Banks are luring mobile and tablet technologists with salary increases between 10% and 15% and, in a switch of policy, with fulltime offers instead of fixed contracts.
Retail banks in the UK are most aggressive in hiring as firms try to develop cutting edge apps to compete for consumer accounts. In the last eight weeks alone, there’s been a spike in demand for mobile developers, user interface developers and digital project managers in the retail banking sector, says Dave Pye, chief executive officer of IT in Finance recruiters the JM Group.
“We’re now seeing 75% of all digital recruitment on a permanent basis, which is an about turn from this time last year when most firms relied on contract recruitment,” he says. “This signals both a recovery in the market, and is an indication that banks are getting serious about developing cutting edge digital apps.”
There is, however, a shallow pool of talent that can combine both experience in the banking sector with digital skills, so financial services firms are raiding gaming, retail and other industries for expertise. While 10% to 15% salary uplifts are usual for those making the switch, it’s possible for the right person to receive a 25% salary increase, Pye says.
In investment banking, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Nomura, RBS and UBS have all launched apps for institutional clients. However, this hasn’t meant that they’ve built big internal digital teams until recently.
“Investment banks have typically drafted in a digital agency to work onsite with them to design and develop apps for clients, but now they’re looking at hiring in-house resources for maintenance and enhancement,” says Niall Phelan, director and co-founder of digital recruitment agency Sphere. “This is still predominantly on a contract basis, but we’re seeing more permanent roles.”
A typical digital team within an investment bank is no more than 15 people globally, suggests Pye, but part of the motivation for hiring more in-house developers is to cater to banks’ employees.
Banks are huge consumers of tablets and smart phones – Barclays has just bought 8,500 iPads for its employees, and Goldman Sachs is investing in these for its staff. Financial services firms were responsible for 50% of all iPads activated in the second quarter of 2012, according to research by IT consultancy Good Technology.
“Investment banks are hiring user experience designers to refine their trading applications for staff,” says Pye. “They need to make them much more intuitive to enable traders to respond more affectively to market forces.”
Banks are in danger of losing out on top talent, however. Pye says that typical recruitment processes still take anything from 6 to 12 weeks and very often in the meantime digital specialists have received another job offer. “Because of the better salary and prospect of working on some exciting projects, many people are willing to wait for the banks,” he says.
Here are the salaries being offered to digital specialists in UK banking:
Contract positions (daily rates):
Permanent positions (annual salary):
Source: JM Group