Jobs, and job prospects, for technologists in the big US investment banks

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While most investment banks are cutting costs, technology budgets in the large US players are still growing. Does this really mean more recruitment though?

Not necessarily; while budgets are being forced up, an increasing proportion is being eaten up by regulatory IT spend. US investment banks break out their budgets on IT infrastructure and hardware, unlike their European counterparts, and the majority are increasing their spend. We take a look at where they’re hiring currently, and whether more recruitment is on the cards.

Bank of America:

Tech budgets year-on-year to September: +8%

Current recruitment:There are currently 19 roles in the UK and the IT positions focused on its investment bank include Java developers within its electronic trading technology team, application support on the trading floor and a risk tech QA position. There are also roles within its corporate bank and wealth management divisions.

Prospects: Still not great. Bank of America is, of course, in the midst of a cost-cutting programme aimed to strip out $5bn annually by 2014. 30,000 jobs will go, but the bank is also expected to cut back from information technology as it consolidates IT and support offices. For front office-focused technologists, this doesn’t automatically mean shakier job prospects, but its Project Bac cost-cutting initiative has seen the simplification of its trading platforms – from 50 down to just one.

Citigroup:

Tech budget year-on-year to September: +14%

Current recruitment: Across the UK, the bank has around 45 tech vacancies, but it’s an indication of how much Citi has embraced nearshoring that 27 of these are based in Belfast. In London, the primary focus is on recruiting Java developers, which is yet more evidence that it’s one of the hottest skill-sets currently. There are also development roles across commodities, equities and credit.

Prospects: Middling. The tech functions of Citi have arguably already felt their fair share of pain after the bank concluded a programme designed to strip out $3bn in IT and operations costs last year. However, the shake-up at the top – which last week saw Vikram Pandit depart and Michael Corbat take over as CEO – has prompted many to predict further downsizing and tech budgets could suffer. Having said this, Citigroup has remained among the more active technology recruiters throughout 2012, even if more roles are gravitating to its IT centre in Northern Ireland.

Goldman Sachs:

Tech budget year-on-year to September: -9%

Current recruitment: Goldman has 24 IT roles in London, four of which are based in its Warsaw technology centre. Its recruitment efforts are still focused on FICC (particularly commodities) as well as clearing and regulatory projects and asset management roles. Most of these roles are in development, but there are also some more senior jobs on offer.

Prospects: Middling. You probably shouldn’t read too much into Goldman’s slight decline in tech budgets; it’s still a big employer of technologists, with around 25% of its total headcount in IT. What’s more, while other banks have spoken of further cuts, Goldman appears content with its previous target of $1.9bn in cost-savings. However, not all of this is coming from redundancies and compensation reductions, so technology budgets could be impacted further. This could dent appetite to hire technologists, or result in some cuts in these divisions down the line.

J.P. Morgan:

Tech budget year-on-year to September: +5%

Current recruitment:  There are currently a healthy 54 job opportunities at J.P. Morgan across its offices in Bournemouth, Glasgow and London. There’s no clear pattern to the roles, with everything from a Python developer within the investment bank to a CTO within its finance tech function being advertised. There are a couple of development positions related to its chief investment office, however.

Prospects: Decent.The healthy number of jobs shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as a continued push in technology. J.P. Morgan employs around 30,000 technologists globally, so current hiring is small beer. Plus, it’s ‘Value for Scale’ initiative, designed to strip out costs from technology and operations, means redundancies could be on the cards. Nonetheless, recruiters tell us that the bank is still recruiting integration specialists, app developers and specialist cloud computing architects. What’s more, its technology graduate intake has increased again this year.

Morgan Stanley:

Tech budgets year-on-year to September: +7%

Current recruitment: Morgan Stanley may have the best IT team in the City, but it’s not expanding rapidly. There are just 17 roles currently, although the majority of these are in London, and from a development point-of-view, Java is again the main focus. It’s also hiring for infrastructure and database administration positions.

Prospects: Middling.On the one hand, Morgan Stanley’s reputation for innovation in technology should put its IT team in good stead going forward – it was an early adopter of cloud computing and virtualisation as well as developing the first Android app on Wall Street, for example. On the other, it is cutting costs; James Gorman was talking of how the bank had “integrated substantially all our technology systems” earlier this year. While some redundancies could occur, it seems unlikely that it would want to cut its highly-regarded tech team too deeply and may instead just curtail recruitment.

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