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Standard Chartered's job cuts come to most hallowed roles in banking

If you were starting your banking career in, say, 2018, there was one type of job that seemed most suited to a secure and illustrious future: digital transformation specialist. The role appeared from nowhere, and people who could do it were like unicorns' eggs. 

Five years later, that bubble has burst. Standard Chartered, one of the most exuberant adopters of the digital transformation mantra, is trimming some of its acolytes. 

Bloomberg reports that Standard Chartered's 100 job cuts include both a few MDs in financial markets, some juniors, some middle office people and some digital transformation specialists. The digital transformation specialists were presumably the most surprised of the lot, because until recently they were receiving a lot of love. 

In 2021, Standard Chartered began spending $1bn in a year on its digital strategy. Michael Gorriz, its then group chief information officer was impassioned about it, declaring boldly: “I cannot foresee an end in the transformation – the world is transforming every day.” There were podcasts. There were presentations. There was hiring

Despite the unending nature of his task, Gorriz himself left Standard Chartered in late 2021. He was replaced by Roel Louwhoff, who'd been doing transformation at ING and who seems less prone to making grandiose statements about his oeuvre. 

That's probably just as well, given the new vulnerability of the digital transformers to cuts. Standard Chartered's first quarter results presentation didn't reference digital transformation at all, compared to multiple mentions of 'transformational digital initiatives' four years previously. This might be because digital transformation is now simply a byword for business as usual. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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