October 4, 2017 / 10:13 AM / 2 years ago

Canada's TD Bank looks to Israel for cyber security talent

The Toronto Dominion (TD) bank logo is seen on a building in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 16, 2017. Picture taken March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) is opening an office in Tel Aviv, Israel, to recruit workers with cutting edge cyber security 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 cyber security office in Tel Aviv after a visit to Israel last December.

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

Henderson said the level of cyber security 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 cyber security industry.

“While North American universities and colleges have really ramped up their throughput of talent in cyber security, 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.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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