Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

We are finally Trading Places with the big shots

If you'd predicted 20 years ago that Northern Ireland would become home to two of the world's largest stock exchanges you would have been dismissed as a loon.

Today we're sitting here with the New York Stock Exchange's IT hub, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is in the process of developing something similar and our own indigenous companies, led by Newry's first derivatives, are supplying exchanges throughout the world with software.

Who's laughing now?

Such a transformation is truly astounding and says a lot about the skilled workforce which we have here in the IT sector and also ticks the box of development plans for independent think tanks who see "clusters" as a positive for economic growth.

The latest news from the windy city should also warm the heart.

CME Group's plan to set up its own exchange in London is akin to the Kevin Costner's character in baseball film Field of Dreams: "Build it and they will come".

The Chicago exchange controls 98% of all futures trade in the US and will be hoping to achieve just a fraction of that in Europe where it will face stiff competition from the more established bourses but no matter how hard it has to work, it's all good news for Northern Ireland.

It means the IT base it's planning to set up on Great Victoria Street in Belfast will become vital to the company's European operations and might be even more important.

Let's hope so because it mean more jobs and a bigger office, not to mention the chance to refer to 80s film Trading Places which was based in the CME.