It May Not Be the Golden Era for Technologists in Investment Banking, But FinTech is Doing Better Than Most Sectors

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You are about to be replaced by a machine. In the future, the only sound emerging from trading floors will be the hum of computer servers and the tippy-tappy of programmers producing the code that displaced you. If you’re a developer, welcome to a new era of employability.

At least this is the theory. The man-versus-machine debate on the trading floor is nothing new – equities trading teams have been depleted while volumes have increased for years now – but as more banks turn their attention to automating the fixed income arena, does this mean banks are going to be hiring more and more developers to get the job done?

An Increase in Electronic Trading

Morgan Stanley is bringing in programmers and technology specialists as it looks to trade bonds electronically, at the expense of traders in this division, while Goldman Sachs is making heavier use of systems driven by algorithms and is getting rid of staff that can be "replaced with technology."

There’s definitely not big hiring of technologists across the board – one recruiter tells us that some of the large U.S. investment banks have “just four” live roles currently in IT – but there’s an appetite to continue to recruit developers while staff are cut elsewhere.

Developers are Hot

“Developers are hot property at the moment, with around 50 percent of our live roles focused in this area,” says Ben Cowan, director at Astbury Marsden. “More banks are focusing on automating across various asset classes and this will only speed up. If you look at FX, for example, in the briefings we have with investment banks, they say it’s basically an IT department with a few traders.”

HSBC is believed to be hiring business analysts in the run up to launching a new front office tech project, while Barclays and Deutsche Bank are both hiring for their BARX and Autobahn trading platforms respectively. And, as we pointed to previously, Citi and Credit Suisse are also reasonably active when it comes to recruiting for technology roles.

IT Demand Up 20 Percent

The first half of last year wasn’t exactly booming for IT hiring, but recruiters tell us that they’re receiving – on average – 20 percent more roles than this time last year. Equities, commodities and FX are still the main areas of activity, but with Morgan Stanley joining Goldman Sachs in developing a new corporate bond trading platform, you can expect more technology roles to emerge here.

Justin Willis, director at IT in finance recruiters Bright Purple, says that the firm’s algo trading desk is “busier than ever” at the moment and that fixed income is featuring more highly.

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