Can you earn six figures working in a banks' technology function? Yes, yes: you can. How soon can you earn £100k, and which jobs should you do? This depends.
If you choose to work as a developer in an investment bank, Joe Campbell, a London-based recruitment consultant at Oxford Knight, says it might be "six or seven years" before your pay hits six figures."
Campbell says there are no hard and fast rules for the speed of pay progression in banking technology. However, a rival recruiter, speaking off the record, disagrees. This recruiter says technology development jobs in big banks typically command roughly equivalent pay increases as you rise up through the banking hierarchy. When you start as a tech analyst, you can expect around £43k ($55k) in salary plus a small sign-on bonus. This should rise to £80k ($103k) after around four to five years as you hit tech associate/assistant vice president. Thereafter, your salary will hopefully inflate to £120k (max) over the next three years as you make it to the senior tech vice president ranks. This could be supplemented by a bonus of (very maybe) £20k. - After which your career may well stall and you could be obliged to move into consulting. "It's very tricky to get to the senior VP point in hands-on tech these days," says one recruiter, speaking off the record. "There are just very few people in banks who are promoted and are still programming."
Despite dire warnings about the consequences of moving away from the engineering coal face when you're in banking technology, you might therefore want to branch out into more of a management role. The technology in finance salary surveys of recruiters Robert Walters and Morgan McKinley suggest that experienced people in project management, business analysis, enterprise architecture and information security all earn the most, as shown in the charts below.
Even so, the highest paying finance technology jobs are not necessarily to be found managing technologists in investment banks. Instead, recruiters say they're at hedge funds and specialist consulting firms. The latter are incredibly fussy but can be incredibly remunerative. Hedge fund Two Sigma is rumoured to pay £80k as a starting salary (even though Glassdoor puts the average salary for a technologist at Two Sigma's U.S. operation at $133k (£109k)). Meanwhile, Bromium, a Cambridge-based security consultancies is said to be pay its employees very well at the top end - even though Glassdoor puts most of its salaries in the UK below £70k a year.
Photo credit: What is Art? by Steve Jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.