Too many students still don’t realise that investment banks now offer IT jobs focused on machine learning and other emerging technologies, says Tancy Tan, head of APAC digital operations at J.P. Morgan's corporate and investment banking (CIB).
Tan has made it her mission to educate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students about tech jobs in investment banking. Earlier this month she visited the National University of Singapore to speak in the engineering department, part of a series of campus events that J.P. Morgan is running in the Republic.
“The students there hadn’t heard much about investment banking technology jobs. Unlike retail banking tech, which they already use on their smart phones, the IBD industry feels remote,” says J.P. Morgan veteran Tan. “This is a challenge for the sector as there is already a limited pool of graduate STEM talent in Singapore.”
Campus visits by senior technologists are an important way to “demystify investment banking” for STEM students who currently have little interest in the industry. “Some students believe that we just have business-as-usual tech jobs and work on legacy systems. But the focus of my team is actually on applying emerging tech to transform the way we work,” says Tan.
Tan’s Singapore-based team is hiring both graduate and experienced candidates and tasking them with “driving digital transformation” across CIB in Asia operations, using technologies such as robotics, machine learning and chatbots.
“It’s the same technology as in retail banking; it’s just the clients who are different,” she says. “For example, we apply emerging technology across the whole lifecycle of client interaction – from pre-trade investment research, to algorithmic trading systems and post-trade settlements.”
J.P. Morgan employs about 3,000 people in Singapore, more than a third of whom work in technology. “Singapore is home to our leading-edge high-value tech jobs,” says Tan. “But not all these roles require coding skills. In my team, we want people who have a clear understanding of the powers of emerging technology and how they can be applied to help the bank and our clients.”
While Tan describes herself as “passionate” about emerging technology, she says it’s important not to favour one kind over another. “Our strategy is about taking a business problem and then finding the most suitable emerging technology to solve it, whether that happens to be robotics or something else. In my team you’ll need to work closely with other departments and with clients to understand their needs before you develop new products.”
Tan came to J.P. Morgan 12 years ago after spending her early career at Accenture. “I moved into banking because I wanted to work in an industry that’s at the heart of the global economy and the financial markets. I’ve always been interested in keeping up with market events and the news.”
Technologists who join Tan’s team don’t need to be financial experts from the outset, but they do need to develop a strong knowledge of the sector. “Regardless of your technical skills, you’ll only be successful here if you understand our business,” says Tan. “But if you like technology, there’s never been a better time to join the financial services sector because technology is increasingly the key differentiator between banks.”
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