Although IT spending is set to grow for the next several years, more dollars won't necessarily translate into more IT jobs inside financial services firms. Technologists should keep their eyes out for functions that aren't going to be outsourced, and be ready for career paths to shift toward managing outsourced IT contracts.
Kevin Knaul, executive vice president for the IT & Telecommunications practice group at Hudson Global Resources, expects that more IT functions will be outsourced to specialty firms in North America or abroad. He predicts that by 2010, internal IT departments will shrink by a third.
"They are downsizing internal staff, holding onto very core functions, and outsourcing or offshoring some of the more technical positions, whether development, low- to mid-level architecture work - things that are specialized but can be easily packaged and outsourced," Knaul says.
Because of this, IT employees in large non-IT organizations should look for functions that aren't so easily contracted out. Their path may become one of managing outsourced IT contracts for a business unit, or working for a specialized high-tech integrator that provides services to the financial industry or other sectors.
Internal job opportunities will be in functions that tie IT to the overall business strategy, such as business analysis, project management and business intelligence, Knaul says. "Regardless of what is outsourced, there is a need for senior-level business/technology professionals who can manage the direction and ensure that the dollars allocated are being spent in accordance with how the company is growing and the direction it is moving."
IT professionals who want to stay in advanced technology should couple their technical expertise with deep knowledge of a vertical industry, such as financial services or pharmaceuticals, he says. Or, combine IT with business skills, perhaps with an MBA.
While companies want combined skills, they often don't offer an obvious path to acquiring them. So, IT professionals should keep an eye out for positions that offer a mentor who might help them broaden their role in the firm.