Amazon Targeting Banks, Financial Firms for Fresh AWS Talent

When Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud division, announced its third quarter results for 2020 a few weeks ago, it disclosed a 37 percent year-on-year increase in revenues. That revenue growth appears to have catalyzed hiring, and Amazon has a very particular target in mind when it comes to poaching top talent.

AWS currently has over 360 vacancies in New York City, mostly for solutions architects, but also for roles such as software developers and account managers (including two roles for account managers in financial services). Recent history suggests that at least some of these roles will be filled by people moving from leading investment banks.

AWS likes to hire from Goldman Sachs. One of its most recent Goldman hires is Roger Li, a former Goldman VP and member of the machine learning team in Jersey City. Li joined AWS this month as an applied scientist in NYC, and he will be in good company: In June, AWS also poached Jeff Savio, a VP in Goldman’s asset management business, to manage accounts with fintech start-ups.

In July, Amazon also poached Ishan Guru, a software engineer working on Goldman’s alternative capital markets systems. In April, it took Ranjeet Dayama, a former vice president of data engineering at Marcus, Goldman’s consumer bank. And in March, it extracted John Butler, a Goldman technology fellow, and the man who’d been building Goldman’s strategically important transaction banking business from the ground up.

The exits underscore the threat posed to banks by the big technology firms, which coincidentally want the precisely the same driven, data-centric, top tier talent. It’s not just Goldman’s technology professionals that AWS has been going after… and nor is it just technologists. It’s quants, too. In May, AWS poached Rich Rabinovich, a former Morgan Stanley managing director (MD) and the bank’s ex-head of front-to-back lending technology, who’d been poached only two years previously from Citi to build a new system for the bank.

AWS has also been known to hire quant traders and XVA specialists. Last year, it tapped Santosh Jha, a quant analyst at Bank of America, to work on its deep learning product. 

Working for AWS can be more lucrative than working for a bank. Levels.fyi, which crowdsources compensation data, puts total compensation for Amazon software engineers at the SDE II (L5) and SDE III (L6) levels at between $222,0000 and $304,000. By comparison, it can be hard to make more than $250,000 in a banking tech job, even with years of experience. 

It’s not just AWS that’s sniffing around technology professionals in New York City: There’s also Facebook. Google has 184 jobs in New York City, including several for sales engineers to work with banks that want to modernize their infrastructure with Google Cloud and machine learning functionality. Irrespective of the pandemic, banks need to up their game: their best people are in demand elsewhere, and Amazon is on the hunt.

A modified version of this article appeared in eFinancialCareers.