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Management Strategies

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Banks Battle For Big Data Talent

Salaries are up for IT staff and managers, according to the 2014 InformationWeek Analytics Salary Survey.

Hot Areas

The rewards are greatest for those with the skills most in-demand. Says John Reed, senior executive director for Robert Half Technology, the skills that are the most sought-after by banks and securities firms include anything that can help these organizations deal with, protect and utilize their data. "These organizations are looking for people who can help them corral the data and make better business decisions and to secure the data, as well as anyone who can assist them with their mobile banking efforts," Reed explains. "The big deal is big data. If you can harness it, you can benefit, so financial firms are funding those initiatives right now and hiring individuals with that background."

[Capitalizing on Big Data Requires Banks to Change Their Cultures]

The problem is that these skills are currently in demand at every kind of organization, not just financial services. "Competition is very high and close to zero unemployment. Everyone wants these skills," Reed adds. "Depending on the specific technology and location, for most of these individuals, income has increased six percent to eight percent each year, although we've seen some double-digit compensation increases year-over year."

Security is another hot employment area at financial firms, notes Bhushan Sethi, financial services people and change leader at PwC. "With the risk of cyber terrorism, banks and investment firms have a demand for skills around security," he points out. "Financial institutions are hiring people with atypical backgrounds, many having worked in the tech sector, public sector and government agencies, because they have experience in and a focus on networks and security." Sethi also finds that financial institutions are seeking professionals with cloud-based, analytics and social media skills, since "every bank is leveraging Twitter around their brand and fine-tuning their response mechanism."

Qualified Satisfaction

Regardless of their specializations, IT staff and managers are generally happy with their total compensation packages, according to the InformationWeek Analytics research. In this year's study, 58% of staff and 60% of managers were either satisfied or very satisfied with their total compensation package, with only 16% of staff and 15% of management reporting dissatisfaction.

Beyond compensation, it appears that most IT employees in banking and capital markets are satisfied with the comprehensive aspects of their job -- or at least most aren't dissatisfied. A majority of both IT staff (63%) and managers (63%) expressed satisfaction with all aspects of their job, including compensation, benefits and other aspects of their employment relationship. Only 13% of each group said they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their jobs.

Some aspects of their jobs that are most important are intangible. Both groups told InformationWeek Analytics that job or company stability is important to them, in addition to a flexible work schedule, vacation time or paid time off. Forty percent of IT managers and 37% of IT staff also said that it matters to them that their opinion and knowledge are valued, others cited a telecommuting option, job challenges and atmosphere and recognition for doing their jobs well.

Since in general there's less money to go around in bonus pools, says PwC's Sethi, financial firms are looking at ways to engage IT employees. "Organizations are looking at guiding employees' career paths inside technology, maybe into the business, or even with some of their external business partners, giving employees some flexibility in how and where they work, and thinking about what other investments they can make in individuals, whether it be training, sabbaticals, or offering a part-time university course," he explains.

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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