“You don’t have to be a digital asset expert to have a career in the industry”

We talk to Tom Jessop, chairman of Fidelity Digital Assets, about the company’s hiring plans in Ireland and how job seekers can play a role in this growing sector.

As global interest in digital assets and cryptocurrencies continues to grow, Fidelity Investments Ireland has big plans for its operations in the country over the next few years.

Fidelity Digital Assets, a division created in 2018 to provide institutional clients with access to this growing market, plans to double its team of 45 people in Dublin by the end of the year.

We spoke to Tom Jessop, President of Fidelity Digital Assets, about the company’s decision to run large operations from Dublin, how to enter the digital asset industry and the type of talent it is looking for .

Blockchain – the “Internet of Money”

“We are a company that provides services to financial institutions that want to access bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies or digital assets,” said Jessop, a former Goldman Sachs executive with an interest in blockchain technology.

“You should think of us as a brokerage. An institutional client can open an account and then buy and sell digital assets on our platform. We also provide custody – quite a technical and important solution to ensure the security of digital assets.

The company, which has its Irish office 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 United States, some are based in Europe and Asia.

Jessop, who has extensive experience working in roles that see the intersection of finance and technology, became interested in blockchain primarily because “it’s another form of financial technology” that has a big potential.

“Some people call blockchain technology the internet of money. Just as easily as we can email or text over the internet, you can send something of value through blockchain and I think that has long-term potential to improve the financial services industry and democratize finance,” he said.

“I think looking back, we’ll see this as a pretty big tech wave, similar to the PC revolution, and then the internet, mobile, and social media.”

Why Ireland?

Fidelity Digital Assets established a presence in Ireland shortly after its launch in 2018. And while it views Ireland more from a capability perspective than as a market to sell its product, Ireland’s proximity to the EU market has been an important factor in its appeal. .

But perhaps the most important factor in Fidelity’s decision to expand into Ireland was the rich talent pool the country has to offer.

“Given the newness of blockchain technology and the fact that it is a very innovative field, when we look at talent in Ireland we see a lot of things that we like,” Jessop said.

“We see a great secondary education system, many existing tech companies that have had a long footprint in Ireland, and the fact that Dublin has increasingly become a financial hub for Europe, particularly post-Brexit. “

In February 2021, Boston-headquartered Fidelity Investments announced 90 new tech jobs in Dublin and Galway, less than a year after another major job announcement in response to changing client needs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Given that our business is at the intersection of technology and finance, Ireland is a very rich environment to find the kind of talent we are looking for,” he added.

Jessop said that, for Fidelity Digital Assets in particular, he expects not only to double his current workforce of 45 people in Ireland, but also to see “pretty strong and consistent growth” in the number of employees next year. . “So as our business grows, our presence in Ireland will grow proportionately.”

“You don’t have to be a digital asset expert”

“I’ll state the obvious – we’re looking for smart, curious people,” Jessop said, when asked what kind of people are suited for roles in the booming digital asset industry.

He thinks the problem with many job seekers in this sector is that they refuse to apply for the positions offered because they think they don’t know enough about the field.

“I think what we’ve achieved is that smart, driven people can learn anything, and we have a great track record of bringing talented people from other areas of technology and finance into the business and by educating them on what they need to know about the asset class.”

However, those with a personal interest in space are also “a good fit” as they can demonstrate passion and a willingness to self-study. Those with a wide range of soft skills are also likely to get the jobs.

“Think of settlement operations in a traditional financial services environment, full engineering in a traditional technology environment, people who have project management expertise – these are all generalized skills that we seek to embed into the company and adapt to digital assets.”

Jessop added that there is a role for most people in the digital asset industry, and Fidelity Digital Assets in particular, from those working in banks to regular engineers in the tech space.

“The industry is growing so fast, so you don’t need to be a digital asset expert to have a career in the industry – you can learn that as part of the training.”

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