Partner Profile: GFT – Pete Coulter, UK Regional Director
FinTech North recently sat down with Pete Coulter, UK Regional Director at GFT to hear about their recent move to Manchester and their initiatives in the area. Additionally, it’s a great chance to get acquainted with the work of GFT, how FinTech North will be working alongside them and also to hear Pete’s thoughts on the sector.
To listen and view the recording, check out the YouTube link below. We have also produced a write-up of the interview. For those who would prefer to read the article, continue scrolling.
Why is Manchester an important place for GFT to be for FinTech?
Manchester to us is important, we’ve been in London since the early noughties. We want to and need to grow across the UK to help our clients who are doing the same – Manchester is much the place to be.
There is lots of financial services here, lots of FinTechs, innovation and start-ups trying to break the mould. Any company worth its salt in FinTech needs a presence in Manchester and that is why we opened up our offices here. We have got a lot of companies we want to work with, lots of partners, great talent in the region and the universities! There are some brilliant universities for computer science and data skills and their FinTech research centres. We are looking to work with great people and find some great clients – not to mention hire some brilliant talent in the area.
Joe added – “Ambitious plans on that front it sounds – I hear you are planning to hire 100 people in Manchester, something like that?”
Yes, go big or go home! It is a big number and to be quite honest, I’ve worked in consultancy for a while and if I had a pound for every time a client said that they’re going to come into Manchester and hire 100 people I’d have about 50 quid!
It is a substantial number and we’ve made a great start. We have got about 30 colleagues based in the Manchester office which is brilliant. We are looking forward to working with companies like Northcoders and others in the region.
What specific initiatives will GFT be bringing to Manchester?
What GFT is known for in the sector is helping large FinTechs with legacy problems, but also the other side with innovative ideas and problem solving. The talent we’ve hired in Manchester is going to play a role in both of those objectives. We will continue to work with the larger clients that we have and put some of our Manchester people into these companies to try and tackle problems that they’ve been facing for years.
At the same time, we really want to push the creative problem solving. We will use Manchester as our “centre of gravity” for our Design Studio Offering. It is all around design thinking, rapid learning, going from customer or business problem to viable solution as quickly as possible which as much learning as possible. Manchester will be the catalyst for that kind of work.
What problems do you solve for your clients?
We do a range of things. Quite often we listen to what our clients need rather than just what we can offer them. At the same time, there are a lot of repeating patterns – Legacy systems in financial services are a big problem, and that is not just from a tech point of view. There’s plenty of big, ugly mainframes still hanging about and plenty of companies who are still on local infrastructure who need to get to the cloud – GFT is really good at modernising their business.
It’s not just the infrastructure side, it’s the problem side – how do we move quickly? How do we adapt to customers’ changing need? – We do a lot of listening to our clients and their customers; what are they both wanting and needing? That could be new technology or just new ways of working. It’s about helping people to get into a mindset of how to learn and move quickly as well as picking the right technology.
What benefits do you see to being part of the FinTech North community? How do you see us working together?
I think it has to be a two-way street. From the community, the selfish answer is that we’d like to meet and discuss with potential clients in the region. I’d love to hear about the challenges that FinTechs have in the Northwest and tap in to the problems they face. We’d love to see what we can do to help them, obviously, as a consultancy that’s what we specialise in.
Also, it’s really important that we give back and I don’t just mean with our services. One of the mantras of our regional growth plan is to contribute back. For example, Greater Manchester has specific goals, and we all sit within that. How can FinTech and financial services play a part to help out in achieving these goals – whether it be the skills gap or the green agenda. It’d be great if we could give back via the FinTech North community to any sort of contributions – anything that goes a bit above and beyond that people are genuinely interested in.
We are appointing some community leaders to find these events and get out there. Their objective is to get us contributing back as well as what we do professionally.
What for you are the most interesting elements of FinTech?
Quite a few to be honest with you! FinTech is so ingrained in everything that we do – it has a broad role to play. There’s some big problems to fix and many challenges , digital inclusivity just to name one – everyone’s running ahead with the ‘digital first’ perception and that’s great; but there’s a massive assumption that everyone has access and that’s not the case.
We need to keep the customer at the centre of the issues that we face. I’m really interested in the world of big problems and challenges – things that we need to think differently about. Anything that’s a tough problem excites me! It’s why I like working in Tech and FinTech to be honest with you.
We thank Pete for his time and GFT for their support for FinTech North. Their website can be found here.
For more partner profiles, follow the link here.