BNY Mellon's tech spending will accelerate in 2020, interim CEO says

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Bank of New York Mellon’s interim chief executive said that he expects to accelerate technology spending in 2020 and make upgrades a top priority.

Todd Gibbons, who was named the $373 billion-asset company’s interim CEO in September after Charlie Scharf left to become CEO of Wells Fargo, said tech investments help to contain costs and provide a competitive advantage.

“Our intention for 2020 is to continue to spend on technology at a level even faster than we spent in 2019,” Gibbons said Wednesday at a Goldman Sachs financial services conference in New York. “Our clients … see higher quality … they get a better experience. As for us, we actually get more efficient.”

Gibbons did not provide details on how much the custody bank's tech budget would increase. Software and equipment expense in the third quarter rose 18% from a year earlier to $309 million. BNY Mellon said in its most recent 10Q that its technology investments included “staff, professional, legal and purchased services” in addition to software and equipment.

Artificial intelligence has been one of BNY Mellon's major areas of focus. For example, the bank is using robotics process automation software to replicate mundane tasks that had been handled by humans.

The bank is also attempting to digitize every aspect of its business, including client onboarding and funds accounting, an executive said in June.

By placing an emphasis on technology, BNY Mellon will be seen as an industry leader, which should help with business development, Gibbons said.

“As I think through my priorities for the short term and even longer term, I think the No. 1 thing … we really look to be recognized for is our leadership, whether it's around innovation, around technology and very importantly around client service,” Gibbons said.

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