IT Professionalism in the financial services industry

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9 December 2011
Craig Beattie
Before working in insurance I worked in other sectors where it was common to quote the number of certified or accredited engineers working on a project. Usually these were mixed discipline projects involving mechanical, electrical and software engineers, but having chartered engineer status was an advantage regardless of discipline. Also any relevant certifications were highly sought after too. My experience of the UK financial services industry is that such accreditations, certifications and recognition at a professional level are sought after only at an operations level. Here ITIL certification and relevant vendor certifications are king and rightly so. Chartered status is gaining some ground but is less well regarded in financial services than in other industries. In the developer, architect and IT strategy community there is much less clarity on what certifications, skills and professional status really means. I personally feel that these disciplines are less well defined and harder to examine against. Not to say that they are more important than the other disciplines, but perhaps they are less well understood. ITIL has something to offer in the IT strategy space, TOGAF is of use to architects of a variety of disciplines and there are various platform and vendor specific certifications that could help across all the disciplines. There must of course be balance. Certification schemes and membership of professional organisations that come at a cost to the industry must bring clear value. I think that overall IT professionals in the insurance industry that I speak with are naturally pragmatic and cost sensitive. Now that the role of the financial services industry in the financial crisis and the ongoing Euro crisis is bringing a spotlight on the industry, perhaps there is value in all the supporting disciplines in reflecting on what professionalism means, what is IT professionalism, how it can be nurtured, measured, grown and how it can contribute to the industry we support.

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