Experienced interim managers give their answers to questions about life and work in the financial services sector.
Where’s the tech investment?
"Most of the big programmes of work revolve around integration of platforms following credit crunch mergers, such as Lloyds and RBS. Development work is being directed towards applications to support asset gathering and growing revenues. Some institutions are using the post credit crunch lull to upgrade their technology architecture and platforms."
What tech skills are needed?
"My expertise is in project management so I’ll see different things from CIOs and techies. Of the requests for work I see in the financial sector, desktop and server virtualisation/Citrix are the things I’m seeing most. I’m also seeing a robust increase in work for platform upgrade work that was deliberately skipped over the tough financial conditions in 2008 and 2009."
How easy is it to switch sector?
"The culture is similar to manufacturing - maybe FS is a bit more ‘just do it’ than shipbuilding was (‘do it right, never mind how long it takes’). There’s a heavier focus on brand image than I have previously noticed, but I guess the Post Office and John Lewis have strong brands to protect, so it’s not surprising. I have found switching between industries remarkably easy in retrospect."
What matters post credit crunch?
"Financial services today is less interested in innovation and more on cost of ownership and reliability. Innovation is not rewarded outside of deal making and revenue generation, where anything still goes if it boosts the bonus pool.”
Where’s the biggest pay?
"The very high remuneration only applies to the investment banking world. There are some highly paid roles in the insurance field at the moment, but these are largely Solvency II - related and compliance deadlines have created a bubble that will disappear."
What’s the culture?
"What counts is the ability to get the job done. You’re expected to get on with the job, produce results and manage the budget. This sector wants the best and is not afraid to spend money but expect it to work/results. Some areas do have expectations of greed - only money bonus counts."
What’s the downside?
"The culture is bruising and abrasive and highly elitist. If you do not have experience of working for an investment bank, for example, it’s very difficult to get an interview or an audience for your views. Some institutions expect IT staff to work 15-18 hour days in return for high remuneration."
Are there any unique roles?
"Investment banks often amalgamate the business analyst and project manager roles and this creates a need for the PM to have subject matter expertise. It is not standard practice in the rest of the industry to do this, primarily because for a project of any size and complexity the PM cannot afford the distraction of the BA work.”
Source: survey of interim managers in financial services conducted by Charles Russam on behalf of CWJobs
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