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The 2016 Tech 50: Catherine Bessant

The chief operations and technology officer of Bank of America Corp. moves from No. 2 to the top spot.

< The 2016 Tech 501Catherine BessantChief Operations and Technology OfficerBank of America Corp.Last year: 2

Can a $2.2 trillion-in-assets megabank modernize and innovate as nimbly as changes in technology and the competitive landscape require? If there are lingering doubts, Bank of America Corp. is well along in putting them to rest. “We’ve set a goal as a management team to make the digitization of BofA our legacy,” says Catherine Bessant, who for the last six of her 34 years with the bank has been its chief operations and technology officer. “Finance is technology, and technology is financial services. It’s a complete molecular osmosis. You can’t tell one from another.” Scale to a great extent defines Charlotte, North Carolina–based BofA, which employs more than 200,000 people and earned $15.9 billion in net income last year. Its U.S. retail business consists of 47 million consumer and small-business relationships, 4,700 offices and 16,000 automated teller machines. Bessant revels in some big numbers of her own: an annual technology budget of $17 billion and 110,000 employees and contractors around the globe. Signs of how times have changed: The bank has 33 million active online customers and 20 million mobile; 15 percent of deposits are made through mobile devices. “The role of mobile is to be a virtual financial center, a virtual financial adviser, a virtual trader,” says Bessant, 56, whose previous positions included president of global corporate banking, president of global product solutions and global treasury services, and chief marketing officer. She is proud that BofA was granted 259 patents in 2015 — more than any other financial services company. (The bank also leads the industry in blockchain-related patent filings, with 36.) But size and technological prowess have a downside. A big target for hackers, BofA is spending more than $400 million annually on cybersecurity and will commit more if necessary, Bessant says, noting that 23 percent of last year’s patents were security-related. Bessant is leading a transition to a software-defined network infrastructure that by 2018 is expected to be handling 80 percent of the bank’s workload. Other projects include cardless ATMs, which are accessed with mobile phones, and iFulfill, a web-based loan origination system.

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 The 2016 Tech 50 Click below to view profiles
1. Catherine
Bessant
Bank of America Corp.2. Jeffrey SprecherIntercontinental Exchange3. Lance UgglaMarkit4. Phupinder GillCME Group5. Shawn Edwards and Vlad KliatchkoBloomberg6. R. Martin ChavezGoldman Sachs Group
7. Robert GoldsteinBlackRock8. Adena FriedmanNasdaq9. Deborah HopkinsCiti Ventures10. Daniel ColemanKCG Holdings11. Stephen NeffFidelity Investments12. David CraigThomson Reuters
13. Michael SpencerICAP14. Michael BodsonDepository Trust & Clearing Corp. 15. Charles LiHong Kong Exchanges and Clearing16. Chris ConcannonBATS Global Markets17. Blythe MastersDigital Asset Holdings18. David RutterR3CEV
19. Neil KatzD.E. Shaw & Co.20. Lee OleskyTradeweb Markets21. Richard McVeyMarketAxess Holdings22. Seth MerrinLiquidnet Holdings23. Robert AlexanderCapital One Financial Corp.24. Brad KatsuyamaIEX Group
25. Antoine ShagouryState Street Corp.26. David GledhillDBS Bank27. Lou EcclestonTMX Group28. Andreas PreussDeutsche BÖrse29. Dan SchulmanPayPal Holdings30. Scott DillonWells Fargo & Co.
31. Mike ChinnS&P Global Market Intelligence32. Craig DonohueOptions Clearing Corp.33. Gary NorcrossFidelity National Information Services34. Steven O'HanlonNumerix35. Sebastián CeriaAxioma36. Michael CooperBT Radianz
37. Tyler KimMaplesFS38. Neal PawarAQR Capital Management39. David HardingWinton Capital Management40. Chris CorradoLondon Stock Exchange Group41. Brian ConlonFirst Derivatives42. Jim MinnickeVestment
43. Stephane DuboisXignite44. Mazy DarOpenFin45. Yasuki OkaiNRI Holdings America46. Kim FournaisSaxo Bank47. Jock PercyPerseus48. Robert SchifelliteBroadridge Financial Solutions
49. Brian SentanceXenomorph Software50. Pieter van der DoesAdyen