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Salary Survey Results: Automation Push and Data Analysis Strengthens Financial Services IT Job Market

After several years of painful cuts, the market for IT talent in the financial services industry is strengthening.



It would be an understatement to say the past several years have been rough for all facets of the financial services industry. But the market for IT talent in the sector is strengthening, based on responses to the 2012 InformationWeek IT Salary Survey.

As the economy continues to improve, the market for IT jobs in the financial services sector has followed, owing partly to a push for automation and data analysis. Companies in banking and securities are increasingly data-driven -- they're investing in the types of employees who are capable of analyzing the massive amounts of data these companies collect, says Anthony Dostellio, managing partner at Objective Paradigm, a Chicago-based technical recruiting and executive search firm servicing the technology, finance and consulting areas.

According to results from the 2012 InformationWeek IT Salary Survey, salaries and total compensation in the banking and securities sectors for IT staff and managers remained relatively flat from 2011 levels. Median base salaries for IT staffers remained $90,000, while median total compensation for this group increased $2,000, to $99,000 in 2012. For managers, the median base salary dropped to $117,000 from $120,000 in 2011, while median total compensation, including bonuses, for this group dropped to $130,000, nearly returning to its 2010 level. A majority of financial services IT staff and managers -- 76 percent and 83 percent, respectively -- expect to receive a bonus this year.

[2012 Salary Survey Shows IT Skills Remain In Short Supply On The Street.]

Owen Sullivan, EVP for specialty brands at ManpowerGroup and CEO of Right Management, sees slow but sure recapturing of former salary levels in the industry. Specific areas in high demand are software architects and project-engagement managers, he says.

Financial services IT jobs continue to change and evolve along with business demands, and so do the skills required to perform job tasks successfully. A majority of IT managers and staff respondents in the 2012 InformationWeek Financial Services IT Salary Survey said that aligning business and technology goals was critical to their jobs, along with integrating enterprise applications and collaborating with internal stakeholders. Nearly two-thirds of managers said the ability to build vendor relationships was essential to doing their jobs. Not surprisingly, more than half of managers said that the ability to analyze data was critical to their jobs.

[For more research on compensation, the required skills and job satisfaction in the financial services IT sector, including more than 50 charts, download the complete InformationWeek Financial Services 2012 U.S. IT Salary Survey.]

ManpowerGroup's Sullivan says it's important for IT professionals to stay current on certifications and to specialize in a defined area, as opposed to becoming certified in a variety of areas. Financial companies want a depth of expertise, he says. They're looking for real experts and not generalists.

Job Satisfaction

Financial services IT staff and managers are concerned about base pay and the stability of their jobs and their organizations, with half of survey participants citing pay and nearly as many citing stability when asked what matters most to them about their jobs. In financial services, where mass layoffs have been common after the financial crisis, it is not surprising that job stability is a top concern for respondents. But the challenge of the job and knowing that their opinions and knowledge are valued also are important to survey respondents.

Sixty percent of staff and managers were satisfied with their total compensation package. One-fourth (26 percent) of each group said they were neutral on this topic, and 14 percent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their total compensation.

A mixture of technical and business skills is required for banking and financial services IT staff and managers to perform their jobs successfully. Aligning business and technology goals, integrating enterprise applications, and collaborating with internal stakeholders were the most commonly cited technical and business skills necessary for staff and managers, according to the 2012 InformationWeek Financial Services IT Salary Survey. Managers add three more skills to the list of critical skills: building vendor relationships, developing applications, and analyzing data.

Employees who are focused on data are in high demand, says Objective Paradigms Dostellio. This is increasingly the era of big data, he says. Anyone with the ability to design software that can analyze vast amounts of data, or who can work with and manipulate data, is in high demand right now.



Job Security

The economy has had an impact on IT staff and managers, especially in financial services. Nearly half of staff, and nearly as large a percentage of managers, received a raise of less than 5 percent, for instance. One-fourth of each group saw benefit cuts.

Still, financial services respondents to the 2012 InformationWeek IT Salary Survey seem to be feeling more secure about their jobs than they did the past couple of years. More than one-third (39 percent) of staff reported feeling very secure in their positions, up from 30 percent in 2010; 45 percent of IT managers said they feel very secure in their current jobs, up from 41 percent two years ago.

Today it's imperative for the individual to make sure that his or her skill sets and capabilities match whats required on his or her job, ManpowerGroups Sullivan says. The more general your technical and soft skills, the more at-risk you are.

[6 Steps for Building the Next-Gen Bank IT Workforce.]

Even with the optimism in the IT field in general, and the growing feeling of security in their current jobs, few staff and managers are actively looking for new jobs with a different employer. More than three in five are not even keeping their eyes open for new employment opportunities. Of the staff actively looking for new employment, 67 percent are seeking better pay and 54 percent are looking for more interesting work. Of the managers actively looking for a new job, three-fourths are looking for a better paying position. Two in five IT staff and managers would accept a demotion if they found a new job that gave them more job satisfaction.

Generally, says Objective Paradigms Dostellio, IT staff and managers in banking are looking for greater challenges, and they want their ideas heard by the decision makers. Previously, career advancement meant a better title and a couple-percent bump in salary, he comments. Now career advancement means new responsibility and the chance to see your ideas get noticed and implemented. Technology has made organizations flatter and less hierarchical, and peoples career goals have changed accordingly.

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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