The changes in what a bank technologist must know and the need for innovation are creating skills gaps and even talent shortages, something that would have seemed unimaginable in the layoff-heavy environment of the past few years.
Opportunities reside in categories that are catching on rapidly such as mobility, open development, cloud computing, social networking, analytics, and advanced data management skills. Most of these skills weren't a part of traditional enterprise technology training, which was heavy on the knowledge needed to manage internally installed core systems.
"Over the course of time, all tech professionals need to focus in reskilling themselves to adopt to new technologies. This is evident in the technology in play in the banking industry," says Wayne Busch, managing director of Accenture's North American Banking Practice.
The overall job market for banking and bank IT appears relatively strong if not spectacular. Claymore Partners' most recent executive talent survey for financial services and consulting organizations, issued around Labor Day, says 44% of retail banks are planning strong or selective hiring for 2013, up from 40% in January and 29% in September 2011. Other financial services categories include consumer finance and payments, where 51% of companies plan to hire in 2013, down from 55% in January, but up from 42% in September.
For IT, 53% are planning slight or major hiring; up from 51% in January and 44% in September. Risk management/compliance - a category with ties to IT - is also strong, with 61% planning hiring-up from 59% in January and 53% in September.
"The overall market has been going up, but in a careful manner," says Steve Landberg, a partner at Claymore.
An unscientific search of bank IT jobs in the U.S. on November 12 found numerous listings for IT professionals with programming, security and data management expertise. Chase, for example, had a handful of Java programming jobs listed, as well as positions for client experience support, mobile app development and data warehousing application developers. Citigroup's listings at the same time included an IT project, technical specialists and a number of jobs in fraud prevention and information security. Bank of America's listings include a number of jobs for Java developers, as well as project management.
Landberg says one note of caution is the fair amount of outsourcing of tech jobs at banks, "so there's been selective hiring at banks. I would say that the areas that are strong are IT areas related to risk management and compliance...We're seeing a fair amount of hiring for social media, as that seems to be the next platform for growth at most of these institutions."
John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, an executive search firm, says that with President Obama's victory over Mitt Romney in this November's presidential election, Dodd-Frank will likely remain intact, which will keep the job market hot for bank IT compliance professionals.
The ramifications of Dodd-Frank are still evolving, which is requiring banks to quickly respond to new regulations that grow out of the law. That means systems have to be updated or changed entirely, and often quickly, which will lead to major IT projects across financial services. Other regulations such as Basel III are also on the radar at practically all banks, which will add to the IT burden even more.
"The requirements are only going to grow. Banks already have such deep and sophisticated systems to track and make [compliance] reports, and the new data they are required to capture is only going to increase, and that will mean more jobs for people in areas like systems development," he says.