Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT

Ivan Schneider, Writer, specializing in financial technology | 11/12/2012 | 9 comments

Ivan Schneider
Typically, if you want to gain experience managing the IT aspects of a bank merger, you’ll need on-the-job experience. Now, students at Singapore Management University will have the opportunity to get their feet wet with bank mergers and other big bank projects through a new partnership with BIAN, the Banking Industry Architecture Network. BIAN is a not-for-profit, member-owned industry organization that aims to set common IT standards for the banking industry.

At Sibos in Osaka, BIAN announced that the organization has partnered with Singapore Management University to create “SMU Teaching Bank” using actual vendor products, allowing students to work on actual banking solutions rather than just reading about them. Scenarios will include a core banking system replacement and a bank merger. Graduate students will manage projects while undergraduates will perform the IT work, according to BIAN executive director Hans Tesselaar.

That seems to be a great way to develop a pipeline of future IT professionals who know the latest frameworks and business practices in banking.

Or is it?

It might end up being a real let-down for students trained on BIAN-compliant solutions based on service-oriented architectures to have to take a job at one of the laggard banks using outdated legacy technology. They’d know that better solutions are available, but as junior members of the IT team, they’d have little standing to effect change. Imagine someone who knows how to do a core banking replacement being told to maintain COBOL code for the indefinite future because the funds aren’t available for an upgrade due to IT budgets going to regulatory compliance.

Considering the morass of legacy systems out there in the banking industry, perhaps it would be more useful to train people on the worst technology in the industry rather than the best. That way, they’d be pleasantly surprised when things eventually take a turn for the better. The problem with that approach is that nobody really wants to learn COBOL as long as there’s an ample of IT professionals who already know COBOL and who are unable to retire because their retirement savings have been decimated. Students are naturally drawn to the latest technology, whether it’s iPhones, Facebook, or Gangnam style. If a student’s going to learn financial technology, he or she is going to gravitate to the most elegant and pristine approach, and right now, that’s BIAN.

Accordingly, if banks hire recent grads with BIAN experience, they’ll have to be given close proximity to IT leadership, with plum positions in highly-visible business transformation roles. This jumping the queue may not sit too well with the IT people currently responsible for managing legacy systems, who won’t be as conversant with the new technologies.

There’s no easy solution to this conundrum. Perhaps a university with a large endowment could provide startup capital to form a real bank, which could then start a massive acquisition binge in the industry. This would be a well-capitalized entrant with a low-cost labor force and the tax advantage of a not-for-profit educational institution. Then, instead of firing redundant IT workers, “Bank-Dot-Edu” could simply turn the former employees into graduate students and adjunct professors, who would then be paid a nominal sum to manage a burdensome teaching and research load in return for the distant promise of a tenure-track position. As an added benefit, the banks with the worst systems may be bought up, cleaned up, and sold off in order to build fancy student gymnasiums.

In the comments, let’s hear what you think about the prospect of integrating highly-educated financial technology workers into legacy organizations.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Syerita Turner   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/27/2012 7:42:22 AM
Re: It's about culture
It could better the process and also teach those who are on the legacy systems that there are other options out there for them to learn. It is like bridging the gap between new and old, current and legacy. I think that the younger we teach technology and how to bridge that gap there will be individuals who will come up with some of the best ideas to better more legacy processes and systems.
Ivan Schneider   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/19/2012 4:19:10 AM
It's about culture
Thanks for all of your comments. I do think that the BIAN initiative is a valuable way to propel change in the banking industry, and also applaud Singapore Management University for incorporating BIAN into the curriculum.

Using the BIAN architecture will give students an idea of how things should work in an ideal situation. My main point is that in many of the bank environments graduates will find themselves in, the actual working environment will be a long way away from that ideal of a logically consistent and modular architecture.

Furthermore, given the often hierarchical and conservative business cultures at financial institutions, particularly in parts of Asia, it's hard to imagine a junior employee having the pull to convince senior employees that the bank should adopt new technological approaches. It's hard enough for the new guy to speak up, let alone lead a core systems revolution. 

That's why I think these graduates will have the best success, at least at first, working for technology vendors that work with the banks to accomplish business goals. That way, it's not the recent graduates who are responsible for promoting BIAN, but rather the tech companies that hire them. 
User Ranking: Blogger
singlemud   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/14/2012 10:51:36 PM
Re: Initiative
Totally agree with this. Hand on experience during college life can accelerate their career success
Pedro Gonzales   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/14/2012 2:00:32 PM
a good idea for now.
I agree that altough, these might not be the best way to train future students on bank mergers, its seems to be the best so far out there.  I think the challenge of any student is they lack the industry experience when its time for graduation which I think this is a great idea.  I think there will always be a gap between academia and industry.  Both, have different goals, the best way to decrease this gap is by more partnerships with industry on internships and projects.
kstaron   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/14/2012 10:38:21 AM
Send them back to school
Maybe they should be sending their employees to SMU. If they want to upgrade, but don't want jr. emplyees to jump the promotion queue, they need to bite the bullet and send the people they want to take over back to school to learn the new BAIN technology. If you had the opportunity to learn it with your company backing you, would you even hesitate?
stotheco   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/14/2012 6:53:22 AM
Re: Initiative
I am in agreement. By lessening the gap between the academe and industry professionals, the resulting technology and its usage is far improved. There will be much that is added to the knowledge bank as well, which is beneficial to most parties involved.
Susan Nunziata   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/12/2012 8:05:44 PM
It's already happening
Outstanding observations, ivan. The work at BIAN should be applauded. What you touch upon here is really at the crux of a tlent crisis in IT, and applies to many entry-level iT jobs. It will only be that  much more painful for graduates of this new program:

Imagine someone who knows how to do a core banking replacement being told to maintain COBOL code for the indefinite future because the funds aren't available for an upgrade due to IT budgets going to regulatory compliance.

While they may not have the skills to do a core banking replacement, many recent entrants into banking IT are probably horrified at the legacy state of banking infrastructure. In fact, the ubquitiy and state of technology available on most university campuses can't be matched once those graduates get into the enterprise, even if they're on the business side. Most organizations probably don't realize that an investment in technology is also an investment in their talent pool of the future.
David Wagner   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/12/2012 5:15:03 PM
Re: Initiative
@Ivan- It is interesting that you worry about the program being ahead of the technology most banks are deploying, because usually what I worry about with educational programs is that they fall behind quickly. They never seem to stay upto-date. If this one does, i think the least of a bank's worries is that their employees are realy well prepared.
Hammad Masood   Singapore: The Place to Learn Bank IT   11/12/2012 2:54:34 PM
Its a wonderful initiative. I always feel there is gap between academia and industry. Such efforts can help the gap narrow down. 

Is'nt it important that what are the students given theoretical knowledge about, legacy systems or upto date systems ?

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Ivan Schneider
Ivan Schneider   10/30/2013   29 comments
Sears and Whole Foods will take a go-slow or no-go approach to microlocation services, executives from the companies said during a panel discussion Monday at the Seattle Interactive ...
Ivan Schneider   10/15/2013   8 comments
Alex S. Jones, lecturer on the press and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, recently spoke to Harvard alumni in Seattle, and he pointed out that the invention of ...
Ivan Schneider   9/19/2013   23 comments
In response to the expanded range, frequency, and ferocity of cyberattacks against financial institutions, the financial services industry has upped spending considerably on ...
Ivan Schneider   9/11/2013   9 comments
Central clearing and other Dodd-Frank Act regulations have made it more expensive for the banks and brokerages to manage the tangled processes involved in post-trade activity: matching, ...
Ivan Schneider   8/13/2013   7 comments
With virtualization driving IT servers and storage toward a cloud-powered market for IT services, CIOs have to prepare themselves for what it means to be a buyer of commodities in a global ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.