BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The newly minted titans of fintech are coming for your job. And they're not apologizing.
During a lively discussion Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference, two young technology executives minced no words about their aims. They plan to bring about dramatic cuts in employment inside banks and other financial service companies.
"You have probably the most expensive utility infielders in the world in this industry, making low-to-mid six figures moving columns of data around from one spreadsheet to another," said Daniel Nadler, the chief executive of Kensho, making an analogy to the economics of baseball. "And that's what's going to get automated in the next five years."
Nadler, whose Cambridge, Mass.-based company works with Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase to automate tasks previously performed by people, took gleeful shots at the financial services industry and its employees.
He argued that the industry is highly inefficient because it pays big salaries to people whose jobs can be computerized. "And those inefficiencies arise with what are frankly really mediocre people feeling a sense of entitlement to six-figure jobs," Nadler said.
A Google executive who was speaking on the same panel made similar arguments, though he presented them in a less confrontational manner, suggesting that people who lose their jobs in finance will find more fulfillment in other careers.
"For anyone who's moving columns around from spreadsheet to spreadsheet, there's far better ways, more enjoyable ways to express yourself and build things," argued Corrie Elston, the chief technology officer for financial services, speaking about the Google Cloud Platform.
Elston said that the financial industry is in the process of evolving. "And evolution can be fairly brutal at times," he said.
The brash comments came at a conference that is bringing together boldface names from finance, government, entertainment and technology. The Global Conference is organized by a think tank established by former junk-bond king Michael Milken. Speakers at this year's gathering include Tom Hanks, Al Gore and Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman.
The panel discussion on fintech focused not on companies that are looking to chip away at banking franchises, but rather at the firms that are working with banks to modernize their back offices.
Google sells cloud computing services to banks. Kensho adds a layer of security for banks that migrate to the cloud.
Nadler, who was recently named by Goldman Sachs as one of the world's most intriguing entrepreneurs, said that Goldman wants to get out of the business of building technology infrastructure.
Goldman currently employs about 10,000 engineers who mostly deal with outdated systems, he added.
Nadler argued that the efficiencies brought about by technology will change the American public's perception of the financial industry. He said that the sector's unpopularity, particularly among young adults, is the result of a widespread perception that banking services cost far more than the value they provide.
In roughly five years, "people that are going to feel less, maybe, ashamed to say that they work in financial services to people outside financial services," Nadler said.
That sentiment drew derision from David Siegel, co-chairman of the hedge fund Two Sigma.
"People will love finance because we're going to move all of our technology to the cloud," he said sarcastically. "That will solve our image problem."
After the panel ended, one audience member was overheard voicing agreement with the idea that many jobs in finance will soon become obsolete.
"I know I'm replacing a human with a computer," this attendee said. "She doesn't know it yet."