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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.

  • By Peter Vasiliev

1
Catherine Bessant
Chief Operations and Technology Officer
Bank of America Corp.

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.

Visit The 2016 Tech 50: Making Financial Services Faster, Cheaper, Bigger for more.


The 2016 Tech 50
1. Catherine
Bessant
Bank of America Corp.
2. Jeffrey Sprecher
Intercontinental Exchange
3. Lance Uggla
Markit
4. Phupinder Gill
CME Group
5. Shawn Edwards and Vlad Kliatchko
Bloomberg
6. R. Martin Chavez
Goldman Sachs Group
7. Robert Goldstein
BlackRock
8. Adena Friedman
Nasdaq
9. Deborah Hopkins
Citi Ventures
10. Daniel Coleman
KCG Holdings
11. Stephen Neff
Fidelity Investments
12. David Craig
Thomson Reuters
13. Michael Spencer
ICAP
14. Michael Bodson
Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.
15. Charles Li
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
16. Chris Concannon
BATS Global Markets
17. Blythe Masters
Digital Asset Holdings
18. David Rutter
R3CEV
19. Neil Katz
D.E. Shaw & Co.
20. Lee Olesky
Tradeweb Markets
21. Richard McVey
MarketAxess Holdings
22. Seth Merrin
Liquidnet Holdings
23. Robert Alexander
Capital One Financial Corp.
24. Brad Katsuyama
IEX Group
25. Antoine Shagoury
State Street Corp.
26. David Gledhill
DBS Bank
27. Lou Eccleston
TMX Group
28. Andreas Preuss
Deutsche BÖrse
29. Dan Schulman
PayPal Holdings
30. Scott Dillon
Wells Fargo & Co.
31. Mike Chinn
S&P Global Market Intelligence
32. Craig Donohue
Options Clearing Corp.
33. Gary Norcross
Fidelity National Information Services
34. Steven O'Hanlon
Numerix
35. Sebastián Ceria
Axioma
36. Michael Cooper
BT Radianz
37. Tyler Kim
MaplesFS
38. Neal Pawar
AQR Capital Management
39. David Harding
Winton Capital Management
40. Chris Corrado
London Stock Exchange Group
41. Brian Conlon
First Derivatives
42. Jim Minnick
eVestment
43. Stephane Dubois
Xignite
44. Mazy Dar
OpenFin
45. Yasuki Okai
NRI Holdings America
46. Kim Fournais
Saxo Bank
47. Jock Percy
Perseus
48. Robert Schifellite
Broadridge Financial Solutions
49. Brian Sentance
Xenomorph Software
50. Pieter van der Does
Adyen

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