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CTO interview: Lombard Risk’s Mike Payne forges technology centre in Birmingham

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Birmingham’s library is just one part of the transformation of the city as a tech leader. Picture by Neil Thompson

Previous periods of economic uncertainty have seen outsourcing increase. Depending on the needs of the organisation the outsourcing has either been near-shore to gain skills at a reasonable price or further afield to cut costs. Fintech CTO Mike Payne needed access to skills and understandably was concerned about wage inflation in London.  He found the answer in Birmingham.

Lombard Risk is a dedicated global provider of collateral management and regulatory reporting solutions to the financial services industry. In November 2016 it opened a new technology centre in the heart of Birmingham to develop its next generation of products.

Experienced banking CTO Mike Payne joined the Lombard Risk in spring 2016 and says: “It still maintains a lot of the features of a Fintech startup, yet it is quite a mature business.”

“The challenge I have given to the team is that the technologies have to be relevant in 10 years time,” he says of the major reengineering of products and technology used at Lombard Risk. Customers are demanding that the technologies Lombard Risk supplied to them are more flexible and able to integrate easily. To deliver flexibility Lombard Risk has continued to review and develop its Agile approach. Before the opening of the Birmingham technology centre, development was largely centred out of the Lombard Risk centre in Shanghai, China. Due to Shanghai’s time differences and remoteness from the business centres, Payne describes the development as typically waterfall in its approach.

mike payne
Mike Payne, CTO of Lombard Risk

Agile Midlands

“Birmingham allows us to have a much more agile methodology. You also get a big advantage out of having development close to home as you can be much more responsive to the client and we will get better products,” Payne says. 

“Poland is a three hour flight and you lose attachment offshore,” he says of why Birmingham beat off rivals from Europe. “We looked at Poland, Belarus, Barcelona and Northern Ireland, but it was the commutability, this was critical. You need the people from the Birmingham operation to come here to London and people from London to be able to go to Birmingham and still be able to go home at night,” he says.

Birmingham will be the main home for developers and technical analysts.Lombard Risk partnered with Outsource-UK to select England’s second city, secure a location and the people to make the operation viable.  Swindon headquartered recruiters Outsource-UK carried out a research programme to understand the opportunities and challenges of setting up a development centre in UK cities as varied as Leicester, Southampton and Peterborough. 

“We commenced our initial conversation by carrying out an extensive UK talent map report to identify the right UK location, this extended to sourcing and fitting out a new commercial building with our property consultants Cushman & Wakefield, and then finally project managing a unique and bespoke recruitment solution to on-board the resources,” Outsource UK Director Jessica Holt says of the project.

Once Lombard Risk selected Birmingham, Outsource-UK introduced the Fintech to local organisations such as Marketing Birmingham, who Payne describes as “very good, I can’t praise them enough”.

Payne has been impressed with how all the technology companies and the university are all close and how a hub is developing.

“Birmingham is a fantastic city with world class universities nearby and a rich pool of talented technologists, it was an obvious place for us to invest in.”

Re-platforming

A key role for the team in Birmingham will be the development of the next generation of products for Lombard Risk.

“The ambition is to break down the old monolith into a series of micro-services with an Angular front end so that we can develop new components,” Payne says. The Lombard Risk reporting tools are currently on an Oracle platform and Payne’s teams are moving to the Hadoop open source database platform.

“Hadoop is scalable and open source so it fits the bill and we will do that with the right skills, some internal training,” he says of how a new platform changes the organisation too.

Payne joined Lombard Risk from a financial services technology leadership career that included roles at JP Morgan as Head of Investor Services and roles at Credit Suisse.

Widgets Magazine
About Mark Chillingworth 227 Articles
Mark Chillingworth has over 20 years of journalism and editing experience across all media platforms including online, live events, print magazines and television.
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