Hargreaves Lansdown CIO David Davies is leading a strategy of constant digital development at the FTSE 100 financial services company that will extend into opening a new technology lab in Poland in mid-2017.
The investment management and pension products provider currently administers more than £70 billion of client assets and employs employ more than 1,000 people at its Bristol base. Davies expects to eventually add around 50 staff members at the Warsaw hub, who will focus on expanding the company's software development capabilities.
"A core strategy of mine is to continue to evolve our internal team and ultimately to evolve our own systems with our own people," says Davies.
He has been increasing the size of his IT team 20% year-on-year to achieve this, but the task that has become increasingly challenging as the talent pool in Bristol has inevitably shrunk. He began to expand his search for staff around one year ago to the outskirts of Bristol, and then outwards across the UK. The digital skills shortage recurred throughout the country, forcing Davies to adopt a different approach.
Hargreaves Lansdown engaged with a specialist third party in order to conduct a search from Ireland to India to identify the best location for finding new tech talent. They narrowed it down, country-by-country, until they finally reached Poland. The technical talent pool there and the specific expertise in key areas of IT for the company convinced Davies to investigate further.
His team then explored Poland's four largest cities, talking to the people there and the local governments. It was Warsaw that stood out as the best choice for international expansion.
"The exceptional amount of technicians within the talent pool was the first point, and the fact that that's topped up every year," says Davies. "Ten to twelve thousand IT graduates per year coming into that talent pool is an exceptional rate, so that was a key thing for me. But also the amount of investment.
"For me, Warsaw now looks like what Canary Wharf did maybe 20 years ago. It's full of cranes, there's now the building which we're looking to go into which is the second tallest building in Poland. It's an exceptionally exciting, almost sexy looking building which towers in the skyline and is filled by some of the world's most exceptional companies, and they're growing tech as part of that growth.
"Putting Hargreaves Lansdown in the same realm as these organisations for me is an exciting opportunity to grow internal IT, but for us as an organisation I think it really puts us into that top tier of fintech organisations in the globe."
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