It is a good time to be an IT professional in the capital markets space.
Financial firms indicate that finding and hiring technology talent is the number one priority in 2012, according to a study from eFinancialCareers.com, a network of job sites for professionals in the financial space. "You can't escape technology because it is the backbone of the firm, it is client service, it is how to complete a transaction," says Constance Melrose, managing director, eFinancialCareers.com, Americas. "Financial services companies understand that in order to increase business intelligence, or to make smarter trades, or to understand risk, technology sits behind all of those decisions and processes."
The second highest priority after technologists, in terms of activity on eFinancialCareers in December 2011, was quantitative analysts, according to Melrose. "For some, especially in the capital markets space, quantitative analysis is just technology by another name," she adds.
That's not to say everything is looking up on Wall Street. In December alone, Wall Street lost 3,900 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On eFinancialCareers, however, technology job listings are holding steady. Technology job postings on the site are essentially flat year over year, outpacing a general decline of 5 percent in all Wall Street job postings to start 2012, according to eFinancialCareers. Moreover, the United States isn't the hottest market for capital markets jobs. According to eFinancialCareers, on January 1, there were just 1,210 jobs posted in the United States, while there were 2,845 in the U.K, 2,480 in Asia/Pacific and 1,374 in Continental Europe & Middle East.
For technologists looking for a job in the capital markets, different types of firms look for different skill sets. "A technologist who has financial services experience always is at a premium," says Melrose. "However, when you talk to buys side organizations, they are more willing to take people without financial services experience, where sell side firms, for the most part, definitely want people with experience." Melrose says buy side firms are often looking for quants or individuals with a PhD in engineering or computer science to develop investment ideas with a different point of view.
The third highest hiring priority for firms is risk risk management, according to the survey of 200 outside recruiters and hiring managers from Wall Street firms including asset managers, investment banks, broker/dealers and hedge funds. Firms have extended risk principles to every aspect of their business -- including compensation. With two years of uninterrupted monthly year/year growth, the demand for risk talent continues, according to eFinancialCareers. "Financial regulatory reform has certainly been a boon for financial technologists," notes Melrose.