Financial Services

The Financial Services sector is one of the most IT driven industries in Ontario. Toronto is home to 5%-10% of the ICT workforce.  Finance and insurance accounts for 7.8% of all IT jobs in the country. In Ontario alone, banks, insurance companies and investment firms employ IT professionals.They are about 10% of the sector’s total workforce.

Cool Jobs in Financial Services IT

  • Mobile app developer. Today you can do your banking on a BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad, or Android device. A banking mobile app developer made this possible.
  • IT Project Manager. With a high-demand combination of business, technology, and communication skills, this is the person who manages IT projects related to current and cutting-edge technologies like smartphone apps for insurance and banking.
  • Actuarial IT analyst. Actuaries use advanced statistics to figure out insurance rates based on the risk that, say, your cousin will have a car accident. Actuarial IT analysts design computer programs that automate this information. Result: your cousin’s insurance brokers can get her a driver’s policy at the right price, and fast.

Snapshot

Canada rocks as one of the strongest financial centres in the world. Our financial industry includes global leaders like RBC, Scotiabank, and TD – mostly known as banks but also into investments  and insurance. Mainly insurance companies, Manulife and Standard Life also do investments. Many of these companies have done a great job bringing girls and women into IT. For example, half of RBC’s IT staff is female!

Why is IT huge in financial services?

  • Money is pure information: checking your bank account or using PayPal to buy something can happen electronically.
  • The amount of financial activity is gigantic. Think about how many times a day your family uses a credit card, then multiply it by millions of Canadians. And it all flows back and forth through millions of stores, restaurants etc. Only computers connected to networks can keep track of all this!
  • Financial companies use computers to help reinvest – and increase – the billions of dollars that they manage. Canadian banks done this carefully and well. Meanwhile in the United States, banks’ computer applications contributed to the financial collapse of 2008.
  • Indeed, computers help banks avoid (and take) all kinds of risks. (As they say, no risk, no reward!) You don’t hear about it much, but hackers constantly try to break into bank computers in hopes of stealing money.

All this activity means all kinds of interesting jobs – and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Oh, and did we mention that they pay well?

Trends

  • Near Field Communications (NFC). Imagine paying for a pizza slice with a wave of your mobile phone! This is the promise of NFC, already planned for the next generation of mobiles from BlackBerry, Android, and (maybe) Apple. An NFC computer chip and networked app let you do deals in all sorts of ways – a debit from your bank account, a credit card transaction, or a prepaid cash upload. It can even let you transfer money to another person! Retailers will offer NFC-based discounts and awards and reach out to you with special offers if you are nearby. Banks, which provide credit cards, are all over NFC. They look to their IT leaders to imagine creative ways to make NFC exciting for customers. It’s a whole new battleground - banks competing (and collaborating) with each other, phone companies, and device companies for their share of the NFC pie. IT creativity will be the key to success.
  • Video banking. Let’s face it, going into a bank and dealing with a teller is so last century! But sometimes, as a bank customer, you just need to talk to somebody. Maybe you’re having trouble with your online account. Or, when you are older, you want to borrow a lot of money to buy a house. Sometimes a personal touch makes all the difference. Why not do it by video over the Internet? IT professionals in banks are figuring out how to reorganize work to make video banking happen, and to set up the tech to make it easy for everyone.
  • Green IT. Financial services companies are all about one kind of green – money! But what about making their everyday operations green? As anyone who uses a computer knows, they consume a lot of power and generate a lot of heat. Today’s financial services companies challenge special green IT teams to cut back on the carbon impact and conserve energy – all while getting more output per ounce of technology.
  • Analytics. Those millions of transactions per day create mountains of data in financial companies’ computer networks. But what does it all mean? Analytics, one of the hottest trends in technology today, is a way to use advanced statistics to make sense of all this data. What are the hottest retail trends? How does the weather affect travel in different parts of the country? What’s the best way for your parents to invest their retirement nest egg? Analytics specialists help financial industry leaders figure out all this – and more.

Job prospects

  • Business Analysts are in great demand because they are able to bring leading edge technology into a firm to help solve problems and meet the company's business needs. Their combination of skills and ability to see the overall business picture makes them necessary in every area of financial services.
  • IT Infrastructure Engineers roll up their sleeves and get directly involved in managing and improving the all-important flow of information throughout a bank or an insurance company or any other business. This work is key in an industry where most financial data moves electronically.  These are the go-to talent if there is a problem with the computer network. Infrastructure engineers love working with software, hardware and all manner of communications technology and are responsible for updating server and network hardware components. Infrastructure Engineers also design and build networks.
  • Systems Developers underpin client services in the financial industry by developing software applications. They work with the latest technologies and often in large teams. They can work directly within financial services or at a company that develops software for the sector.

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Financial Services Career Advisor

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