Financial Services Need More Expert Technical Help in 2011
As financial service companies put the worst of the economic meltdown behind them, they shift from cutting IT costs to careful expansion. That will mean job opportunities for those who have computer technology degrees with a formal focus on information technology programs to give them expertise and training in the right technical specialties.
The reason for expansion is clear. There may be no other industry as dependent on information as the financial sector. Banks, credit unions, insurance companies, brokerages, commodities traders, mutual funds: all essentially process data for a living. Increase speed by a thousandth of a second, identify and jump on a trend early, and a company can get a competitive edge or reap extra profit. That is why the financial IT unemployment rate is 4.5 to 5 percent, versus the nearly 10 percent national level.
Although financial firms widely use Java, the industry depends on the greater speed and flexibility of C, C++, and C# code. Software architects are in demand, as are testing and Q&A personnel. Companies continue to expand their use of cloud computing, with a Wall Street & Technology/ InformationWeek Analytics study suggesting that 40 percent of firms already use some type of cloud computing and an additional 31 percent considering it.
Other trends include automated bank branches, integrated social media, advanced data analytics, and renewal and improvement of core systems to support increasing levels of online and mobile service. Banks, in particular, feel pressure to undertake major systems upgrades this year. Some plan complete upgrades of all their core systems.
Impact of Regulation
Another factor that will drive increased IT investment is expanding regulation. After the economic crash, politicians reacted by strengthening oversight and regulatory demands on all financial institutions. Companies will use information technology to automate and document compliance. In some sectors, like investing, implementing new regulations could be the biggest challenge of 2011.
Hand-in-hand with all the expansion and upgrading comes IT security. Clouds, mobile, and online transactions are particularly vulnerable. Criminals constantly change tactics, requiring innovative and rapid response.
For all the IT needs that companies have, they are still cautious. Financial firms laid off thousands in 2008 and 2009. Slow revenue growth in the second half of 2010 caused companies to put off wholesale re-staffing. However, they still seek people with information systems degrees who can fill highly skilled positions.