According to an Accenture report, only six percent of the directors overseeing the world’s biggest banks have any technology experience.  As someone who spends the bulk of his day explaining technology to bankers, obviously my opinion is every bank should have at least some technology experience on a board of directors.  I’m intimately familiar with how slowly the banking industry changes, but this seems like more of an oversight than a slow moving trend.

A Harvard Business Review article on the same topic noted that the decision to add a technology expert to your board hinges on two factors:

Whether technology is a strategic differentiator for the business and

The nature of the industry and market structure in which the company operates.

I would argue the line between technology and product offerings has become increasingly blurry.  It is rare that a bank finds and implements a new loan, deposit or security product without a corresponding technology.
  • We’re providing a rewards program. Which customer loyalty software provider did you choose?
  • We now offer a full suite of wealth management tools.  I expect you fully integrated the new website?
  • We’re giving our customers access to car buying assistance.  How was the selection process for finding the right online service?

It is possible a bank can find a new strategic initiative without the need for a new integration project, software provider or cloud services partner, but it is becoming increasingly rare.  Even if a current solution provider offers a new add-on service, there is almost always going to be a buy/build/partner analysis.  So if every strategic initiative is going to include a technology expert, why would you leave a technology expert out of the board room?