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A Recruiter’s View: On FPGAs, Big Data And Women

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Three very interesting features have emerged in fintech recruitment in the first trimester of 2013. The on off nature of FPGA development has led to cluster hiring in the space, big data has taken strides forward and there has been a noticeable improvement in diversity as companies take steps to add more women to their teams.

Suspicion continues around FPGA. The debate continues around expense vs the potential gain. FPGA, in particular, saw a ‘re-birth’ in April with an increase in demand for professionals in the area. The latter part of 2012 saw FPGA very much as the mot du jour and the clamour arguably hushed through February and March. Recent months have, however, seen confidence return and the argument is that the classic circling has existed as companies procrastinate and observe before fully committing to innovative technology. We expect another boom in FPGA requirements as this wave of confidence swells.

Significant research is being invested in to high speed hardware replacing CPU for HFT strategies; FPGA technology is still being tested and tried as it’s obvious fault is that it is hard to edit once created, reducing its power for strategies that need to change with market patterns. There are some promising trials being run with a combination of software on circuit board style technologies incorporating FPGA hardware and software but excluding lag time or ‘jitter’ time in processing through a standard CPU.  We expect this hot and cold trend to continue this year.

The noise around big data is getting louder. The advantages of big data are clear and recent reports prove that business now sees making sense of big data a core priority. The only question remains is how this is used. Big data may be on many peoples’ lips but the confidence in knowing what to do with the data and the ability to use it to turn it into insight and action remains unclear for many.

A Capgemini report revealed that nine out of 10 business leaders now viewed data as the fourth factor of production, as valuable as land, labour and capital. Effective use of big data saw performance improvements of up to 26% within companies leading to 41% performance improvements over the next three years, the same report suggested. Big data has seen itself thrown to the front of the importance queue primarily due to the new regulatory and compliance requirements on governance and risk reporting along with the need for greater granularity to feed automated trading systems throughout the day. The benefits of truly exceptional data scientists have never been clearer. The only issue remains the competition in finding people of this talent.

In similarly high demand is diversity in hiring. Women in financial technology remains a key talking point. The industry is unmistakably dominated by male technologists but there has been a growing trend of breakthroughs for women in technology. This year, Harrington Starr’s placement percentage shows 15% of all placements being women, though this spikes dramatically in April and May starters, with the figure rising to just under 28%. Keeping the split at this ratio will prove a challenge, but one we are determined to champion with the appetite strong to blend and diversify the traditional hiring models of many companies.

With technology and business moving ever closer, the attraction of technology is increasing in the female demographic and this can be seen with a growing trend of placements in the area. Companies still need to do more to bring this to the agenda, more women are needed at the top table in fintech businesses and more needs to be done to move away from the traditional hiring criteria in the industry. This will be a significantly growing trend and increasingly important in hiring agendas and talent pipelines in trading technology teams.

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