We talked to Stephen Flaherty, managing director of J.P. Morgan, to find out why Scotland’s connections and access to skills made it the perfect location for its business.
Stephen Flaherty, Managing Director of J.P. Morgan
Within J.P. Morgan I have various hats that I wear: I’m chief architect for the asset management line of the business, running across one billion dollars’ worth of spend and 4,000 technologists; I’m also a distinguished engineer for the firm, which involves mentoring a few different projects; and more recently I’ve also taken on responsibility for the Glasgow hub.
About J.P. Morgan
J.P. Morgan is one of the largest financial institutions in the UK and it’s because of the organisation’s size that we do everything from website development right through to core java or big data technology internally. There are very few technologies that you wouldn’t be able to find within the Glasgow Technology Centre. But in the main we have a very strong java footprint.
Our core brand values champion exceptional client service. We believe the best way to provide that is a strong balance of innovation and execution. We are looking at lots of innovative ideas to be able to deliver on mobile platforms and digital platforms for our clients.
Innovation is in the heartbeat of everything that we do. We’ve got a huge amount of history in it, but we also invest in it heavily. You cannot talk about our execution without mentioning some of the innovation elements. A team from Glasgow recently won the J.P. Morgan innovation award and won the Bankers Award in New York for a very dynamic way of managing data across our real estate. We also have a mobile centre for excellence in Glasgow.
Why base in Scotland?
The primary reason, well above the convenience of time zones, is talent. In Glasgow, we can tap into talent from the universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, the West of Scotland and Edinburgh, amongst others. More recently, we’ve benefitted from a lot of European talent as well.
The support that we’ve had from the government and Scottish Enterprise has been very very strong, from when we set up here to this day. Scottish Enterprise has made great progress in improving talent pipelines through support networks, both across Scotland and in Glasgow.
There’s very little that you can’t do here. I’ve lived in Luxembourg, New York, Hong Kong and London, but I’d always come back to Scotland.
I always remember one of the CIOs that we had visiting, who I almost had to force on to a plane. He looked at how we were working here, the pubs and restaurants, the parks and being able to access some of the most beautiful countryside he’d ever seen. We take it for granted, but it’s very unusual to have the ability to have a quality of life that doesn’t involve lots of commuting, gives you the option of fine dining or rustic pub food and allows you to be on the banks of Loch Lomond in 15 minutes.
Connected to skills
“In Glasgow, we can tap into talent from the universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, the West of Scotland and Edinburgh, amongst others.”
Stephen Flaherty, Managing Director of J.P. Morgan
Working in Scotland
One of the great things about being in Scotland is that it allows me to spend a lot of time with my teams in Bangalore and Glasgow in the morning – that would involve reviewing architectures right through to budget and project status reviews – then in the afternoon, when the US comes online, spend a lot more time on similar activities and strategic projects with my US counterparts.
I do one week a month in New York, leaving my family at 7.00 am on a Monday, arrive in New York at lunchtime then return to Scotland at 7.00 am on the Friday or Saturday.
One of the key firm-wide strategic priorities is to have a great team with a winning culture. Historically, J.P. Morgan has done a good job of having very clearly-defined career paths and where we have done a good job is in building career paths and training strategies within the Glasgow hub.
It is my hope and my goal that everybody in the Glasgow Technology Centre really feels like they have the right mix of the skills they need to do their job today, but also an understanding of what they’ll need tomorrow. We’re building a disruptive technology training agenda and a few other pieces like that to improve that experience.
In the Glasgow location and more widely across J.P. Morgan Technology, you are seeing a more balanced view on how individual contributors can progress in the organisation.
We believe in attracting, retaining and developing the best and most diverse talent slate. We know that our long-term success depends on our employees and that is one of our primary values. We also have a strong push around protecting the firm and our customers, so we put a lot of work into cyber security and empowering as many of our employees as we can, ensuring that they have the right skill sets to keep that first and foremost.
The support we've received
We work very closely with the likes of our Scottish Enterprise account manager, Iain Hay and TalentScotland. I can’t say how thankful I am for the amount of support that we’ve had over the years.
Being able to understand and effectively navigate the different government bodies and departments to ensure positive partnerships has been a challenge; one that Scottish Enterprise has been able to provide invaluable guidance on.
In short, there’s been a whole myriad of help and support given which has helped us develop a strong recruitment strategy spanning pipeline talent to experienced hiring.
We exited 2015 with about 1,300 staff, and that staff is largely made up of two business units: asset management and the investment bank. But in the last few years, we’ve seen some new business units wanting to locate themselves in Scotland.
These include risk and finance technology, as well as what we call GTI (global technology infrastructure). By the close of the year, there will only be one J.P. Morgan business unit that doesn’t have a presence in Scotland: the consumer bank, because it’s very domestic-focused in the US.
Over the last 15 years we’ve achieved a great deal of success through our execution to allow us to grow to the size that we now are, but the talent pipeline is the most important thing in building the company going forward. As it stands just now, we are working very closely with Scottish Enterprise on a recruitment strategy and model which will allow us to sustain continued growth for the next few years.
At the end of 2014 we announced that we were going to continue our growth and aimed to recruit 500 people. With the right continued support, we hope to continue to go from strength to strength.
This year we’re hoping to take close to 75 interns and 100 graduates from the universities and our Tech Connect strategy to try and expand into more STEM subjects. Diversity has traditionally been a challenge in our sector, so we’ve also recently started working with the SMART STEM group in Scotland as well to see whether we can improve this.
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