In theory, information security and big data roles are part of a bank's technology function. However, with financial services firms under attack from cyber criminals and keen to mine the data at their disposal, both roles are fast becoming more mainstream.
Our own data doesn’t exactly suggest a skills-shortage in these areas just yet. For every available information security job there are 25.6 candidates on the eFinancialCareers CV database. For every role requesting a data science skillset, we have 57 ‘data scientists’ on our books.
Nonetheless, professionals in data and cyber-security roles are most likely to secure a big pay rise this year, according to new figures from recruiters Robert Half. In the UK, these pay rises are a modest 5.7% on average. In the US, they're closer to 7%.
Of the two kinds of roles, recruiters say the really big push this year is for cyber-security professionals. Banks are already bringing in 'ethical hackers' to test the robustness of their defences - or lack thereof - and are allocating ever-more money to tackling cyber-crime. Robert Half suggests that 19% of tech budgets are now being allocated to security, and the vast majority of this cost is being spent on hiring both contractors and full-time staff.
Most of the information security jobs are based where banks' HQs are - Deutsche Bank's IT security team is based in Frankfurt, for example. Paul Elworthy, senior IT manager at banking recruiter IKas says pay is rising for information security professionals in London because the role is seen as increasingly integral to the functioning of the bank. Banks are also hiring security professionals from outside the sector. - Elworthy says he recently recruited someone from a consulting background to drive the information security strategy at a large UK bank.
Big data jobs are also hot - especially in the US, where pay is higher than in London. Robert Half says banks in the US are competing against Silicon Valley for data talent and that this is driving up salaries. In the UK, investment banks in particular are still reluctant to jump in with both feet when it comes to hiring data scientists and architects. "We recently placed a data scientist for £160k at a large investment bank in the UK, but this was an isolated hire," says Elworthy. "Banks would rather invest in training their own staff than hire a lot of big data specialists."