Continuing a pattern set during the past few years, salaries for technology positions outpaced those in other job categories last year at New York-area financial institutions.

A strong economy in the region also helped to boost salaries in areas such as corporate finance, lending and credit management, operations, and investment brokerages, according to the study by KPA Group, a New York executive search firm.

The study looked at salaries in about 200 institutions, including commercial banks and securities firms. It did not consider other compensation, such as bonuses and stock options.

Technology has been one of the hottest sectors of the financial services job market for some time, said Len Adams, a KPA Group executive vice president. "Tech is really the backbone of everything," he said.

Technology positions continued to see substantial salary jumps from 1997 to 1998. Chief information officers, for example, saw base pay jump 9% to $155,000, while salaries for senior programmers jumped 11%, to $100,000.

The steady rise came as no surprise to Rose Marie Orens, a principal in the compensation practice of William M. Mercer Inc., a New York human- resources firm.

With banks and other financial services companies scrambling to complete year-2000 upgrades, it is of utmost important that institutions retain the workers who are performing these critical functions, she said.

While other finance services jobs didn't post salary gains as large as those found in the technology area, there were a few other bright spots. Among them:

Vice president for corporate finance, an 8% increase, to $168,000

Vice president for fixed income and sales trading, up 5%, to $210,000.

Vice president for asset-based lending, up 4%, to $167,000.

Senior vice president for correspondent banking, up 4%, to $173,000.

The flattest area for salaries was the treasury department. Nearly all job levels, from treasurer to foreign exchange trader, received the same salary during the last two years.

This is due in part to a slowdown in the currency trading business, an area hit hard by Europe's conversion to a single currency, Mr. Adams said.

Though gains in the regional economy have helped salaries throughout financial institutions, Mr. Adams wonders whether the prosperity can continue.

He cites a recent spate of bank mergers-such as Deutsche Bank's planned acquisition of Bankers Trust and Fleet Financial Group's intention to merge with BankBoston Corp.-and the prospect of more deals.

At the same time, Mr. Adams believes that salaries in the technology area will continue to increase despite the termination of year-2000 upgrade projects.

"What we're hearing is that a lot of technology capital projects have been put on hold because of Y2K," he said. "They will now go forward."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.