Finance sector bucks the trend with City-led boom in development work

The finance sector is experiencing a boom in IT recruitment despite steady performance in the rest of the economy.

The finance sector is experiencing a boom in IT recruitment despite steady performance in the rest of the economy.

The number of jobs advertised in the finance sector rose by more than 9% from the first to the second quarter of the year, according to research for the Computer Weekly/SSL Survey of Appointments Data and Trends.

The growth comes on top of a 22% rise in the number of job vacancies between the first quarter of 2005 and the first quarter of 2006.

Most of the jobs on offer are in London, reflecting the capital's position as a global finance centre.

"Finance is part of the global economy. London is now very much in an economy of its own. It is the one area where the UK still has global strengths in software and services," said Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems.

Despite the rapid growth in offshore outsourcing, most financial organisations prefer to carry out development work in-house, fuelling a boom in demand for development skills.

Programmers, senior programmers and developers in the finance sector are commanding premium salaries as companies compete to recruit the most talented people for upgrade projects, said SSL director George Molyneaux.

"For development roles, finance is to the fore. Every job grade in development shows the finance sector as being the most highly paid," he said.

Those with SQL, C, Java, C# and C++ can command the highest salaries, the survey found, with developer posts in central London advertising average salaries of £48,000.

"Financial services is an area where you are specifying systems and delivering them to short timescales and you have to be in London. You have to be close to the customer. This is not mundane back-office stuff. By the time you have specified it for an offshore outsourcing supplier, it is too late," said Virgo.

However, financial firms are turning to outsourcing for IT support services, driving down demand for IT support staff, including PC helpdesk and support staff. They have seen salary levels fail to keep up with inflation, or in many cases fall, over the past 12 months.

"Nearly all insurance companies have been outsourcing, and banks have been outsourcing like crazy over the past two years," said Molyneaux.

Financial firms are looking to recruit IT staff globally, advertising jobs in New York and Hong Kong as well as London, said Virgo. "If you are in London, financial services is where it's at," he said.

IT industry average salaries Q1 2006

Job Salary Q1 2006 Salary Q1 2005 % Change

IT director 88,750 89,166 -0.47%

IT manager 62,649 58,218 +7.61%

Helpdesk manager 39,050 43,160 -9.52%

Network manager 54,795 47,400 +15.60%

Systems consultant 70,074 66,490 +5.39%

Project manager 54,398 54,995 -1.09%

Senior systems analyst 52,574 46,543 +12.96%

Test analyst 32,096 31,555 +1.71%

Systems developer 47,065 47,262 -0.42%

Analyst programmer 34,169 34,633 -1.34%

Programmer 29,550 27,898 +5.92%

PC support 22,841 23,410 -2.43%

Systems administrator 39,475 39,591 -0.29%

Data administrator 42,011 41,496 +1.24%

Operator 24,083 24,300 -0.89%

Source: Computer Weekly/SSL Survey of Appointments Data and Trends

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