Bank boards still not sufficiently tech savvy, Accenture study reveals

Many banks have accelerated their digital transformations over the past year to counter the coronavirus-induced disruptions

A third of the world's biggest banks still have no board members with professional technology experience, skills needed to help lenders make better decisions as they increase investments on information technology, a new study by consultancy Accenture showed on Friday.

Accenture analysed almost 2,000 directors at more than 100 large banks and found only 10 per cent of board directors and 10 per cent of chief executives on boards had IT experience, up from 4 per cent and 6 per cent when the study was first carried out five years ago.

Over the same period, the number of bank boards with at least one person with professional IT experience has risen only 10 percentage points to 67 per cent, the study showed.

The findings come as banks around the world continue to spend vast portions of budgets on technology, both to revamp outdated back-end systems and offer better digital services to retail and business clients.

"The board can often be critical in advising on how to minimise the risk and maximise the benefits of technology investments," said Mauro Macchi, who heads Accenture strategy and consulting in Europe.

Many banks have accelerated their digital transformations over the past year as the Covid-19 pandemic has required them to ensure staff had the necessary infrastructure to work from home, and their clientele to transact remotely.

This has made it even more important for bank boards to have sufficient IT expertise, Accenture said, suggesting that 25 per cent of directors should have technology experience.

While only 19 per cent of the bank directors with technology experience were women five years ago, that proportion has risen to 33 per cent now, the study found.

Banks in the UK, Finland, Ireland and the US have higher proportions of directors with IT experience while tech credentials in Brazil, China, Russia and various countries in Europe, including Austria and Italy, are very low.