Scott Marcar has a long history in banking technology. He was chief information officer at RBS’s corporate and institutional bank before he joined Deutsche in November 2014 and has worked in the industry for over two decades after starting as an intern at J.P. Morgan.
At Deutsche, Marcar’s remit is to ‘design, operate, and modernise the bank’s infrastructure to drive greater security, stability and cost efficiency.’ Seven months into the job, this is what Scott shared with us about technology careers in financial services.
What does an infrastructure technologist do?
“We run the core infrastructure and shared technology components across multiple divisions at Deutsche. We are responsible for supporting the technology on the trading floor, as well as for all the shared desktop and mobile applications used by staff across the bank. For example, things like desktop software, email, and messaging services.”
How many people do you have in the infrastructure team globally?
“If you look at all our internal and external technology staff – our vendors and contractors, it’s just short of 13,000. The overall technology organisation is more like 30,000 people. It’s a very important part of the bank.”
What are the big issues in infrastructure technology?
“One of the big issues is modernizing the bank’s core infrastructure. Most of the industry is in a very similar position. In the 1990s and early 2000s investment banks went through a period of rapid growth in which the focus was on getting the product to market. As a result, the industry ended up with very disparate infrastructure, disconnected application designs and huge complexity built into the way that banks are run.
The task now is to modernize and simplify core aspects of the business and the technology.”
Deutsche Bank recently announced a 10 year outsourcing deal with HP which will allow you to use their dedicated data centres and shift your applications to HP’s cloud based system. Is this the start of a trend?
“The deal is pioneering because it positions the Bank to buy infrastructure as a genuine utility, but with the enhanced security and controls needed to run a global bank. It also lays down the foundations for a digital future.”
Should infrastructure technologists in the UK be concerned about their roles being outsourced and offshored?
“No – if anything, the world is moving in the opposite direction. At DB we are actively pursuing a strategy to bring essential IP back inside the firm. The silver bullet of outsourcing work to vendors hasn’t proven as fruitful as people thought it would be and you’re therefore seeing us and others moving back towards a captive technology model where more is developed in house. At the end of the day, we’re here to build brilliant banking technology – we can buy in non-core things like messaging systems, but where you’re looking at technology that’s critical to our business it makes sense to develop that in-house.”
If more products are being developed in-house, will those developers be situated off-shore – in India, for example?
“Not necessarily. We’re big believers that proximity is important. Yes, we have technology centres in India and Moscow, but at the end of the day we’re a bank and are primary hubs are in places like Frankfurt, London and New York. There are some functions that it makes sense to do in a technology centre, but proximity will often drive greater efficiency.”
So, what’s the most interesting and challenging thing you’ve done this week?
“The really exciting thing right now is digital transformation. My group is looking at what the digital workplace of the future looks like. We’re looking at much tighter integration of the workplace with mobile phones – people don’t need to be so tethered to their desks and still be effective in their roles when they’re outside the office. We’re also looking at the way we interact with clients and the communication platforms we use.”