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There's a cloud on the horizon of banks' staff retention strategies.

AWS spent this year poaching from banks in New York City

While investment banks have been circumspect about adding too much headcount in 2020, the same can't be said for cloud technology firms. When Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced its third quarter results for 2020 three weeks ago, it disclosed a 37% year-on-year increase in revenues. And unlike in banks, this revenue growth appears to have catalyzed hiring.

AWS currently has over 360 vacancies in New York City, mostly for solutions architects but also for roles like software developers and account managers (including two roles for account managers in financial services). 

Recent history suggests that at least some of these roles will be filled by people moving from leading investment banks.

AWS likes to hire from Goldman Sachs. One of its most recent Goldman hires is Roger Li, a former Goldman VP and member of the machine learning team in Jersey City. Li joined AWS this month as an applied scientist in NYC. He will be in good company. In June, AWS also poached Jeff Savio, a VP in Goldman's asset management business, to manage accounts with fintech start-ups. In July, it poached Ishan Guru, a software engineer working on Goldman's alternative capital markets systems. In April, it took Ranjeet Dayama, a former vice president of data engineering at Marcus, Goldman's consumer bank. And in March, it extracted John Butler, a Goldman technology fellow, and the man who'd been building Goldman's strategically important transaction banking business from the ground up...

The exits underscore the threat posed to banks by the big technology firms, which coincidentally want the precisely the same driven, data-centric, top tier talent. It's not just Goldman's technology professionals that AWS has been going after - and nor is it just technologists, it's quants too. In May, AWS poached Rich Rabinovich, a former Morgan Stanley managing director (MD) and the bank's ex-head of front to back lending technology, who'd been poached only two years previously from Citi to build a new system for the bank. AWS has also been known to hire quant traders and XVA specialists - last year, it Santosh Jha, a quant analyst at Bank of America, to work on its deep learning product. 

Working for AWS can be more lucrative than working for a bank. Levels FYI puts total compensation for Amazon software engineers at levels four and five (roughly equivalent to associate and VP in banking) at between $222k and $304k. By comparison, it can be hard to make more than $250k in a banking tech job, even with years of experience. 

It's not just AWS that's sniffing around technology professionals in New York City: there's also Facebook. Google too has 184 jobs in New York City, including several for sales engineers to work with banks that want to modernize their infrastructure with Google Cloud and machine learning functionality. Irrespective of the pandemic, banks need to up their game: their best people are in demand elsewhere.  

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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