Big data analytics is becoming a big requirement to work in the financial services industry.
Richard Bland, London Business School’s finance careers chief, says: “In banking in general, or in fintech, those skills are important.”
Quarterly results, earnings calls and analyst insight have been the go-to for financial analysis, but as big data surges through the investment industry, this is starting to change.
Examples of innovation range from hedge funds using satellite images to spy on the Chinese economy, to asset managers and investment banks mining social media data on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Wikibon, the research firm, forecasts the big data market to hit $92.2 billion by 2026.
Frans van der Horst, senior managing director at ABN AMRO Bank, says the Dutch lender “continues to invest in the ongoing development of our digital services”. Big data is deployed to help provide financial advice to consumers, he says.
As such, ABN AMRO is constantly on the lookout for tech-savvy talent. “Business schools and universities are important to us when it comes to hiring,” Frans adds.
Charles Labelle, assistant director of employer engagement at INSEAD, says: “Historically, those with analytical skills tied to previous experiences in banking have the most success in IB [investment banking] recruiting.” INSEAD provides technical training sessions prior to banks’ recruiting season.
Regina Resnick, associate dean for careers at Columbia Business School, says: “Advanced analytics are important for roles for which investment banks hire [for].” But what can really distinguish a job candidate is having those skills plus a demonstrated ability to effectively communicate and manage relationships.
She adds: “What we hear from bankers these days is that analytics and technical skills are teachable and can be developed on the job, although experience is always preferred.”
Another bank harnessing the power of big data is BBVA. The Spanish lender recently invested in Coinbase, a bitcoin start-up, and acquired Simple, an online bank targeting younger consumers with fintech.
“Turning data into knowledge and knowledge into added value services is a must for us,” says a spokesperson at BBVA.
They added that, “To build the global bank of the digital age, you need the best people”. “Business schools are an important part of our search for the brightest and the best,” they said.
Julie Morton, associate dean for career services at Chicago Booth, says having technical skills is a baseline requirement. “Strong analytical skills and an ability to perform technical analysis are ‘table-stakes’ for bankers — both being able to do the technical work and then also analyzing/interpreting it.”
Banks seek to “hire future MD’s, not associates”, she says, and so a broad skill-set is paramount.
The search for analytics talent comes as the world’s top banks seek to engineer a fintech future. From cryptocurrencies to mobile payments, the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and UBS are investing heavily in fintech, and acquiring or investing in start-ups seeking to disrupt them.
Nick Williams, consumer digital director at Lloyds Banking Group, says: “Success[ful banks] in the future will be those who are able to interpret and act on data in real time to provide customers with a personalized and relevant experience.”
Fintech has become a hot career path for MBAs in finance. Deirdre O’Donnell at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, says the fintech sector is in its early stages, “But opportunities will grow over the years.”