Standard Chartered's expanding Hong Kong tech team just made a C-level hire

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Standard Chartered Bank in Central district

If you want to work in a technology role at arguably the most expansionist team at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong, you now need to know this man: Andrew Farmer.

Farmer has just joined Stan Chart as chief information officer of the new virtual bank that it has applied to set up in Hong Kong. He was previously chief information officer, international financial services, at Commonwealth Bank in Hong Kong, a role he held since 2015.

As we’ve previously reported, the virtual bank (known internally as Project Dragon) has been hiring aggressively since August last year when Stan Chart “set up a new entity” for the unit and appointed Deniz Güven as its chief executive officer. Güven, who joined Stan Chart in May 2017 as global head of design and client experience for retail banking, is leading a team “to build a new banking model”, according to an August statement from the bank.

Other than Farmer, the virtual bank’s new recruits include Chris Ashe, who joined from UK-based Tandem Money as head of engineering. Stan Chart is hiring across the board to make sure it can hit the ground running – not just in terms of building the platform, but also to ensure it complies with the regulatory regime, and can market the digital bank to new customers. Recent vacancies include a director of business compliance, a senior manager of regulatory reporting, and a senior finance systems analyst.

In a major shakeup of Hong Kong’s much-maligned retail banking sector, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is granting licences to virtual banks – which operate purely online and don’t have a physical branch network – for the first time. Some 30 firms, including Stan Chart, submitted applications at the end of August, but about 10 of these were rejected. HKMA has shortlisted about a third of the remaining applications of the remaining applications for the next stage of assessment. The regulator aims to start granting virtual banking licenses by the end of this quarter.

Stan Chart is believed to be the only mainstream bank to have applied for a stand-alone licence (other applicants include WeLab and HKT). Stan Chart’s bench strength – both new recruits and internal transferees – is expected to stand it in good stead in the HKMA’s eyes, says a source with knowledge of Hong Kong virtual banking.

Recruiters expect high interest from candidates, especially technology professionals, for jobs at virtual banks. “Instead of working for a slow-moving Hong Kong retail bank, you’ll be going into a role which is being built from scratch under an exciting new regime,” says Warwick Pearmund, associate director of emerging technologies at Pure Search.

New Stan Chart recruit Farmer started his career as a management consultant at Accenture in 1997, where he worked for 12 years before joining BP for a six-year stint as a director in enterprise systems.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com

Image credit: Getty

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