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Professional Networking at 2008 SIFMA Conference Mirrors Increasingly Volatile Job Market

Higher-than-expected attendance figures at this year's SIFMA Conference suggest that current economic conditions are encouraging more people to explore job changes.

If you think this year's SIFMA Technology Management Conference & Exhibit is even more crowded than past years' gatherings, you're right. However, many of the extra attendees jostling up and down the escalators at this year's event may not be looking to buy or sell technology products — many might be looking for work. Preregistration numbers from SIFMA may indicate that there are many more people looking for a job change this year than in any other year in recent memory. Last year — a very good year for financial firms until the credit crisis hit in the summer — SIFMA had about 12,000 preregistrants for the exhibits and 590 registrants for the conference sessions, according to Art Trager, VP, technology and affinity programs, SIFMA.

This year, despite a market that has seen financial services shed some 83,000 jobs to date, preregistration for the exhibits was approximately 14,000, with almost 600 registrants for the conference sessions, Trager adds, noting that many people were registering Tuesday morning and the numbers likely will go higher. "Technology is connected to every part of the business, and in this market, technology is a big part of the solution," Trager says.

One would speculate that in such a tough market, financial pros would be glued to their desks, working hard and even lying low in hopes of avoiding a possible layoff. Taking a day or two to attend a conference is probably not the best way to impress your boss. But this year, attendee numbers are undoubtedly higher.

"Job seekers are always a part of this event," Trager says. "In the current market, there will probably be plenty of people looking for jobs and passing out resumes." We may never know if the additional attendees are just looking for jobs, but placement firms and recruiters all are seeing increases in financial services candidate activity.

"Yes, we are seeing more submissions of resumes" on the company's job board, says Joseph Sullivan, president and CEO of International Market Recruiters (IMR, booth #1750), a firm that specializes in placements exclusively in financial services. "We are seeing a steady flow" of resumes, says Philip Sindel, director at Olmstead Associates (booth #1806), a securities industry placement and consulting firm that works mostly with buy-side institutions. "It is definitely a steadier flow than it was last year."

Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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