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Banks Battle For Big Data Talent

Salaries are up for IT staff and managers, according to the 2014 InformationWeek Analytics Salary Survey.

Looking Around

A majority of banking and investment firm IT staff (59%) and managers (55%) said they are currently sufficiently satisfied with all aspects of their current positions that they aren't looking for another job. However, 41% of staff and 45% of managers reportedly are looking around, either somewhat or actively. A higher percentage of banking and investment IT staff and managers are looking around in banking than in insurance, where staff (63%) and managers (61%) are happy where they are.

Concerns about compensation trends is among the factors causing some financial services IT professionals to job hop. One survey participant stated that as banks put downward pressure on salaries, moving between companies is the best way to get any significant compensation increase. "Base pay increases of 2% to 3% barely cover inflation but are the norm in some industries, even for top performers," says the respondent. "Moving between jobs, on the other hand, gave me opportunity to get 10% and 12% pay increases. If companies want to retain top talent, they need to recognize this issue and change policies."

Why do IT professionals in financial services seek new positions? Predictably, nearly three-fourths are seeking more pay. More than half of IT staff (52%) and 43% of managers surveyed are looking for more interesting work, and 42% of staff and 39% of managers are looking for more personal fulfillment. Other considerations cited are a dislike for the current company's management or culture and a lack of job stability; some employees are also looking to assume more responsibility or for a more dynamic company.

The InformationWeek Analytics Salary Survey respondents appear to recognize some trade-offs come with job changes. Increasing job satisfaction was cited as the number-one reason bank and investment firm IT staff and managers would accept a lesser position or title. A better location, more job security and a better company are other reasons why many employees at all levels would accept a demotion. About one-fourth of staff (28%) and managers (24%) said they would accept a lower position or title if the new position meant more flexibility.

Flexible Options

Job flexibility -- whether in location, schedule or other components of their employer relationship -- has become a hot button for many workers, especially for Gen Y and Millennials. "This group wants feedback and interactions in person, but they also want flexibility," says PwC's Sethi. "People want to do things around their lifestyle. It may not equate to working from home, but employees want the flexibility in how, when and where they work."

However, Sethi adds, many banks and investment are not on the cutting edge when it comes to a flexible work environment. "Banks and investment firms lag behind other industries in terms of flexibility -- work from home, compressed schedules, even things like job sharing -- all because it's not part of their culture," he says. "Many big banks still get work done through an in-person culture."

Younger employees are looking for the work-life balance, says Robert Half's Reed. "It's nothing new, but they're taking it to a new level," he says. "It's important to this group that their employer helps them stay on an even-keel. Financial firms won't be able to recruit these generations in the workforce if they don't accommodate this demand."

Working Together

These kinds of accommodations are happening in a business environment where collaboration is growing in importance in financial services IT. "Technology professionals are a part of everything these organizations do, from rolling out a new product or new channels and developing a service model to deal with them, to launching a marketing campaign and developing metrics to track its success," PwC's Sethi says. "It's an old issue with IT, but it's a heightened challenge right now, given the role of technology in driving the banks' business models and strategy."

Robert Half's Reed notes that savvy leaders and companies are identifying strategies to get people out of their silos. "The data and software and online people are talking," he says. "The best way to harness the brainpower of the organization is to have different areas collaborating where they typically don't do so."

In many cases, IT professionals are actually embedded in other organizational areas. About a third of banking and investment firm IT staff (32%) and 35% of IT managers who participated in the 2014 InformationWeek Analytics Salary Survey said they spend at least 50% of their time with peers in a business unit outside IT. And 12% of staff and 20% of managers are considered embedded in a non-IT business unit.

Role Outside IT
It's become critical for IT staff and managers to know how to work with the business side of financial organizations, to understand their goals and objectives and to communicate in the language of business. Survey results reveal that aligning business and technology goals are critical to nearly two-thirds (66%) of staff and 83% of IT managers. Collaboration with internal stakeholders is also imperative for 63% of IT staff and 70% of IT managers. The ability to analyze data is crucial, said 58% of staff and 60% of managers. Other business or technical skills considered critical include securing data and applications, preparing reports, experimenting with new technology and building vendor relationships.

Train to Retain

This is why training has become such an important part of the IT staffing picture in financial services. Robert Half's Reed points out that banks and investment firms would be well-advised to look within their organizations for critical IT talent. "Savvy companies realize the starting point is with people already on their team. They're re-recruiting these individuals and speaking with them about their career paths," he points out.

InformationWeek Analytics salary survey participants identified many types of training they'd find valuable. A majority of IT staff (71%) and managers (55%) said they'd value technology-specific training, and certification courses were also deemed valuable. "Certification is very important in certain IT fields for career advancement, pay increases, and future career opportunities," says one respondent.

Training Received
Unfortunately, training doesn't get the funding it should. "In the downturn, many organizations gutted their training budget," Reed explains. "Companies value training, but they need to decide where they will put the money -- in salaries, hardware or servers, or training. And many times, training doesn't get the funding priority other initiatives do."

Although many survey participants said they'd value training, just more than half (53%) of staff and 61% of managers attended company-paid training in the past year.

For more on 2014 salary trends in the financial services industry, download the full 2014 Banking & Capital Markets Salary Survey.

Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Author
5/27/2014 | 4:18:22 PM
re: Banks Battle For Big Data Talent
Sad to see that the gender gap is still such an issue in terms of base salaries. I guess the larger bonuses shown in the study somewhat help, but it still doesn't make up for something that should have been addressed a long time ago.
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