P Morgan has increased by 6% to the end of June, which is reason for optimism. However, this won’t last. This week it revealed its ‘Value for Scale’ initiative, which plans to strip out costs from technology and operations and rationalise platforms across its investment bank, treasury and securities services divisions. Comments that it “focuses attention and resources where they are most productive” sounds like another euphemism for redundancy.
Job opportunities: There are still 43 vacancies in London and around 75 across the UK in nearshore locations like Glasgow and Bournemouth. There are roles related to debt capital markets, equity finance, e-trading and credit trading as well more back office focused roles for both developers and business analysts.
Prospects: Not good. Even before the latest rounds of redundancies – which will see headcount shrink by 4,000 in 2012 – James Gorman was talking about how they “integrated substantially all of our technology systems”. While the move to cross-asset platforms is inevitable to many commentators, this will still see jobs eliminated, and technologists will undoubtedly be included in the headcount reduction.
Job opportunities: Just seven roles in the UK, and one of those is for an IT service manager. The most exciting job for front office support for bond and swap pricing.
Royal Bank of Scotland
Prospects: Not good. RBS has been offshoring more and more IT roles or bringing in outsourcing companies to replace in-house employees for some time now. It’s also heavily reliant on consultants. Add in an over-riding cost cutting initiative that will see 3,500 jobs go from the investment bank this year, and it doesn’t look great.
Job opportunities: There’s just one (yes, 1) role within the IT department of the markets and international banking division. This is for a developer working on a rates pricing application.
Prospects: Not good. The bank has long been cutting back tech spend, through offshoring and outsourcing initiatives run through its corporate center. Within its EMEA investment bank, however, some front office technology roles remain in London. However, a 58% fall in profits in this division, combined with a continued focus on cutting out costs means any further investment in technology staff seems unlikely.
Job opportunities: There are currently just three roles in London – a Java developer for FX, an FIX connectivity architect and an infrastructure position.