May 30, 2024


Big banks are adding artificial intelligence-focused jobs at increasing speeds, despite industry-wide cuts.

At 50 of the world’s biggest banks, hiring for AI talent grew 9% over the last six months — double the rate of growth in overall headcount at those banks during the same period, according to new data published Thursday by AI adoption research firm Evident.

“AI is viewed as a critical strategic priority, which is why the banks’ AI talent volumes continue to grow at pace, seemingly immune from the ongoing reduction in force initiatives seen across the wider sector,” Alexandra Mousavizadeh, Evident co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

JP Morgan Chase, Capital One, and Wells Fargo led the race, adding the greatest number of AI talent. JPMorgan has the greatest volume of AI talent, with nearly six times more AI staff than the average bank in Evident’s AI Index. It employs 11.5% of all existing AI talent within the banking industry.

The largest U.S. bank by assets was an early adopter of AI, first hiring its head of AI research back in 2018. JPMorgan has topped both of Evident’s AI Index reports, which rank the progress of the world’s 50 largest banks as they incorporate and advance AI, using four metrics: talent, innovation, leadership, and transparency.

Capital One, which holds the No. 2 spot on the index, has the highest AI talent density: 12% of its overall headcount works on AI — more than four times the average bank in Evident’s index.

Read more: AI is going to be in every nook and cranny’: Big banks are going all-in on AI

With layoffs at several major banks — including Citigroup, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and Lloyds Bank — already this year, the increase in the number of AI-centered positions is an indicator of the importance financial institutions are placing on building up their capabilities in the field.

Evident found that Deutsche grew its global AI talent capability by 26.7% — almost triple the index average — and Lloyds expanded its data engineering force at twice the pace of its U.K. peers, despite both carrying out headcount reductions earlier this year.

But the banking sector will face fierce competition for AI talent, which is already in short supply. Tech industry leaders like OpenAI and Meta are reportedly offering million-dollar compensation packages to attract top talent. Even the Biden administration has said it plans to hire more than 100 AI professionals by the summer, and will require all federal agencies to designate chief AI officers.

During the first-quarter earnings season, several banking chiefs touted the achievements and potential of AI within their own organizations. For years, several major banks have been building up their AI capabilities and offerings — and have ramped up this talk with new client-facing tools, like generative AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants.

As the race picks up speed, those who started early and invested significant resources over the last few years will only continue to outperform their rivals, according to Mousavizadeh.

“The top 10 banks for AI talent currently account for 51% of the overall banking industry talent pool — a huge advantage when it comes to AI adoption,” she said. “This concentration of AI talent has real consequences. If the banks that lag behind cannot close the gap, the race to implement AI will become an uphill struggle.”

The type of roles being hired for also represents a marked shift from the planning and development stages of AI integration to implementation. In the past six months, 68% of net new AI talent in U.S. banks was focused on how to begin actually using the technology.

Across the board, staffing for implementation roles increased by almost 14% between November 2023 and April 2024, followed by data engineering, AI development, and model risk.



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