As UBS prepares to cut IT jobs, it’s hiring outsourcing and offshoring experts

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To anyone who follows the machinations of UBS’s technology investments, reports that 2,000 IT jobs are set to go across the bank as it outsources and offshores more of development work shouldn’t come as a shock. To anyone working in the London office, it’s another indication that the time may be right to look to pastures new.

As has been reported this week, 1,000 of the IT jobs are set to go from UBS’s Swiss operation and, while the bank declined to comment on whether the UK will be affected, it’s likely that those housed in Broadgate should be feeling fearful.

Cost-cutting in UBS’s IT functions has been going on for years, led by Michele Trogni, the group CIO in the US, and those working in the sprawling Corporate Center IT in Switzerland. Last year, 500 IT jobs went and the latest cuts are part of an attempt by the bank to reduce its tech budget from CHF3.6bn to CHF2.4bn by 2015.

Senior technologists at UBS's Corporate Center IT are involved with offshoring and outsourcing projects, with one senior manager telling us that part of their job was "working with internal and external partners".

We also understand that Mark Ashton-Rigby, chief information officer of investment bank who joined in May from Deutsche Bank, was drafted in with a remit to cut costs.

UBS has been hiring for IT roles in London, though – 52 between November last year and March 2012, according to recruitment sources – but has been sourcing candidates directly, rather than using external recruiters.

Currently, however, it’s looking to recruit…outsourcing and offshoring specialists. As we’ve mentioned previously, when a bank gets heavily involved in offshoring, very often people in Western HQs are brought in to manage often complex scenarios involving coordinating large teams across various locations. Clearly, there’s a need for this at UBS.

Recruiters tell us they’ve received an influx of CVs from disgruntled UBS technologists, with one even describing it (a little melodramatically) as the “unhappiest place in the City”.

Because UBS has been shunning the use of most IT recruitment agencies in London, many tell us that they’re actively targeting the bank’s staff for roles they do have. “It’s definitely not a tarnish on your CV and some very good people still work in UBS’s IT functions,” says one recruiter.

There is, however, still a question mark over exactly how many IT jobs will go at UBS, and how much is simply speculation. While it’s definitely cutting costs, its chief executive Sergio Ermotti sent an e-mail to all staff at the bank last week criticising some for “acting irresponsibly or through narrow self-interest by contributing to such speculation.” News like this always gets reported, he said, even if it is “untrue or ridiculous”.

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