If you're a technologist with Python or Scala skills, consider yourself in demand

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In this era of cost-cutting, it's good to hear about a growing demand for particular skill-set. In the case of financial technology, both Python and Scala are increasing in popularity. Unfortunately, due to a relative shortage of talent, banks are currently looking outside the financial sector for this expertise.

Recruiters are telling us that the likes of J.P Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are hiring developers with an understanding of either Python or Scala - functional, rather than object-oriented, programming languages - to work on front office systems.

J.P. Morgan, in particular, uses Python for its Athena risk and trading systems, and is currently hiring developers for its Compute Backbone grid computing infrastructure.

"Three or four of the big investment banks have moved away from the historical trend of creating technology systems for technology's sake and are developing business aligned, cross asset systems for the business which means that functional programming is beginning to take over object oriented development," says Ed Ekins, head of the financial services technology practice at Twenty Recruitment.

The majority of people with these programming skills are based outside of the financial sector, he adds. By switching across from pharmaceuticals or telecoms, there's the chance of increasing their salaries from 45k to around 70k.

"While someone from a completely different industry won't have the financial services sector knowledge, what they will have is the technical know - how to be able to impart the commercial application of a functional programming language," he says.

Most people switching across are therefore being taken on at a more senior level, suggests Ekins.

In the contract market, people with Python skills are bringing in around 500-600 a day, says Ben Cowan, director at recruiters Astbury Marsden.

"It's still a relatively niche skill-set and demand isn't astronomical, so rates are not as high as they could be," he says. "We're anticipating that more banks will soon be looking for this skill-set, however, and when competition heats up, contractors can start demanding higher day rates."

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