Security holds the key in financial services

In an increasingly digital world, organisations are generating and collecting ever-greater volumes of data relevant to their business activities. The information they obtain - whether it relates to customers, operational processes, competitors or their industry sector as a whole - can be used to draw insight and inform decision-making in the boardroom.

Businesses not only have to collect and analyse this data, but they need IT security to safeguard data from online threats. In many instances this data will be sensitive, either because it relates to specific individuals, or the intelligence it provides confers a potential commercial advantage.

Either way, it is important to ensure the security and confidentiality of information. Businesses that fail to safeguard their IT systems - leaving them exposed to breaches and cyber attacks - face the prospect of data loss, and this can have far-reaching consequences.

As well as fines and other sanctions from industry regulators, reputational damage is possible. This can make it difficult for a business to carry on trading successfully in the long term. Once a company becomes associated with a data breach or hack, customers may lose confidence in it and opt to take their businesses elsewhere.

Investing in cybersecurity

Organisations recognise the importance of safeguarding data, both in order to comply with regulations, and to defend their commercial position. As such, many are making cybersecurity a top investment priority - eager to ensure the growing volumes of data they are collecting remain safely under lock and key.

Research conducted by Robert Half reveals that financial services businesses are particularly eager to ensure the security of their data. In many respects, City firms are still trying to restore their reputations after the credit crunch and ensuing banking crisis, and can ill-afford any further negative press. The last thing they want is to become embroiled in a media scandal due to inadequate data security provisions.

When questioned about their spending plans for 2014, 52% of chief financial officers (CFOs) said they intend to increase their investment on cybersecurity, in a bid to add further defences for their systems and data. This was the top spending priority for this year, ahead of data analytics and mining (43%), regulatory reform (39%), IT investments to enable growth (39 per cent), digital technologies (30%) and product development (13%).

The Robert Half study revealed that many CFOs are also planning additional hires as they look to boost their security defences. Some 39% of finance leaders said they were seeking permanent security staff, making this the second-biggest recruitment priority after regulatory reform (56%).

Salaries rising in security roles

With many employers looking to hire cybersecurity specialists, it is inevitable that salaries are on the rise in this segment of the market. Organisations are competing to hire the top talent, meaning candidates are able to negotiate more attractive remuneration packages with prospective employers.

According to the Robert Half Salary Guide for Financial Services, the average salary paid to information security managers working in the sector will be between £75,250 and £105,750, up 1.7% on last year. Professionals working in London can typically expect to earn around a third more than anywhere else in the UK - this applies to all roles in financial services and cybersecurity.

The earnings bracket for information security officers is expected to be £52,000-£77,500 (up 1.2 %), while security network engineers working in financial services should command between £56,750 and £73,500 (up 3.2 per cent). Security network administrators and security systems administrators are expected to see salary inflation of 0.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively, to between £49,750 and £67,250, and £53,250 and £69,500.

Average earnings for information risk managers and information risk analysts working in financial services are also set to soar, reflecting the importance employers are placing on keeping data secure. On average, managers should see pay rise by 3.5% to between £72,250 and £89,250, while analysts can expect 3.9% inflation to between £40,000 and £72,250.