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Barclays' global head of FIG banking says fintechs need 88% fewer coders thanks to AI

Sabry Salman, Barclays' global head of financial institutions and fintech banking, has been in attendance at Money2020 Europe, a finance and technology conference in Amsterdam, and he has learned a few things about the future of fintech as a result.

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Most significantly, Salman suggests fintech firms will need fewer developers in the future. Significantly fewer.

A fintech that hired 40 coders a few years ago, would only need to hire 5 who "write smart code and use AI," says Salman. That's a decline of 88%. 

If he's right, the fintech jobs that been popular alternatives for developers leaving banking could be about to dry up at precisely the moment when banks, too, are looking to AI and automation to reduce their own costs. 

Major fintechs aren't necessarily supporting Salman's claim, for obvious reasons, but they're definitely experimenting with the technology. John Collison, founder of Stripe, said in a fireside chat last October that the payments fintech "uses and is rolling out more uses of LLMs in lots of parts of the product.” However, he said elsewhere that the fintech's implementation of AI is "bottoms up." This means that the company has been "get[ting] LLMs into the hands of everyone" and letting them find their own efficiency hacks. 

It's hardly a case of plug, play and lay (off), however; Collison said "one of the main inhibitors to serious business applications is the fact that they [LLMS] just sometimes make stuff up." That Stripe has been ramping up hiring recently indicates these issues have yet to be fully resolved.

Big banks aren't so awestruck by coders these days. UBS chief economist Paul Donovan called coding a "stranded asset" while Goldman Sachs' CIO Marco Argenti has suggested that prompt engineering languages (i.e. English) are what the youth should be studying. 

The incursion of AI could coincide with another major cultural shift for fintech; its finance bro metamorphosis. The days of sloppily dressed CEOs might be numbered, as Salman noted conference-goers had "switched wardrobes with some smart jackets (and finance bro gilets)."

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Reporter

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