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2010 Tech 40: The Top 40 Executives and Innovators in Financial Technology

JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Heidi Miller tops Institutional Investor's ranking of the Top 40 technology architects and entrepreneurs.

Financial services companies once looked upon technology as a back-office, factory-like function. Now they depend on it as an engine of growth. JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Heidi Miller tops Institutional Investor's ranking of 40 technology architects and entrepreneurs who have risen to the top of their profession and continue to push toward a higher-tech future. Click here to read the profiles of the 2010 Technology 40.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Heidi Miller spent six years as CEO of the bank’s treasury and securities services group, which generated $7.3 billion in net revenue last year. Its $1.2 billion profit, more than 10 percent of JP­Morgan’s bottom line, dwarfed those of the company’s retail and credit card businesses and was close behind that of asset management, whose results TSS exceeded in the previous year of financial market difficulties.

For those reasons and more — her leadership both within the organization as a key member of chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon’s senior team, and externally as an advocate of technology and efficiency throughout the financial industry infrastructure — Miller tops Institutional Investor’s ranking of the top executives and innovators in financial technology, the 2010 Technology 40.

Not only has Miller risen over a 31-year career to the pinnacle of her industry and profession — and, as of June, to international president at JPMorgan — but she also personifies the long march of information technology to the point where it is indispensable to the management and operations of financial institutions and markets. All of the Tech 40 (42 individuals, because co-CEOs are designated in one instance and co-founders in another) underline the words of Martin Davis (No. 25), who since late 2008 has led the massive postmerger integration of Wells Fargo & Co. and Wachovia Corp.: “Technology is the bank.”

In truth, computing’s importance to financial enterprises as an engine of their growth and efficiency has been undeniable for some time. Even primitive adding machines had a small effect. But IT’s advance began in earnest with the commercialization of programmable mainframes in the 1950s, accelerated over a few decades through the mini- and microcomputer phases, and went into overdrive from the 1990s Internet boom through the present.

Yet it took years — in some lagging cases until the 2000s — for the nontechnologists who held the reins of these companies to accept their data- and information-processing divisions as something more than ancillary, administrative support functions. Miller was one who helped overcome that stigma by transforming one-time operational backwaters into something that previously skeptical peers and analysts could really relate to: profit centers. In that regard, she is not unique among the Tech 40.

Paul Galant (No. 14), head of Citigroup’s $10 billion-in-­revenue Citi Cards and former CEO of global transaction services — a direct competitor with Miller’s unit — says he views these processing businesses as “a technology companies with banking licenses.” Anna Ewing (No. 7), chief information officer of Nasdaq OMX Group; Robert Goldstein (No. 15), head of BlackRock Solutions; and Olivier Le Grand (No. 16), CEO of BNP Paribas’s Cortal Consors, also oversee subsidiaries that produce revenue for their respective parents, albeit in hundreds of millions rather than billions of dollars.

The 2010 Technology 40 ranking, the successor to the Online Finance 40, which II introduced in 2000, caps a decade in which financial technology has grown in stature and performance, attracting a constant stream of investment dollars even as the industry as a whole faced unprecedented shocks and volatility. Indeed, those upheavals may have been exacerbated by the unconscionable speed of trading enabled by technology, but in technology lie potential solutions and safeguards as well.

The Tech 40 is a mix of senior executives and entrepreneurs, system architects and visionaries, designers and developers who have delivered the advanced technologies, databases, transaction networks and analytical tools that have revolutionized, and continue to change the face of, their industry. They have been selected and ranked by the editors and staff of II on the basis of ongoing monitoring of industry trends and developments, with nominations and other input from outside experts. Four primary sets of attributes guided the process: experience and contributions over the course of a career, scope and complexity of responsibilities, influence and leadership inside and outside one’s organization, and pure technological achievement.

Represented are some of the biggest “establishment” organizations, which have poured billions of dollars into building their IT prowess over many years, among them Bank of America (Catherine Bessant, No. 8) and HSBC (Ken Harvey, No. 12).

Featured just as prominently are companies that began as dot-com-era upstarts and, in their respective niches, are now anything but. One example is Markit Group, whose CEO, Lance Uggla (No. 3), believes Google and Facebook are in the forefront of content development, so he watches them closely in hopes of “grasping technology changes and looking for their applicability to finance.” Mark Palmer (No. 37), CEO of StreamBase Systems, says “performance breakthroughs are the norm” and will continue, thanks to “disruptive” technologies like Apple’s touch-screen interface.

Of the 40 entries, 18 appeared on II’s Americas or International tech rankings in 2008. For those who were on both, the higher previous rank is shown in parentheses. The 22 new names are designated as a PNR (previously not ranked).

The Technology 40 was compiled under the direction of Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler, Loch Adamson, Allen T. Cheng, Frances Denmark, Rosalyn Retkwa, Julie Segal and Melanie Wold.

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