Customers are placing more and more faith in digital tools to manage all aspects of their lives, including their money. As such, financial services companies are increasingly becoming tech companies.
Multinational investment banking and financial services company JPMorgan Chase invests $12 billion a year in technology, of which $4 billion is dedicated to Chase Bank, the firm’s consumer and commercial banking business. Not many companies, regardless of the industry, are able to work with that sort of scale, says Gill Haus, CIO of consumer and community bank (CCB) at JPMorgan Chase.
“Technology isn’t an afterthought at Chase, we use all the latest technologies – machine learning, artificial intelligence, microservices, mobile, cloud – at scale,” Haus tells ZDNet. “It permeates everything across the bank.”
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Chase currently serves more than 60 million households and has nearly 58 million digitally active customers, who rely on the technology the bank builds to manage their finances.
As of Q3 2021, the bank has over 44 million active mobile users – an increase of 10% compared to the same period last year – and in September, 75% of total payment transactions were completed digitally.
Needless to say, there is an incredible demand for developers and other software and IT professionals in banking, says Haus – and the prospects are good. “Frankly, the sky is the limit as far as where technologists can take their careers within this industry,” he adds.
“We are actively hiring technologists with a broad range of skillsets across multiple disciplines. Chances are that if you have a specific skillset, we are hiring for it – whether that be in engineering or specializations like cloud, ML or AI.”
The pandemic taught JPMorgan Chase a lot about flexibility. While Haus says the events of the past two years have not “materially altered” the organization’s digital roadmap, they have – as is the case with most businesses – accelerated it.
For one, the pandemic forced JPMorgan Chase to be more agile – essential for allowing businesses to flex quickly to new customer demands and market environments: “We’ve shifted from being a project-based organization to a product-based organization, helping us to dramatically speed up our ability to help our customers. Today, our product, design and technology teams are joined at the hip, which has improved collaboration and stimulates innovation.”
Efforts are also underway to modernize the company’s infrastructure, which should allow it to deploy new technologies more quickly both for customers and the business itself. “Through tech, we are protecting our customers from fraud, helping them to reach their financial goals, making it easier for our branch and customer service employees to help our customers and more,” says Haus.
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JPMorgan Chase runs a number of programmes designed to help tech workers’ personal and professional development. The organization places an emphasis on career mobility, allowing employees to move across teams or business units and work on different products, learning new skills and building on existing ones in the process.
It also runs Ignite, an initiative that supports grassroots ‘Communities of Practice’. These offer a non-hierarchical space where some 15,000 technologists come together to learn, build new networks and “bridge the gap between technology and business functions.”
This sort of investment in lifelong learning is crucial to retaining tech talent amid an increasingly fierce hiring marketplace.
According to a study by TalentLMS and Workable in September 2021, 91% of US tech workers want more training opportunities from their employers, while 72% of tech workers are thinking of quitting their job in the next 12 months.
Beyond investing and training in staff, Haus says it’s important employers give employees opportunities to lead and make decisions on their own if they hope to keep them motivated and engaged: “Allow your teams to try, fail, and learn from these moments so they can evolve professionally. Employees who feel empowered to take the lead are more likely to stay with your organization.”
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Supporting junior staff by engaging with them and keeping them in the loop about executive decision-making also benefits the wider organization by “helping to break down groupthink and exposing both junior and senior employees to new perspectives,” says Haus.
“These experiences also help junior employees understand the larger objectives driving their day-to-day work.”
Another piece of advice Haus offers technology professionals – whether they’re just starting out in their careers or veterans with decades of experience – is to take it upon themselves to learn new and old technologies alike.
“Many companies are undergoing broad transformation, and while knowledge of the latest tech is key, you’ll fare better if you also understand some of the legacy technologies that many companies still use,” he says.
“By demonstrating intellectual curiosity, you’ll set yourself apart and boost your marketability as a technologist.”
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