Q&A: Chase CIO details what entry-level job-seekers need to succeed in Fintech

IT jobs at financial services and tech companies are among the most highly sought-after by new college graduates with STEM degrees. Chase CIO Gill Haus said he hires from a variety of educational backgrounds — traditional universities, coding bootcamps, and workforce development programs — with a focus on candidates willing to evolve and learn.

Talent compass pointing to the most highly skilled jobs hiring

With more than a quarter of a million employees, JPMorgan Chase Bank has its job cut out attempting to meet open job quotas. Over the last decade, the US's largest bank has shifted its IT strategy. Just as with the rest of the financial services industry, its focus has been on supporting its growing digital banking business through the lastest technologies, such as cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).

When it comes to AI/ML knowledge, recent college graducates don't necessarily need to be an experts, but they should be able to speak about the value at a high level, and be open to growth/training opportunities in those areas.

Fintech is at the forefront of the digital banking evolution, and so skills related to that are vital to remain adaptable to business needs.

Chase CIO Gill Haus, answered questions from Computerworld on how new graduates can set themselves up for success when applying for positions at a major financial institution. The following are experts from that email-based interview: 

gill haus Chase

Chase CIO Gill Haus

How many resumes does your department look through each day, or week, or month, and what is the biggest issue you see with poorly written ones? "We have hundreds of open roles across the country, so our teams are actively reviewing candidates’ job applications to help meet the talent needs of the firm. Have a friend review your resume for typos before sharing it with a recruiter or when applying for a job on a company’s career page. Second, tailor your resume to highlight your most relevant skills for the job you are applying for – this will help your resume stand out."

When it comes to entry-level positions, do you look for more business acumen or technology acumen and why? "For entry level positions, it’s less about what you know compared to how open you are to learning new things and growing as a technologist. We look for candidates that have the aptitude and attitude [for] learning and collaborating with their peers."

Do you look for general acumen in IT or specific skills, certifications or coding bootcamps on their resumes, and why? "We look for candidates that have the drive, aptitude and willingness to learn. We welcome early career tech talent from a wide variety of backgrounds – traditional universities, coding bootcamps and workforce development programs – and we provide development and training programs to fill any technical skill gaps. At Chase, we have a culture of continuous learning to help our employees develop the skills needed for today and into the future."

What’s the best advice you can give a recent grad on how to stand out among job applicants? "Never stop learning. The skills you mastered a few years ago may be no longer relevant today, which is why it’s important to be open to constantly learning. Whether you are starting your career or have years of experience, take it upon yourself to learn new skills and technologies."

How has the financial services marketplace changed in terms of job skills needed today versus 10, 20, or 30 years ago? "Technology has certainly evolved immensely over the last 30 years across all industries. During the last decade, we’ve seen demand for digital banking grow. As of Q2 2022, Chase has 60.7 million digitally active (+7% YoY) and 47.4 million mobile active customers (+11% YoY).

"More recently, consumer demand for digital banking grew as a result of the pandemic. In our 2021 Digital Banking Attitudes study, respondents reaffirmed that mobile apps have become their most frequently used banking channel, with 73% of consumers citing usage once a week or more (up 8% YOY), and 62% citing it’s a service they cannot live without (up 7% YOY).

"The skills required to be a technologist have evolved, but also the ways with colleagues across lines of business. One change we’ve really embraced as an organization is embarking on an agile and product transformation. 

"We’ve taken advantage of the opportunity that came with the changing behaviors of consumers over the past few years to really embrace agile at a different scale. This matters tremendously, because when we deploy code or build an entirely new product, it helps millions of consumers reach their financial goals. The pace of change has accelerated, but the focus on making it easier for our customers to bank with Chase has not.

"Today, we’ve reorganized ourselves away from project-based teams into product-based teams. Each product now has a dedicated tech, product, design, and data & analytics leader to help speed up decision making and improve connectivity and collaboration.

"Looking at problems from the lens of the customer is an important muscle for organizations to flex. For technologists and software developers to deliver a solution, they have to be close to the customer problem and fully understand the issue, long before a code is written by an engineer."

What are the hottest skills trends in Fintech? (i.e., data scientists/data analysts, low-coders, AI knowledge, etc.) "There’s been a noticeable shift towards leveraging the latest technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, to create tools that best address customer demand. Candidates who come in with experience and skills in this area are a plus, but we also offer learning opportunities for those who do not. We offer our employees the opportunity to join a purpose-driven organization that uses the latest technologies at scale. There are few companies that can say that their solutions help more than 66 million households with their finances. 

"We provide many opportunities for technologists to learn new skills, ranging from fully immersive programs to part-time and self-paced options. Our efforts to upskill and reskill employees have improved employee morale, retention, and diversity. Tech Connect is a great example of how we’re reaching an untapped talent pool. Upon completing the rigorous, full-time training program, participants transition to our Software Engineer Program and then software engineering roles. In addition to technical skills, the program offers workshops, alumni panels, peer mentorship, and a guest speaker series to further professional development and emphasize community."

How important is 'financial literacy,' or the business end of financial services, for any IT applicant? "Financial literacy is an important skill for anyone to learn, regardless of their career path. Chase offers a multitude of resources to help consumers improve their financial health.

"Our employees are consumers, too, which is valuable when creating products that would not only be helpful to them in their personal lives, but also to the millions of customers we serve every single day.

"The diverse perspectives and experiences of our employees are a strength, helping us to develop better products and features that help them budget, save, invest, make payments, travel and more."

How does AI and ML apply to finance today and can you offer an example of a use case? "Significant advancements in AI, machine learning and automation make us better equipped to tackle challenges and solve problems for our clients and employees. These tools have been critical helping our firm unleash the power of our data to innovate and operate efficiently.

"To support operations and assist employees to better serve our customers, we use AI to proactively offer technical help in the form of knowledge articles and other resources in real time. Throughout our Investment Bank, portfolio managers also use AI to efficiently analyze investment data with easy-to-use tools and a simple point-and-click interface.

"On the consumer front, we have heavily invested in AI-driven fraud controls and forecasting to help improve our fraud risk systems and protect our customers.

"We also use AI and ML from within our mobile app. One such feature is called Snapshot, which helps our customers get a quick visual overview of their transactions and personalized financial trends to help them take active steps to reach their savings goals, improve their credit score and more.

"The backbone of Snapshot is a proprietary customer insight engine that is powered by Chase’s big data environment and a combination of advanced algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Snapshot is powered by the cloud, AI and ML working hand in hand to create personalized insights that are as unique as our customers’ finances"

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