Management Strategies

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IT Pros Seek New Challenges

Salaries are up slightly, but employees want more than a pay raise -- they want engagement, according to our research.

Employee Engagement

To get the most from employees, boost loyalty to the firm and retain good talent, financial firms are taking measures to engage their workers. "If people are engaged, they'll work more effectively and produce better results," says Deloitte's Pennington. "If they're not and working for an organization is just a job, they will tend to do only the minimum."

Financial IT professionals are highly engaged and work very hard, says Citi's Beyman. But it behooves organizations to create the right work atmosphere to foster that engagement. "It comes down to providing an environment where performance is recognized, where there are clear career paths and interesting work, and where staff and managers can feel like they're valued for their contributions," he says. "Create an environment where individuals can thrive."

Often that environment is at home, not in the office. One survey respondent who works full time from a home office says the benefits go both ways. "The company has embraced remote workers where possible, and it has lowered some costs and definitely helped morale and retention," he says.

Most respondents say they're at least satisfied with all aspects of their positions, with only 13% of staff and 11% of managers reporting dissatisfaction with their jobs. For staff, overall satisfaction increased three points over 2012 levels, while the metric is essentially flat for managers.

Job satisfaction is important, but higher compensation is the rationale for seeking new employment for about two-thirds of the 42% or so of respondents who are job hunting. More interesting work, personal fulfillment and more responsibility also figure highly in the decision to seek a new job. And both staff and management say the No. 1 reason they would consider a lesser position or title is more job satisfaction.

Job Security and Outsourcing

As the economy improves, both staff and management appear to feel that their jobs are increasingly secure. However, for some, that security is overshadowed by outsourcing.

"Outsourcing has become a fact of life," says Citi's Beyman. "The reality is, when you look at any large organization, it has a certain amount of offshoring. Where organizations can get the same or higher degree of output for lower dollars, they're expected to do it. The industry is always trying to be better, faster and cheaper." But according to one respondent, some banks and securities firms run the risk of sacrificing better for cheaper. "The biggest myth is that offshore outsourcing is about getting qualified workers. It's not. It's strictly about lower costs, even if it means lower quality," the respondent says.

Outsourcing will continue to threaten U.S. IT jobs, but banks and securities firms are looking to develop internal talent. "During the economic downturn and the IT 'belt tightening' that occurred, I fought a couple of times to keep my job. I'm feeling much more secure now, as our local U.S. talent is proving more proficient and skilled than the outsourced counterparts in India and elsewhere," says the respondent.

Outsourcing is adding to the workload for some financial technologists. Thirteen percent of staff and 21% of managers say outsourcing has expanded or added to their responsibilities.

Both staff and managers report feeling more secure in their jobs this year versus in 2012. Only 9% of staff and 10% of managers say they feel insecure about their positions this year, down from 13% in 2012 for staff and 11% for managers.

Thirty-three percent of staff and 41% of managers looking for new jobs say they don't like their companies' management or culture. "It's difficult for IT folks to work for someone they don't like, who isn't a visionary and who doesn't focus on their development," says Deloitte's Pennington. "Especially the younger generation of workers isn't as quick to say, 'I'm here for life.' And they're more likely to leave and go to a company that's more attuned with what they want."

Career Path

Tech pros today not only can pursue a career path in IT, but within the company's business area as well. "More and more often, we're seeing technology people interested in the business itself," Pennington says. "Technologists who've been supporting one of the business areas, for instance, may become a part of the business team."

InformationWeek's salary survey reveals that both staff and managers are increasingly viewing a career path in IT and the potential for salary advancement as being as promising today as five years ago. Two years ago, less than one-third (31%) of staff and 36% of managers felt that a career path in IT was as promising. In the 2013 survey, that number has increased significantly for both staff (43%) and managers (46%).

[IT Investment A Priority for Banks: Report]

In general, the financial sector is still attractive to IT employees. "The compensation is generally high in this field; it's an information-based industry, where the product is information," says Thomson Reuters' Rubinow. "If you're a technologist, the financial services field is a great place to work because there are a lot of interesting technical challenges, and because what you do is integral to every area within the organization."

Get all our research data on salary trends for financial services IT pros in our full 57-page report. Find out what skills are in demand and are commanding top pay, and what keeps people motivated. Download the InformationWeek 2013 U.S. IT Salary Survey here.

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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