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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, June 2019

Artificial Intelligence is Disrupting Another Industry: Site Selection

Omaha is the fifth-ranked city for AI and financial services, according to The Boyd Location Quotient index from The Boyd Company Inc. Photo courtesy of Greater Omaha Chamber
Photo courtesy of Greater Omaha Chamber

by JOHN H. BOYD, Principal, The Boyd Company Inc.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting the traditional banking and financial services business model, unearthing great opportunities for efficiencies, and at the same time, creating new challenges. One of these new challenges for our firm is determining the best location to relocate or to expand new offices and operations centers of our banking and financial services clients.

Over the next several years as new technologies like AI take hold, there are concerns that many jobs will be lost and the impact of labor on the site selection process will be drastically mitigated. While job seekers may still be flocking to high-paying Wall Street jobs today, a new report revealed a million jobs in the industry could disappear over the next decade.  

Boyd client JP Morgan Chase is preparing thousands of databases to make room for machine learning and Citi president Jamie Forese predicted that robots could replace as many as 10,000 human banking jobs within five years. Especially at-risk positions include customer-service reps, financial managers, compliance agents and loan officers.  

But these job loss projections fail to tell the whole story. What our banking and finance clients are telling us is that AI will indeed displace jobs in some areas but will also create a significant number of new jobs elsewhere in the organization.

“Given our clients’ need for the latest in AI skillsets and the academic resources for continuing education and retraining of displaced workers, our site searches today are focusing heavily on those North American markets housing outstanding academic programs in artificial intelligence.”

What matters most today is talent for smart automation and for us, as location advisors to the industry, where do we find this talent for our site-seeking clients? Given our clients’ need for the latest in AI skillsets and the academic resources for continuing education and retraining of displaced workers, our site searches today are focusing heavily on those North American markets housing outstanding academic programs in artificial intelligence. Our searches also prioritize those cities housing a sizeable precedent base of financial services jobs and skillsets along with a favorable operating cost profile.   

John Boyd
John Boyd is principal and founder of The Boyd Co. Inc., a location consulting firm based in Princeton, New Jersey.

Today, with the new paradigm of artificial intelligence, our firm has identified 25 cities (see chart below) that show superior fit for AI recruiting by our site-seeking banking and financial services clients. Cities are ranked by the Boyd Location Quotient (BLK) which indicates how the percentage of the local area’s total employment in banking and financial services compares with the average for the nation as a whole.

The top-ranked U.S. city, Salt Lake City, houses the University of Utah's School of Computing and one of the top AI programs in the West. The city is also home to a growing financial service cluster of firms, including Goldman Sachs, Zions Bank, Discover Products, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity. Salt Lake City has been the destination of many of Goldman's private wealth-management tech jobs and digital-experience jobs leaving New York’s Wall Street. Salt Lake City is also home to the highest number of industrial banks in the nation with 15 chartered industrial banks, eight of which are in the top ten industrial banks in the country.

The top-ranked city overall, Montreal, houses one of the world’s top labs for deep-learning research: the MILA (Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms) headed by Yoshua Bengio, one of the founders of machine learning. Montreal also benefits from its deep pool of workers in financial services, Canada’s global recruiting-friendly immigration policies and favorable exchange rate. Montreal has already attracted some 2,000 jobs from Boston-based State Street and New York City-based Morgan Stanley, along with major AI players DeepMind, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Thales.

Top-Ranked Cities for AI and Financial Services


About Boyd

Founded in 1975, The Boyd Company Inc., based in Princeton, New Jersey, provides independent location counsel to leading North American and overseas corporations. Devoted exclusively to corporate mobility, Boyd is recognized as a leading authority in strategic site selection and the economy. Boyd clients in banking and financial services include JP Morgan Chase, Visa International, TD Canada Trust, Sun Life Financial, PNC Bank, Discover Card, BNP Paribas, Progressive Insurance and others.

The TrustBelt report helps the US Midwest tell its economic resurgence story to the audience of Site Selection. The TrustBelt report serves as a comprehensive repository of news and analysis on corporate real estate and economic development activity throughout the Midwest. This includes content on every state in the region — Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Northern Kentucky, along with Western New York and Pennsylvania.

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