Meet UBS’s new IT boss

UBS sign

Swiss bank UBS’s new technology chief Michael Dargan is joining from Standard Chartered

Dargan has been appointed by UBS to replace group chief information officer Oliver Bussmann, who left the company in March, according to an internal memo seen by Financial News.

As head of information technology, Dargan will be responsible for all group technology from mid-September, the memo said. He will also join the group COO executive committee. Based in Zurich, he takes on that brief from Axel Lehmann, UBS’s group chief operating officer, who had been leading its technology operations on an interim basis since Bussmann’s departure.

The note, sent to staff by Lehmann, said: “As you know, this past April I decided to lead group technology on an ad interim basis to gain first-hand understanding of GT’s key people, projects, initiatives and challenges.”

“I understand the importance of our delivery in much more detail and I better appreciate the challenges of GT transformation.”

Dargan will join the banking group from Standard Chartered, where he spent nearly seven years and was most recently chief information officer for corporate and institutional banking. In that Singapore-based role, he had been responsible for technology and operations.

Before that, he was global head of financial markets, wealth management, private banking and securities services technology and operations engineering at the bank, and was responsible for process design and driving technology change.

He joined Standard Chartered as head of strategy and global markets in 2009 and later also held the role of CIO for global markets.

Dargan takes the reins as UBS ramps up its technology efforts, both in terms of innovation and simplifying its IT infrastructure.

The bank is investing Sfr1.5 billion ($ 1.56 billion) in a common, simplified IT infrastructure and application portfolio over three years starting in 2015. Around 30% will be spent on an infrastructure upgrade, the rest on business processes, application simplification and the bank’s IT operating model.

Lehmann said in the memo: “Mike’s unique combination of technology, transformation and financial services strategy experience will be crucial as we continue to drive effectiveness and efficiency and integrate group technology even more closely with our business partners.”

The bank has been also leading the way in exploring opportunities offered by new technologies.

Under Bussmann, UBS emerged as one of the early supporters of blockchain technology, setting up an innovation lab in fintech accelerator space Level39 in 2015 to develop ways blockchain could be adopted to process financial transactions in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

During Dargan’s time at Standard Chartered, the bank was among the large institutions involved in fintech innovation and blockchain. It is a backer of Hong Kong-based accelerator SuperCharger and is exploring how distributed ledgers can be applied to trade finance transactions.

It was at Standard Chartered that Dargan first moved into banking technology, having previously focused on business roles. He joined the bank from Merrill Lynch, where he spent more than three years in Singapore, Hong Kong and London, most recently as head of corporate strategy and M&A for Europe Middle East and Africa and Pacific Rim. An Oxford graduate, he started his career in consulting at Oliver Wyman and later specialised in global markets, becoming head of the corporate and institutional banking practice for Asia Pacific.

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