Predictions about the automation of Wall Street have become a fixture of fintech coverage. Finance execs are usually at pains to stress that this won't lead to mass job losses, but in a recent interview, Cathy Bessant, COO and CTO of Bank of America, sounded a warning for existing employees.
It should come as no surprise that learning the skills of coding might be a challenge for a finance professional who has been in the industry since the days of voice trading over the phone. But Bessant's comments beg another question: why wouldn't this upheaval reach the C-suite? If the technology is different, and the junior and mid-levels are replaced by software and coders, wouldn't it also make sense that C-levels would have a different profile?
To be sure, the regulatory and balance sheet burdens that big banks face mean that the business transformation will likely lag the technological capabilities. But as tech takes greater prominence in operations, it could happen that Wall Street banks will begin eyeing Silicon Valley for CEO candidates. This would be a bold statement of intent, but in an industry whose fundamentals are rapidly changing, such big thinking could be exactly what's needed.
She added that education in tech needs to start early on for folks in finance. Still, Bloomberg reported that Bessant is "skeptical that on-the-job training will be enough." She told Bloomberg: “The kind of skills that we’ll need have to be taught beginning at a much earlier age. Whether you can train the same worker at the same time you’re changing their job remains to be seen.”