BNY Mellon to increase tech spend as cost savings materialize

Bank of New York Mellon expects to continue pouring money into technology in search of efficiencies for the foreseeable future, executives indicated during the bank’s second-quarter earnings call on Wednesday. In 2018, the bank increased what it spends on technology and product development from about $2.4 billion to $2.75 billion, and it is poised to spend about $3 billion this year, which is still far below the $11.5 billion JPMorgan Chase has consistently spent on technology in recent years.

BNY Mellon has focused its investments on hardware and software for new and existing infrastructure, which include building a new data center and improving existing data centers; consolidating custody platforms; redesigning the client portal to offer improved customer experiences across all devices; building a wealth management platform with self–service capabilities across investments and banking; and building and improving ETF servicing infrastructure.

Also see: What BNY Mellon Seeks in a Fintech Partner

Despite significantly increasing investment in technology, the bank’s overall expenses were down 4% quarter-over-quarter. “We’re being very judicious and ruthlessly prioritizing investments while also benefiting from our continued progress in increasing our underlying efficiency,” BNY Mellon CEO Charlie Scharf said. Meaningful opportunities to reduce expenses remain, he noted, adding that the bank already has reduced layers of management, trimmed down employee count and locations, and automated processes like clearing and settling transactions. He said the bank is expecting efficiencies to continue to offset expenses over at least the next couple of quarters, but stressed that the bank’s technological transformation will be a “multi-year journey.”

In his March 2019 letter to shareholders, Scharf wrote that automation “removes the possibility for human error and allows us to perform tasks on a much timelier basis and less expensively.” He said the same is true for management processes. “Removing unnecessary processes reduces our cost and generally will lead to better and more timely answers, which allow us to be more responsive to our clients,” he added. “There’s no doubt that the tech spend should become more efficient as time goes on.”

BNY Mellon’s market cap is $41.3 billion. Its stock was trading up around 2.7% as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.