- Cathy Bessant is the chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America.
- Bessant oversees a $14 billion annual tech budget and 95,000 employees globally.
- These are the seven key leaders reporting to Bessant.
When Brian Moynihan took the helm of Bank of America 11 years ago, one of the first things he did was task Cathy Bessant, a veteran of the bank, with centralizing its technology and operations teams.
“One of the key ingredients to making it work is that they are integrated with each other,” Bessant told Insider of her leadership team of seven. “A technology and operations organization doesn’t have the luxury of being able to be an island.”
Technology and operations at the second-biggest US bank by assets used to be siloed, leading to internal inefficiencies and redundancies that Bessant and her team have whittled away.
Bessant said the bank at the time used 64 customer-relationship-management platforms, a number she and her team have brought down to two. And what used to be a footprint of more than 60 data centers now numbers 20, with the goal of sunsetting four more centers.
The decision to unify the tech and ops groups at Bank of America was driven by four goals — enabling businesses, simplification and modernization, cost management, and risk management — all within the constraints of a highly regulated, if well-capitalized, bank.
“There are some natural tensions in any organization. People always want more tech resources. An important part of the discipline is to have that investment looked at on a central basis and managed on a central basis,” Bessant said.
But tech development at Bank of America has been boosted by support from the bank’s other leaders, like Moynihan, Bessant said.
Her organization’s budget totals $14 billion a year across tech and operations spending, a massive amount in any corporation. Roughly $10 billion of that is devoted to Bank of America’s tech budget, while about $4 billion goes to operations.
Moynihan and the bank’s executives increased the bank’s spending on new initiatives, much of which centers on tech innovation, by $500 million, to $3.4 billion annually, in 2021. For about the past decade, Bank of America had spent roughly $3 billion a year on new initiatives.
“If you look at the revenues, some of the technical teams — and realize that I manage a budget of $14 billion — you can surmise how much each of them manage. They are running large organizations that would be on the Fortune 500 list,” Bessant said.
Bessant meets with her team of seven executives weekly, and during the pandemic she’s begun to host more of what the bank calls “two-down” meetings, in which she meets with the employees who report directly to her own executive team.
Here are the 7 power players who oversee Bank of America’s $14 billion annual tech budget.
Head of global business services (India and shared services) and Bessant’s COO
Sumeet Chabria runs the bank’s India-based tech operations and is responsible for the several thousand vendors that provide the bank with technology, operations, and business services.
Bessant recently expanded Chabria’s remit to chief operating officer of the global tech and operations team, which oversees technical operations across all eight business lines; data governance; information security; and infrastructure services. As COO of global tech and ops, Chabria is responsible for ensuring an effective operating environment for the leadership team of nine executives and the 95,000 employees underneath them, all of whom report to Bessant.
He’s also the de facto artificial-intelligence expert for Bessant’s team and is often tapped to represent the bank at public AI-focused forums, like those with the government or in academia.
Chief technology officer, head of core technology and infrastructure services
Tony Kerrison oversees how the bank’s internal technology — the cloud, internal servers, data centers, networks, engineering, application services, and automation — is architected across the firm.
Kerrison’s organization, called technology and infrastructure services, crosses all eight business lines and regions, and it handles incident management.
He is the latest executive to join Bessant’s leadership team, in a nod to the bank’s increased focus on infrastructure and cloud initiatives. Along with the promotion came a bigger remit, which includes application-production support for global banking and markets, and consumer, small-business, and wealth management.
Head of global banking and markets technology, enterprise risk and finance technology
David Reilly heads up two teams at Bank of America: one supporting the technology underpinning the bank’s global banking and markets business, and another serving Bank of America’s enterprise risk and finance division. He also headed up the bank’s migration to the private cloud — a seven-year initiative, completed in 2019, that the bank said saved roughly $2 billion in infrastructure costs.
Reilly joined Bank of America in 2011 from Morgan Stanley, where he was the chief information officer of enterprise infrastructure. At Bank of America, Reilly served first as chief technology officer for global wealth and investment management and then as the bank’s chief technology officer before taking on his current role in 2017.
Head of global banking and markets operations
Paul Simpson heads up the operations underpinning Bank of America’s services for commercial, corporate, investment-banking, and government clients, as well as its small-business and business-banking customers. The role includes coverage across the bank’s sales and trading, underwriting, and treasury and trade businesses.
Simpson works with David Reilly and leads technology and operations teams in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin American regions.
Head of consumer technology, wealth-management technology
As head of the tech organization overseeing Bank of America’s consumer-banking and wealth-management businesses, Aditya Bhasin is responsible for the technology running the bank’s consumer and wealth apps and in-person financial centers. His team also has coverage of Bank of America’s payments and commerce tech used by individual and small-business customers.
Additionally, Bhasin oversees the bank’s employee-facing technologies and tools, drives agile development methods, and sets architecture standards across the firm. He’s tasked with connecting the bank with emerging technology startups and identifying partnerships with the fintech ecosystem.
Head of consumer, small-business, and wealth operations
Tom Scrivener manages operations across consumer, small-business, wealth-management, and private-banking lines of business at Bank of America. He works closely with Aditya Bhasin, together directing a team of more than 15,000 employees. Scrivener also oversees teams that provide cash and transportation services, card issuance, and mortgage and vehicle servicing.
Scrivener also took on Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness, an organization made up of 2,000 employees who facilitate the loan-forgiveness process of the government aid program for small businesses.
Chief information security officer
Craig Froelich heads up global information security at Bank of America and is responsible for protecting the money and information of the bank and its customers. His team of experts spans 13 countries and works closely with industry and government groups to strengthen defenses against current and future threats. As part of doing so, Froelich’s organization has filed or been granted more than 650 cybersecurity patents.
Froelich has also spearheaded recruitment initiatives geared toward neurodivergent people, something he said had strengthened the bank’s cyber ranks while creating a more collaborative workplace culture.