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Northern Ireland’s role in an ‘all island’ financial services industry Back  
Belfast offers a workforce of 700,000 and is Ireland’s second largest financial services centre with the Titanic Quarter, a 185 acre mixed use development based in the Belfast’s docklands in its historic ship-building area the location the industry.
Citigroup, based in the Titanic Quarter, recently declared that it is to create a further 185 new jobs at its technology centre of excellence in Belfast. This latest investment will contribute an additional ?21 million (€26.3 million) to the local economy and will bring employment at Citigroup’s Belfast operation to 560. In support of this additional investment, Invest NI has offered ?3.6 million (€4.51 Million) in financial assistance.

Belfast offers a cost advantage, compared to Dublin, according to Michael Graham, director of Corporate Real Estate for the Titanic Quarter. He says that with commercial property values of ?14-15 (€17.50-18.80) per sq ft, the region offers tremendous value when compared to real estate prices in Dublin. While new, purpose built and fitted out office space available throughout Northern Ireland from as little as ?12.75 (€16) per sq ft, said Invest NI, making both areas attractive.

Wage comparison show that Belfast offers lower salaries than many other western European cities, including London, Dublin, Amsterdam and Barcelona. For example, the average wage for an accounting clerk in Belfast is €18,500, compared with €26,500 in Dublin and €30,900 in Amsterdam.

Firms have access to graduates of a number of universities including Queens University Belfast. For the country as a whole, there are around 2,000 ICT and 1,200 finance related graduates each year from University courses. According to Graham, ‘Belfast can offer firms a ready supply of bright, smart and well educated young people. In addition, the evidence shows that staff in Belfast do not suffer from the same turnover rate as is being experienced in Dublin. Belfast can play a natural support role to Dublin to solve the staffing issues. Belfast can act as a pressure release valve 100 miles up the road from Dublin.’

The total population of Northern Ireland stands at 1.72 million, while Invest NI states unemployment at low levels of 3.4 per cent. There are currently 778,000 persons in employment in Northern Ireland. In addition, it is a young country, with nearly 60 per cent of the population is under 40 years old. There are over 20,000 people employed in the financial services sector in Northern Ireland, accounting for 2.5 per cent of all employment.

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