Ten years ago, if you considered finance professionals in Poland you’d picture movement going one way — an exodus from the country to banking roles dotted throughout London, Frankfurt, Zurich and other European financial capitals.
Not anymore. Within just one decade, not only has Poland’s financial sector matured to create a wealth of back, middle and front roles that are no different than other global financial centers, providing more than 90% of our core products and services for the region. We are witnessing a reverse in the flow of European hires. In 2019, experts move from the likes of London, Edinburgh, Paris and as far afield as Japan and Turkey, to roles in Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk.
“The face of the industry is changing,” says Rafal Pokrzywa, Regional Recruitment Manager at State Street, one of the world's leading providers of financial services to institutional investors. “If we look across the sector, even just a couple of years ago, most roles were junior in the back office and general (fund and financial reporting) accounting. Since then, general accounting has evolved to where teams in Poland now own end to end processes and have full accountability for delivering it. Today, we see more complex financial services, compliance, client facing or risk roles in Poland. We are recruiting more and more regional and global leadership roles.”
What started in the back office at State Street Bank in Poland back in 2007 is a reflection of the industry a whole.
From outside the country looking in, Poland was long recognized as an attractive market for outsourcing. Global financial players, such as State Street, first made Poland their home for outsourcing and customer support divisions, establishing the infrastructure for (in addition to already existing back office) front and middle office divisions to join alongside.
Within Poland, the talent pool of Polish hires began to shift. “Universities in Poland are preparing graduates well when comes to technical education. Companies like ours have to continually work with today’s workforce to develop their soft skills and leadership capabilities and this is mainly an area that universities need to address to ensure they teach the skills needed to success today. We are seeing changing expectations in hires as they look for more advanced roles,” says Pokrzywa. “The service industry in Poland is 10 to 15 years old and through understanding what the market and the business is looking for, we can fill the changing profiles of advanced hires from within Poland.”
State Street International Poland branch was established in November 2007, providing fund accounting, derivatives, securities valuation, hedge fund administration and performance and analytics. The bank now has five offices in Kraków and Gdańsk.
Polish workers have a reputation for hard work, for being highly skilled and an expectation of constant development and internal mobility opportunities – says Pokrzywa. Nestled in the middle of Europe, the Polish work ethic and approach to process and problem-solving complements that of British, German and other European offices. In the major cities in Poland, such as where State Street has made a home, there is a high level of English spoken, a clear nod to Western European culture and international understanding. In short, if you are a recent Polish graduate and can live in Kraków and Gdańsk, the future is exciting.
“At State Street, we are looking for the skill set for the future,” says Pokrzywa. “We seek investment management experts to join our investment management, compliance, risk, and quant divisions. There are also legal, HR and senior management hires and we are building technology teams that include robotics and AI. In Fintech we want experts to develop global solutions.”
Despite roles based in Krakow and Gdańsk, knowing that most people can travel across Poland within one hour, State Street recruits from across the country. “We have found people are more mobile than before,” says Pokrzywa. “As a company, we are offering more remote roles — some employees work in one city during the week and are elsewhere with their family at the weekend. The majority of our employees work from home one day a week.”
It likely won’t be long before Poland gains status as a financial hub of its own. The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) ranks the capital of Poland as the 12th most competitive major financial centre in central and Eastern Europe and 45th in the world.
Set against this climate of growth, Pokrzywa explains who would thrive at State Street, “You need to be self-driven and self-motivated. Here, you are in the driving seat of your career. You’ll be easily adaptable to change but you’ll learn a lot to benefit your career.”
It’s true, hard work pays off. With State Street a part of the industry’s transformation, the next wave of growth in Poland’s financial industry is one for Polish hires to seize and succeed. Carpe diem, as they say in Latin, or in Polish — chwytaj dzień!