A CIO survival list for 2013


What a year!

Wall Street slashed its workforce, brokerages folded before our eyes, Nasdaq screwed up a once-in-a-lifetime IPO with Facebook and Knight Capital unleashed an algorithm that went -- what's the best word? Rogue? -- oh, absolutely haywire.

FierceFinanceIT is taking a week off between Christmas and New Year's, and what better time to think about your career in financial services? After you've taken the batteries out of the smoke detector for your kid's new RC helicopter and endured your father-in-law's endless theory about the Fiscal Cliff, it's the perfect time to reflect, take stock and prepare for the coming year. What will 2013 bring and are you ready for what can happen?

Whether you're the top dog chief Information officer in your investment firm, a CTO or a senior technologist, you are not immune to the realities of working on Wall Street. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Update your resume. Yeah, yeah, yeah - this is Career Advice 101, but when was the last time you updated your CV? If your last accomplishment was "helped my bank prepare for Y2K and install the latest update of Netscape Navigator" you need to add the last decade, pal.

Call a headhunter? See above.

Time to hang your own shingle? It might be time to consider consulting. If your investment firm is looking to cut a few more heads perhaps you need to think outside your comfort zone. Working for yourself or for a far smaller firm, say a hedge fund or a boutique investment firm, might be the key to your future.

Pick your projects wisely. BYOD*? Microwave connectivity? Sure, these are bright shiny new technologies but does your firm really need them? Wall Street is using cloud computing here and there but get out a sheet of paper and make a list of  what your traders really need. What new technology will deliver a competitive advantage? Maybe an iPad version of your OMS?

Brace for layoffs. It's a sad fact that it's been a bloodbath of the last few years but there are more layoffs coming. If you're at the top of the hill you need to make a short mental list of the five to 25 staffers who you might have to let go. This is never fun - Bill has a daughter is getting her doctorate in documentary filmmaking and Melanie is looking at buying her first house in Croton-on-Hudson - but we are still in the midst of a realignment when firms have to make sure that what they cut is fat and not muscle.

Slash those servers. It's the eternal riddle for technologists: can you add more power while cutting the actual number of servers? Oh, and those servers had better be green.

Time to clean up the back office. Admit it, it's a mess. Your investment firm still has that server running OS/2 and there's a box that everyone on your team is afraid to unplug. And don't get me started on your market data. Clean it up!

Be a mentor. Look: You might be the next to go but you can still have an impact on the people who work alongside you. We've all had one person in our lives -- a teacher, a relative or a former boss -- who gave us that piece of advice that you remember to this day. And it doesn't have to be about work; we look for leaders in how they conduct their personal lives, make time for people in need and manage to be a decent person in a business known for the friendliness of a shark tank.

These are a few things you might want to think about on your time off. Don't stress over this list -- it's a holiday after all and there's nothing worse than worrying about work when your family wants you to have some fun. But with a little planning and a to-do list, you might be able to handle whatever the new year brings you.

Happy holidays, one and all.

Phil Albinus
Editor, FierceFinanceIT

* Bring your own device - come on, people!

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