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Banks need rock star coders to survive

I was having a debate the other day with two bank CEOs.

One runs a direct bank that is going digital and the other runs a branch based bank that is investing in digital.

At one point in the conversation, we got into a discussion about coders and, in a surprisingly frank dialogue, both CEOs said that coders are the most critical resource for their bank today.

Coders make the difference.

That's why Capital One has recently poached Google’s Head of Advanced Technology and Projects Dan Makoski, whilst JPMorgan has been hiring a whole host of Silicon Valley talent:

  • Tim Parsey – Formerly a senior vice president of design for Yahoo, Parsey, who is based in San Francisco, joined the bank five months ago. He’s head of digital customer experience.
  • Abhijit Bose - Bose joined JPMorgan last month as head of the firm’s data intelligence. He’s tasked with helping the firm better use customer information and habits to personalize their experiences on digital platforms like its banking apps. He was part of the founding team who helped develop Google+ (a Facebook-like social media application).
  • Gavin Michael– A Ph.D. in computer science, Michael joined  JPMorgan last year to run the bank’s digital focus on consumer and community banking.
  • Claudia Richter –Based in San Francisco, Richter joined the bank a little over a year ago from a Silicon Valley startup called Nexxo Financial, focused on digital payment integration. Richter is responsible for “monitoring and measuring the performance of Chase’s digital assets based on feedback and customer data.” She also has banking experience from Visa and Accenture.
  •  Josh Klenert –Also located in San Francisco, Klenert reports to Parsey. He is involved in design—specifically, ensuring that digital applications aesthetically work across different web and mobile devices. He joined last month from the Huffington Post.

As Jamie Dimon puts it:  

“We move $10 trillion a day.  We’re one of the largest payments systems in the world. We’re going to have competition from Google and Facebook and somebody else … When I go to Silicon Valley… they all want to eat our lunch. Every single one of them is going to try.”

That's why, as will.i.am said recently, “coders are the new rock stars”.  Here’s Will’s take on the world:

 “I think people that make apps are artists. I think that people who write code for Facebook, that’s the new Rolling Stones. Think about the Rolling Stones and the music groups of the past, they filled up stadiums. The Beatles filled up stadiums. If you take the Beatles’ songs and called them software played on hardware, that’s Facebook. Facebook is software that you play and experience on hardware. So Mark Zuckerberg, to me he ain’t nothing but freakin’ John Lennon. Jack Dorsey, he ain’t nothing but Mick Jagger. Just a whole different level, man. Just bigger.”

That’s dope, but true.

Coders are the new rock stars.

They make the difference between a mundane and rocking digital service.

It’s interesting that some bank folks recognise this as I had never heard such a conversation between banking people before.

Coders are the criticality in the future bank.

They will differentiate the bank’s service between average and amazing.

They will deliver the difference between an engaging user experience and a brilliant experience.

You can see this today by how some coders become superstars overnight.

Mark Zuckerberg is a hero to many; as is Jack Dorsey; but what about Jan Koum, Evan Speigel, Sean Rad or Kevin Systrom?

Never heard of them?

They’re the founders of Whatsapp, Snapchat, Tinder and Instagram respectively.

Also rock stars and billionaires.

That’s what happens with a good coder – they can transform fortunes overnight.

Take the story about Tinder.

Two years old and yet the founders are made for life and act like some sort of rock star frat boy band (just look at the reports of sexism around this).

So if banks are going digital and they need reformation, the likelihood is that we will see a few rock star bankers who are pure coders in the not too distant future.

Or maybe we’re seeing them already.


Picture courtesy of Coindesk 



About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here…

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