investment banks vs retail banks and the data science race

These are certainly interesting times for all involved in the global sphere of data science and none more so than within the world of banking. Within such a complex and diverse industry there are many moving parts across multiple sectors, making it more challenging for experts to spot trends. With this not only comes uncertainty but anticipation about the potential that lies within for many top-tier banks. However there is one trend in particular that has elevated to the forefront of data science. Investment banks are playing a game of catch-up whilst the candidate job market continues to gather pace.

Today most retail banks have mastered the art of leveraging the use of data science, by analyzing customer behavior and predicating which customers are most likely to default on credit cards; as well as identifying potentially fraudulent transactions. As a result, this provides a data science workload, driving the need for a retail bank to invest heavily in modern technology and recruit personnel.

Many of the top-tier retail banks are mirroring the technological advancements of the global insurance and management consultancy sectors, by creating data science groups housing predictive modelers and machine learning experts. These groups then act as an internal resource of intelligence; aiding data-driven decision making across the organization.

It is one thing identifying the need to invest aggressively in modern technology and personnel, although there are only a select few top-tier banks who have successfully executed such a strategy. There are only a select few top-tier banks who have successfully executed such a strategy. It is only a matter of time before others follow suit and begin to gather deeper customer intelligence, and realize the tangible, quantifiable benefits at stake for the entire organization going forward.

Growing Importance of Data Science

As for investment banks, substantial consideration must be given to fact that they currently struggle to determine what beneficial data science use-cases exist within their business model. Undoubtedly this issue will continue going forward into the next quarter.

The demise of the Wall Street boom-era left many investment banks in a perilous condition and those still standing have done remarkably well to stabilize. However only a fool would underestimate the beast that lies within investment banks, in the form of huge potential relevant to spending power and intelligent strategists. Once valid use-cases are identified and streamlined, then the hard-push will begin to catch up with retail banks.

During this state of industry flux, we at Harnham have witnessed notable developments taking place within the data science candidate market. As the demand for us to supply quality personnel intensifies, the job market has become more competitive than ever for candidates and employers alike.

This has led Harnham to open an office in New York City, as it is undoubtedly the banking & financial services stronghold of the United States. With this, comes the powerful status of being the most competitive data science job market in the world. Equally this creates a number of problems, yet a number of advantages for those operating within this space.


Banking on Life Long Learning

One trend in particular has seen quants, reared in the traditional banking world of Wall Street, who then seek a career path towards modern data science falter; as such a move means utilizing unknown technology and software packages.  These candidates now face increasing difficulty making this transition internally due to a lack of modern skills.

Their woes are further compounded when entering the job market, as most are leaving roles at investment banks with the same technology skill-set they acquired many years ago. With that said, all is not lost as there are an abundance of online data science courses now available at prodigious universities such as Harvard, allowing skill-short candidates an opportunity to get to grips with modern programming languages such as Python or R etc. and big data packages such as the Hadoop platform.

Furthermore the emergence of data science boot-camps such as the Metis Boot-Camp (an immersive Data Science boot-camp in New York City) and Columbia University offer a Master’s Degree in Statistics, with focus on data science and machine learning; provide an alternative option. Many job seekers have gone as far as ceasing employment to join such boot-camps. Some have gone a step further still, by going back to university and undertaking a Masters in a data science related field.

As a result of this movement in the candidate market, there is a tug-of-war taking place between those coming from the top universities with Masters or PhD qualifications and those leaving the investment banks searching for data science roles on the retail side.


The Winner Takes It All

Who gets hired, all boils down to a question of each individual banks requirements and which skills they deem as the most important - domain expertise and practical experience verses a highly accomplished modern data science skill-set. Those who combine the two will naturally be more competitive in their search and overall more enticing to potential employers.

From a positive perspective, despite the barriers to entry mentioned, we are right in the midst of a data science market that is actively evolving all the time. It is fast paced, dynamic, exciting and full of opportunity on all fronts.

Given the lean years we have experienced, this is an exciting market to be part of and one that will be at the forefront of a data and analytics evolution, which will grow exponentially over the next five years and beyond.

   Allister Duncan

Harnham blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

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Through a Marketer’s Lens: Tracking Without Third-Party Cookies

Cookies are a sweet treat. A quick mid-day pick-me-up dipped in a glass of milk. They also leave crumbs. And it’s those crumbs which marketers and advertisers have followed to make and offer better products or services to you. The consumer.  Today’s consumers are savvier than ever before. Privacy laws, transparency, and consent management have all opened the door for the third-party cookie to be phased out.  What’s Changing? Third-party cookies are a bit of code which allow ads from outside the website you’re visiting. For example, if you’ve recently been looking for your next beach read, then move to another website about nature, you may wonder why you’re seeing ads for books. Third-party cookies allow tracking across websites. It’s the tracking across websites Google Chrome is focused on phaseing out. The problem? Marketers and Advertisers will have a more difficult time generating new leads and brand awareness. Google Chrome’s answer to the problem may be in a cohort of like-minded users. Ads won’t be as personalized or targeted, and brands won’t have direct access to the customer. But an algorithm will gather the Data, and unknown to the user, will group them as one type of persona. What’s Not Changing? First party cookies are still in business. Here are a few ways tracking won't change in the process: Click-through conversions and campaign performance are tracked by first-party cookies. This is the box you click ‘I agree’ or ‘Accept’ to allow brands to track how you use their website. This won’t change.When you’re searching for something on Google, Facebook, or Instagram, and ads relevant to what you’re searching for pop-up. These won’t change either. First-party cookies are direct from website, so this is still a viable marketing and adtech space. There’s a reason this phaseout is happening slowly. Marketers and Advertisers need time to review existing strategies and get creative crafting new strategies. Adblockers and browsers focused on privacy are gaining ground, yet Google still holds over 60% of market share when it comes to search engines. Consumers understand their Data is the heart of how brands can offer them the most targeted, personalized suggestions. But, privacy is also a big concern and with privacy laws worldwide, it’s time for browsers and brands to balance the two. What Does This Mean for AdTech? It may not be as dramatic a change as it portends, but the phaseout of third-party cookies is something for marketers and adtech to take seriously. If first-party cookies are those crumbs of code which can gather Data directly from users who use a particular website, then third-party cookies were those who might be scooped up by the wind and carried to other destinations. It’s that carried on the wind across other devices angle which is going away. While third-party cookies were a granular targeting of user interests by gathering Data such as demographics, location, and user interests, there are other ways to get the information without these bits of code.  The last 20 years or so have seen incredible growth in targeted marketing and when third-party cookies are obsolete, tracking won’t be the same. But then again, tracking Data was a new game 20 years ago, wasn’t it? We evolve. We adapt as things change.  Privacy, Consent Management, and Customer Trust Privacy laws, GDPR, first-party cookies, consent, and building and maintaining customer trust. These are the cornerstones of a robust marketing and advertising campaign moving forward. Most brands have plenty of Data already for their customers and coupled with some old-is-new-again strategies, it may be possible to create even more loyal customers. When you invest in the best interest of your customer and offer the right consent management solutions, your brand awareness becomes brand loyalty. Add assurance their Data is kept private and confidential through more robust security protocols, and listen to the customer. If you’re looking for your next role in Big Data, Analytics, Computer Vision, or Robotics, Harnham may have a role for you.  Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to  For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to  

One Size Does Not Fit All – Tech and the LGBQT Community

One Size Does Not Fit All: Tech and the LGBQT Community

Technology is constantly changing our world and our place in it. For some, it is a boon. For others, a bust. But it is working to pull the two together in an always-on, ever-in-demand world. As trite as this may sound, the remote work and virtual schooling lifestyles to which we’ve become accustomed are offering an opportunity of sorts. We’re all coming out regardless of our shape, size, or who we love. When Technology is a Friend  Before there was the internet, social media, and apps for everything, life was focused on location. But as computers left schools and popped up in our homes and in our hands, suddenly we had access to everything and anyone we might need to reach. Suddenly, alternative voices had a platform. A rallying cry for inclusion, for services, and for equal rights. With the internet, those in the LGBT community could find friends, partners, and the opportunity share experiences and frustrations with those who might best understand. The Road Ahead  As important as the rise of the internet, social media, and apps have been for the LGBT community. It’s had its downside, too. Consider such issues as electronic health care, security, cyberbullying, and privacy. But there are influencers and new devices being created every day. As the pandemic wears on, wearable devices, telehealth and chatbot services, as well as a new drive for inclusion in business regardless of one’s gender may just be the turning point to move the world forward. When it comes to business, there can be an unintended consequence of trying to put everyone in the same box. Which would make everything easier, right? Except humans are different in every imaginable way. Its what brings out the creativity, the ideas, the devil’s advocates, and the pushing the envelope to create better. We forget, more often than not these days, that humans are not machines. It’s time to let the machines know this, too. LGBTQ and STEM  Science. Technology. Engineering. Math. Each word brings to mind a certain type of person. Usually, male. Usually, white. But there are so many who are involved in a STEM field in one way or another and they are of every color and every gender. Pronouns, included. Just think, the more diverse your team is how much more innovative, productive, and creative your product or service could be. Ways to address the problems include: Forming societiesFunding agenciesNetworking opportunitiesOrganizational support The Trouble with AI Not long ago, Stanford University conducted a controversial study in an effort to teach AI how to distinguish using facial recognition whether someone is gay or lesbian. Why a machine needs to define gender roles is a haunting and dangerous question. Facial recognition software from our IDs to medical records, security devices, privacy laws and more are supposed to protect the people who use them. So, over the last 20 years or so, the LGBTQ community has been able to come out of the shadows. From Alan Turing, the father of theoretical computing to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, the tech world’s leaders are becoming increasingly diverse. Add in Ana Arialo, Gina Trapani, and Ann Mei Chung, and tech is humming along under the direction of these pioneers in tech from the LGBTQ community. It’s Pride Month! Take pride in all you do, in who you are, and if you’re looking for your next role in Big Data and Analytics, Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to   If you’re interested in learning more about ways technology and the LGBT community have changed over the last 20 years, we invite you to check out these resources:

Our New Relationship with Food: Computer Vision and Robotics in the Grocery Aisle

Curbside pickup. Order online, pickup in store. Mealkits and subscription boxes. Self-checkout. Contactless payments, Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS), smart carts, and more. These are just a few of the advances which have been amped up during the pandemic and could be here to stay.  Now well-versed in physical distancing and self-preservation from quarantine to vaccine, we have reestablished a healthy relationship with food and where it comes from. Food is our way to connect with others and to be social. Our shopping experience has found a hybrid life virtually and physically using the latest in computer vision and robotics technologies.  Here are three few ways your grocery experience has been transformed. RoboticsSmart cartsDark Stores and Ghost Kitchens Pickup on Aisle 3! Robots in Store and Behind the Scenes In an effort to protect shoppers, cashiers, and the countless essential workers who kept everyone in food and sundries, some groceries have opted for a robotic assist. What do these robots do? Think hazard warnings, inventory control, and a device workers can turn to for help with items on the highest warehouse shelf. No more lugging the step or extension ladder. While they can’t do everything at once. These robots can assist humans where help is most needed.  There is no one-size-fits-all robot. Each is equipped with its own unique speciality. Where one robot warns shoppers and employees of spills in both Spanish and English, another alerts staff to misplaced products or out-of-stock items. When it comes to inventory, the early days of COVID-19 showed how imperative it was to keep necessary items fully stocked. Anyone else remember the run-on toilet paper? Using Machine Learning and Computer Vision to identify spills, out-of-stock items, or misplaced products, these robots make the rounds giving workers more time to focus on customers. Smart Carts ID Preferences Imagine a self-checkout right from your shopping cart. Lined up next to traditional shopping carts or buggies, these branded smart carts take note of what is being put into them. It may make recommendations of additional items or recipes from what’s already in the cart. And the days of putting your product in the cart, then taking them out again to be scanned could soon be a thing of the past. Because not only can your smart cart scan both your labeled and your weighted item, it tallies your bill and allows you to pay from what is essentially a grocery counter on wheels. It’s not quite contactless. But it's close. Going Dark in Light of Pandemic-era Shopping Dark grocery stores are brick-and-mortar stores closed to the public, so they can be more efficient as fulfillment centers for the increased load of pickup and delivery options. In an effort to stay safe, more and more people turned to online shopping, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. While online shopping, or rather online grocery shopping, isn’t new. The pandemic-related issues of close contact launched those on the fence and the demand for delivery continues.  In a Nutshell: Our Renewed Relationship with Food Last year brought a renewed relationship with our food. We used it to reconnect with our families and our friends via video. Many of us got back to our roots and creative forces sourcing local ingredients, baking and breaking bread with the loved ones. In a renewed relationship with food, we have a better understanding of what fuels us.  And in a McKinsey interview with Brian Solis,’s Global Innovation Engineer explains his vision of what the future could be like in retail: “By 2030, 5G will have given way to 6G. We’ll have sensors, computer vision, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, immersive and spatial computing. How can these worlds play together in a way that is almost fantasy-like? Figuring that out takes imagination. It takes experience architecture—a new type of discipline and expertise. I wouldn’t be shocked if the best retailers in 2030 are employing game designers or spatial-computing designers.” Check out this article for other ways your grocery experience may have changed. Whether it's food, fashion, or fun, the next projects to consider are those that play together. Use your imagination and, if you’re looking for your next role in Big Data, Analytics, Computer Vision, or Robotics, Harnham may have a role for you.  Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to  For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to  

The Science Of The Mind From A Data Perspective

Wearable devices. Electronic Health Records. Telehealth Appointments. Mental Health apps. All these devices collect, gather, and analyze Data. These are just a few of the devices available to the public for their physical health. And yes, mental health is part of your physical health. After all, when you feel relaxed, calm, and ready to carry on, it makes you feel better as a whole person, right? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five Americans suffers a mental illness. Yet less than half receive treatment. With the advent of virtual telehealth services, Forrester predicted one-third of the estimated billion users of the service would be for mental health in 2021. So, with all these cutting-edge technologies, it would seem there’s an opportunity for everyone to find support. Mental or behavioral health goes deeper. Let’s take a look at some trends in Genomics, genetics, and how Data Science can help.  What To Do With the Data in Mental Health Every device we wear, form we fill out, or appointment we schedule requires information. We give demographics, location, family and medical histories with an eye toward genetics. What environmental factors could have contributed? Who is most affected and how can they be reached?  How does social media play a role?  What stresses could someone be facing? How might you reach them and once engaged, how would you ensure treatment continued? These are just a few of the questions to be asked and the answers range from chatbots and virtual services to check-in apps. But when it comes to taking a deeper dive, genomics offers up a few more technologies fixed on getting to the heart of the issue. Such as: Using Natural Language Processing for note-takingDiagnostic Image Recognition using brain scansUnderstand and implement appropriate treatments using genomics to treat based on each individual’s needs.Continue advancements in Machine Learning chat bots and AI These are just a few of the trends in mental and behavioral health. More focused advances in gene editing allow for influence of specific cells. These breakthroughs offer ever more individualized treatments at a molecular level. Check out this Forbes article for a few more trends in the Life Sciences and Healthcare space. Bringing it All Together. Genome Data Is In Demand Where genetics ends, genomics begins. Much like we talk about work and life balance or integration, genomics seeks to employ for our mental and physical health. Using Data-driven insights to offer more treatment options, patients can engage with their providers via any number of sources. Precision medicine, lifestyle changes, AI and deep learning initiatives are driving genomic integration to help fuel behavioral health solutions. These advances are rich with promise in the Life Sciences field and are meant to benefit the whole person not just body or mind. May is Mental Health Awareness month. So take care of yourself. Reach out to others and if you’re thinking you need a change and you want to be part of the discoveries, Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to  For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to  

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