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What tech skills do banks want?

Date: 25 March 2014

Recruitment firm Selby Jennings has published its latest report on the jobs market in the UK financial sector. Recruitment firms are a pretty good indicator of what banks are looking for. In fintech, it’s skilled technologiststhat do not want to join Google, apparently. Good luck with that.

According to the report, banks are currently looking for people with these skills:

• PYTHON: With sentiment in global markets improving, banks are seeking to boost their competitiveness via front office technologies. This is keeping demand for skills in programming language Python highly competitive. Selby Jennings, points out that although banks have been the major players competing for candidates with Python skills, smaller trading houses and boutiques are catching up.

• C#: C# is another programming language that continues to remain in high demand. This has historically been a contract driven market in London, however Selby Jennings is starting to see a shift to a greater number of permanent opportunities.

• HARDWARE: Aside from software skills, financial services firms are now on the lookout for hardware experts to help them develop proprietary hardware. But finding candidates remains a challenge, said Clare Cooper, head of financial technology at Selby Jennings.

Cooper said: “Due to the competitive market, securing candidates with cross asset front office experience is challenging. Furthermore, candidates with hardware skills are hard to attract since they are usually coming from industries outside of finance and locations outside of London, and can be nervous about a move to the financial sector.”

But banks are also facing two major problems:

• THE EAST DRAIN: Algo and electronic trading keeps growing in Asia, leading many qualified candidates to consider a relocation. This is creating a skills drain in the UK.

Cooper explained: “With increased regulation and market restriction in Europe and the US, growing numbers of banks and trading firms are accelerating their focus on the Asian markets. With more prop trading firms setting up operation in Eastern Financial Hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and China there has been an influx of opportunities in the East and in turn several of the brightest minds are becoming attracted to the more open markets in Asia.”

• THE GOOGLE DRAIN: In recent years, young and talented techies have preferred to move away from financial services to join large tech firms –like Google and Microsoft- or smaller tech start-ups. This remains a challenge for financial services, says Selby Jennings. With some of the largest companies in the world being tech firms, skilled candidates have a diversity of opportunities that they did not previously have, and this is making it hard for banks to attract and retain junior tecchies. This remains the case even if the remuneration at banks has been historically high.

Cooper said: “In 2014, it is not just about the money, it is also about the challenge. Pay within banks has always been highly competitive. However, in order to attract junior technologists, banks are having to provide candidates with more interesting technical challenges, cross training opportunities and sufficient resource pools to deliver on high profile projects.”