The tide may be turning for banking technology jobs. After long years of increasing investment, there are growing signs that banks are subjecting their technology budgets to the sorts of vigilance applied to other areas. However one category of technology spend appears impervious to the scrutiny: cybersecurity.
When he spoke this week at Bernstein's strategy decision-makers conference, Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat said Citi spends a massive $8bn a year (around 20% of its operating budget) on technology and that this can be divided into three buckets: run the bank, grow the bank, protect the bank. The latter bucket comprises cybersecurity, said Corbat, and it's growing faster than the rest.
Corbat's not the only bank CEO to highlight cybersecurity as an area of growth and focus. In a separate presentation at the Bernstein conference, Gordon Smith, the CEO of JPMorgan's community bank, said JPMorgan has an $11.5bn technology budget which is divided into 'run the ship' and investing in the future. Spending on running the ship is down, said Smith, while the overall budget is up. - And the technology spending that's being prioritized pertains to regulatory issues.
Daniel Pinto previously said JPMorgan's corporate and investment bank is investing more in cyber at this year's investor day. And James Gorman said Morgan Stanley has "made a major push with our cyber-defence," when he presented the bank's first quarter results.
As banks look to get a grip on technology spending, the implication is that cybersecurity will escape the gravitational pull of cost cutting in much the same way as compliance spending was immune to cuts post-2008. - And as with compliance after the financial crisis, it probably helps that regulators are pushing for banks to increase spending in the area.
Vice presidents working in cybersecurity jobs in banks in London can earn around £110k ($138k) but the jobs aren't always that well paid or glamorous.
While some cybersecurity specialists work in London or New York, plenty of others work in lower cost 'remote locations.' - Goldman Sachs, for example, has elements of its SECURITY INCIDENT RESPONSE TEAM (SIRT) which deals with threat, risk analysis and data science in Dallas and Bangalore, and counts former cyber-intelligence specialists for the US army among its team. Bank of America has security engineers working on 'cyber resilience' outside London in Camberley.
Even so, if you want a long career in banking technology then cybersecurity may be a good bet as banks look to cut costs.
Somewhat uniquely, Corbat didn't mention technology cost-cutting this week - but he did say that Citi's huge technology spending is starting to deliver cost savings for the rest of the bank, with an expected $500m to $500m of net savings expected to come through this year.
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