With all the gloom around shrinking technology budgets in the financial sector, the news that trading firms are likely to at least keep IT spend in line with last year is a surprising bit of good news. Even more improbably, some areas may actually be growing.

Tech firms Sybase and Financial Insights took in responses from 200 investment banks, broker-dealers, fund managers and hedge funds and found that the majority planned to keep IT spend on a par with last year.

The old favorites, risk and compliance, are expected to see an increase in technology spending this year. Other areas are also set to see a slight up-tick in IT investment - market risk, security and fraud management, enterprise SOA, server virtualization, network management, collaboration technologies and CRM.

Sean O'Dowd, capital markets senior analyst at Financial Insights, says: "While capital markets firms are confronted with an extremely difficult market environment, the study's evidence suggests that they are diligently working to position themselves for future success."

However, while this is good news and gives you an idea of at least some areas where there could be job opportunities going forward, sadly recruitment is not on the agenda yet.

The one area where firms are pulling back is hiring staff.

-- Paul Clarke