As RBS Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hester was keen to point out at this week's Sibos conference in Amsterdam, technology is kind of a big deal at the bank.
The bank continues with its commitment to invest 6 billion over the next five years, which is the largest tech project in its history. In the retail space, this no doubt means looking for cost efficiencies, but on the investment banking side, this is manifesting itself as Greenfield projects.
RBS is still recruiting tech pros this quarter, according to sources. In particular, a new project around front office risk management and structured exotics is creating permanent roles for C# developers.
But it's the contract side where RBS has been truly active. According to recruitment sources, the bank has hired 800 IT contractors in London over the last 12 months, largely for change management roles, but also for projects around risk and flow products. Demand currently remains buoyant, suggest specialist contract recruiters.
Part of the reason RBS is still recruiting is because it's had such difficulty keeping hold of people. Headhunters describe it as an "obvious target" for other investment banking clients because of its perceived troubles and restrictions on bonus payments.
But RBS has been fighting back. According to one recruiter, the bank has been "brutally counter-offering" with pay rises and the possibility of 'benefits as cash' as an extra selling point.
For example, an associate typically gets 15 percent of base salary in benefits, while a manager receives 25 percent, according to sources. Of this,10 and 15 percent respectively is allocated to pension contributions while the remaining figure is offered as softer benefits, which are redeemable as cash.
"RBS is now competitive with base salaries and offers this benefit, which is a huge selling point. It's increasingly difficult to prise people out," bemoans one headhunter.
Separately, Credit Suisse's IT hiring spree appears to be over. Brady Dougan said that the "second largest component" (after graduates) of hiring in Q3 was in technology.
Headhunters who work with the bank say that after "massive volumes" of recruitment this year, the bank has "put the brakes on" IT hiring in the past few weeks.