Tech Talent For A Changing World

As the technology needs of banks and their customers change, boards need to assess their IT leaders.

Bank Director Digital Magazine | June 17, 2016

The Bank Director Digital Magazine article, “Tech Talent For A Changing World,” quotes Russell Reynolds Associates’ Justin Cerilli​ ​​about the importance of having the right technology leadership in the banking industry. The article is excerpted below.  ​​

“Winning market share and growth can only be accomplished by having a strong technology leadership team,” says Justin Cerilli, a consultant with executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates in Boston and leader of the firm’s Financial Services Technology Practice. “In order for a bank to be successful, it needs a CIO and technology leadership team that can contribute to business strategy…while also protecting the business.”

With so many demands on the technology department today – from developing customer-engagement strategies to protecting data to saving money – it is more important than ever for the board to make sure the bank has the technology talent it needs. Having the right technology talent can propel a bank in this environment, while lacking such talent can be a serious hindrance.

Assessing the bank’s technology talent is a multi-step process, ranging from understanding the bank’s customer base and their needs to determining if the personnel pipeline in the technology department is being adequately maintained.


The bank board should make sure that bank technology leaders are as comfortable in front of people as they are in front of screens. "CIOs are being asked to not only contribute, but also lead customer service experiences across the organization, bring a more connected view, drive the bank to be more digitally focused, and work directly with regulators on compliance and regulation issues," Cerilli says. "Six years ago it was, 'Hey, we just need someone who can do this for our technology.' Now it's, 'We need someone to transform our business.'"

Cybersecurity issues have also put the CIO and other tech staff in the spotlight. No director wants to learn that customer information was compromised because of inadequate protection. Also, join regulations from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council make it clear that boards are responsible for overseeing the bank's cybersecurity program, and for holding management accountable for its actions. The board has to approve information security plans. No board member is expected to be an IT expert, but the CIO should be able to communicate essential concepts to the board. "Having a technology leadership team that understands the importance and knows how to implement IT risk, IT compliance, or IT security best practices is critical for keeping the bank out of the headlines for the wrong reasons," Cerilli says.

Technology leadership has to be right, but the whole department is important. Ask your CIO if the department has staff who can specifically address the bank's target market or markets. Or, if such people are not on staff, ask if the CIO has tapped the appropriate third-party providers to address the market's needs. Also make sure that a clear, formal succession plan exists in the tech department. Each leader should have an identified successor who could take over suddenly if needed. The plan should include training requirements of those slated to move up, and it should be updated regularly. "The board should hear concrete succession plans," Cerilli says.

To read the full article, click here.

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Tech Talent For A Changing World