Standard Chartered's new hires suggest banking is a better career than strategy consulting

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Standard Chartered's new hires suggest banking is a better career than strategy consulting

Standard Chartered is developing a thing for hiring senior consultants into strategy roles in Singapore. Earlier this year it poached Pierre Paoli from Boston Consulting as head of its strategic initiatives unit for commercial and institutional banking, while last October it took on Jeroen Steenbergen from Accenture as a director in its operational excellence team. Now Stan Chart has recruited IBM consultant Sushil Anand as head of computational and digital advisory for wealth management.

Stan Chart’s recruitment of consultants has been partly triggered by its restructuring drives, which have been ongoing in various guises since 2015 when Bill Winters became CEO. Most recently, in February, Stan Chart announced plans to trim $700m in costs in the next three years and cut back low-return operations in markets such as India, Indonesia and South Korea.

However, in Anand’s field – technology – Stan Chart’s business strategy is as much about investment as it is about cost savings. The bank spent $1.6bn on tech last year, up from $900m in 2015.  While spending on legacy tech systems flatlined during that time, costs within ‘strategic’ or ‘systems enhancement’ IT (emerging technology) trebled to $900m as Stan Chart invested in areas such as blockchain cross-border remittance and machine learning tools to enhance financial crime surveillance.

Anand had been with IBM since 2010, when he re-joined the firm as a managing consultant in its global center of competency. He was most recently a Singapore-based associate partner and cognitive and analytics delivery lead for the ASEAN region.

Anand’s new job sector, wealth management tech, is enjoying record levels of hiring in Singapore as rich millennial private clients demand round-the-clock investment management via their smartphones, say recruiters. Earlier this year, for example, Avik Bera joined Julius Baer in Singapore from tech consultancy Cognizant as an executive director for business transformation, focused on digital products. UBS and local firms DBS, UOB and Bank of Singapore also base some of their wealth-tech staff in Singapore.

As a rule, private banks aren’t recruiting for business-as-usual tech roles in Singapore. They want to hire senior business strategists like Anand and Bera, or developers to work on emerging-tech products. “Technologists are primarily using new tech such as machine learning, big data and AI to digitalise the wealth industry,” Shinjika Shukla, an associate director at recruiters Michael Page in Singapore, told us previously.

Anand began his career in 2000 with an initial four-year stint at IBM as a software engineer, according to his online profile. He then switched to tech consultancy, working as a business intelligence lead for Tata Consultancy Services from 2004 to 2007, and then as a senior consultant for SAS between 2007 and 2010.

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Image credit:  Paer Svensson, Getty

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