It's no secret that banks are in battle with large technology firms for talent, but both Goldman Sachs and HSBC have just managed to poach senior technologists who have worked for Facebook and AOL for some of their most important business areas.
Michael Cerda, previously head of media products at Facebook who has been working as chief experience officer at Live Nation for the past 11 months, has just joined Goldman Sachs' New York office as a managing director and head of product for its Marcus retail operation. Meanwhile, HSBC has a new chief technology officer for its digital bank in Phil Cheetham, who joined its London operations earlier this month after two and half years as VP of engineering at AOL in San Francisco.
Marcus is Goldman Sachs' online retail lending platform launched in October last year and is likely to be an increasingly important division for the bank. Goldman ventured into a technology-focused retail bank at a time when traditional lenders are being bombarded by competition from small fintech start-ups. But Marty Chavez, Goldman Sachs' chief information officer turned CFO, has said that Marcus is a 'fintech start-up' that will embrace open source technology, APIs and cloud computing.
Marcus - which has around 200 employees - is expected to generate returns in the "high teens" according to Harit Talwar, head of Marcus speaking at a conference in November. Cerda's appointment is the second senior technology appointment at Marcus this month. It has also promoted Boe Hartman to head of consumer and commercial banking technology and chief information officer of GS Bank USA.
Goldman is hiring for a few positions related to Marcus in New York - notably a VP of product, senior product manager and product manager as well as quantitative research strats and user experience designers. Not all of these are not typical Goldman Sachs recruits, so it's likely that it will also have to look outside banking for some of the roles. Its customer service team, based out of Salt Lake City, is also growing.
Meanwhile, Cheetham's role at HSBC is his first in the financial sector. He has worked in various senior roles at AOL for past five years including head of technology for the UK and head of advertising solutions for Europe and was group CTO at Sentaca Communications before this.
HSBC is in the midst of transforming its retail bank into a fully digital platform, but it's been not been quick in doing so. Darryl West, its chief information officer admitted that the bank has been slow to adapt new technology, but suggested this was changing: "We’re going to restructure the cost base of the bank by digitising everything. We are on a mission to take every customer interaction and every process of the bank and digitise the whole thing," he said in September.
HSBC has been building out its digital team and, we understand, a lot of the new hires have come from outside of banking. Part of the complication for HSBC is that it's trying to ensure that all of its new products are rolled out globally, and this makes the sign off process for new products an much slower process than UK-focused banks like Barclays or Royal Bank of Scotland.
HSBC's team is big. It has around 8,000 people working across eight locations - largely London, Pune and Hong Kong - in its HSBC Digital Solutions division launched in July last year. Right now, the biggest role it's hiring for is a global head of infrastructure for its retail banking and wealth management divisions.
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