Why Are Wall Street Banks Fighting Over Gamers?

Authored by Michael Scott via Safehaven.com,

There’s a new type of talent on the hitlist of Wall Street banks: It’s digital, and dipping its fingers into the gaming world to hijack developers and engineers, even from the massively popular Fortnite.

But when it comes to competing with Silicon Valley, the banks are reportedly having an easy enough time of find the right people to help them realize their new development goals in an uber-digital world.

Today, digital developers are the new stars of Wall Street banking. And JPMorgan’s digital development staff went from pretty much zero four years ago to some 1,500 today.

Ambitions have changed. So, too, have staffing needs.

JPMorgan, for one, would strongly disagree with the founder and CEO of Netguru, Wiktor Schmidt, who recently told media that banks will fail ultimately because of their inability to attract and retain developer talent in an increasingly digital world.

Bloomberg has also been sounding the alarm bells over the challenges digital banking is posing to our traditional big banks. 

But if Wall Street is now attracting top-notch developers, they’ve also been losing big executives to Silicon Valley tech start-ups—mostly notably, for crypto. So, it’s a bit of a trade-off.

It would be premature to write off Wall Street, even if the digital revolution might have taken it a bit by surprise.

After all, according to Business Insider, JPMorgan Chase has a $10.8-billion tech budget to push through its digital ambitions. It’s also boasts 50,000 techies and now firmly believes that the future of banking fully digital.

In fact, JPMorgan Chase calls it the “digital everything”—an idea reflected in its strategy:

(Click to enlarge)

Source: JPMorgan Chase

According to Bank Innovation’s annual State of Banking Innovation survey for 2018, the future of banking is mobile and “mostly cashless”.

At the same time, according to the 2018 Innovation in Retail Banking report, many financial institutions still don’t have a concrete digitalization strategy, even if they understand that “intelligent automation”, as Financial Brand puts it, might actually drive increased revenue growth, not to mention enhanced customer satisfaction.

Things might not look strategically out of place at JPMorgan, though, with its Hudson Yards tech hub in Manhattan and it’s 1,500 employees. 

These days, Wall Street loves Silicon Valley because it’s either play together or get pushed out the game; and it even loves blockchain, and particularly its developers.

Fortune calls it a “cultural collision”; it might be better described as a “cultural collusion”. Either way, it should come with a pretty big pay day.  

That collusion, though, won’t extend to head-hunting: Now that Wall Street banks have fully boarded the digital train, it will be a battle with American tech giants--such as Google, Amazon and Facebook—or, in some cases, Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite. And that will likely mean that things are about to get a lot better for digital developers, who will soon be able to name their price in the war for their talents.

With the future of banking being challenged on at least four different obvious fronts - from digital banking and open banking, to modular banking and challenger banks - gaming and banking aren’t such odd bedfellows.