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The rise of the temp: Why banks are happy to pay big bucks to interim streamliners

When cuts are good

To you, their work often means redundancies, streamlining or harder to earn bonuses. To your company, it means efficiency, streamlining, happy shareholders and the ever-important doing-more-with-less. Meet the crack teams of interim recruits banks are drafting in to improve their processes, often on very lucrative day rates.

Temporary staff are on the rise in the financial services sector, with companies happy to fill their teams with interim employees to work on specialist projects – anything from business process reengineering, systems improvements, risk management and regulatory initiatives.

The fallout from financial crisis has meant more ‘efficient’ teams, according to 62% of financial services executives polled by recruiters Robert Half. Seats in investment banking are expensive, and banks are only too happy to fill them with interim staff who will work on a project and move on – nearly 70% are intending to increase their recruitment of temps next year.

“With systems improvements, regulatory initiatives and business process reengineering topping the list of projects interims are involved in, firms are finding it more cost effective to bring in niche specialists to oversee and implement key projects than hiring them on a permanent basis,” says Neil Owen, global practice director at Robert Half Financial Services. “Interims also offer the added benefit of coming into a company to provide change management initiatives, free of established internal bias. This is an attractive benefit for businesses.”

It helps to be the person who can come in, shake things up, make difficult decisions and then move on to another project. It’s also a lucrative role. Programme managers can haul in up to £1,200 a day, depending on their specialism, says Robert Half. Project managers are more likely to earn £500-800 a day and business analysts anything from £350-650.

By contrast, permanent roles come in at £74-£105k for business analysts, £58-£100k for project managers and programme managers can earn anything from £90-£130k. Not surprisingly, it’s a hard sell for banks to convince people to take full-time positions.

“Interims with the most specialised skill sets are in very high demand and as such, are remunerated handsomely, adds Owen. “With interims making the career choice to engage in project work versus permanent employment, many firms are unable to secure professionals on a full-time basis.”

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