M&T commits to tech jobs, other roles in Delaware

By Peter Osborne l DBT Editor

M&T Bank and its Wilmington Trust subsidiary will hire hundreds of tech talent over the next few years, including 50 new “technologists” over the next nine months and reinforce its commitment to downtown Wilmington by housing them in a space that will embed technology teams with the people driving the growth of the bank’s business.

In addition, the bank hopes to fill more than 100 open positions in 2019 throughout the state — nearly half in Sussex County — as it continues to grow through all lines of business. It will also be establishing a technology development program at the University of Delaware and University of Maryland for professional positions and internships as well as filling jobs through partnerships with organizations like Zip Code Wilmington, which offers a 12-week coding bootcamp with job placement assistance upon completion of the program.

The bank has quietly consolidated 130 employees over the past few months on two floors of the 10-story Wilmington Plaza building at 301 W. 11th St.

We need to be less dependent on outsourcing,” said M&T Chief Information Officer Mike Wisler. “Buying other people’s products mutes your ability to compete and create differentiated experiences.”

Wisler said M&T plans to add 1,000 technologists — software engineers and designers, UI/UX and web developers, database and cybersecurity experts, and technical team leads — over the next five years to its two primary technology centers in the company’s hometown of Buffalo, New York and in Wilmington, with Wilmington expected to get about 200 of those jobs.

The Wilmington Plaza building offers “puts everyone together, creating collisions that will allow us to operate at the speed of our competition,” Wisler said. “The physical environment plays a big role in our efforts to be transformational and agile. We’re trying to create a community [feeling] and align various initiatives with the bank’s mission, purpose, and vision.”

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki praised the decision to locate the new jobs downtown as proof that “M&T believes in the city. It’s important because people look to the future to make financial decisions so when people make decisions like this to invest in the city, it’s great for confidence.”

Purzycki said he likes the idea of more people walking along Market Street shopping and experiencing the “grit, humanity and personality” of the city.

“Generally speaking, people love to be in cities. As long as you don’t scare them away for the wrong reasons, announcements like this demonstrate we can overcome” structural issues like parking and the wage tax, he said. “I want employers to tell their people that Wilmington is a great place to be. The more people who live here, the more things change.”

M&T Delaware Region President Nick Lambrow says the bank is moving toward an “integrated model with lots of initiatives that provide us with different ways to look at and serve our client base.”

M&T retained the Wilmington Trust brand for its wealth and institutional business after acquiring the bank in
2011. Wilmington Trust now employs about 2,000 people in 54 locations with a little more than half in Delaware, according to Executive Vice President Bill Farrell, who oversees the Wealth and Institutional Services Division.

“We’ve developed new products and grown market share across our businesses,” Farrell said, noting as an example that Wilmington Trust’s structured finance (securitization) business has increased its market share over the past five years from 1.3 percent to 16.9 percent to become the third-largest in that market niche.

“Adding these technologists to our team alongside our product managers will enable us to continue developing products like Wilmington Trust FastTrack, which makes it easier for our Merger and Acquisition Escrow business to get people paid more efficiently and WT Connect, which created a new front end for investors to self-serve in the structured-product area,” Farrell said.

“We take pride in operating much like a fintech in accelerating our speed to market,” Lambrow said. “We realize that our competition is no longer just large banks, and we’re of a size where we can act or react like a fintech.”

It’s generally accepted that there is an industrywide shortage of tech jobs, giving rise to organizations like Zip Code Wilmington and Year Up.

“It’s the scarcest resource on the planet with lots of competition. But we feel that our story is an advantage.
One big differentiator for M&T and Wilmington trust is that its size allows employees on both the tech and operations side to have an impact on our business. That may not be the case at a larger institution.

“University programs are not producing the talent we need so we have to create other pipelines while still making a meaningful investment in local universities,” Wisler said, adding that there is a growing opportunity to attract experienced professionals from the traditional big-city tech hot spots. “We are focusing on professional recruiting and relocation as we find lots of people from this area who would like to return.”

“It’s never been more important to create a sense of belonging and inclusion,” Lambrow said. “We still think of ourselves as a community bank and we’re committed to our branch system. But we must provide alternative ways to connect with our customers” who don’t need to come into the branch.

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