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Oct 4, 2017

'Cyber super power': TD taps cybersecurity experts in Israel

TD Bank Toronto-Dominion Bank

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Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) is opening an office in Tel Aviv, Israel, to recruit workers with cutting-edge cybersecurity skills, after finding a shortage of talent in North America, a top TD executive said.

Jeff Henderson, TD's chief information officer, said in an interview reported on Wednesday that he became convinced of the merits of opening a specialist cybersecurity office in Tel Aviv after a visit to Israel last December.

Israel has emerged as a world leader in nurturing cybersecurity talent, and companies such as Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Barclays (BCS.N) have opened offices in the country to tap that expertise. TD is the first Canadian bank to do so.

Henderson said the level of cybersecurity expertise among young technologists in Israel was superior to what he was seeing in North America, in part because they developed their skills during compulsory military service.

"Internationally, Israel is recognized as a cyber super power," Henderson said. "Here's a talent pool that has been groomed from grade school, gone into terrific education, terrific on-the-job experience. Compare that to a graduate from a North American university. What I saw was a vast difference in experience and a vast difference in maturity."

Henderson said North American universities were not producing enough graduates suited to working in the cybersecurity industry.

"While North American universities and colleges have really ramped up their throughput of talent in cybersecurity, it just isn't enough to meet the demand," he told Reuters.

Henderson said TD will initially recruit six to 12 employees for its Tel Aviv office, before expanding the team to around 20 in about a year's time.

TD also said that it had agreed to partner with artificial intelligence provider Kasisto to introduce a chat-style service on TD's banking app, answering customers questions and giving tips on things they can buy.