Improving Efficiency Tops the Finance IT Agenda in 2009

According to Colt’s latest poll of leading investment banks, stock exchanges and market data providers in the UK, improving efficiency is the key priority for Finance IT professionals this year.

When asked about their IT priorities for 2009, 100% of the respondents selected improving IT efficiency as a critical objective. Cutting costs, and security and regulatory compliance were also critical for 83% of respondents, whilst 75% said that flexible and mobile working was important. The poll was conducted at Colt’s latest Finance customer event last week.

In response to the need to drive IT efficiencies, data centre consolidation and virtualising IT infrastructure emerged as the most important technology investments for the respondents, selected as a key priority by 92% and 83% respectively. Three quarters of the respondents also expect utility and cloud computing to be important in the next two years. Though green IT is on the corporate agenda, for over 80% of the respondents it will be a less important objective in 2009.

With the record financial losses in the UK Finance sector, the poll found that IT budgets are staying flat with 42% of respondents saying budgets are on a par with 2008. When looking ahead to 2010, two thirds (67%) of the respondents expect their budgets for 2009 and 2010 to be identical.

”The banking sector is clearly at a crossroads, with fundamental changes likely in the next year,” said Terry Quigley, head of Colt’s Financial Services team. “Our latest customer poll clearly shows that organisations will be focusing solidly on ways to optimise their current ICT, as well as using ICT to streamline their processes and ways of working. Interestingly, three quarters of the respondents said they are confident that ICT can have a medium or significant impact in helping their organisation weather the recession. Banks need to have a flexible and low cost infrastructure in place to address market changes, and technologies such as virtualisation and utility computing can have a major impact in making this happen.”

Chris Skinner, Chairman of The Financial Services Club, added, “in the current climate, the fact that almost half of banks have kept IT budgets static is a reflection of the importance of technology in capital markets. With a wave of new regulations likely to be deployed from the G20, along with individual countries and regions making banks and clearing systems be more compliant with requirements for transparency, now is the time to ensure infrastructures, systems and services are capable for fast cycle adaptation to these forces of change.”