Smaller Banks and Consultants Losing Tech Pros to Bulge Brackets

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With the bulge bracket investment banks again on the hunt for technology talent, those lower down the food chain - whether that's tier two investment banks or consultants - are struggling to hold on to IT staff.

Some of the larger investment banks - such as Morgan Stanley, Citi and Credit Suisse - have been aggressively growing their technology headcount across a range of asset classes as new projects get the thumbs up.

The result is that they're tapping talent within smaller organizations.

"We are continuing to see candidates moving from tier two investment banks and traditional consultancies move back to tier one banks. This has hit tier two banks hard, especially those that struggled throughout 2009," says Darrell Cameron-Webb, head of investment banking at London-based financial IT recruiters the JM Group.

The traditional reasons for making this move were that the larger organizations generally paid more, and there's greater scope for career advancement once you get your feet under the table.

But the smaller banks are hitting back, says Cameron-Webb: "They are using fairly heavy packages to try and compensate for working in what is likely to be an uncertain, an even more stressful climate."

"Generally, technologists working in big five consultancies will jump at the chance to move to a bulge bracket investment bank," adds Bradley Wood, partner at capital markets consultancy GreySpark Partners.

"It affords the opportunity to move from a generic financial services practice to an investment banking environment that many will find attractive. Investment banks are also no longer prepared to pay big five consulting rates, so it's no surprise that consultants from these firms are considering their alternatives."

So, what are the reasons for staying with a consultaning firm? Wood says that the range of experience gained working there - across a range of projects within multiple organizations - means your experience is boosted considerably quicker over the years.

"Essentially, working for a consultancy, especially a specialist one, combines the variety of being a contractor with the opportunity for career development while avoiding the obvious job security risks" he says. "What's more, you're in a revenue generating role - rather than a cost-center, as you would be in a bank - which means compensation is based around the profits you bring in. In essence, for the best, it's the bonus scheme that until recently you would have expected from an investment bank."