Leathwaite: Report Finds More than Half of America's Largest Banks Now Have Technologist in the Boardroom

For the first time, the majority of Heads of Technology at America’s largest banks are members of their firm’s Operating Committee, a trend that has risen dramatically in recent times as banks place more importance on technology than ever before.

A recent study by global executive search firm Leathwaite showed that 16 of the top 30 US financial institutions by assets have given their Head of Technology a seat on the Operating Committee, indicating that they are one of the most senior leaders in the firm.

There has been an acceleration in this trend in recent years, with 4 of the 16 appointments happening since 2017.

Operating Committees at banks typically consist of the 10-15 most senior executives including the CEO, heads of business lines, CFO and corporate leaders such as CHRO and General Counsel. Traditionally the Head of Technology or Chief Information Officer was one or even two levels removed from Operating Committee membership.

However, since 2017, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Fifth Third have all elevated their Heads of Technology, both in terms of reporting line and Operating Committee membership. This means that for the first time more than half of America’s largest banks see technology as a critical component to the business strategy at the highest level, as well as the day-to-day business operations.

Simon Mayo, a Consultant in Leathwaite’s Technology practice commented “technology is now widely viewed as a company’s biggest asset and greatest liability, so it isn’t surprising that the person who leads technology is now being recognized as a key leader within their firm. Heads of Technology roles increasingly have product management, digital transformation and M&A responsibilities as well as traditional technology management.”

Of the remaining 14 banks, 8 have a combined Technology, Operations or Shared Services head who is an Operating Committee member. Only 6 organizations in the top 30 have no representation.

As technology grows in importance, both as a commercial differentiator and an operational risk, the trend of elevating technology leaders within financial sector companies of all sizes is expected to continue.

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