The role of data at London Stock Exchange Group

Tom Dunlap is London Stock Exchange Group’s Chief Data Officer, based in our Fort Mill office in South Carolina, US. Having studied Economics at Columbia University in New York, Tom began his career in financial services as an intern and worked his way up. Tom has held senior roles across the globe for industry leaders including Citibank and Goldman Sachs.

We caught up with Tom to find out more about the role data plays at London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).

As Chief Data Officer, can you explain what makes data so important at LSEG, and beyond?

Great question. Data shapes our views and the decisions that we make. Take the price of goods, as a real-life example. If the price of an item goes up or down and you notice a trend, you might then start to make different purchasing decisions. So having the correct data can be critical. Accurate data takes a lot of time and effort to accumulate, so it’s something you want to keep secure and protected – the data itself becomes a commercial asset.

The more data you have, the more informed the decisions you make will be. For example, within our index business one area we look at is sustainable investments. Some of our clients want their investments to be in companies that are making the transition to a greener economy, such as those that are aligning their business to climate transition and the goals of the Paris Agreement. Sodata can be really important in terms of what we include and what we exclude from certain indexes. Our clients trust us to get this right.

What sort of challenges do you face?

There’s quite a bit of complexity to what we do here, but that’s what keeps things interesting! Our job is to make sure our data is streamlined, timely and accurate – get those things right, and everything else can run smoothly downstream.

For example, one thing we want to avoid is duplicate data. Imagine you’re working on a document, and you create a different version every time you open it up on your computer. If you don’t open the most recent version you could end up with two sets of information that each present a slightly different view, and everything becomes mixed up. Or, imagine your bank left some of your transactions off your bank statement, and you forgot to pay off your credit card as a result. In the financial services industry, people trade against the data we provide, so getting these things right is extremely important.

What made you decide to take the role of Chief Data Officer at LSEG?

I’ve been at LSEG for one and a half years now. I was really excited about the role because it included responsibility for both data strategy and execution. It’s pretty rare for a Chief Data Officer to be able to do both. Plus, I now get to work for a market maker – a financial services conduit. I’ve always been on the buy-side or sell-side before, so it’s an interesting change.

The scope is huge and I’m really proud of what we do – we support ~330K indexes and ~5MM securities products that have to be priced every day. Being able to go home and say “you see the FTSE 100? My group publishes that” – that’s an amazing feeling. And we’ve got a really diverse workforce – my peers are some of the sharpest minds in the industry – I’m humbled to be working with such people.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of their career whos thinking of applying to LSEG?

Go for it! And don’t feel limited by your degree type – we’ve welcomed successful candidates from all backgrounds. If you think you can bring together soft skills with the ability to be technical, you’re motivated and you’re willing to work in a dynamic and fast-paced, market-leading environment, then LSEG could be the place for you.