Becoming an IT contractor in Banking and Finance

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The demand for skilled IT contractors in the banking and finance sector is on the rise. As financial institutions fast-track their digital transformation efforts, the need for technology experts to maintain robust, secure, and efficient systems has never been greater.

If you're considering becoming an IT contractor in Banking and Finance – where premiums are to be had, this guide will help you navigate the process and seize emerging freelance opportunities, writes Charlie Cox, global sales transformation director at SThree.

Understand Banking and Finance as an industry

Before diving into the specifics of IT contracting, it's essential to understand the banking and finance industry.

The sector is highly regulated and has high standards of security and compliance. Familiarise yourself with key concepts such as risk management, and financial regulations. For example, GDPR, SOX, Basel III. And be across the latest trends in fintech, such as AI, Blockchain, and Cybersecurity.

Relevant Skills and Certifications

To stand out as an IT contractor, you need a strong foundation in both technical and industry-specific skills. Some critical areas to focus on include:

  • Programming and Software Development: Proficiency in languages such as Java, Python, C#, SQL.

  • Cybersecurity: Understanding of network security, encryption, and ethical hacking.

  • Data Analysis and Management: Skills in data science, big data technologies, and database management systems like Oracle and SQL Server.

  • Cloud Computing: Expertise in platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.

  • Project Management: Familiarity with Agile, Scrum, or other project management methodologies.

Certifications in technology/IT can significantly enhance your credentials in the Banking and Finance sector. Consider obtaining certifications such as:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

  •  Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Build a Strong Network

Networking is crucial in the IT contracting world. Join professional associations, attend industry conferences, and participate in online forums related to Banking and Finance.

LinkedIn is an excellent platform for connecting with industry professionals, recruiters, and potential clients. Building relationships with key players can lead to valuable opportunities and referrals.

Create a Professional Profile

As an IT contractor, your professional profile is your business card.

Ensure your resume, LinkedIn profile, and any personal websites or portfolios highlight your skills, experience, and certifications. Use specific examples and case studies to demonstrate your achievements and problem-solving ability – an ability Banking and Finance clients often look for!

Understand Contracting and Business Basics

Transitioning from a permanent role to contracting requires a solid understanding of the business aspects involved:

  • Setting up a Business: You might need to establish a limited company or operate in a different way, such as through an umbrella company or as a sole trader. It's important to understand the legal and tax implications of each structure to make an informed decision.

  • Insurance: Professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance are often essential. Connecting with trusted insurance providers who specialise in coverage for contractors can be beneficial and give peace of mind.

  • Contracts: Navigating contract negotiations, terms, and conditions can be complex. Consulting with a legal professional who specialises in freelance and contract working can help ensure you secure favourable terms.

  • Accounting and Taxation: Managing your finances and ensuring compliance with tax regulations is crucial. Engaging with experienced accountants who specialise in contractor finances can help you stay on top of your obligations.

And finally, delivering excellence

Securing a contract is just the beginning! To truly succeed as an IT contractor in Banking and Finance, you’ll need to consistently deliver high-quality work. Meet deadlines, stay within budget, and maintain excellent communication with your clients and recruiters. Building a reputation for reliability and expertise will lead to repeat business and referrals.

Becoming a Banking and Finance IT contractor is a rewarding career path that offers variety, flexibility, and the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects, which are invariably well-paid. By developing the right skills, gaining relevant experience, and understanding the nuances of contracting, you can carve out a successful niche in this dynamic industry.

Written by

Charlie Cox

SThree

Charlie Cox is the commercial director of SThree, which is a global STEM-specialist talent partner that connects sought-after specialists in life sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics with dynamic organisations across the world. Charlie has been in the staffing industry for 17 years, with most of that being in the contractor sector. He has global staffing experience, and a UK-specific focus having managed the SThree PLC strategy for off-payroll reform in the private sector.

 

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