This London fintech startup is opening its US headquarters in the West Loop

by Brian Nordli
June 26, 2019
Image via shutterstock

The Smart Group, a London-based financial technology company, has been eyeing an expansion into the U.S., and they just announced they’ve picked Chicago as the place to do it.

Chicago is a great modern city and offers good value for money and the airports offer great links.”

The company, which goes by The Smart Pension in the U.K., announced this week that it will open its U.S. headquarters in the West Loop this fall with plans to hire for 20 to 30 jobs to start. The company chose Chicago out of a selection of cities that included New York, Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco. The city’s ease of access from the U.K. via O'Hare International Airport, coupled with a vibrant tech scene, gave Chicago the edge and made it the ideal location for The Smart Group to launch its U.S. expansion, said Dan McLaughlin, The Smart Group international director.  

“The time zone is closer to that in the U.K. than many other areas, which was attractive because initially there will be some heavy-duty commuting,” McLaughlin said. “But the important thing was the fact that there’s an established tech community we can tap into and find good people. Chicago is a great modern city and offers good value for money and the airports offer great links.”

The Smart Group launched in 2015 as a workplace retirement plan provider and management platform for businesses across the globe. The platform helps companies of all sizes set up pension plans and gives employees the tools and data to manage them.

The company has undergone rapid growth, adding 100 jobs in the last year. With its expansion to Chicago, The Smart Group is looking to hire a mixture of roles from coding to UX to front-end positions on the tech side, as well as marketing, sales and business development positions.

They also plan to hire for some senior level positions. While they initially plan to hire more than 20 people to start, McLaughlin said he expects the office to grow quickly.

Along the way, the company hopes to transform retirement benefits in the U.S.

“We are coming to work with local partners to re-engineer retirement,” McLaughlin said. “We hope to have an impact locally and nationally, by employing great people in the near term, and by working with U.S. institutions to reshape how workplace benefits are provided in the medium to long term for all Americans.” 

The Smart Group announcement coincides with an increased interest in Chicago from U.K. fintech companies. Peter Estlin, London’s Lord Mayor, is leading a delegation of leaders from several U.K. fintech companies who are visiting Chicago’s tech scene looking to build new business connections.

The visit offers an opportunity for the U.K. to expand its trading relationship with the U.S., Estlin said in a statement.

“The US is one of the U.K.’s most significant trading partners, not least when it comes to financial services. The arrival of the fourth industrial revolution gives us an opportunity to deepen those relationships further for the future, and open a new chapter in our collaboration,” he said. “With that in mind, it is fantastic to see Smart expand into the U.S. with an excellent base in Chicago, a brilliant place to do business.”

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