JP Morgan has just set up a battle for tech talent with Citi, Stan Chart and UBS in Singapore

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JP Morgan has just set up a battle for tech talent with Citi, Stan Chart and UBS in Singapore

JP Morgan’s announcement that it is to build a foreign exchange trading and pricing engine in Singapore means there are now four large banks (the others are Citi, Standard Chartered and UBS) launching FX hubs locally within the space of just 12 months. JPM’s move will further stretch the already-limited supply of developers with the skills to work on these complicated new platforms, which are designed to reduce the costly millisecond delays currently caused by routing FX trades from Singapore clients via cities like Tokyo or London.

The JP Morgan engine will launch early next year (as will Stan Chart’s) and will cover a full range of spot FX and precious metals. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is trying to encourage (partly via grants and tax incentives) more big players in the FX sector to build trading systems and data centres in the city state. UBS launched its Singapore engine in April, while Citi plans to go live with its one at the end of this year.

Although JP Morgan will likely transfer existing staff into the FX project, technology recruiters in Singapore say JPM and the three other banks are also hiring more developers. While the numbers aren’t massive, the recruitment is nevertheless difficult.

“FX trading and pricing engines are typically built in Java, but there’s already a relatively small talent pool in Singapore for Java developers with FX e-trading systems experience,” says Adam Davies, lead IT recruiter at iKas International. “There will now be a further shortage of quality developers as these new engines are set up,” he adds.

Banks are starting to hire Java developers without FX experience in order to tackle the growing talent shortage, Ashwin Dinesh, senior manager of financial services technology at recruiters Randstad in Singapore, told us previously. “They can then train them in the business and function needs after onboarding,” he adds.

If you have cash equities experience, for example, you might want to apply for a job on one of the new FX platforms. “What’s required for FX is pretty similar to what’s required in cash equities,” says Vince Natteri, a former programmer who’s now managing director of IT search firm Pinpoint Asia. “A low-latency cash equities developer could do just as well building FX trading platforms. And the domain knowledge in FX can be learnt quite easily for someone who’s worked in equities,” he adds.

It’s a “big plus” if you know Java and are equally competent in C++, says April Jimenez, a senior consultant at recruiters Huxley in Singapore. “You also need to know Spring and Spring Boot. FX candidates must be fully competent or hands-on in programming real-time, multi-threaded, and highly available systems,” she adds.

Image credit: one2tim, Getty

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