UK banks top the global list for boardroom technology experience, new report finds

British banks lead in boardroom technology experience compared to global competitors, Accenture research revealed.

Up from 14% in 2015, over a quarter of all UK bank board members had professional technology experience in 2020, overtaking the US, the report said.

The UK’s figures which are also significantly higher than the European average of 8% and 16% in North America is followed by Finland and Ireland – both 23%, and the US, which stands at 19%.

Based on an analysis of nearly 2,000 directors from 100 global financial institutions, the report shows that while banks have ramped up their boardroom technology and tech investments since 2015, they are lagging behind, posing risks to further tech investment. Bank boardrooms overall lack the tech expertise required to minimize risks and maximize the benefits of their investments, the study revealed.

Globally, only one in ten directors and CEOs have professional technology experience, up from 6% and 4% respectively from five years ago. One-third of banks still have no board members with professional technology experience.

On a positive note, the number of female board directors with technology experience has grown from 19% in 2015 to 33%. However, representation is still very low in Brazil, China, Russian, and countries across Europe, including Austria and Italy.

Commenting on the new report, Accenture managing director Laura O’Sullivan said, “The rise in tech experience on bank boards is a logical result of their heavy investments in new technologies such as cloud computing and data analytics. Without the know-how at board level to advise on how these technologies will be implemented strategically, these investments could go to waste.”

Highlighting the growth of the UK’s financial ecosystem, O’Sullivan said, “In the UK, we’re seeing banks take on this expertise at a faster rate due to its leading FinTech market. Government is hugely supportive of investment in both FinTech and new competition, which has given birth to a number of highly competitive neobanks that the incumbents simply can’t afford to ignore.”

Looking ahead O’Sullivan said banks must introduce more initiatives to boost technology experience as well as initiatives. She said, “In many ways, though, the numbers illustrate how much further banks have to go. COVID-19 will only have accelerated investments in new technologies and digital services, which will amount to a big missed opportunity if banks can’t take on the experience needed to drive this agenda at pace.”

The report comes a few days after UK-based challenger bank Starling Bank landed unicorn status. 

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