The hottest banking technologists at J.P. Morgan don't come from banking

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Ever-late to the tech party, banks have only just begun adopting cloud technology - and now they're making up for lost time.

Enterprise-level cloud computing technologies have existed for well over a decade, but risk averse banks gave them a wide berth. - Until now. Led by JPMorgan, several are now migrating some of their non-core services to the private and public cloud. Core services will surely come next.

CEO Jamie Dimon allocated two pages of his most recent shareholder letter to talking about the importance of the cloud, noting that the bank was “a little slow” in adopting cloud computing, but “we are now full-speed ahead.”

Last year, JPM opened an engineering hub in Seattle dedicated to cloud security developers. The firm told Business Insider that it hired 50 cloud-focused engineers in Seattle in 2018 and that it plans to bring on another 50 by the end of 2019.

Why Seattle? That’s where Amazon and Microsoft – two of the three biggest third-party cloud providers – are located. J.P. Morgan has partnered with both companies on its cloud initiatives, yet also planted itself in their backyards in a thinly veiled effort to poach engineers with the right experience.

Based on its hires so far, what JPM really wants is people with experience of working for third-party providers, specifically Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Only two of the recent Seattle hires have experience working at a bank, and even they spent most of their career at software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, including at the aforementioned three tech firms. 

Cloud hiring by banks is only likely to increase. Michael Steliaros, Goldman Sachs’ Global Head of Quantitative Execution Services, says Cloud is the most exciting innovation of the moment. And a study published in March found that 60% of bank technologists believe more than half of their workload would be housed in the public cloud within the next three years. - Up from 20% currently.

For the moment, J.P. Morgan currently employs more cloud-focused engineers than any of the big U.S. investment banks. Others are working hard to catch up. Citi is currently advertising 142 jobs within its tech division that mention the cloud. Bank of America and J.P. Morgan have 106 and 101 similar openings, respectively, within their engineering departments. That compares to just 61 at J.P. Morgan, nearly half of which are located in Seattle. Only Morgan Stanley (36) has fewer cloud-focused engineering openings among the big five U.S. banks.

Big banks are going with the big providers. Goldman Sachs' current cloud vacancies mention Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. Morgan Stanley cites Azure. Bank of America wants expertise in AWS, Azure and/or Google.

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