Technologists' Pay Rising Smartly

Although banks are cutting back on computer systems expenditures, they are not skimping on salaries for the managers in charge of them, according to a recent survey.

Average annual salaries for bank technology executives, who already make more money than their counterparts in other industries, are up 14%, to $75,000, this year compared with last year, according to a survey from Computerworld, a weekly computer industry trade journal.

Banks are reducing staff, including technical employees, but appear to be paying more to those who remain. Salary hikes for key bank technical positions such as manager of communications networks, senior software systems analyst, and programmer, ranged from 5% to 15% over last year, the survey showed.

Above-Average Raises

These increases are well above the average for all businesses. The survey showed that overall technology salaries rose 3.3% in 1991 over last year.

In contrast to these figures was a dip in the compensation banks award corporate executives - the so-called chief information officer, or CIO. These executives typically focus on overall technology strategy and how it relates to business objectives and leave the day-to-day technical operations to the managers under them.

The average salary for CIOs fell 2%, from $85,645 in 1990 to $84,103 this year, reflecting their somewhat diminished stature at banks.

Spending Spree in '80s

Many institutions went on technology spending binges in the 1980s, propelling CIOs into the upper ranks of corporate management.

Salaries skyrocketed: In 1989, for instance, the average salary for a bank CIO was $97,500, and some executives were paid as much as $450,000 a year, according to prior Computerworld surveys.

But with the industry in the doldrums, banks moving away from centralized control of computers, and bankers increasingly frustrated with the lack of market share payoffs from technology investments, the chief technology post is more vulnerable than in previous years.

"The guys who led the charge [in salaries], like Bipin Shah and John Singleton, are on the beach now," said Jay Gaines, head of a New York City executive recruitment firm that bears his name.

"The day of the centralized CIO seems to be coming to an end."

|A Lower Profile'

"These jobs are not as big as they once were, and the CIO has a lower profile," he added.

Despite the overall rise, difficult economic times are causing some banks to freeze salaries. Seventeen percent of the banks and securities firms surveyed said a salary freeze was in effect, with banks on East Coast being the hardest hit.

Still, banks and security firms, particularly those in large metropolitan areas, pay their CIOs and technology staffs more than any business, with the exception of the computer industry itself.

Best Paid Among Peers

The survey of 1,416 technologists, completed in July, included responses from 99 executives at banks and securities firms. Computer system managers, software project managers, and analysts, programmers, and data base analysts at banks have the highest salaries among their peers in other industries.

Recruiters say that the salary increases reflect the large role that technology and computer systems play at banks and the services they provide.

"While they are paying dearly for the right people, budgets at banks are being cut and staff is being cut," says Mr. Gaines.

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