Taking the contractor route in the last two years has been risky. Shorter-term contracts have been handed out, and banks have been quick to show their temporary workers the door, cut pay or enforce holidays in an attempt to pare back costs.
However, more recently not only has contractor recruitment picked up in the financial sector, but full-time employees have been willing to give up the sanctuary of a permanent position to bolster their CV with exciting projects offered to those on contract.
“Contractor recruitment has increased dramatically in the last six months, with specialist compliance roles in particular having proven attractive to people in permanent positions,” said Katherine Lord, business director at Hays.
These, according to recruitment experts, are the hot contractor positions.
The Financial Conduct Authority has already made it clear that it’s clamping down decidedly harder than the FSA when it comes to how financial services firms treat and communicate with their clients in the wake of a series of scandals. “Compliance professionals believe they can be at the forefront of some exciting projects that will really make a difference and could bolster their CV,” said Lord. It also helps that these roles can pay up to £800 a day.
You may be a top-notch java developer, but banks want people who can also turn their hand to C# or C++, SQL integration or a “big wishlist of tech stacks”, according to Ben Cowan, director at recruiters Astbury Marsden. This is not entirely unheard of, but banks also want to hire developers who can turn their hand to some project management or business analysis, he said. “It’s now more about what you can bring to the organisation, than coming in for a narrowly-focused role,” he said.
Investment banks are currently engaged in a wrangle to gain more market share in the foreign exchange sector, traditionally dominated by Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Citi and UBS. Central to this is technology – the so-called ongoing IT arms race – and banks are hiring contractors to help them develop a cutting edge platform, said Martin Rennison, director of IT in finance recruiters the JM Group. “The vast majority of IT roles in the front office are centred around FX,” he said.
Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland have so far put aside a combined £2.7bn to compensate customers who were mis-sold complex interest rate derivatives products, as the FCA pushes to wrap up the situation by the end of this year. For specialist compliance staff, this means an end to the contract roles which have been paying up to £1,000 a day, but new roles are still coming to the market, said Lord, and people are keen to bolster their CV.
“Many people are recognising that working on such a high-profile and complex project will put them in good stead for any future positions,” she said.
Investment banks continue to hire KYC and AML analysts to ensure that, once again, they don’t fall victim to another scandal that could land them in hot water with regulators. These roles are complex, and tend to pay only up to around £400 a day, but they are plentiful, said Cowan.