UK interest rates could rise as soon as the end of this year, a senior banker at Barclays has said.
Kevin Gardiner, chief investment officer for Europe at Barclays, said estimates for the Bank of England to raise rates in 2015 may be out by a few months and there was a possibility a stronger UK economy could force the bank to hike before then.
"If I had to stick my neck out, I would say the Bank of England will be the first of the big central banks to raise interest rates and it's possible it could happen later this year," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We don't have the nerve to say it is probable but I would keep an open mind about it possibly happening."
Mr Gardiner was in Belfast to speak at the Barclays Wealth and Investment Management breakfast in Belfast's Merchant Hotel.
He said a hike is an indication of a more healthy economy, so if rates are increased, it's not necessarily bad news.
"There's good chance interest rates will be pushed up by more vigorous economic recovery than people are currently anticipating," he said.
"If you are a borrower, have a mortgage or if you're a business looking to fund yourself, taking advantage of fixed rate opportunities is probably a good thing."
He added: "If you're a saver and you don't want to go into riskier assets such as stocks, at some stage you will get a better return on your cash."