An increasingly volatile picture for IT contractors

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This year, the stock of IT contractors seems to be as volatile as that of the financial institutions in which they work.

As we've alluded to previously, after a sudden surge in contractor recruitment, BarCap's decision to include them in its redundancy announcement pointed to a change in sentiment. Since then, both RBS and Standard Life have axed IT contractors as part of wider job cut plans.

Alexandra Kelly, founder of Powerchex, the City pre-employment screening company, admits that there has been "considerable volatility in month-on-month recruitment" in the financial technology contractor market and that there were 30% fewer jobs handed out in July than the previous month.

Sitting on the other side of the fence, however, are the IT contractors themselves, who - according to research from Giant Group - believe that financial services is likely to create the largest proportion of jobs over the next 12 months. Both banks and fund managers are likely to recruit, it suggests, as firms battle with mounting regulatory pressure.

"Financial services businesses are adapting their front office systems to the realities of the post-credit crunch world. They are facing huge regulatory pressure to make transactions more transparent and improve risk monitoring," says Matthew Brown, managing director of the firm.

Recruiters specialising in financial technology recruitment seem similarly divided on the buoyancy of the contractor market.

Dion Demetriou, senior consultant in the contract division at recruiters Orgtel, admits that some banks have pulled back from hiring contractors recently but that many firms are "aggressively recruiting" and that the "power remains with the candidate".

In particular, recruiters speak of the need to hire contractors for projects kicking off around FX e-commerce as well as for skills around specialist vendor packages such as Summit, Sophis, Openlink and Calypso.

Still, one IT in finance headhunter (who declined to be named), says that the increasing number firms cutting contractors has meant that many are looking to switch to a permanent position. "The contractor market is so unpredictable that many are seeking the security of a permanent post," he says.

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