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How Bessant helped boost Bank of America’s bottom line

With just under half of Bank of America’s staff reporting to her, Cathy Bessant is one of the most powerful people in banking. She sees technology now developing faster than banks’ ability to implement it – or work out what to do with it – and believes cyber security to be the most important challenge of all.


When Cathy Bessant speaks, the banking world tends to listen. After a long and successful career in the industry, she has witnessed many of its ups and downs. Now, as the chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America, she is at the cutting edge of arguably the biggest transformation that she or any of her contemporaries have witnessed. 

“The notion that there is some kind of intersection between banking and technology is a misconception. Through a process almost of osmosis, they have come to be one and the same thing,” Bessant tells Euromoney.

That osmosis – and the ability or otherwise of banks to deal with it – is more important than ever before to the bottom line of financial institutions. On January 17, Bank of America reported $2.4 billion of net income (profit) after tax for the fourth quarter of 2017 on revenues of $20.4 billion, even after absorbing a $2.9 billion hit relating to the recently passed tax act and associated revaluation of deferred tax assets. 

Group revenues grew by 7% while expenses fell by 1%, delivering the 12th consecutive quarter of positive operating leverage. 

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