If you’re a technologist with experience in digital or mobile banking, you can consider yourself hot property. According to research from financial services recruiters Brightpool, mobile is likely to be the most fertile area of hiring within the financial technology sector throughout 2013.
But who, specifically, are the banks looking to hire? After all, it’s an area where talent is short across all industries, and digital professionals have traditionally shied away from the banking sector, which has had to offer 10-15% salary uplifts to secure them.
Technical skills are not the only thing banks are looking for when developing their mobile platforms. Angela Hickmore, managing director of Brightpool, said that the biggest demand currently is for change management professionals, brought in on a contract basis to help banks define how a new mobile platform will shape their business. These roles pay £700-1,000 a day, she said.
“Some banks are advanced in their mobile banking platforms, while others are only starting out,” she said. “This means people need to look at the product scope, its potential impact on traffic into the branches and a host of other operational issues.”
Barclays’ Pingit mobile payments service, which allows customers to send and receive money using their mobile phone number, has generally been eyed with envy by other banks, according to recruiters who specialise in IT banking. Those with the name Barclays on their CVs are hot.
“You give me someone who has worked on Barclays’ mobile platform, and I’ll give them job offers,” said one recruiter who declined to be named because Barclays is a client.
One of the biggest obstacles that banks face developing their mobile platforms is the perceived, and often very real, security threat. Customers are more concerned about banking on a mobile device than banking online via a personal computer.
“Information security professionals are in short supply across the banking sector, and those with knowledge of the digital and mobile space are very sought-after,” said Martin Rennison, head of investment banking IT at recruiters the JM Group.
The biggest challenge that banks face is convincing user experience and user interface designers currently working for digital agencies, where the attitude is jeans and T-shirts and creative freedom, to take a role in an industry perceived as restrictive and hierarchical, said Niall Phelan, director and co-founder of digital recruitment agency Sphere.
“We’re headhunting a lot from digital agencies and gaming companies and the UX and UI folks there are getting hit up a lot by the banks, who are all chasing a scarce pool of talent,” he said.
Product managers with experience of Axure, the wireframe software used by a large proportion of big firms, are also in demand, he said.
If you’ve worked on a settlements project on the back office systems of an investment bank, you might be forgiven for thinking that you have the right stuff to take on a role developing the payments systems for a retail bank. Think again.
Rennison says that business analysts who can demonstrate knowledge of Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which aims to simplify bank transfers across the Eurozone, or a background in payments that can be applied to mobile banking platforms will be snapped up. General back office tech experience is not good enough.