AWS for Industries

Executive Conversations: Vikram Dewan, Chief Information Officer at Jefferies

John Kain, Head of Financial Services Market Development at Amazon Web Services (AWS) is joined by Vikram Dewan, Chief Information Officer at Jefferies, who recently announced plans to move core business systems, internal and customer-facing applications, IT resources, and companywide data to AWS. In this post, Vikram discussed Jefferies’ digital transformation and explained the value of cloud for financial services companies to gain a competitive edge.

John Kain: Help our readers understand Jefferies’ cloud journey. How did you get started, how did you evolve, and why do you think now is the time to move fully to the cloud?

Vikram Dewan: Some Jefferies teams had been using AWS services for several years, for example – Compute – Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Storage – Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and AWS Backup. But the fast-evolving needs of both our internal teams and our customers revealed that it was time for a complete, firm-wide integration of AWS. We need an IT infrastructure that enables us to operate with more speed, flexibility, and security, and that is precisely what AWS will provide. Specifically, we expect this cloud integration to improve our time-to-market, enhance and automate the customer experience, and allow us to use data that will drive customized product development. The cloud won’t just modernize our technology – we expect it to be a continuous driver of business innovation.

In 2021, Jefferies already expanded its cloud implementation by 50%. And in 2022, our technology team is using AWS computing services to build new products and features for each business unit. In the past, this would have required up-front capital investment. Now the tools and services we need are already present in AWS. To enhance resiliency, we are also moving as many infrastructure services over to the cloud as fast as possible, while simultaneously migrating several apps to the cloud. This migration will mitigate hardware-based outages that our legacy systems experience, as well as enable faster, more frequent application deployments.

John Kain: How do you think cloud infrastructure will enable financial services companies to better serve clients?

Vikram Dewan: Jefferies saw the potential of cloud computing several years ago, which is why our latest partnership with AWS is an acceleration of a journey that we’ve been on for quite some time. But other investment banks and capital market firms have certainly recognized the potential of the cloud. In an industry where the quality and accessibility of your data is paramount, the cloud provides faster and smarter computing and data infrastructure that provides more meaningful insights. Both buy-side and sell-side peers are using AWS to power their risk, pricing, and investment decisions. The cloud is so much more cost efficient than the technology infrastructure that financial firms previously had to cobble together on their own. Therefore, it will also democratize data, analytics, and machine learning (ML) like never before.

Ultimately, the cloud just enables so much more precision and efficiency. It takes the guesswork out of your capacity allocation. This is especially important in an industry where trading volumes—and therefore the strain on your technology—can vary so widely. It lets you bring new products and services to market faster. Furthermore, it can enhance, digitize, and automate the customer experience, which also yields data and market insights that drive a more tailored customer product.

John Kain: Moving to the cloud will mean different things for different parts of Jefferies’ business. Can you provide a few examples of how different teams within Jefferies will see benefits from the cloud?

Vikram Dewan: Every Jefferies professional will benefit from having access to a more secure, flexible, and fast technology platform, and some business will see particularly idiosyncratic enhancements. For example, our equities trading business will perform better if they can deliver clients an incrementally better price one millisecond faster. The cloud’s enhanced functionality and speed will make that possible. Moreover, our investment bankers will have access to more real-time data and information that will empower them to offer more actionable insights to clients. In addition, our facilities teams will have more physical space to work with now that we can increase our storage without needing to increase our on-premises computing footprint. Therefore, the benefits across our entire business are immense.

John Kain: I know you’ve already done a lot of thinking and planning regarding how to train Jefferies’ IT team as well as business partners in the cloud. Can you tell us why this is so important to you and how you’re rolling out this program?

Vikram Dewan: We see the journey to the cloud as a singular shift in the way that we do things here within the Technology team and across the firm. It’s an opportunity to change our Software Development Lifecycle, which is incredibly meaningful. It’s also an opportunity to change how we upskill our organization, especially as we plan to train more than 1,500 professionals with AWS’ training program over the next two years.

John Kain: For any financial services firm, so much of their competitive edge is derived from their ability to derive actionable insights from huge and diverse sets of data. How do you think the cloud will help Jefferies enhance its competitive edge?

Vikram Dewan: Jefferies’ business is built on our ability to provide our clients with advice and insights that they can’t find anywhere else. This requires bankers with deep sector expertise who know their respective industries inside and out and can spot the signal that matters for their clients in a world fill of noise. By enabling our bankers to sift through huge reams of data even faster, the cloud will strengthen their ability to do what they do best – provide clients with the precise insight that they need, when they need it.

John Kain: We understand the IT team at Jefferies is growing quickly. How will training and certification be handled as part of the onboarding process? And how will migrating to the cloud help with your talent development efforts more broadly both in IT and across the firm?

Vikram Dewan: We’ve already partnered with AWS to complete a Learning Needs Analysis, which enabled us to develop a customized learning plan for each part of the organization. Going forward, we’ll utilize a combination of digital and instructor-led sessions to improve the foundational competency level across the enterprise, as well as for more specific roles. When new colleagues arrive at Jefferies, they’ll take part in the learning pathway that’s the best fit for their role and career aspirations.

The technology market is so competitive. To attract and retain new talent, we must provide the most modern tools, development environments, and training. That’s why we have such an expansive cloud development learning platform that will become increasingly immersive and role-specific over time.

John Kain: What excites you the most about the future of technology at Jefferies?

Vikram Dewan: I joined Jefferies about nine months ago and I’ve been so energized by how empowered everyone is to make the investments that are best for the firm. That’s what makes this place special. It’s an entrepreneurial firm where everyone in every role is given the tools that they need. But you have the discretion to decide how best to use those tools to improve the business or serve your clients. So, what excites me most about the future of technology is that I know we’ll always be on the cutting edge. If there’s a technology investment or advancement that our leaders think will help our people do their jobs better, then they’ll empower me to make that investment.

John Kain

John Kain

John leads Worldwide Business & Market Development at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He works with customers to help them transform their existing businesses and bring new, innovative solutions to market by leveraging AWS services. John has more than 20 years of experience developing solutions for financial institutions. Prior to joining AWS, he led key programs for J.P. Morgan, Nasdaq, and two venture-backed financial technology companies. John holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.