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At least 100 jobs for Belfast as Brexit fails to hit Citi's appetite for growth

By John Mulgrew

Financial services giant Citi hopes to add at least 100 jobs to its Belfast office this year as it grows its local workforce to more than 2,500 people, its UK boss has said.

James Bardrick was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph as the first Citi Inspire 5k run kicked off at the Titanic Quarter with a little help from Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters.

The run is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and includes teams from companies including Deloitte and Lagan Construction, as well as the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Bardrick said the race was "a really solid example of what we want to be as a company".

He also stressed that the firm had big plans for Northern Ireland.

It currently has around 2,400 staff here, but it expects to grow that the number this year as it continues to hire, adding between 100 and 200 jobs.

"We have more and more people coming in and we are recruiting and continuing to grow, Mr Bardrick said.

"We see no reason to stop that. Our plans are to be sailing past 2,500 this year.

"There are a whole range of jobs, from technology to legal. We have more lawyers in Belfast than we do in London. We service the global business and the global foreign exchange (operations) are run out of Belfast. It really is a fundamental business location. It's not just an offshore,outsourced operation. It's really part of Citi.

"It's been successful as we have had fantastic partnerships with the universities and colleges. Our history with Ulster University and Queen's University has been fantastic.

"We have also had fantastic support from Invest NI and local government. Always forward-looking.

"It's been a great story. The real success is the people. Maybe we stumbled on it or we were lucky, but we have tapped into talent."

Citi's UK boss also maintained that Brexit would have no impact on the firm's plans for Northern Ireland.

"Fundamentally, it (Brexit) doesn't really change very much at all (or) the continued investment to Belfast," he said.

"We are supporting the business globally. Its role in our client business is unchanged.

"When you are operating in 98 countries around the world, there's always something which will have an impact, and you deal with it.

"Fundamentally, for Belfast, there is no impact. We can continue to support a lot of our businesses from (Belfast)."

Earlier this year, the company sent an internal memo to its staff following the triggering of Article 50, trying to address concerns surrounding contingency plans around the UK's exit from the European Union.

"Citi has been preparing for Brexit since before the exit vote in June," the bank's Europe, Middle East and Africa boss, Jim Cowles, said in the internal memo sent in March.

Mr Cowles added that the company had been working on the assumption of a hard Brexit, in which the UK loses access to the single market.

"A hard Brexit would require certain changes, including relocating certain client-facing roles to the EU from the UK and the possible creation of a new broker-dealer entity within the EU", he said, echoing comments made in January.

Citi's main Belfast base is located at the Gateway Offices in the Titanic Quarter.

Belfast Telegraph

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