Movements of professionals within Strategy, Projects & Change for the IT world

Mark Astbury 30.10.2018

There has been an increased focus from banks looking to invest in internal aspects seen in 2018, preferring to hire permanently instead of contract professionals.

The influence of Brexit...

It may feel like Brexit negotiations have been ongoing for a decade, but we are getting nearer to a conclusion and ‘a Theresa May deal’ could be in place. Several companies have established new entities across European locations such as Frankfurt - with this in mind, the UK Financial Services market remains buoyant and the outlook for the future is positive.

There has been a noticeable reduction in regulatory requirements (other than FRTB which has been delayed several times) in comparison to the last few years; it has given time for organisations to invest in their own internal infrastructure, systems, processes, digital and security from a needs must, to a nice to have point of view.

Where the banks are looking to invest; Customer Journey Experience

What is the customer journey experience and why is it so significant? As individuals, we all make use of technology in a finance/banking form - banking apps, voice/fingerprint recognition, new product launches and so on. The speed at which technology is evolving is inconceivable; arguably quicker than the recruitment market can keep up with. We demand more now than ever before - we all want to connect technology and our finances with the outside world in the simplest way possible.

This significantly influences the volume of recruitment within Projects - banks and the financial services sector, as a whole, are placing this high up on their priority list. Just a few examples of the vacancies we have seen this year include; BAs and PMs for digital application and software programs, project/programme managers for website and product launches, continuous improvement on cyber security and fraud detection.  

Customers now demand instantaneous access to banking services

In the summer of 2015, Matt Hammerstein of Barclays; Head of Client and Customer Experience stated; “We’re in the midst of a digital revolution. Some say it’s the third industrial revolution. You can see it everywhere, if you look. This is changing customer expectations — and that means the way businesses provide services has changed and will change more. That’s as true for how you order a taxi, as it is for how you do your shopping or book a holiday. Everyone now expects — in fact, demands — services that are easy to access and fast. The same applies to banking. Banks can’t rely anymore on customers coming to us. Customers expect us to be with them, whenever, wherever and however they want.

That statement really signified the start of what will be a long and evolving journey. Each bank is looking to outperform and gain an edge over its competitors. New technology and innovation departments are appearing, and existing ones are expanding as banks look at alternative ways to be pioneers.

Emerging Trends – Strategy

Project managers and programme managers are finally getting their chance to have a seat at the table and converse about Strategy. The opportunity for more communication from alternative resources is well received from the wider business. With the lack of regulation focused projects, this is allowing additional budget resources to be spent on key strategic developments.

Permanent and Contract Hires

Whist the contract market is still a major player in the SPC IT sector, permanent hires are increasing. A number of the Tier 1 banks have reduced their contract workforce and with a preference for increasing their permanent workforce. Most have been internal moves, with a slight emphasis on cost reduction being a reason behind this. However, there are a number of benefits all round for the banks to move in this direction. Aside from cost saving, there is also stability and continuity of the workforce.

By creating more opportunities for permanent staff members to move internally from project to project, as and when it’s appropriate, individuals are able to broaden their skills and exposure further. This strategy also addresses the balance of temp vs perm, which has been heavily contract biased over the last 10 years. There will always be a need for a flexible workforce in projects, but it has definitely become more balanced as 2018 has progressed.

So what to do next?

Do not panic about Brexit! Take confidence in the banks wanting to invest in alternative areas such as Blockchain Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Technology (to name but a few) and diversify your own personal experiences as much as possible. I would encourage anyone to look at internal roles that will push on other experiences. Do not worry about the financial or job title aspects, as that tends to take care of itself.

Keep talking to the market; speak to colleagues, recruitment consultants and read forums to stay up to date with the market. It does not mean you need to make a move now, but certainly gives you the edge over anyone else who does not stay updated.

Mark Astbury's picture
Associate Director | Project and Change Management
mastbury@morganmckinley.co.uk