Bonuses for hedge fund IT staff have doubled in a year, in spite of the initial impact felt from the economic crisis.

Hedge fund IT staff can now expect 50 percent-plus bonuses, which is around double the 25–30 percent they received last year, according to data compiled by a recruitment firm.

ReThink Recruitment, the business and technology staffing company, revealed the hefty bonuses paid. The company said base salaries are rising 15 percent, even though inflation currently stands at around three percent.

According to ReThink, software developers with experience in algorithmic trading platforms – a form of automated high volume trading – can now expect the high bonuses. These platforms are playing an increasingly important role in trading globally, with stock exchanges investing heavily to ensure their own networks meet the demand.

Qualified IT staff can command a base salary of £100,000–£120,000 on average, a rise of 15 percent from last year. In addition, contractors can now typically earn approximately £750 per day, compared to around £600 per day at the start of the year.   

Fhamid Malik, head of financial services at ReThink Recruitment, said: “Renewed investor confidence has prompted a surge in business volumes. Funds are now locked in an arms race for the best systems to steal an edge on competitors.”

Malik said: “This has fuelled demand for IT staff, as funds look for the latest innovative platforms to mitigate risk and manage the market impact of trades. The last six months have also witnessed the return of guaranteed bonuses into contracts, which almost completely disappeared during the credit crunch.

For IT staff with the right skills, it was now an "ideal time" to secure a good pay contract, he said.

ReThink adds that a number of funds are also looking at "greenfield" builds, or entirely new software to replace off-the-shelf IT systems. “These funds are locked in a perpetual war to produce the fastest and most accurate trading platforms," Malik said. "Employers are now willing to pay a premium of around 20 percent for senior IT staff that have successfully developed and implemented bespoke trading systems before.”

According to the latest Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG, the demand for permanent IT staff in September was ahead of the traditionally quiet August, and ahead of demand for the same period in 2009. For temporary and contract IT staff, September demand was marginally ahead of that in August, but was down on September 2009.

The permanent IT jobs still in relatively high demand, said the Report on Jobs, are enterprise software sales, IT security sales, cloud computing sales, net developers, and business analysts. On the temporary side it was net developers and business analysts.