Banks increase artificial intelligence headcount by 9%

Alexandra MousavizadehEvident Co-Founder and CEO

Banks are increasing AI talent headcount at double the rate of overall headcount growth, according to new insight from AI benchmarking and intelligence platform Evident.

Evident’s AI Talent Capability Dispatch shows that the overall pool of AI talent employed by 50 of the world’s biggest banks increased by 9% over the last six months. This is double the rate of growth observed in overall headcount across the same banks amidst continuing layoffs.

The surge in banking AI talent is being driven mainly by Implementation roles, which move AI from planning and development to full production.

Implementation staffing increased by nearly 14% between November 2023 and April 2024, followed by Data Engineering (+7%), AI Development (+5.4%) and Model Risk (+1.8%), with 68% of net new AI talent in the US focused on Implementation capabilities (compared to only 47.3% in Europe). This bifurcation in AI talent maturity reflects the wider gap in AI capability between US and European banks, as underscored in the Evident AI Index.

Alexandra Mousavizadeh (pictured), Evident Co-Founder and CEO, commented: “AI is starting to move from the lab to the front office, with the leading banks focusing on finding the right talent to implement AI and make it work for the bottom line. AI is viewed as a critical strategic priority, which is why the banks’ AI talent volumes continue to grow at pace, seemingly immune from the ongoing reduction in force initiatives seen across the wider sector.

“The key trend we’ve seen over the past six months is the growth in banking roles designed to make AI a day-to-day, organisation-wide reality, led by some of the leading US banks.”

The Evident Dispatch leverages the data behind the Evident AI Index – the go-to benchmark for AI in banking – to surface monthly analysis tracking “need to know” changes across the industry.

According to the latest Dispatch, JPMorgan Chase leads the way in terms of the volume of AI talent, equipped with 5.7x more AI staff than the average Index bank and employing 11.5% of all AI talent in play. Capital One is the leader for AI talent density, with 12% of overall headcount working on AI, 4.3x higher than the average Index bank.

Evident notes that eight of the top 10 banks for AI talent growth in the past six months were already in the top 10 banks for AI talent volume, demonstrating the extent to which existing banking leaders are looking to consolidate their talent advantage.

However, four European banks—Deutsche Bank, Santander, ING and Lloyds—stand out for the pace at which they are growing the absolute volume of overall AI talent, albeit from a lower starting point than the AI talent leaders.

Deutsche Bank grew its global AI talent capability by 26.7% (Index average: 9%), Santander increased its AI talent density by nearly 10x the Index average, ING established Romania as the banks’ third largest AI talent hub, behind the Netherlands and Poland, and Lloyds Banking Group began its AI catch-up journey by expanding Data Engineering talent capabilities at twice the pace of its immediate UK peers.

Mousavizadeh added: “The top 10 banks for AI talent currently account for 51% of the overall banking industry talent pool—a huge advantage when it comes to AI adoption. This concentration of AI talent has real consequences. If the banks that lag behind cannot close the gap, the race to implement AI will become an uphill struggle.”