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Investment banks lead the charge for experienced IT developers

Investment banks are placing more than 50% of all new financial services IT job adverts, according to recruitment consultancy ReThink Recruitment.

Retail banks' share of new IT job adverts was just 16%, against the 57% share recorded by investment banks. Next to this, insurers placed 18% of new adverts, fund managers 6%, and hedge funds 3%.

ReThink examined 2,093 financial services IT job adverts running during the first week of March. It found that demand was greatest for IT workers with experience of specialist straight-through banking applications, such as Murex and Sophis.

In particular, banks need IT developers to automate and refine trade processing between their front offices, where the trade is made, and their back offices, where the trade is reconciled.

Both ABN Amro and HBOS were hiring Murex developers, while Barclays Capital, HSBC, Nomura, Rabobank and Royal Bank of Canada were hiring Sophis developers.

Rethink managing director Jon Butterfield said, "On some of the niche banking applications, developers can command £800 to £1,000 a day."

Stuart Taylor, director at financial services recruitment consultancy McGregor Boyall, said, "The daily rate for a Java developer in a good business area, such as derivatives, is £550 to £600 a day."

Salaries being advertised were much higher than the £50 per hour rate that the Association of Technology Staffing Companies said was the average City rate last month.

Marcus Hawkins, director of ReThink's City practice, said, "I think £50 per hour in the City is low and I think people would chuckle about it. In application development, the rates are way above that."

Almost all financial services IT jobs advertise daily rather than hourly rates. The daily rates for Murex and Sophis developers are the equivalent of £100 to £125 per hour. The daily rates for Java developers are the equivalent of £69 to £75 per hour.

Demand for IT developers is being fuelled by the investment banks' insistence that new employees have four or five years' experience in their business areas.

Butterfield said, "Traders have not got the time or the inclination to brief and educate the technologists. Anybody with four or five years' experience in the City is a very valuable person as there are just not enough candidates in the UK."

City institutions were prepared to increase IT developers' rates to £1,000 a day or more because salaries at those levels still represented a small fraction of the profits being made, Butterfield said.

Recruitment consultants have found IT developers from outside the UK to fill vacancies in the City.

New regulations, such as Basel 2 and the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), are giving recruitment consultants encouragement for the rest of 2006. While investment banks have yet to hire IT developers for MiFID, they will have to invest in systems before it comes into force in November 2007.

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