Guest blog: Bristol as a FinTech Hub

Ahead of our National Conference, taking place on 16 November, Chris Hill, CEO of Hargreaves Lansdown (HL), a gold partner of the event, has written a guest blog about HL's contribution to FinTech in Bristol.

We have an ambition at HL: to be the UK’s largest digital wealth management service. Digital wealth management is developing fast and we’re always looking how we can innovate and how we can “do it better” – it is one of our core values.

HL is the market leader and a FinTech business born and bred in Bristol, uniquely placed as the only FTSE 100 financial services company in the region. Our founders would say that we were the first FinTech. I agree.

Technology is an important area for us with a number of stakeholders: from clients, to colleagues and also into our community, not least because the pandemic has accelerated a permanent shift to the digital use of our services. We have seen this right across our platform with more than 98 per cent of what we do with clients now served through digital channels. The increase in the numbers of people logging into their accounts, particularly using our award-winning mobile app, has been huge: a 150% increase just in the last year.

We can see from our experience that data and analytics have the power to transform how people interact with their finances, for the better. From Open Finance to AI, so much is changing and we are hugely excited about what potential this will unlock. We actively promote sustainable finance and the tech roles that are driving this transition. Our investment in digital services and capabilities is a vehicle through which we can play our part in accelerating the transition to a sustainable economy, whilst also enabling our own ESG aims and responsibilities.

Bristol has a thriving tech hub. It is one of the largest in the UK and it is the home of UX (user experience). This enables us to fuel our growth by drawing on a wealth of digital and tech skills and experience. Over a quarter of our UK colleagues work in either IT or Digital (including UX). Their passion, their values and their talent are a key part of what drives us.

We are investing significantly in our platform to make it digital and connected and we have a number of exciting developments in production. But building and developing digital and tech skills is not a standalone topic and it interacts with so many of our other priorities: Having a great team of people who all share our culture and values and who want to thrive and develop through being part of our team is a fundamental part of our strategy. 

But we won’t stop there. We want to do it better.

We focus on areas into which it is typically challenging to hire women, and one of these areas is technology, where we need skills. So, we have a variety of colleague networks to help support and improve inclusion and diversity across HL, including a Women in Technology group.

We look externally as well as internally, aiming to help to develop the next generation of talent – not just in tech – and open up these careers to young people from all walks of life. So, we offer opportunities through apprenticeships and early career programmes that support improving social mobility.

We are one of the largest employers in Bristol and we want to have a positive impact on our community. Within our flagship West of England Black Interns pilot programme, working alongside Bristol City Council, we helped place 46 black interns into roles in 20 organisations across a variety of sectors, including Finance, Legal and Professional services. This is a great example of public and private organisations coming together to make a difference. HL had 3 interns and included our Digital Products Team, and we will take our learnings from this experience into future initiatives. By opening up these programmes, we are able to shed a light on the variety of roles available within Tech and Finance to an audience who wouldn’t normally consider HL as an employer.

I am excited to be on the “Driving innovation and transformation across the regions and nations” panel discussion as part of the TheCityUK's National Conference and to showcase the significant work that is being done. I am proud to be involved.

This guest blog was written by Chris Hill, CEO, Hargreaves Lansdown.

To find out more about Hargreaves Lansdown click here.

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