[caption id="attachment_227293" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Alexandr Vinokurov, left, and Juergen Dittgen have been leading the tech hiring efforts at M&T Bank's Wilmington Trust institutional banking /client services and wealth management units, respectively. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
WILMINGTON – When M&T Bank acquired the former Wilmington Trust bank, it identified that its institutional banking and client services unit held great opportunities for growth.It was right, with the unit's revenue more than doubling over the last decade.That success and continuing opportunity for growth has convinced the Buffalo, N.Y.-based M&T to invest in an expansion of a tech hub for the Wilmington Trust brand, both renovating the downtown office space and hiring dozens of new workers.
[caption id="attachment_227292" align="alignleft" width="300"] M&T Bank Delaware Market President Nick Lambrow, left, hired fintech veteran Alexandr Vinokurov to lead growth efforts in Wilmington's tech center. | PHOTO COURTESY OF M&T BANK[/caption]
“For us, this is a commitment to Delaware and downtown Wilmington. We have both the Center Building and the Wilmington Plaza, and we've elected to stay and support the city,” said Nick Lambrow, the Delaware market president for M&T. “And our clients demand [this investment] right now. If we're not relevant in this [tech] space, we won't be relevant.”To lead the buildout of its local tech workforce, M&T hired Alexandr Vinokurov, the former head of capital markets for Wells Fargo and a veteran institutional finance executive who also spent time at JPMorgan Chase and Deustche Bank. He moved to Wilmington from New York City about 18 months ago and immediately began seeking other top talent along, with Juergen Dittgen, the tech leader for Wilmington Trust’s wealth management division.“The very first problem I encountered was just the absence of talent compared to New York City,” Vinokurov said. “A significant challenge remains to bring folks with good technical knowledge and also banking knowledge. That's such a big problem.”The allure of high-profile banking in a much smaller city than other institutional banking centers like New York, Boston or San Francisco, while also remaining on the Interstate 95 corridor, has been a helpful sales pitch though, he said. Lower taxes and housing costs, along with a generous relocation package from M&T have also helped.To date, Vinokurov has attracted about 30 new workers to Wilmington, and the bank aims to hire 40 more over the next year. It has about 200 total tech workers in the city right now.
[caption id="attachment_227291" align="alignright" width="300"] A $4.7 million renovation of the Wilmington Plaza building included game and break rooms to help workers take mental breaks. | PHOTO COURTESY OF M&T BANK[/caption]
M&T has also invested about $4.7 million in renovations of its Wilmington tech hub, building an airy, modern space that has no offices but a number of adjustable workstations – Vinokurov works at such a workstation among his staff. Break Rooms and some arcade games help to keep staff fresh too.“Our office looks on par with most contemporary offices in New York City for technology centers today,” Vinokurov said.The bank is also currently offering tech center workers a flexible hybrid schedule that sees most workers in the office Tuesdays to Thursdays and working out of office on Mondays and Fridays.Still, Wilmington Trust’s global operations effectively competes with the largest banks and investment firms on Wall Street, seeking experienced bankers and technologists who can help predict future market moves, Vinokurov explained.“A typical interview question would be, ‘How do we project cash flow for CLO bonds or high-yield bonds,’” he added. “So, it becomes a question of building an ecosystem for the right talent.”The bank is also hiring for a variety of more technical roles though, including junior to senior full-stack UI developers, server-side developers, database developers, and UX designers and testers. It also has a large strategy team, which is seeking business analysts, product owners and automation quality assurance testers, among other roles.Aiding those hiring efforts has been M&T’s partnership with Zip Code Wilmington, the IT workforce training organization of which M&T was an original funder. Today, Vinokurov and other bank leadership works closely with Zip Code and hires its graduates for IT positions. Vinokurov also works with the Delaware IT Industry Council to advocate for investments in workforce development for tech workers.One advantage for Wilmington Trust is that it doesn’t outsource any of its design or IT work outside of the United States, unlike many other large banks, Vinokurov said. The smaller teams also ensure that Wilmington Trust workers are working on product solutions and are not lost among a sea of responsibilities.For Lambrow, the market president, the efforts by Vinokurov and the financial investment by M&T in its Wilmington workforce are evidence of its commitment in the space.“You've got a lot of big employers now that support the tech initiatives, and our goal is just to kind of raise the bar for everyone,” he said.