To Source Top Tech Graduates, Banks Turn to Mind Reading

First you have to let banks read your mind if you want to work there.

To measure brain activity and attention spans, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has been attaching sensors to the heads of potential candidates at career fairs and on university campuses as part of its graduate hiring scheme.

While being monitored, students are played a series of images and videos for a few minutes. A description of their personality type, followed by an area of the bank’s business they might be suited to is obtained depending on how they react.

“We are using gamification and online simulation” to create experiences for graduates to be assessed from, RBS ‎Chief Information Officer Patrick Eltridge said in an interview, “but also give them valuable feedback.”

Due to the growing cyber-threat from state-funded hackers to rogue teenagers, the changing demographic of their customers and the increasing need-for-speed from institutional trading to mobile banking, banks face an unprecedented demand to hire talented technology employees.

Lenders are keen to show new hires they are technology companies first, and banks second to convince graduates that working for a bank might be better than joining a startup.

Over the past two years, Deutsche Bank AG has doubled the size of its technology graduate pool “The majority of the technology graduates we want to bring in are people with a focus on software engineering,” said Scott Marcar, Deutsche Bank’s IT boss in London.

The number of technology staff it was hiring has been started to be ramped up by JPMorgan Chase & Co. since last year. With roughly a third targeted at new investments and with a budget covering developer salaries to cybersecurity, the U.S. lender already spends $9 billion a year on technology. Bank of America Corp. has an annual budget of $3 billion for new technology projects.

“There’s definitely a challenge in the sector that’s born out of historical reputation and some of the legacy impact from the global financial crisis,” said Paul Aldrich, head of financial services technology at search firm Odgers Berndtson.

“We tend to find it easier to attract and retain people than the bigger banks,” said Tom Blomfield, a 31-year technologist who secured a license from the Bank of England for Monzo Bank Ltd.earlier this year. “People want to work on really hard problems from scratch with other talented people, rather than be small fish in a big pond, maintaining software that’s been there for 30 years.”

Monzo also publishes its technical plans on the internet, which leads to developers seeking to join the firm, according to Blomfield.

As lenders grapple with new technology, those with more specialist skills — such as machine learning and cybersecurity experts are being looked tou for by banks.

While banks including JPMorgan, Credit Suisse Group AG and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. have been luring executives from tech companies such as IBM Corp., RBS takes its executives on regular trips to Silicon Valley.

Its internal IT helpdesk, which currently deals with thousands of staff queries a month, is planned ot be helped by artificial intelligence by Deutsche Bank.  “We are aiming to get that number to as close as zero as possible,” said Marcar.

RBS is now looking at growing its expertise in securities solutions and last year had invested in 1Qbit — a Canadian startup developing software for quantum computers.

(Adapted from Bloomberg)

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