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Kathy Burger
Kathy Burger
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How Will Banks’ IT Organizations Fare Amid Industrywide Job Cuts?

Is your job safe? Even in a strong economy, no one -- not even the most talented and in-demand professional -- should ever be complacent about job security. But with a recession looming (or already here), these are particularly anxious times. There probably is not a single person currently working in the U.S. banking industry who isn't at least wondering if his or her job is in peril. One would have to be either unbelievably ill informed or a fool, or both, to learn about recent layoffs in the financial services industry and not wonder, "Am I next?"

These concerns are absolutely justified, according to recent projections from Celent that the U.S. commercial banking industry could lose anywhere from 200,000 to 2 million jobs over the next 12 to 18 months. It's not just continued subprime mortgage fallout; an even worse portent, Celent and Oliver Wyman assert in the report "Strategic Expense Management in Financial Services," is the likelihood that revenues will decline by about 2 percent this year. Not only is a revenue decline unprecedented, it inevitably will force significant cuts (at least 15 percent, according to Celent) in operating costs -- which surely will translate into head count reduction at all levels.

And things are bad all over. The Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts that as many as 20,000 London-based financial sector jobs could be eliminated in the next two years as a consequence of the global credit crisis. CEBR further forecasts that job levels probably will not recover before 2012.

However, it might not end up being all bleak news for IT professionals, who will be banks' "go to" people when it comes to finding ways to operate more efficiently, accurately and transparently. The most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report reveals that IT employment across all industries increased more than 12 percent compared to a year ago, with companies adding about 376,000 IT jobs. The biggest growth areas have been computer support specialists (up 41 percent in the past year) and network/system administrators (up 31 percent). Even demand for IT management increased by 11 percent.

Again, this is no cause for complacency or even confidence. But it does underscore IT's significance to business performance and competitiveness. It's possible we could be entering a new era of banking IT prominence.

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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