Retail banking roles are often not an attractive proposition to financial IT contractors. The work pays less than investment banking, and is often carried out in more obscure cities like Glasgow or Chester, rather than gleaming City offices. However, they are the most active recruiters currently and more people are switching from investment to retail banking IT roles.
Investment banking IT contract recruitment continues to lag behind even the lows of last year, but there’s something of a boom in retail banking. Research from recruiters BrightPool suggests that more firms are hiring contractors for both mobile and internet banking roles, as well as the continued integration of tech platforms following a raft of merger activity in recent years.
“There are some major technology programmes by retail banks currently, around online, mobile and mortgages, and they’re turning to contractors to fulfil the work,” agrees Martin Rennison, head of investment banking IT at recruiters JM Group. “If you’re an investment banking technologist with experience of cutting edge e-Commerce platforms or trading applications, then the switch is definitely possible. However, more often than not those working in the retail sector are being targeted by the banks.”
There’s also the small issue of taking a pay cut. Investment banking technologists have already had blanket 10-15% rate cuts thrust upon them, and would have to accept further shrinkage if they took a position in a retail bank, even if the work is more 9-5.
Ben Cowan, director at recruiters Astbury Marsden, says that a business analyst working in an investment bank earning £550-600 a day would likely have to accept £450-500 for the same role in a retail bank. Project managers should expect £400-475 in a retail bank, according to figures from recruiters Hudson.
So, assuming you would rather stay in an investment bank, what’s the market like? Rennison says that the vast majority of contracts are still being extended, even if new roles are not emerging.
Barclays has hired 60 contractors over the past few months, according to sources, while HSBC remains a relatively active recruiter.
“If you can work on anything related to reducing risk or reducing costs then you’ll be in demand,” says Cowan. “Risk and compliance are still big areas of recruitment, as well as back office and middle office processing, finance and audit technology.”
One area to have fallen off a cliff is recruitment for vendor packages like Murex, Summit and Calypso, with the last couple of months completely barren for new roles, according to recruiters.
“In the front office, the majority of new contract roles centre around FX and fixed income,” adds Rennison.