Investment bank IT salaries hold up in face of crunch

Investment bank IT salaries hold up in face of crunch

Despite the impact of the global credit crunch, IT salaries in the investment banking sector are being kept afloat due to "aggressive moves" for staff by firms unaffected by the downturn.

Recruitment outfit JM Group says despite the financial turmoil, "we have yet to see any direct impact on salaries in the sector".

The recruiter says the investment banking IT market saw modest first quarter salary increases of around 1.2% compared to Q4 2007, but notes there is huge variation between employers.

JM says banks with weighted exposure to sub-prime positions are static, but others have "seized the initiative with some aggressive moves for IT talent".

"In terms of specific client demand, we have rarely seen such extremes within the sector," says the recruiter.

But JM warns that overall pay levels may yet be hit by the crunch. The sector is not "inoculated from such influence" and "any tangible impact is more likely to be witnessed in the forthcoming quarters", says JM.

Although salaries appear to be holding up JM says general recruitment activity is slower than normal, with "sign-off" for new hires "elevated within the corporate hierarchy" and therefore more protracted. But the situation is not stagnant.

Analysts with specific business exposure and product knowledge have been most in demand over the last three months. JM says front office derivatives experience is "at a premium", with emphasis on exotic products across commodities, interest rates, credit and equities leading to a five per cent lift in salaries for this function.

According to JM, front office business analysts focused on exotic derivatives can expect to earn around £75,000 as an associate and £95,000 as a VP.

Most other IT job categories have done less well, remaining constant compared to the previous quarter.

But the recruiter strikes a note of caution for the near future. "With continued stagnation or retreat, quarter two's index may have a more submissive theme," says JM.

In February research from the Association of Technology Staffing Companies found salaries for IT contractors working in the City had jumped by 11% in the previous six months - to the highest level for two years - as banks put a freeze on permanent hires in the face of the crunch.

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