Poaching in IT? Call it MiFID

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MiFID could become the perfect storm in the City of London this year. The new requirements of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which banks are still trying to understand, will create a heavy demand for IT professionals, and that has recruiters scrambling.

Bob Fuller, director of IT strategy at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and a co-chair of the MiFID Joint Working Group IT subject group, warns that banks are likely to see their best people leaving to work for the competition.

"There aren't enough IT people to go around," he says. "You are talking about front office systems that probably aren't more than five years old. If your permanent staff are any good, they are going to get poached."

Banks that adapt their systems early in the game won't pay the high price for staff that the late movers will have to do, Fuller says. He sees two sets of drivers - what the regulators are requiring (both banks and vendors are still trying to figure that out) and the commercial impact.

IT pros: new level of responsibility

PJ Di Giammarino, the other co-chair of the MiFID working group, says MiFID has thrown everybody for a bit of a loop. Only now are the banks coming to grips with a fairly big list of projects.

"It's not the Big Bang, or Y2K, but it shares some of their characteristics." As co-chair of the MiFID IT joint working group, made up of four industry associations and 400 people signed up from banks and vendors, he has been working on the problems since May. Only now is the industry beginning to come to grips with a fairly big list of projects.

"There's going to be intensified competition for the limited number of hybrid professionals, people who can talk business, IT, operational risk and compliance," says Di Giammarino. "This is putting a new level of responsibility on the IT professional. There's really a need for people who have a lot deeper expertise in those combined areas than there's ever been."

The pool of people who can do this is very small. Di Giammarino's advice is not to go out and bid up the prices for the Renaissance men, and occasionally women, of financial IT, but to figure out how to integrate existing teams and develop an integrated framework that allows IT staff to work across silos.

Search is on

Simon Walker, director at recruitment firm The Partners Group, is looking all over for people who can work on MiFID, and not just in the financial services industry.

He figures that recruiters and banks will be looking for skilled IT staff from big law firms, large engineering companies, and pharmaceutical firms where compliance projects are pretty common and his people are out there actively trying to find them and bring them into the City.

"MiFID will allow poorly skilled people to come back into the market and earn a lot," Walker says. "Just like 2005 was a year for big government projects, 2006 is very much going to be the year of the large investment banking projects." The Partners Group has set up a separate website just for MiFID - www.MIFIDjobs.com.