Job postings in the financial services sector are down 7 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period a year ago, according to eFinancialCareers.com, a network of job sites for professionals in the financial space.
"Compared to a year ago, there are fewer opportunities being advertised," says Constance Melrose, managing director, eFinancialCareers.com, Americas. "A year ago, everyone was in a rush to deal with risk management, Dodd Frank, and all of the new regulations that are coming to financial services. So, last year, people were quickly trying to get their firms ready."
[For more on capital markets IT hiring trends, read Capital Markets IT Professionals in Strong Demand.]
The weaker job market in the first quarter of this year continues a trend that started in late 2011, Melrose says. "I would say the levels are consistent with what we saw in the fourth quarter of 2011," she says. "We have seen a holding pattern since the start of the fourth quarter of last year. We saw a softening [of the job market] in the fall, and it has been in holding pattern since then."
In 2012, there seems to be more "uncertainty" in the hiring market, Melrose adds. "People are still debating the Volcker Rule, and they are not sure when the regulations will start to take shape. So this year, the demand has dipped" for financial services IT hiring. "That said, hiring good technologists is still one of the highest priorities for financial firms."
The softening in the first quarter of the year is also not typical, according to Melrose. "There were increases in the same quarter in 2010 and 2011," she says. The seven percent drop in 2012 job listings "has a lot more to do with the uncertainty and the big demand there was last year."
When it comes to the jobs that are available, firms are looking for employees with "soft skills" in addition to the typical technical qualifications, such as knowledge of C languages, Java and quantitative skills. "It is not just the hard, quantitative and technical skills that firms are looking for," Melrose says. "Financial Firms are having trouble finding people with financial services experience and the proper mix of soft skills," such as the ability to deal with clients and work as a member of a team. "On Wall street, where speed is of the essence especially on the front line, it is hard to be in that environment if you don't have the skills to interact with clients," whether the clients are internal users or, in fact, external customer, Melrose adds.
Also, the market may be stronger in other geographies, Melrose says. "The hiring trends are very local," Melrose says. "I would advise technologists on Wall Street to consider a different location, if they can, because other areas might offer similar opportunities." For instance, asset managers in the Boston area are struggling to find good technologists, Melrose relates. "They still can't find the people with the skills they need," she says.