I asked a few friends —
Q: finance IT pays 2 to 3 times the salary compared to other sectors. Initially i thought the person requirement must be much higher, i.e. the average non-finance developer probably can’t easily handle the job. To my dismay, just about any java developer can handle the job. You can learn multi-threading, MOM, … on the job. So why do they keep paying such high salaries?
A: profit margin is much higher in finance. Having qualified developers means faster time to market and more profit. Qualified means track record.
A: trading systems prefer a elite team of experienced guys, not large army of rookies. Average salary is therefore higher. Root cause is time-to-market. Tiny team of elites deliver faster.
A: At the senior developer level, trading system experience (track record) is very rare, partly because of the low head count in a lot of successful desks.
A: manager must spend the budget or get a reduced budget next year.
A: employer must pay high enough to keep the talent
A: Will (recruiter) said trading sys architect talent is scarce in S’pore. Globally, Battle tested architects are rare. Battle tested on trading system is ..rarer. Trading systems have additional characteristics such as (but not limited to) extreme time-to-market, extreme quick-and-dirty, instrumentation, manual override, “explain what happened”….
A: Y. Lin feels many of those high-end jobs are very specialized, with very few qualified local candidates
A: MS commodity trading interviewer said most local candidates don’t have the design experience — they only assist London or NY
A: Raymond feels some sectors (like web, or php) are over-supplied due to inflow of
immigrants. System requirement is fairly simple compared to …. say Oracle or SAP — mostly used by large, well-funded enterprises. System is expensive and mission critical.
A: Raymond T also feels an IT service provider is bound by the price clients are willing to pay. Raymond gave examples of construction industry. These clients have a budget and won’t pay extraordinary prices, so the IT guys serving that industry get an average salary. Raymond said finance industry is unique IT serves internal business units and business unit decides how much (possibly huge) budget to allocate to IT. I would add that headcount is much smaller than a team in other industry. So finance IT budget is probably higher, and head count is probably much lower, therefore salary is so high.
A: Raymond T feels in other industries, IT salary is kept “reasonable” by specialized outsourcing suppliers who specialize in certain high-value sectors. In trading, I only know IBM and Sapient have such “practices” and they probably cost a bank more than hiring directly.