We speak to Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets, about the company’s hiring plans in Ireland and how jobseekers can bag a role in this growing sector.
As global interest in digital assets and cryptocurrencies continues to grow, Fidelity Investments has some big plans for its operations in Ireland in the next few years.
Fidelity Digital Assets, a subsidiary established in 2018 to provide institutional clients with access to this growing market, is looking to double its 45-strong team in Dublin by the end of the year.
Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets, chatted to SiliconRepublic.com about the company’s decision to run substantial operations from Dublin, how to get into the digital assets industry and what kind of talent he’s looking for.
Blockchain – the ‘internet of money’
“We are a company that provides services to financial institutions that want to gain access to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies or digital assets,” said Jessop, a former Goldman Sachs tech executive.
“You should think of us as a brokerage. An institutional client can open an account and then they can buy and sell digital assets on our platform. We also provide custody – a fairly technical and important solution to ensure the security of the digital assets.”
The company, which has a base in Dublin’s Citywest, offers other B2B services such as record keeping and research offerings to help clients make informed decisions when investing in digital assets. While most of its clients are in the US, some are based in Europe and Asia.
‘Given the newness of blockchain technology and the fact that it’s a very innovative field, when we look at the talent in Ireland, we see a lot of things we like’
– TOM JESSOP
Jessop, who has extensive experience working in roles at the intersection of finance and technology, got interested in blockchain primarily because “it’s another form of financial technology” that has great potential.
“Some people call blockchain technology the ‘internet of money’. Just as easily as we can send an email or text message over the internet, you can send something of value over blockchain and I think that has long-term potential for improving the financial services industry and democratising finance,” he said.
“I think, with the benefit of hindsight, we’ll see this as being a fairly significant technology wave the same way that the PC revolution was, and then the internet and mobile and social.”
Fidelity Digital Assets established a presence in Ireland soon after it was launched in 2018. While it views Ireland more from a capability standpoint rather than as a market to sell its services, Ireland’s proximity to the EU has been an important factor in its attractiveness.
But perhaps the most important factor in Fidelity’s decision to grow its team in Ireland is the rich pool of talent the country has to offer.
“Given the newness of blockchain technology and the fact that it’s a very innovative field, when we look at the talent in Ireland, we see a lot of things we like,” said Jessop.
“We see a great secondary educational system, a lot of existing technology companies that have a footprint in Ireland for a long time, and the fact that Dublin has increasingly become a financial centre for Europe, especially post-Brexit.”
In early 2021, the wider Fidelity Investments business announced 90 new tech jobs in Dublin and Galway, less than a year after another significant jobs announcement in response to the changing needs of the Boston-headquartered company’s clients during the pandemic.
“Given that our business is at the intersection of technology and finance, Ireland is a very rich environment for us to find the type of talent we’re looking for,” Jessop said.
He added that, for Fidelity Digital Assets specifically, he expects not only to double its current 45-strong workforce in Ireland but also see “pretty strong and consistent growth” in employee numbers into next year. “So as our business grows, our presence in Ireland will grow proportionately.”
‘You don’t need to be a digital assets expert’
“I’m going to state the obvious – we’re looking for smart, curious people,” Jessop said when asked about what kind of people are fit for roles in the burgeoning digital assets industry.
He believes that the problem with many jobseekers in this sector is that they don’t apply for roles on offer because they think they don’t know enough about the field.
“I think what we’ve realised is that smart and motivated people can learn anything, and we’ve got great experience bringing talented people from other parts of tech and finance into the business and training them on what they need to know about the asset class.”
However, those who have a particular interest in the space are also “a good fit” because they can demonstrate passion and the willingness to self-learn. Those with a wide range of general skills are also likely to be considered.
“Think about settlement operations in a traditional financial services setting, full-stack engineering in a traditional tech setting, folks that have project management expertise – these are all generalised skills we’re looking to bring into the company and adapt for digital assets.
“The industry is growing so quickly, so you don’t need to be a digital assets expert to have a career in the industry – you can learn that as part of the training.”
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