Fun with LinkedIn searches (Banks vs GAFA hiring)

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What with all the noise around Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA) encroaching on banking services – and the flury of “Amazon Bank” punditry – I became curious about the employee migration patterns between banks and GAFA. Given the need to detox after the year’s end activities, I decided to pause imbibing my favorite beverages for a few hours and launched into a mini search project on LinkedIn.

First, this is not a scientific exercise, as the LinkedIn search is limited by the quality of the data inputted by LinkedIn members and the fact it probably does not cover 100% of the universe. Further, try as I might, I could not find a way to search by tenure – amount of time spent in current job – which would have refined the output markedly. Be that as it may, I believe the search results are directional as well as unsurprising.

Second, I set my universe of banks as follows: JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Citi, BNP Paribas, Barclays.

Third, as mentioned earlier, I only searched for the four GAFA companies + Microsoft.

I do realize both universes are small slivers of financial services and technology firms. Still each will serve as a proxy.

Fourth, the search was performed as of January 1 2018.

Fifth, I performed the following six searches:

  • Currently working with any of the 6 banks / Past work experience with any of GAFA
    • total universe
    • filtered by the following keywords: payments, mobile payments
    • filtered by the following keywords: AI, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning
  • Currently working with any of GAFA, Past work experience with any of the 6 banks
    • total universe
    • filtered by the following keywords: payments, mobile payments
    • filtered by the following keywords: AI, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning

Sixth, i broke down the search by level of experience: 2 to 5 years, 6 to 10 years, over 10 years.

Finally, although I could not search by time period, it is safe to say the bulk of the above results probably covers the past 5 years at the maximum, which is the period of time when GAFA started building their expertise around payments in particular and financial services in general.

Here are the results:


Again, no surprise. All searches show a deficit against the Bank universe. There are more former bankers now working for GAFA + Microsoft than the reverse. This holds true whether for the entire search or filtered for AI or payments. GAFA + Microsoft prefer to hire seasoned banking employees over junior banking employees – the more so for the entire universe or for payments, less so relatively speaking in AI. I did not include Visa or MasterCard in the Bank universe, but cursory results show the output wold have been similar. I also did not include the likes of IBM or Oracle in the big tech universe as such an inclusion would not be representative of migration flux around payments, financial services, banking services and the competitive nature of the horse-trading going on at present between both universes.

It would indeed have been quite interesting to sort by time period. We know that the past 5 years have seen GAFA poaching banking and financial services talent to shore up their payments or credit teams. What we should expect is that for the past year and going forward, banks are pushing their recruiting efforts towards software engineers & data scientists. Seeing the migration patterns starting to invert in favor of banks via LinkedIn searches over the next couple of years will be rather illuminating.

Again, no surprise, GAFA has been building its expertise around certain banking services while banks have had a hard time attracting cutting edge talent from big tech. This LinkedIn search, however crude, gives us directional confirmation.

Pascal Bouvier

Life and work experiences have given Pascal an unmatched vantage point, seeing things as both venture capitalist and aspiring entrepreneur. He currently is a Venture Partner with Santander Innoventures – Santander Group’s Global Fintech fund.

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