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Battle of the Brains - How banks are fighting the channel for the best tech talent

James Henderson | July 7, 2017
Such as Fintech and InsurTech.


First Maile Carnegie of Google to ANZ, then Gerard Florian of Dimension Data followed suit, and finally Pip Marlow of Microsoft to Suncorp.

Three examples of high-profile - and high-ranking - executives being lured by the emerging technology industries such as FinTech and InsurTech.

And with 2017 already at the halfway point, momentum continues to gather as large finance and insurance organisations tap the brain power of technology’s leading experts to drive digital strategies across Australia and New Zealand.

While job changes are rife in the local channel, the new shoulder tap is from the sectors embracing seismic transformation agendas, adding weight to the theory that “every company is a technology company”.

As predicted by ARN in January 2017, in a region challenged by an ongoing skills shortage, tech’s brightest minds continue to be pursued by an unrelenting swarm of IT recruitment firms.

With three high-profile departures dominating the headlines in 2016, 2017 will see non-traditional tech industries become even more aggressive in pursuing top tech talent.

So much so that newly created roles will be offered to sweeten the deal.

Take HSBC for example. The banking giant is working hard to hire the best digital staff away from companies like Google, and is embarking on a top-down education programme to deal with the threats and opportunities technology brings to the industry.

Because the big banks are currently locked in an arms race with the biggest technology companies in the world to find the best tech talent.

At SAP's Financial Services Forum in London, Mark Adams, head of human resources at HSBC UK, explained how the bank has been running training for the C-suite to better embrace the "challenges and opportunities disruption brings".

Adams spoke about the importance of building a more tech-literate culture at the bank, starting with a training programme for executives and managers the bank has been running for a year or so with the Singularity University.

HSBC is also changing the way it hires top executives.

"It is not enough to look at a CV and say they are good because they have experience doing things in a traditional way," he said.

"You want to challenge yourself and ask how good they are at understanding the opportunities and threats and the concepts of open banking that are coming, and that is very different from three years ago."

HSBC has been busy building a dedicated digital team mobile and internet banking, primarily under the leadership of ex-Googler Josh Bottomley since 2013.

Adams said that this now-700-strong team is made up of "people who wanted to be the digital experts within the bank, who understand customer journeys and technology. They aren't necessarily the sort of people we traditional employed".


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